Port Isla are a captivating alternative rock band from Norwich. I was lucky enough to have a chat with William Bloomfield, the lead singer of the band, before they kicked off their UK tour at The Lexington.
So Port Isla, how did you get that name?
It’s based on a very pretty place in Spain called Isla. I went there on a family holiday when I had just finished school. I took a lot of photos of this really nice island, a port and lots of nautical stuff. When I came to university, we didn’t have a name. We started using all this art work that I had taken photos of that wound its way into this made up place. We sort of stitched things together and made a mythical, fake island.
Where did you go to uni?
I went to uni at UEA in Norwich […] I went there with our drummer and our guitarist Henry and Stanley and we all met there. Then we roped in our bassist Willem who was the cool London kid. We studied music and we pretty met in our first semester. We played through the whole three years and didn’t take it too super seriously. As soon as we finished, we thought it would be quite a nice thing to do. We worked really hard on it from then and now we are doing it full time.
What was your favourite band when growing up?
Mine personally when I was growing up was The Strokes. I love The Strokes. I was probably a bit young to be getting into them; I was about 10 years old. My friend’s cool older sister had this song on this CD and I asked if I could borrow it. I used to come home and do my homework and listen to this one record which was ‘Is This It’. It’s this really cool American record and it made me want to be in a cool band. My parents played a lot of great music at home. They were really into their music. Things like The Beatles, Neil Young and Led Zeppelin.
When did you realise music was something you wanted to pursue?
I was a classically trained little choir boy. I used to sing around the house. There was always music playing so I would always sing along. My parents got me into singing and piano lessons. I knew that music was what I wanted to do. I never really had a moment of doubt growing up; I knew it would be something musical. I started playing really young and I am so glad – I am so glad that my parents stuck at me and made me do it!
What is your creative process for writing songs?
I write the majority of the songs. An idea comes into my head out of nowhere. A lot of times when I am driving, I will have to write something down. I am inspired by anything, a film or being on a tube or a phrase, like turn of phrase. I like using British idioms.
What is your advice for university students who want to form a band?
University is arguably the best time to do it. I wanted to write songs all of the time. I spent all my time writing and not doing my homework. You are constantly meeting new people and finding people with the same interests as you, so it is worth trying to sit down and play an instrument with someone. I am really lucky as I am stuck with the first two people I started making music with; I met Stanley when he was standing outside our student bar!
Find out more about Port Isla at http://portisla.com/ and check out their EP ‘In the Long Run’ which is available on iTunes.