Like the calm before a storm, there’s a strong sense of impending change in the air. It’s holistically infiltrating every corner of our world, from the global economy to the way we greet one another, and everything in between; including art.
Like most industries, the music industry took a hit over the last 12 months. Like a lot of industries, it was already in a bad way before that. And, again, like a lot of industries, its traditional systems – and accepted prevailing wisdoms – have irrevocably fallen apart.
But unlike most industries, the music industry needn’t be burnt to the ground and started from scratch. What the music industry needs, according to While She Sleeps’ frontman Loz Taylor, is some slight tinkering, some minor adjustments; a gentle but stern kick up the backside. And with their new album Sleeps Society, that’s just what the UK outfit is doing.
“There are a lot of different ways that you can put music out there now and not all of it is always 100% positive in terms of finding a balance within the industry and how it gives back to the artist,” he explains to Blunt Magazine from his shelter in UK Lockdown #4782572. “From an artist’s point of view, that’s important.”
Sleeps Society is more than just an album, and that isn’t some desperate metaphor – it literally is more than just an album. To coincide with the new music, While She Sleeps established The Sleeps Society, a community by which fans can directly support the band financially, in return for some rare, otherwise unobtainable content.
“We set out to start The Sleeps Society as a way to basically help it be a more sustainable journey for us,” Loz points out.
“The way that certain things are going is quite old school now. The way that we digest our music, expand our music, has completely changed from how it used to be. With The Sleeps Society, it was about getting out a message, and trying to step forth in a more positive way by just addressing some of the problems and some of the things that we’ve been finding in the industry.
“One of the main messages that we’re trying to deliver with this way of doing things: moving crowdsourcing into the forefront of a campaign and not using it as a side hustle.”
To Loz’s point, the music industry is incredibly antiquated. Using outdated systems, propped up by outdated ways of doing things, the industry really has nowhere to point the finger but internally. Having said that, While She Sleeps have far loftier goals in mind than spending their time complaining.
“It means that we don’t just have to be a clothing line.
“It has allowed us to sort of move away from these corporate companies that just want to basically get their hands in the honeypot. And for a lot of the time, and I’m not saying this is across the board by any means, but a lot of the time, there’s a subpar job.”
Even with the album still as yet unreleased, the results are starting to show. Loz and his band of brothers, free from the shackles of the way things were once done, have been afforded the creative freedom to truly knuckle down on the music, to spend more time servicing their fans rather than appeasing some vague corporate overlord.
For instance, despite being born in a global pandemic, Sleeps Society isn’t a pandemic album, not in the sense that we’re used to at this point. “It can be quite a depressing vision,” Loz says of taking heed from the recent global predicament for inspiration. “For me, I’ve been trying to focus on the smaller victories and that seems to be getting me through all right. I think for anyone that’s waiting for this all to end, they could be waiting for quite a while. So, focus on the small victories and it might help you out a little bit.”
“Just getting to the end of the week and rather than focusing on what you didn’t manage to achieve because of the lockdown, try and think about what you did manage to achieve even though we are in the situation, you know?”
It’s a perspective that otherwise may have fallen through the grid had they been otherwise preoccupied with ticking boxes à la the old school album release mentality the industry seems to reward. But it’s also a perspective that makes Sleeps Society a stand-out album in its field.
The full-length sees the band effortlessly stretch and reach the furthest corners of the While She Sleeps extended universe that they’ve carefully sculpted over five albums. From the skull-crushing, dense heaviness of ‘YOU ARE ALL YOU NEED’ to the sprawling, sparse ambience we find on the album’s title track, Sleeps Society contains within it the most vivid and detailed snapshot of the band to date.
A testament to their ever-building pull power is the addition of guest vocals from both Biffy Clyro’s Simon Neil and Sum 41’s Deryck Whibley. It’s also a testament to the kind of left-field and exciting creative decisions a band will make when there are fewer cooks in the kitchen.
But it isn’t just While She Sleeps, or their creations, or even their fans, who stand to benefit from this proposed newfound paradigm for musicians. “It’s about how it can help younger bands as well,” Loz adds.
“We want to be able to turn around in the future and say, ‘The music industry in the UK is a really positive place. Follow your dream in that way and be a musician.’ We don’t want to turn around and say, ‘It’s a really difficult world, and there’s no point getting into it because it is a nightmare.’
“Nobody in the industry loves your band more than you do. The more you can get to the grassroots of that, then the more that you can put out to your fans.”