‘Planet’ is the debut UK release by singer-songwriter Irene Skylakaki (released March 16th), recorded in her adopted home of London. Produced by Danton Supple (Morrissey, Coldplay’s X&Y, Elbow, Suede), it’s an assured collection of songs – a mix of musings on love and disillusionment.
Born in Greece, Irene studied in London before moving back to Athens to pursue music full time – an endeavour that led to her releasing two critically acclaimed albums in her native country. She has also supported such artists as diverse as Macy Gray, Jessie Ware, Beirut, Daughter, and Cass McCombs.
After returning to the Capital, Irene forged her path onwards through serendipitous circumstances – she met Lola Marlin (Director of Sarm Studios), who introduced her to producer Danton Supple while trying to retrieve a lost dog in Maida Vale. This meeting led Irene to write an album’s worth of material within two weeks, containing the songs which form ‘Planet’.
This intensive period of writing and the existential introspection stemming from it lies at the heart of the EP’s sound and message. On the melodic and rhythmically tumbling ‘Planet’, Irene sings “Is there some other type of planet I could land on, different values to rely on ‘cause I’ve been turning into someone I am not”.
With Irene on guitar and vocals, her band consists of Tryfon Koutsourelis on keyboards, and alternating drummers Richard Jupp (Elbow) and Sebastian Hankins (The Leisure Society) (who all feature on the EP).
Below, you can Listen to Planet in full and read our recent interview.
What was the inspiration behind Planet?
When I write music, I’m usually inspired by things that have hurt me. Sharing them with others who have experienced similar pain releases me from my own pain. I feel free. This EP was written at a point in my life when I was experiencing extreme love and isolation at the same time. I felt like I was observing myself from very far away, from another planet.
What was the experience like of working with Danton Supple and what did he bring to the EP?
Working with Danton was a very special experience. X&Y by Coldplay is one of my favourite albums of all time and he produced it. Observing him work on my songs was magical. Danton has a unique character while producing, and I felt that while he was very delicate and cautious in maintaining my artistic style, he definitely added his aesthetic to the music, which is just one of the many reasons I wanted to work with him.
You’ve been likened to the likes of Laura Marling, Feist, FKA Twigs and Marika Hackman, do you have strong musical influences?
I love listening to music. This is a big part of who I am and what I do in my life. As such, I’m constantly inspired by other artists. Usually, when I really like an artist or band, I get obsessed with their albums and try to use whatever strikes me the most about their music as a basis to build my own songs. I find that my own songwriting direction stems from what I enjoy listening to and, of course, my own character and vision.
What else has influenced your song writing?
Leonard Cohen’s poetry and musical brilliance is my songwriting compass. He has left the world much ‘richer’ through his art. And that’s what I aspire to do in my own little way.
You released two albums in Greece and you are now living in London. Besides the serendipitous encounter with Danton, do you find there are greater opportunities in London for your music?
I feel like there is room for everyone who wants to create something meaningful in London. At the same time, while it is an extremely charming city, it can get really hard at times, and you have to really know what you are here for. It’s thus a matter of endurance. Ever since I found my own purpose here, I feel like doors are opening in a very serendipitous way. I’ve met people I now work within music while walking my dog, or at the pub. I love it.
Lastly, tell us the last album you listened to, the last book you read?
‘I’m Not Your Man’ by Marika Hackman and ‘A Confederacy of Dunces’ by John Kennedy Toole, both of which I highly recommend.
Irene releases Planet on March 6th which will be followed by her new album ‘Matterless’ on May 4th