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From Halifax to Outer Space- A Conversation with The Orielles

Hailing from the sleepy West Yorkshire town of Halifax, are four-piece indie rock band, The Orielles. Sisters, Esme and Sidonie Hand-Halford, Henry Carlyle-Wade and Alex Stephens are the complete cosmic collective.

It’s late afternoon on a Monday and I’m speaking to Sidonie B, the drummer. Sid answers the phone with a strong but friendly northern accent, to be expected from a Yorkshire lass like herself.

Music runs in the blood of the Hand-Halfords as their father Adam was a drummer in 80’s indie band, The Train Set. “When we were growing up we were surrounded by music and Dad introduced us to loads of bands that we still listen to today, but he never pushed us into it. I remember hearing him play the drums and thinking ‘hell yeah, this is what I want to do too”, Sidonie says on our phone call. Despite her Dad being a professional musician, Sidonie is self-taught. “He taught me a very basic drum beat but then he left me to it. I think because he was self-taught he wanted the same for me.”

I chat with Sid about what it was like growing up in Halifax, a minster town in West Yorkshire. To most Halifax is associated with the eponymous bank, founded there in the 1800s. If you were alive in the early 2000’s you’ll probably be thinking of Howard, the guy from the banking adverts who made a career out of singing about the bank’s current offers to the melody of Tom Jones’ ‘Sex bomb’.

“Growing up in Halifax was interesting for sure but there wasn’t a lot going on which meant we had to look outside of the town for inspiration. We went to Leeds, Sheffield, and Manchester and hung out with people there because being in a band in Halifax was definitely difficult and we seemed to be the only ones doing what we were doing. There were a few rock bands but no one making similar music to us, so it was kind of hard finding our feet.

In a way, it was a bit of a blessing in disguise as it made us more passionate and determined as we had it quite hard from the start”.

We get chatting about the band’s name ‘The Orielles’ and I find it’s not only derived from the french word for ‘ear’ but it also pays homage to the band’s interest in Northern Soul music. “At the time of picking the name we were listening to a lot of northern soul bands like The Shirelles so I guess we kind of took inspiration from that too,” says Sid.

The band signed to Heavenly records who represent the likes King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, in late 2016 and it’s here things started to take off for the then teens.

Photo credit: Hollie Fernando Photography

“When we got management and label interest we started to take things more seriously. It proved to us that we could do something more with it rather than just jam, play songs and do the occasional one-off show.”

The Orielles released their second album Disco Volador in  February 2020, experiencing rave reviews and a wide range of press coverage. The album is peppered with groovy indie-pop songs featuring elements of surrealism and a feel-good vibe throughout.

Sid tells me the band toyed with whether to name one of the tracks Disco Volador or use it as the title of the album. They went with the latter because when its translated in Spanish it literally means ‘flying disc’. “With the album having a space theme throughout, we decided to use the name for the album in the end and metaphorically, flying and having a good time represents being in the band.”

I asked Sid one of those annoyingly hard questions to answer: give me three words to describe Disco Volador and her answer was ‘space to boogie’. 

The band is known for their creativity and DIY style when it comes to their artwork and music videos, however, Sid tells me they have decided to hand over the creative reigns and would love to work with an animator for videos from their new album. Their aim is to do something a bit different from what they have done before, all whilst tying it in with the theme of outer space.

I quizzed Sid on what the band gets up to on a day to day basis. “I guess every day is kind of different in the sense, for example, right now when we’ve not got any tours, we’re not doing loads but when we’re touring it’s really fast-paced and we travel to different cities and meet new people. Every day is different,” she says. 

With the UK in full-on lockdown mode, we’re not sure what lies ahead for any future festival dates the band has got lined up, but we’re really hoping to see them back on the road soon!

Give yourself some space to boogie and head over to their Spotify page for some isolation groove time.

Cover image credit: Hollie Fernando Photography

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