Single Review / Essay: William Doyle – Millersdale

By on Monday, 9th July 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Back in 2015, William Doyle released his second album under the nom de plume East India Youth. The emotional, electronic bliss of ‘Culture of Volume’, which dropped on XL Recordings a short time after his showcasing at SXSW 2015, was one of my top 5 albums of the year. North American, European and UK tours to support the album followed, but then Doyle announced in March 2016 that he was ditching the East India Youth project altogether. He disappeared for a time, re-emerging later that year to release ‘the dream derealised’, a collection of nine mostly instrumental, self-described “abstract and lo-fi pieces”, with all of the album’s profits going to mental health charity Mind.

In an article with The Line of Best Fit, Doyle explained, “I’m releasing them now as a cathartic measure, and as a message for others who may be going through difficult times themselves…What I told myself at the time, what I can tell you now: You are not in danger. You are not going insane. You are not alone.” The detachment from reality that results from derealisation, also known as depersonalization disorder, often occurs with or is triggered by other mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Read more about it here at Psychology Today. As brave as this public acknowledgment and support of mental health was, it wasn’t a one-off. Doyle has spoken at a number of events since with his first-hand knowledge of the hard slog artists go through while living out their dream vocation and the mental health problems that come as a consequence of participating in an all too often unforgiving industry. He is also working with the NHS to develop a “a mental healthcare ‘package’ that can be bought by labels and written into record deals.” Things may be moving slowly towards healthier musicians’ lives, sure, but there is reason to be optimistic, if cautiously.

Following the death of his father, he was uprooted to a Southern residential development called South Millers Dale in Hampshire. The overly ordered, cookie-cutter style of the neighbourhood was in direct opposition from the traumatic incident that led him to the new environment. As he wrote a few days ago on his Facebook page, “It was a stark change of scenery, and a strange environment for a 13 year old to process loss and experience grief. Something about the modern suburb’s artificiality, with its planned and plotted nature and its winding, serpentine roads, seemed to jar when overlaid with something so human as grief.” Doyle has since relocated several times but had the opportunity to revisit the house 2 years ago, helping him to evoke “the untethered spirit of creativity” that led him to first begin making music in his suburban bedroom as a teenager and dream of a musical career.

New single and 5-minute opus ‘Millersdale’ is the next chapter of Doyle’s mental health journey. The euphoric feel of past tracks on the 2014 Mercury Prize-nominated ‘Total Strife Forever’ and ‘Culture of Volume’ is here, along with the unfettered release of free jazz in the intro and at the bridge. His vocals recall the jaw-dropping beauty of those on ‘Carousel’ but this time, they’ve got more oomph, evidence of hope and confidence. The accompanying promo video for the single starring Doyle is a perfect foil to the song. Directed by Sapphire Goss, contrasts are smartly utilised to address the light and the dark, familiarity and disorientation, the seeming humdrum of suburbia and fireworks.

In the new promo photos to go along with the release of ‘Millersdale’, Doyle is no longer dressed in a suit like in the East India Youth days. Instead, he’s in tailored khaki from head to toe, looking like he’s about to go on safari. The suburban David Attenborough, perhaps? Maybe, maybe not. The most important things to William Doyle these days is having control over his art and not chasing anyone else’s schedule or measures of success. And like for all my friends in this pressure cooker of a business, above all, I hope he’s happy.

7.5/10

William Doyle’s new single ‘Millersdale’ is out now. Stream and/or buy the song and read the lyrics at his Bandcamp. To read our past articles on his previous project East India Youth, go here.

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