On Oct. 5, Is it People, the indie rock duo comprised of vocalist-guitarist-bassist Antoine Gallois, BCom ’18, and drummer Romain Peynichou, U3 Arts, released their first EP, Living Inside. Although it only features four tracks, Living Inside has been an ongoing project for the two musicians since October 2017, when they began casually playing together on the weekends.
“When we started jamming, there was no decision that […] we were going to make an EP out of this,” Gallois said in an interview with The McGill Tribune. “When we took the Christmas break we were like, ‘These [sessions were] pretty cool. Let’s think about them and see if we can do something with them when we come back.’”
And so, Gallois and Peynichou recorded most of the EP over the Winter 2018 reading week, adding the finishing touches over the summer. All the recording took place in Peynichou’s bedroom.
“It was very DIY,” Gallois said. “Romain didn’t have that many microphones […] so we just borrowed some mics from McGill [and] from Romain’s friends.”
Peynichou attributes the success of this impromptu setup to the resources available at the McGill library as well as support from the tight-knit local music community.
Beyond the makeshift recording setup, the two took an experimental approach to producing the project. While artists typically go into recording with some plan of what they hope to create, Is it People improvised much of Living Inside’s instrumentals.
“We had these jams, we recorded them, and it’s after we recorded that we really made these decisions and really tortured ourselves with what we were going to do with them,” Gallois said. “It made it super hard, but fun and a good experiment.”
Owing to their lack of musicians, Is it People makes many of their stylistic decisions based on their status as a duo. Whereas a standard four-piece band involves a singer, guitarist, bassist and drummer, Gallois and Peynichou needed to record each of these instrumentals separately, and then layer them on top of each other in the editing process. According to Peynichou, this allowed them to build a fuller sound, and creates a unique aesthetic.
“On the record [there are] two guitars playing, a bass, keys, drums, and vocals, so we’d need other people if we want to perform it, so the music kind of lives only on the software,” Gallois said.
Much like Living Inside, Is it People had a spontaneous beginning. Gallois and Peynichou met during their first year at McGill and quickly figured out that they shared similar musical tastes. By their second year, they started playing together in Montreal jam crowds and, eventually, tried to form a band with others. While that band never got off the ground, Gallois and Peynichou found that they enjoyed working with each other and decided to continue playing together.
The duo drew inspiration for Living Inside from one of their favourite bands, Tame Impala, as well as their own experiences as students. Their lyrics discuss themes of loneliness and longing, and they frequently reference people they met during their university careers.
“The EP actually talks a lot about being inside your own head and dealing with those lonely hours that we can have as McGill students,” Peynichou said.
While both Gallois and Peynichou currently have their hands full with their academic careers, they are eager to continue experimenting and producing music as members of Is it People.
“I think right when we released [Living Inside…] I was like ‘oh, I can’t wait to make another one,’” Gallois said.
Living Inside is available on Spotify, YouTube, Bandcamp, and Deezer.