SAE Extra: Running your own Project as a DIY Operation with Low Island

13 May 2021
18:00 to 20:00
13 May

Join us as we invite award winning Low Island to share their experiences, answer questions and offer key tips in running a fully DIY operation. 

Shortly after the release of Low Island’s highly anticipated debut album If You Could Have It All Again - released on the band’s new label Emotional Interference through AWAL and supported by the prestigious PPL Momentum Fund - the band will be joining SAE to share their experiences, answer questions and offer key tips in running an independent operation. The event will also feature some exclusive previews of live performance videos.

Since forming the project in November 2015 - and amassing 6 million+ streams on Spotify - Low Island have more than half a decade of experience in writing, producing, recording, mixing, editing, collaborating, touring, releasing, campaigning, promoting, managing, budgeting, applications, publishing/mechanical rights, and more. Starting out under a more traditional project/business model, the band have adopted a highly independent, self-reliant and autonomous approach, which has afforded them invaluable insights into the inner workings of the modern music industry. Despite the many successes, there have been setbacks and pitfalls, through which the band have gained invaluable experience in adapting and developing.

This talk will range all the way from the technical aspects of their critically acclaimed and highly complex live show/production, to the often obfuscated yet crucial business aspects of an ever-evolving industrial landscape. There will be something for you whether you’re a rapper/MC, a band, a singer/songwriter, a DJ, an instrumentalist, or any kind of musician looking to start their own career and run their own DIY operation.


Recipients of the 2020 PPL Momentum Award, Low Island is made up of childhood friends: singer and multi-instrumentalist Carlos Posada, producer Jamie Jay, bassist Jacob Lively and jazz drummer Felix Higginbottom.

Forming in 2016, the band have shared a handful of lauded EPs over the last four years, holding hands with both the regal pop sensibilities of latter day Radiohead and the buoyant synth-led gusto of LCD Soundsystem and Talking Heads, bringing accolades from BBC Radio 6 Music, NME and DIY, who described the band as offering the ‘middle ground between In Rainbows electronic wizardry and the life-affirming bangers of Caribou’. It has won them plaudits from Lauren Laverne and Tom Robinson, who included the band in their highlights of 2019, and taken them to festivals across Europe including Glastonbury, Open Air Zurich, Lollapalooza Berlin and Reeperbahn.

Their 4 EPs have seen them move from the hushed falsetto of first EP Just About Somewhere to the more strident electronic pop of their most recent work, Shut Out The Sun. This progression captures the spirit of Low Island; born shape-shifters, darting between uplifting electronica and intimate ballads, never allowing the listener to get too comfortable, but always reaching out with compassionate lyrics that address modern-day loneliness, male fragility and love. A synthesis of a shared musical upbringing encompassing jazz, indie, classical and dance music, theirs is a soundtrack to a 20s scattered with romantic and professional failure, at once melancholic but quietly optimistic.

Undeterred by the grim outlook for the music industry, 2020s lockdown saw the band create a bubble together in a makeshift studio in rural France, a space where they could continue to write and record new music. It also saw them set up their own record label, Emotional Interference, fully taking the reins over their own destiny. Accruing a “small-scale production company’s worth of stuff,” from across their career, and with the ability to create their own light show, produce and conceptualise their own videos, and record and produce their own music – as well as having the music industry know-how to handle their affairs – Low Island have become a DIY machine.

"It was almost seen as a sign of failure before, that you didn't have a label," Posada reckons of the band’s time entrenched in the music industry machine. "We had meetings where people would say: 'Come back when you have a label and a manager', and self-releasing became a really dirty word.” In 2020, though, it’s becoming all the clearer that self-reliance is key, and Low Island now have the pieces in place to continue doing things firmly on their own terms.

With drummer Felix Higginbottom controlling the label and streaming side of things, multi-instrumentalist Jamie Jay helming the band’s lauded live show, bassist Jacob Lively overseeing the campaign and Posada handling email and management duties, it’s an entire spectrum of music industry jobs distilled down to one band. If their non-musical affairs suggested that Low Island were committed to making brave, fierce decisions about their future as a group and as individuals, their new material hammers the point home fiercely.

On their latest singles, the quartet intertwine wonderfully, with guitars and synth lines hazily blending together as Posada’s silky voice glides on top. The sorrow of a lost twenties, a prominent theme throughout their music, is explored on new single ‘In Your Arms’, mourning people moving on and times changing with staggering musical clarity. Previous track ‘Don’t Let The Light In’, featured on the soundtrack of FIFA 2021 and described by Radio1’s Phil Taggart as ‘a beauty’, sees the band’s danceable tendencies come back with a vengeance on a strutting synth smash that sounds like an electrified Caribou.

Supported by Arts Council England for their acclaimed Shut Out The Sun tour of 2019 and the PRS Foundation for the release of their upcoming debut album, they have collaborated with creatives across the artistic spectrum to provide the sonic backdrop to pieces of fashion, dance and theatre, showcasing work at their London headline shows and throughout their ‘Low Island & Friends’ tour, later turned into a documentary by DIY.

If 2020 was destined to be a year of soul-searching for all of us, Low Island have looked deeper into the well than most, emerging with both a musical and practical recalibration, working on their own terms, and pushing firmly forwards.