Erthlings are a band a lifetime in the making. Issy Lowe, Jessame Stepto, Taylor Shutes and Lissa Evans came together at a music school in inner-city Sydney at age 8, started writing songs by the time they were 9 and now, aged 16, they’re ready to share their sound.
Their bond has made their music an innately collaborative process. Issy and Taylor are cousins; Jess, Taylor and Lissa attended primary school together. All four are intimately involved in every track, from perfecting each guitar riff through to the lyrics they pen together. It’s a chemistry that comes naturally to the band. “I don’t think there’s been one song we’ve made in the past couple of years that wasn’t a group effort,” explains vocalist Isabelle Lowe.
Erthlings’ indie-pop songs are built from both electronic and live sounds, with Lissa on drums, Jess on guitar, Taylor on bass and Issy both singing and playing piano. Some tracks leave open space for Issy’s icy vocals to take centre stage, others ramp up the drums and bass or centre on woozy guitar strums. The songs are also informed by vocalist Isabelle’s synaesthesia — a rare neurological condition that allows her to associate colours with certain musical notes.
Everything Erthlings write draws from personal experience, vignettes of the things they’ve seen and those they’ve lived through. Some tracks are full of attitude, strength, empowerment and sass. Others delve into frustration, disappointment, failed friendships and bridges burned — experiences given voice by four young women who won’t be boxed in.
“It’s never been a weird thing for us that we’re a young, all-female band. We’ve never thought about it twice,” says Issy. The themes Erthlings write about, she thinks, are universal. “I think we’re doing what most people in music are doing. We’re just trying to write about what we know.” It’s early days for Erthlings, but they’ve already found their voice.