When we’re locked in and singing, there’s a buzz, it feels like a wave between us, a physical reaction. It’s more than sound.” Lily Somerville is trying to make sense of what happens when she sings with Megan Markwick, her best friend and bandmate in Ider. “When we first met it was very instinctual, it’s the way our voices are built, they sound good together,” adds Somerville, sounding satisfied.
The 11 tracks on Emotional Education, the duo’s debut album, mark the culmination of a seven-year process that began when they met studying music at university in Falmouth. Folky beginnings gave way to Ider, and a sound souped up on keyboards, thunderclap percussion, euphoria and agony. They laugh when they say they’re “part of a genreless generation” but the juxtaposition of opposite elements defines Ider, alongside those harmonies and their friendship. “At the heart of what we do are harmonies, vocals and lyrics,” says Markwick. “In the past we maybe worried we didn’t have ‘a sound’, but almost without realising, [we found] a core identity in everything we do. It’s hard to stick to one genre because things come out in different ways and evolve. We’re open to where the song takes us.”
The pair speak with similar frankness about the emotional content of their songs, from the highs of Swim, to the anguish of Saddest Generation. “Who we are in our music is based around our friendship and the fact we can be so honest with each other,” says Markwick. “We’re able to be honest and real. The record has a lot of different threads, it feels deep, hard and emotional, but it’s also empowering, raw and hopefully relatable. We want people to connect and not feel alone.”
For years now, the band have been joined together in North London, writing in their bedrooms and working in pubs. No subject is off limits. “We wanted the album to come entirely from the heart, we’re firm believers that the more personal something is, the more universal it is,” says Somerville. “There are hard times. People are being more open now about things like mental health, wellbeing, anxiety and depression and that’s great.” Markwick acknowledges that Ider are out of step with much of the music business in that they’re not “in rooms with multiple writers” and is open about the effects trying to make it in music can have. “There have been some big ups and some big downs, the music industry can be harsh,” she says. “There’s a lot of pressure to be an artist and a social media expert, you’ve got to sell yourself.”
The chanted chorus on Invincible (“We are so invincible”) says much about Ider’s spirit, and their album radiates strength. “I feel so proud of us and what we’ve achieved,” Somerville sums up. “We pushed for the album to be the best it could be and we’ve achieved something really great…”