In Conversation with Earl Gray Collective

Formed in 2013, Earl Gray Collective is a, well, collective of four talented artists. This South London fourpiece is known for delivering blues and funk-inspired indie pop. We had a quick chat with lead vocalist Will Gray about their latest single ‘Holiness’ and its live session video.


How did you come up with the band name Earl Gray Collective?

We came up with the name when lead singer Will Gray and drummer Katie Earl met at university. On hearing each other’s last names we decided that we should either get married or start a band. We ended up forming the band.


Can you tell us about the single ‘Holiness’?

‘Holiness’ is our first single that we’ve released since our last EP Shades of Blue. The music is far more delicate and intricate and sees us at our most intimate and vulnerable. It’s full of expansive guitar textures and sympathetic production which envelope and guide the intimate story.


Does ‘Holiness’ have any significant meaning to any band member?

This song was written by Will (lead singer) and portrays the journey of watching his wife dealing with the pain of insomnia. The storyline follows a night where she couldn’t sleep, the pain of watching her struggle, but the deep beauty and joy of watching her heroically never giving up hope, never giving in to despair and always crying out to God. It’s raw and it’s honest.


You have also released a video for ‘Holiness’. Can you tell us about that?

Yeah, we were super excited to do our first live music video. Obviously, with the song being called ‘Holiness’ and having religious connotations, we wanted to find a suitable location, so through Katie’s nan, we managed to find this gorgeous old church that was over 1000 years old steeped in history and charm. We decided to shoot it there and it was a bit of a crazy night, but it was totally worth doing.




Do you find recording a live session video is more stressful than a typical video with a storyline?

Since this was our first music video we can’t really compare the two, but I’d imagine we would find it more stressful, yes. Especially since we were doing all of the set-up and recording the audio ourselves which made it quite intense. The video guy was a real hero though and was really helpful in bringing direction and energy to the project, even when we were running into the early hours of the morning. We definitely put him through the paces in the edit having it all live with no track, but it was definitely worth it in our opinion.


If you could change the song title from ‘Holiness’, what would it be?

Tough question. I am literally terrible at thinking up song titles so that was my best and only option.


How do you keep yourself motivated?

Again, a tough question. I guess we just keep listening to lots of music. We keep writing things that inspire us and bring us joy, and always try and remember that we do it because we enjoy it and not because we have to make it. Other than that, I think we stay motivated by all of us having other projects on the go.


How would you describe your music to a person who has never encountered Earl Gray Collective?

*laughs*  We never really know, but this is what we’ve come up with so far. A piano-led blues and funk-inspired indie rock/pop with an expressive and vibrant tone, but that’s a bit misleading. Since our latest track ‘Holiness’ we’d probably describe us as being more intimate and atmospheric.


What do you find more difficult – melody or lyrics?

Can I say both? I find harmony easiest. Melody and lyrics are probably the same, but if I had to then probably melody is easier for me.


Do you have a message for all our readers?

Sure. ‘Holiness’ is about the reality of dealing with difficult situations and not giving in. It’s not about overcoming things by yourself, but it’s always better to lean into others and into God. My message would be: if you’re finding life hard at the moment, certainly with coronavirus, don’t suffer alone. It’s always better to talk to others and it’s never something to be ashamed of. There is always hope to be found in every situation.

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