Redbrick Meets: OUTLYA | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Redbrick Meets: OUTLYA

Recently blown away an outstanding OUTLYA performance, Kylie McCormick sits down with their lead singer.

Once and a while there comes along a band whose live show is so energised and ground-breaking that it shakes the reality of life for a short time. I was not expecting that when I entered a small Birmingham venue, and yet OUTLYA completely destroyed the tapestry of reality when they opened for Dan Croll. It was from that moment that I became a fan, and so when their name came up on the Barn On The Farm line-up I knew I would have to find a way to chat with them. OUTLYA lead singer Will and I sat down in a shady tent on the Farm to chat about music creation and all that awaits them this year.

Their dedicated group of fans stop us continuously for pictures and hugs, something Will says he is still getting used to

OUTLYA may be a newer band, but they are quickly gaining a following. What they call their ‘choir’ is a dedicated group of fans that continuously stop us as we walk to our tent, asking for pictures and hugs. Giddy and excited, they chat quickly, soaking in the moments of this new relationship. It is something Will says he is still getting used to, but it is certainly something that shows no signs of stopping. OUTLYA have been playing together for five years and are just now arching into the limelight. Part of this new-found fame certainly comes from the engaging sound.

Will tells us that as a band five years ago they ‘tried a lot of different sounds. About a year and a half ago things changed; we made a decision to step away from the kind of typical-white-guys-in-a-band-playing-shiny-guitar sound. We went a little more left-field, added in a little more pop.’ The sound they came to, and the sound that has now come to typify their band, is an electronic alternative pop sound that is monstrous. Each song builds and arches with great fever, slaying those who listen to it. ‘I knew I wanted it to be very big and very bold,’ says Will, an aim that you realise has obviously been achieved when you listen to OUTLYA’s singles. 

I knew I wanted our sound to be very big and very bold

Singles ‘Heaven’ and ‘Higher’, along with the band’s other material, certainly demonstrate the ‘big beats and fast sounds’ that the boys love. How do they create such bombastic tunes? Well, Will and the others take a page from artists they love, like The Black Keys and The White Stripes, and intertwine ‘big, meaty, bluesy sounds’ with ‘sample electronic music and these big pop elements’. In doing so, OUTLYA create uniquely genre-splicing tunes that are anthematic in every way.

It’s clear that OUTLYA’s sound is different and fresh, but this isn’t the only thing that makes the band really distinguishable. OUTLYA also have a firm grasp on their visual brand. Where some bands flounder in the pink pop world of over-processed images and over-saturated Instagrams, OUTLYA have a very identifiable aesthetic that lends itself to the band’s overall image. Working religiously within a scheme of blues and yellows, the band creates a visual show and aesthetic that displays a greatly artistic and intentional approach to their brand. It means that they are immediately identifiable in pictures and in the crowd. Colours seep into their writing too, they create songs that that become synesthetically associated. While Will doesn’t see the colours, he does understand that songs can be connected to them: ‘I don’t see colours but I can feel them when I hear the music. I don’t want to go to a gig and see ten red songs.’ So OUTLYA connect their colour scheme to their music in advance, ‘There’s this song, “Higher”, that has this earthy, green feel to it. The blue thing was something we wanted to stick with. It’s the base for everything we want to do.’ The result is that the concept of OUTLYA becomes synchronised and seamless, allowing the band to explore and create new tunes that are brilliant but still uniquely on brand. 

OUTLYA connect their colour scheme and set in advance, creating seamlessly synchronised shows

Despite an insanely busy summer schedule, the band is in fact still creating new music. Will tells us that ‘what we are trying to do is put music out really regularly. But now that we’ve hit festival season we’ve actually allowed ourselves some time before we let something else out.’ With a new record label and a growing fan base, we can be certain that the new music will be gracing our ears very soon.

OUTLYA is an engaging band of lads whose music is distinctively brilliant and unique. Their ability to create an complete experience for fans, both in the listening and with the aesthetics, propels their showmanship to another level. As the band continues to grow and release songs it will be exciting to see how their sound and image continue to evolve for the long career ahead of them.


Music contributor from Los Angeles. PhD in Music Festivals and Identity. (@kyliemccormick)


10th July 2017 at 11:00 am