I’m sitting in a north London pub with two out of four members of Sorry—Asha and Louis—and I’m sweating, mostly since what they're saying doesn't extend any further than a mere one or two syllables. However their reluctance to chat doesn't come off as rude—they just seem to prefer holding back. Ever since the band emerged in 2014 their presence has been one of few words, and tunes too. As fellow London band Shame said of them recently in i-D, “They are not here to impress anyone or write songs they feel would give the A&Rs in the crowd a boner; they are here because music is truly their passion.”
And the music is good; it’s really, really good. Pairing lo-fi, downer-pop riffs, and abrasive electronics with melodies that are both romantic and eerie, they could have been plucked from Olympia in the 90s. But they also sound like being young and in London. Listening to them feels like smoking weed in your flat while it splatters with rain outside, or like watching the bleak, gum-tacked pavements from the top of a double decker while ruminating on a relationship, or going to Spoons at 3PM on Sunday because there’s shit-all else to do. Their official debut single on Domino, “Lies,” which we’re premiering below, is so understated and charged with feeling that it makes you want to crawl inside it just to get closer.
“These days I just can’t keep it together,” Asha sings on it, her voice cracking, gentle, casual. It’s a warped, sludgy, heavy-hearted sort of song, but there's emotion buried beneath it, layers and layers of it. It's the same with last month's mixtape, Home Demo(ns), too; everything they do feels super-charged. I ask them about “Lies,” how they made it, where it came from. They look at each other and shrug. “Dunno,” says Asha, “It’s just a dark song. Make what you want of it.”
Although we’re hardly having an intense back and forth, I do learn a few things about the band. Asha and Louis met nine years ago at school (they’re now just 20) and bonded over “obvious rock stuff” like Elliott Smith and The Pixies, as well as Louis’ hair. “We were in year seven. He just had cool hair,” Asha says softly, while Louis adds, “It was really long. I just didn’t like going to the barbers, to be honest.” The other bandmates—Lincoln and Campbell—came later, after meeting them out and about. Campbell, for instance, also plays guitar in Shark Dentist, a four-piece that sound like a DIY American punk band from the 1980s. They all hang out at the same place—The Windmill pub in south London—which is why a lot of people affiliate them with bands like Shame and Goat Girl. “We’re connected to those bands because we all hang out and they’re the same age as us,” says Louis, “but our music isn’t the same. It’s just that everyone goes to The Windmill.”
When they’re not hanging at The Windmill or holed up in each other’s rooms making music and videos, they tell me they like playing tennis to stay active and “get the sesh out.” At times, they say, it feels as though their lives lack any sort of structure. During the summer, the pair of them wrote a timetable of things to do each day. “We needed to have some sort of routine,” Asha explains, “but we only stuck to it for two days.” What was on the timetable? “Arts and crafts days, things like that,” says Louis, laughing. “I was actually looking forward to it! But oh well.”
As our conversation ebbs and flows, eventually coming to an end, I realize they seem more comfortable speaking in general terms, rather than about the music itself. It's fair enough: sometimes music exists as a statement of intent, as something to be intellectualized; other times it's there to escape exactly that.
When walking out the door, I'm reminded of something King Krule said recently in an interview: “I don’t speak much and that’s something I’ve always been empowered by... Some of the best relationships with other people are in silence.” In some ways, I feel like you could apply that to Sorry’s music. Their songs are the stuff of romance, of the moments in between, of words left unsaid, of ‘feeling’ rather than saying. “I think it’s important to have romance in the world,” Asha barely whispers, towards the end. “I think it’s a bit lost at the moment. I think if you’re romantic about life it makes it a bit more interesting. I think it makes something meaningful.”
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