Indie pop band LONG ISLAND

LONG ISLAND: Indie In All Its Forms

Have you heard LONG ISLAND? If you haven’t, we predict you soon will. This Huddersfield-based indie project is a band on the rise. 

LONG ISLAND’s music is a gratifying mix of punchy pop hooks and resolute rock sensibilities. There's even a hint of disco in infectious single ‘Blissful Satisfaction'. Their seamless merging of genres and influences, coupled with notable songwriting ability and first-class production, has set them apart.

Having met as music students at university, LONG ISLAND is lead vocalist Rhiannon Stephenson, bassist Patrick Spence-Lewis, drummer Jan van Beem, and guitarist, backing vocalist and producer Cameron Conner.

Long Island indie pop band

The debut album – ‘Infatuation’s a Nightmare’ – was released in January 2023 and immediately attracted critical and fan appreciation. Telling the story of a love affair, from its rapturous beginning to its bitter end, it showcases LONG ISLAND’s talent for crafting thoughtful, heartfelt lyrical content. There’s a rich, dark layer of introspection and regret beneath the anthemic choruses and infectious melodies.

Our favourite track is ‘Average’. That’s not a rating; that’s its name. As well as being a sumptuous slice of fantastic feel-good pop, the song, about moving on from a breakup, features some great lyrical putdowns.

We’ll be catching LONG ISLAND live soon at Also Known As – our favourite music venue in our hometown of Banbury – but for this deep dive into the band’s journey from talented music students to prodigious rising stars of the indie music scene, we had a lovely chat with guitarist Cameron.

Mix yourself a Long Island iced tea and read on to find out what all the fuss is about.

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Thanks for agreeing to be grilled. To start, please introduce yourself and the band.

CAMERON CONNER We are LONG ISLAND. I’m Cameron. I’m guitarist, backing vocalist, and producer. We have Rhiannon, better known as Rizzy, who is our singer. Patrick, or Paddy, is our bassist. Jan is our drummer.

We’re from all over - Manchester, Hull, London - but we’re based in Huddersfield now. We’re all music and music technology students.

We’ve all had separate individual projects, as well as LONG ISLAND. Paddy was part of the band Quentin before he joined us, for example.

I’m a freelance producer for lots of electronic and pop artists, alongside running my own project, Aminica.

Describe LONG ISLAND’s music for us.

We make indie in all its forms, from electronic to pop, to rock. It’s a melting pot of all our favourite music. We all come from such different backgrounds of writing music but fell upon this love of indie pop together.

Whenever we write it’s bringing in those influences, from the styles of music we individually enjoy, to this indie pop place.

How and when did the band start?

The LONG ISLAND project was spawned out of a university module we had together back in January 2022 for our master's course at the University of Huddersfield, with the aim of writing an album in a term as a group. It went really well.

We had so much fun writing, we thought why not continue doing it.

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Tell us about the personalities in the band. Who’s the punctual one? Who’s the diva? Dish the dirt! 

I’m definitely the dad of the group. I try to plan and keep us all organised. It can be so stressful at times, especially as we do everything ourselves.

Rizzy can take on the diva role if we’ve got rehearsals or writing happening. Expect her to be at least 15 minutes late.

Jan is a bit of a daydreamer. You catch him at rehearsals just drifting off.

Paddy is the epitome of Golden Retriever energy. He’s just always happy to be there and never fails to make you smile.

It's not only infatuation that's a nightmare; naming a band is too. What's the story behind yours?

Someone, I won’t name names, drank too many Long Island iced teas on an evening out, celebrating the end of having written the album.

We considered a few names, but LONG ISLAND seemed to be the one that stuck.

Your debut album’s done really well. Tell us about it.

It’s called ‘Infatuation’s a Nightmare’. We’re so proud of it. We wrote and recorded it between January and April 2022, alongside our friend Brad Weston. It was just Rizzy, me, and Brad in the project at the time.

We had the idea of following a story through the album, of a relationship from its beginning to its end. All 9 tracks were spawned in those 9 weeks, alongside 15 scrapped and unfinished tracks.

We spent the next few months polishing up the songs. And then working out how to play them live!

What was the first LONG ISLAND gig like?

It was an amazing experience! To have around 150 people there for our first show was definitely a nerve-racking experience. We played The Lending Room in Leeds. It was 22 October 2022: the day our second single came out.  

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You’ve done plenty of gigs since. What’s been the biggest pinch me moment?

We’ve had so many in this short amount of time. We’ve been asked to play with some amazing bands and play some amazing stages that we never expected in our first year as a band. We’ve played with the likes of Tom A Smith, Corella, The Royston Club, and NEEVE, all this year!

Being able to play the music that we’ve been so excited about to people who really enjoy it, and hearing them singing back to us, is an amazing feeling.

Describe your song writing process for us. Where do the ideas come from?

I create a lot of the concepts for songs instrumentally, usually creating masses of little ideas or loops that get sent to the band.

Rizzy usually takes them from there, cutting out the ones we aren’t vibing with, and sitting with the ones we do.

Then we bring them to the whole band to write with. This process usually cuts us down from say 50 tracks to 5, then to probably 2 final, completed tracks.

 

Who are your musical heroes?

As a band, we all love bands like PVRIS and Pale Waves.

Personally, my musical heroes are Paramore - I’ve been a fan of them for 16 years now - and Fickle Friends. They make the most amazing, fun indie music. Their production is incredible, and their shows are so much fun too. I’d love to learn how they write and produce.

On the subject of learning, do you have any advice for someone considering a life in music?

Just do it! The more that you think about doing it, procrastinating, the longer things will take.

And ask about anything. The worst people can say is no. We’ve had some amazing opportunities this year just from asking if we could be involved.

Long Island indie pop band

Couldn’t agree more. Grab life by the plums. It's been great learning more about the band. Cheers, Cameron. We're looking forward to your gig at Also Known As later this month [20 October 2023].

Thank you, TEN OF CLUBS. You’re amazing, for arranging with us to do this cool interview and for working with young artists to help sell their work. Paying designers fairly is doing the industry right.

I love this Bone Heads Tee. The sketch design of the skull on the front is very cool.

Bone Heads Tee 100% cotton graphic t-shirtBone Heads Tee 100% cotton graphic t-shirt

Thanks, dude. What’s next for LONG ISLAND?

Our new single - ‘It's Our Time! - is out in November. It’s the first time collaborating with other people in the process: getting an artist in to do the cover art and getting help with mastering the tracks. We’re very excited about this one.

Alongside that, we’re playing our biggest headline show to date, at Parish in Huddersfield on 24 November [2023], with our friends Little Planets and Northern Dialect. We’re going to be debuting loads of new music.

Hopefully next year we can go on tour – potentially a little solo headline tour, or by joining a band we love as main support – and obviously writing loads more music in the process too.

The interrogation is over. We'll see you in a couple of weeks at AKA. Any parting words?

Thanks for listening to everything we do and for coming out to the shows. We wouldn’t have been able to do everything we have without you all.

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► 'Infatuation's a Nightmare' by LONG ISLAND is streaming now on SpotifySoundcloud, Apply MusicBandcamp and elsewhere.

📸 Ciaran Wilson

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