Having spent the last two years releasing a flurry of bright and euphoric alt-pop anthems, Edinburgh-based trio Liimo (meaning a little more) now look to compile their vibrant work to date with the release of their debut album ‘Volume 01’, out NOW through B-Unique Records. Mark Millar caught up with lead singer Kieran O’Brien to talk about the album and more.
Hi Kieran, how have you been coping during the lockdown?
It’s been tough not getting to hang out as much as we’d like to, or see our families or to be in sessions with other folks etc. I’m not sure if we are all into the whole writing over the internet.. some people have managed with doing that but I don’t think it’s for us! We also feel like the world needs to be moving to latch on to inspiration as it goes by. ‘Consistency is the playground of dull minds’ and that lockdown life has been pretty consistently dull so can be hard to keep a creative flow at times. But I guess we’re just getting on as best we can like everyone else really!
For anyone who might not know. How did the band get together?
Well, Jamo and I (Kieran) met in high school with CJ at a school not too far away. Me and Jamo cemented our friendship staying back after school in the music department jamming on shitty nylon string acoustics trying to play John Mayer. I met CJ when he played the drums and I sang in a sort of ‘school of rock’ project called ESRE that gathered bright musicians across Edinburgh. We actually keep in touch with a lot of those guys to this day! From there, we bounced around in different projects & kept in the same musical circles but it was actually when we moved to London a while back that everything clicked and Liimo came to be!
Where does the name Liimo come from?
Liimo is an abbreviation of 'a little more' - aspiring for a touch more of everything; a little bit more time, a little bit more money, a little more indulgence, a little more love. Sometimes these things aren't the answer, but that doesn't stop you wanting to try it for yourself. I guess the name came first as limo’s, in general, are pretty cool but we love that the names become more than that, it feels like an identity. We had toyed with a couple of other names, ‘Hulia’ being the other front runner.
When did you all discover your love for music?
I guess we’ve just always been into music even as kids because our parents loved music and that’s trickled down into us. It’s where I love for popular music came.. whether that be Jamo’s dad blasting Phil Collins all the time and CJ’s mum religiously listening to Fleetwood Mac and Kieran trying to imitate Michael Jacksons dance moves.
Liimo releases your debut album Volume 01, on August 21st through B-Unique Records. How does it feel to finally have new music coming out?
Obviously we’re buzzing that we have a new track coming out along with Volume 01. Releasing music in the current climate feels very cleansing and refreshing, a lot of pent up thoughts & emotions over the past few months so the record coming out feels like a much needed deep inhale-exhale.
Did lockdown have an effect on the album or was it finished beforehand?
Volume 01 is the story so far, the singles we've had up until this point; however, 'Raincheck' and 'Miracle' were finished in lockdown and were ultimately harder to get over the finish line as we weren’t together for a long time. Within ourselves though, I don't think we'd call it an album, we feel that it'd be a disservice to our fans who've been with us the whole way to only give them one new track in 'Miracle'. We'd like our debut album to be an unveiling for everyone involved, not just new listeners. That being said, we hope anybody who is dipping their toe in the Liimo pool for the first time wants to take the plunge with us for the next part of the trip after hearing, Volume 01.
Which track from the album do you feel most connected to and why?
Ooh, that’s tough! We have so many songs to share but going off what’s out already then ‘Pink in Heaven’ probably as it’s one of the first songs we ever wrote as Liimo so it holds a special place in our hearts. ‘Thinking About It’ as well (if we’re allowed to pick another) as it really captures what Liimo is all about.
When it came to writing this album, did you have an idea in mind about how you wanted it to sound? Did it end up going the way you expected or did any of the tracks take their own path?
Yup but we think sonically it goes beyond just one album; we’ve made a conscious effort to develop our sound so it’s undeniably Liimo. We’ve definitely got a ways to go before reaching our peak but we feel we’re on the right track. When we first started Liimo, we had such a strong vision & vibe set in place that we’ve just been building on that strong foundation ya know? We’re very open to working with others and there’s a few co-writes on Volume 01, we’d say they’re the tracks that took us to unexpected places and we welcome that. It’s all part of the growing!
How have you found lockdown as songwriters? Are you feeling inspired at the moment or taking a step back to process everything?
Like we mentioned before, lockdown has definitely had an effect on our creative spark. Technology’s been great with bringing friends and family together during a tough time but for writing a song, you can’t beat being face to face and catching a vibe in the room and riding it. We are finding new ways to keep that creative flow though! It’s definitely had it’s up and downs, everything kind of feels in limbo at the moment. On a positive note though, we’ve managed to spend a prolonged period of time with our families in Scotland. Something we haven’t done since we moved to London so that’s been emotional.
Are you looking forward to playing live shows again when the time is right?
We are itching to get gigging again, we had to cancel a tour earlier in the year so the sooner venues can get open safely the better and we will be hitting the road hard...watch this space.
What goes through your head when you step on stage to perform?
Well, we have in-ear monitors so usually, it’s a loud click and a count in! Haha Jokes aside though, before going on stage there’s just a real sense of unity between us and really wanting to bring it for the audience that’s there. We’re so grateful for every single fan who comes to a show so in our heads we're thinking…’ let's make sure they remember this’.
What tricks have you developed to stay sane whilst on the road for such a long period of time?
To be honest, one of our best pals does the driving and we think having him there as an objective member of the troop really helps. It means in-between shows we can switch off a bit, listen to some tunes and talk about something other than the tour. Not that we’re sick of it in any way, it’s just good to keep a fresh head. That being said, we feel like we could go on the road for a lot longer lengths of time than we have been. It really hasn’t been that difficult because we love it so much.
If you could change anything about the music industry, what would that be?
Money isn’t everything but…it’s got to be the money right? We love the creative process, the gigs, releasing music; like so much time and effort gets put into these songs, we’re really putting pieces of ourselves into these tracks and how much for? £0.0037 per stream? Cmaaan. It’d be nice to see a streaming platform that is at its heart a music company…not a tech firm.
What do you enjoy most about being a musician? What do you hate most?
We enjoy everything we just listed in the last question but zoning in on specific moments. We love the feeling of believing we’re onto something special when writing, there’s just a sweet spot of thinking, ‘we’re onto something here’. Performing live is a big love of ours too, being able to see people’s physical reaction to your tunes is really special. Hate the most? How fleeting the high of an achievement passes. We build up the moment of releasing so much and once it’s out there in the world the hangover comes quick. As an artist, you move straight onto the next thing to keep yourself in the spotlight whereas if we could savour the moment…just a little longer. That’d be awesome.
What music have you three been listening to recently that you could recommend?
You guys should check out LiimoLoves Spotify playlist! We update it monthly with everything we’ve been loving listening to. You got some Taytay on there, Leon Bridges, loving Holly Humberstone at the moment. We had a big nostalgia session recently together for CJ’s birthday cracking out all the classics so we’re partial to the throwbacks too. Usher - Confessions, what a jam!
Listen to 'Volume 1' - BELOW: