Find out more about Leeds’ Synth Pop Trio Artio!
I got to grips with Artio’s Hol Brazill and found out what they’re about and where their inspirations come from – they’re an interesting bunch, you’re gonna wanna read this…
Hey guys! Firstly could you tell me a bit about yourselves as a band?
We are an alt-pop/synth-pop trio from Leeds, made up of Hol Brazill (lead vocals), Ieuan Jones (bass, keys, production) and Rob Arkle (lead guitar). We write music that explore politics, climate change, feminism and other momentous social issues of our time; as a way to process and cope with what hurts us and transform it into something productive and beautiful.
What made you want to pursue music? And if you can answer this in the same question – what artists are your biggest musical inspirations?
Personally, I wanted to pursue music as a way to explore and challenge myself, to stand on my own two feet and create an identity in something I loved. I’ve been surrounded by brave and independent women my whole life, so when I began to see the inequality in the music industry and the lack of women, it lit a fire in my belly to become one of those women. I also desired to be a badass activist that can write songs for people to feel empowered and to love themselves – I wanted to be the artist I didn’t see whilst growing up, and encourage people of all genders to rise up and do the same; design their own futures and use their voices to change what they don’t want to see. One artist that inspired me, that made me want to finally pick up that mic and run for this, was Lynn Gunn of PVRIS. I queued for 6 hours in Manchester to see them back in 2016, and her performance changed my life. She owned that stage and didn’t give a shit what anyone thought of her, because she was in her element and living for what she had created. That was something I had never seen before, and it woke something up in me that is still kicking to this day.
Is this something you see still yourself doing in 5, 10 years’ time?
Absolutely. I want to do this for the rest of my life. I’ve had this passion for performing and music since birth, essentially. It’s what gets me up on a morning and I feel very lucky to have found that fire at such a young age. We have plans to go all the way, the whole hog, and that grind takes time. I am absolutely ready to ride the wave and see where creating what I love with my two best friend takes me.
You write about things that are often seen as quite taboo but you do it with such flair; how does your lyrical content come about?
From my early teenage years I’ve been very politically involved. I’ve always wanted things to change, I hate to see injustice, the vulnerable being ignored and was sick to death of feeling powerless. So, I began writing fight songs, spanning mental illness, sexual harassment, government ignorance towards the climate and the effects it’s having on all life on earth, etc. Because of the inherited hero-complex I have, when a track is ready for vocals they seem to just flow out. I try to write with power, with fire; to leave a mark, to tile up an audience, to use the platform we have fought for to fight for other people. I write for those in the venue, those on the other side of the world, and for myself at my lowest points. I want to be living proof that music can be therapy, I want to prove to myself that every time I consider giving in that ‘this is who you are and this is what you do.’
Which song of yours is your favourite, and why?
My favourite Artio track hasn’t been released yet, so unfortunately I can’t disclose – it’s right tasty, though. My favourite that’s out and in our live set is Dancing In the Ashes and Fear is Funny. They are both incredibly politically driven, and very fun to perform. They’re both rather controversial too, which I do love. They’re aimed at fat cats and government that are pleading ignorant to the climate crisis, a very passionate cause of mine: something that has struck fear into my heart and tears to my eyes but has shown me the power of both people and activism. Both tracks let me release these feelings into the world, but with poise and skill, to raise my voice and stand for what I believe in. I think both songs are a beacon of hope to other people fighting for the same cause, the message of immediate action in the name of our planet is planting itself into every industry. Our plight is spreading, and the more people that see we will not back down, the more they will listen.
Talking of the climate, you play a big part in the strikes – tell me more about that..
We were drawn to the climate strike movement when it began getting momentum early this year, and we shot the cover art for Dancing In the Ashes at the Strike on 15th February and have been in every protest in Leeds since then. We then shot the video for the track in the March strike and contacted the organisers – Youth Strike 4 Climate and Extinction Rebellion Leeds – about the release of the song and how it was inspired by and dedicated to this movement. We have since been invited to play every strike since then, in Millennium Square or outside Leeds Town Hall. The strikes have such an amazing sense of community, we can connect with so many people through what we create and develop an audience that know who we are and what we play. None of us in the band eat meat: I’m vegan and Rob and Ieuan are vegetarian with reduced dairy. We have changed our lifestyles in multiple ways to be a part of the bigger picture and make a difference, it’s so empowering to be surrounded by likeminded people, standing together for a better world. We are honoured to perform at each strike and it holds a special place in our hearts. We will continue to support and fight for this movement, with everything we have on stage and off, forever.
What inspired you to start up-cycling and making your own merch?
I must confess, we borrowed the idea from Monmouth Riot Grrrls, Venus. They’re also driven to reduce their carbon footprint as a band and we all wanted to create more sustainable and personal merchandise. We are well aware of the effects fast fashion has on the environment and the horrific conditions sweatshop workers are put in, who make A LOT of the cheap fashion we as buyers consume. We didn’t want to contribute to either of those factors, and we had the means to print the t-shirts and hoodies ourselves. It also enables us to invest in charities, where we buy all the merch from, putting money into good causes. We have since found a sustainable brand and company that create everything here in the UK, and we plan to get some merch printed next year and support a small business – they fit with our morals as well as giving us a more professional result. It’s a win-win.
You guys aren’t much older than myself and I don’t think I’d ever have the confidence to do what you do – how do you deal with the nerves?
As a young child I had immense stage fright. I wouldn’t sing in the house unless the curtains were closed, and performing was my worst nightmare. But over time it has become my biggest passion and I had to overcome that fear, and I still have to overcome it at every show we do! I feel sick going to soundcheck, I’ll be quiet and shy until I settle into the venue. But when I get my jumpsuit on and get onto the stage I become someone else. To deal with my stage fright I created an exaggerated persona – not to hide behind, but as something that isn’t just me – so I don’t feel exposed. I get up there, no matter how shit scared I am, because it’s the one place I want to be. I have to be my own biggest fan up there. If I start to hesitate or doubt myself I tell myself “you will hit this note” and “you can fucking do this.” If I believe in my skill and myself there’s no fucking stopping me.
Leeds’ scene is absolutely thriving and you guys are doing so well at making a name for yourselves among that – but who’s one underrated band you think we should all be listening to?
Leeds’ scene is cracking, we have so many amazing bands we regularly gig with and love, that there are too many incredibly talented and deserving musicians to say just one. We are very lucky to be a part of the Monmouth Records roster, and would highly recommend checking out everyone on that label, there’s beautiful people and amazing music.
2019 is in its final few weeks – do you have anything up your sleeves for is in that time?
We are finished for 2019 now, we’re bloody exhausted! Because we started as Artio at the back end of 2018 and wanted to release a large body of music throughout 2019, we have had to tirelessly work to create a name for ourselves to support that music, so we’ve had at least 2 shows a month since April.
What’s in store for you guys in 2020?
I can’t share too much yet, but there is some excellent stuff to come. We’ve been writing all year whilst our other music has been making its way to ear canals, and we can’t wait to show the world what we’ve been cooking up. The three of us are immensely proud of what we’ve achieved this year and can’t wait to unleash the Artio beast for 2020. We can say we’re on the first wave of announcements for Live at Leeds and Bingley Weekender! We also have our first Leeds show of 2020 on 13th March, where we’re headlining The Wardrobe and lots more announcements will come, but you’ll have to bare with us.