FOR all the images of sex, drugs and rock & roll, life in a band is not all adoring fans and wild parties.

Take Oxford band Low Island. The four-piece are on a steep upwards trajectory with encouragement from local heroes Radiohead and Foals, praise from the likes of Huw Stephens, Greg James and Lauren Laverne, sold-out shows and a Radio 1 session under their belts. But that doesn’t mean it’s all glamour – as frontman Carlos Posada explains.

“We were playing late at Womad festival in Wiltshire and had to get up to Kendal Calling in the Lake District to open the main stage the next day,” he recalls.

“We decided that we should drive halfway there so that we didn’t have to get up crazy early on the following day. We found an Airbnb for £35 in a place called Billinge. The guy who owned it had a Rottweiler and a fight broke out between him and his mates where they all threatened to stab each other and the dog. We thought we would all die as well.

“It wasn’t funny at the time, but it is now.”

Fortunately things are usually a little calmer for Carlos, his DJ/producer buddy Jamie Jay, bassist Jacob Lively and jazz drummer Felix Higginbottom.

The band, who have just returned from a show at the Lollapalooza Berlin, describe their soulful, dreamy mix of synthy electronica, dance and indie as ‘best for late night drives’. And they are Oxford through and through.

“We were all born here, went to school here, and have played in loads of bands separately and together,” says Carlos, who DJ’d with Jamie under the name Cubiq, playing club nights at the Bullingdon, Cellar and Babylove. “There was also a series of indie bands which were flung on to the scrapheap.” he says.

So how did Low Island come about? “Jamie and I were doing a lot of DJing at the same as time as playing in an indie band with Jacob and Felix,” he recalls.  “The idea behind Low Island was to bring those two worlds together. The whole thing really crystallised for us this year when we saw LCD Soundsystem at All Points East. It was a live band, but a club atmosphere. It’s taken us a while to get to that point though.

“We’ve experimented with a lot of different styles because we’ve found it to be the best way of holding a mirror up to the music and working out what we’re really comfortable with.”  What does their refusal to be pigeonholed say about the band?

“I think it probably says that we’ve been commitment-phobes up until this point,” he says.

“It sounds melodramatic, but I think committing to a single style artistically takes bravery, especially if you have a broad range of tastes, as we do.”

And the nautical name? “It comes from the name of an actual island off the south coast of Ireland where Jamie’s family have a house by the sea,” he says.

“We used to go there when we were younger to catch mackerel and write songs.”

Despite those halcyon origins, Carlos says they had to struggle for recognition. “I don’t think any band has skipped the ‘warm Carling after an empty room in Sheffield and crash on your mate’s floor’ stage,” says Carlos.

“The early days were mainly defined by a series of disaster gigs for no pay while trying to make some money on the side and maintain relationships.

“Little has changed... although I am single now.”

The band, who recently sold-out London’s Scala and recorded a Radio 1 Maida Vale session, today release Low Island 17-18 – a collection of songs from their first three EPs. It also comes out on vinyl – their physical debut.

It includes new single Holding It Down, recorded in Dalston with Matt Wiggins (Oxford’s Glass Animals, The Horrors, Lorde).

“The idea is to bring together the three EPs we’ve released in a way that closes our first chapter as a band and also points to the future stylistically,” says Carlos.

“We’ve covered a lot of disparate styles and sounds, so it’s been a good way of contextualising and making sense of it all.  “In a technical sense, this is an ‘album’, but for us an album is a body of work that was meant to be taken in as a whole, with that intention there from the outset of making it.  “That’s not what this record is; it’s three EPs recorded in different bedrooms, living rooms, garages and studios over the course of a year, so it’s more of a patchwork of songs and sounds than a cohesive body of work.”

And why, in the age of downloads and spotify, are they putting it out as out out as a physical release?

“Because if you don’t sell any merch at the shows, who is paying for the petrol?” he quips, sagely.

They will showcase the tunes in a hometown gig tomorrow at the O2 Academy. The gig will give local fans a chance to see a band at the top of their game, making waves in the fashion world (they have soundtracked catwalk shows) and collaborating with top flight artists – with a remix from Oxford’s Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs aka Orlando Higginbottom.

“Oxford is very important to us,” says Carlos. “We love playing here, and we love working with all the people who do so much to nurture the scene.

“And there’s of course a history of great bands who have all played their part in inspiring us and shaping our sound.

“We’ve always loved TEED since playing with him at his first ever show at the Regal when we were 14 years old. We’ve wanted to collaborate with him ever since, and it finally happened this year.

“It did slightly help us that Felix is his brother!” 

  • Low Island play the O2 Academy Oxford tomorrow. Tickets from
  • Low Island 17-18 is out today