Into the Ark: An interview with Dane LloydCultureMusic
Into the Ark are a two-man soulful acoustic band from Blackwood in South Wales, comprised of Taylor Jones and Dane Lloyd, who entered the limelight after getting to the final of The Voice. They have an EP and a 12-track album coming out next year and will be touring the UK and Ireland. The Upcoming spoke to Dane about The Voice, their past work covering Reggae songs in Australia and their plans for the future.
Congratulations on getting to the final of The Voice this year. What would you say would be the main thing that you’ve learnt from the process?
I think mainly the pressure of those situations – like, God, I did not except to get the anxiety I did from it – and then just dealing with that on stage. Because it’s a bit different to a normal gig, where if you’re rubbish on the first song you can kind of like warm into the second, the third, the fourth and the fifth and all that. With this one it’s like you only have a minute or a minute and fifteen of a song and you’ve literally got to nail it because it’s live on TV. So that took a lot of getting used to but kind of made all these other shows seem a lot more relaxed, which is nice.
Is there anything you’d do differently if you could do it again?
Yeah, sing better. I don’t know, man. I say this to Taylor all the time, like if we did it now, man, the way I feel a bit more confident with my singing, I’d be so much better. But then I guess that’s just one of those things. But, yeah, I think I’d just kind of relax a bit more, hopefully. Because we’d done a lot of gigs I thought we’d be the most chilled out of everyone but it seemed to be the opposite. Like the people that were a bit more naïve of playing live, they didn’t have as much worry as me and Taylor did.
Speaking of how long you’ve been playing, I noticed that you’ve been performing together since you were 14 and 18.
Yeah, kind of. That’s a bit exaggerated, that is… we didn’t start performing as a duo until Taylor was 18 and I was 23. [Before then] it was more me giving him advice when he was 14. He would ask questions like, “How do you make money when you’re busking”, and I’d be like, “Well do school, do college first and come with me now and then, if you want”. And I said, “When you turn 18 we can do some gigs”, and we went abroad [to Australia] then and did proper shows.
What was it like in Australia?
That was cool. We weren’t playing original music then. We’d do some originals live but we never really saw ourselves as artists, although we wanted to be. We just needed to make money I guess and since everything was so fresh and new, we just really enjoyed playing music in general. We made sure we never played covers like covers, we always changed them to our kind of style, which is normally just slow and sad. [laughs] But it worked well! And travelling in general is just awesome so that’s always been a big part of music for us and why we do it. And all we did is eat ice creams during the day and go on the slides and go to the beach and then sang some songs in the night. And wrote like an album’s worth of music out there.
Do you think that travelling helped with the songwriting?
Yeah, definitely. The favourite part of music for me is writing, 100%, that’s what I think my strongest part of music is. Travelling in general just helps with writing because you kind of miss home, if you’re missing your girl or your family, or you meet people, which digs out a lot of feeling and that really helps with the writing.
Who was your favourite person to cover and have you got any musical inspirations?
Well, I was a massive reggae fan back then and we loved changing a load of Bob Marley songs to really sad and depressing versions. So Bob Marley is one of my biggest inspirations but our main thing to do was soul music and to make it a bit more folky. So: Otis Redding, we loved doing a bit of Marvin Gaye, some Billy Ocean, which is funny enough because we supported him later in life. When you’re doing these places that are just general public though, you do have to cover everything and it was quite exciting even to do your typical ones, like even blooming Oasis, and change them to what you like doing. Not many people liked the cooler stuff we were into so we didn’t play that as much. But we still did it, so you know, John Mayer and Ryan Adams.
What plans have you got for the future? Have you got an album in the offing?
Well, we just recorded our first five-track EP in Valencia two weeks, which we’re really excited to release because we’ve done it really old school. We did everything live so everything’s in one take… and you literally can’t mess up. We really wanted to do it like that. One of my favourite things to watch was this documentary on the wrecking crew, basically all the old famous session musicians, who used to play and they really had to do everything from start to finish. And we really wanted to capture how we would play live so that’s gonna be really nice to release. And then we are doing our album in either late January or February, which will be a 12-track album.
You’ve got a tour in February round about the time of the album – is there anywhere you’re particularly excited to play?
Really excited to do a stage that is near our local town of Blackwood, called The Miner’s Institute. It fits about 600 people so I’m looking forward to selling out that because we’ve got a great, massive following in South Wales and it’s quite historical for bands to play there… The home shows are always mental, they’re so mad. We can just have the crowd singing some mad welsh hymns… We’re also off to America in May. We’re playing a load of shows supporting Tom Jones. And we’re playing some really cool places like the LA Greek Theatre, Chicago House of Blues, so it’s gonna definitely be a tick on the bucket list… My brother lives in Nashville. I’ve literally never been but I can’t wait, I wanna see Venice Beach as well.
Nashville’s quite a musical place then, are you a family of musicians?
Nah, it’s just my brother, my older brother. And it’s funny, that’s why I didn’t start playing until I was 18 because my brother’s this insane musical genius when it comes to playing the piano and it was just too intimidating for me. I had to wait for him to move out to pick up an instrument.
Has it been odd going to Wales after The Voice?
It is a bit strange. I said this to my friend… the travelling thing can be a bit mad on your head because as soon as you’re settling down somewhere, you’re packing your bags and setting off again. And coming home is a bit strange – it’s good, everyone’s really nice and not too up-front about it, but the things you used to do you can’t do as much anymore, like casually sitting in McDonald’s or your shop around Asda. Things have changed.
Is your new music a departure from what you have out currently?
It’s slightly different from what people have heard. Because – and I know Taylor feels the same – there are ones that have been released where we only had a day in the studio or like three days max and then you don’t really get much chance to voice your opinion. And this was before The Voice as well so it’s nothing to do with that. Sometimes things get heavily produced and that’s really not what we’re into. And on The Voice we did get to showcase quite well what we’re really into, which is harmonies, playing the guitar and whatnot. So we really wanted to make sure our EP showcased a lot of that. So it’s gonna be a bit different, a bit more heartbreak, a bit more acoustic, a bit more folky… definitely more of what we’re about.
Do you have any advice you’d give someone trying to get into the music industry?
I think my best advice for that is make sure you don’t try to fit yourself to want people want, be yourself, I know that’s cliché but, seriously, be yourself and find out what you are about musically. And another thing is get busking, get travelling because that’s the only way you can find what people find is the best you do and what works, by playing to strangers pretty much. You find out who you are then as well.
Any closing comments?
I dunno, sometimes I don’t like to try and speak too arty about things, just because… everybody can do that… Check out the EP and come see us live, there we are, that’s my finishing statement.
For further information and future events visit the Into the Ark website here.