Step into the world of WOOM, a concept choir formed in South East London. We've had their enchanting voices on repeat in our studio for the past year or so. Covering the likes of Frank Ocean, james Blake, and Angel Olsen, the familiar lyrics transcends otherworldly melodies and hauntingly beautiful live performances. Curious to know more about this vocal-focused quartet, we invited them to our studio to find out what makes WOOM tick and their individual ventures.

For those who may not know of you yet, could you introduce yourself in a few words.

We are WOOM, comprised of Gray Rimmer, Lara Laeverenz,Alice Barlow and Isobel Risk. We are four voices and we sing in harmony,create and rearrange songs we love. We're a band of friends and also in lost of other projects too. Gray and Lara are currently on tour with 'Jerkcurb',Alice is making her first album as solo artist “Arlo Day’, Isobel is always creating and collaborating with different artists, Gray fronts their own band ‘Teeth Machine’ and Lara is collaborating with different artists, both musically and visually and is also the spearhead of all of WOOM’s visual work.

How did WOOM form?

We were all involved in various music projects in London and came across each other's music through that live circuit about 5 or 6 years ago - having been part of a lot of instrumentally focused bands, we came together with a desire to explore and enjoy the power of the voice. We were big fans of each other's voices and had a deep desire to sing with each other and put voices at the front of the sound.

How would you describe your music?

Our music aims to center the beauty of the human voice, so our music will always have a vocal focus. It’s emotive and trying to create a sonic world that allows for emotional reverberation. As a group of four inspired by so many different genres and creative mediums, it’s an amalgamation of all of our tastes.

Which artists inspire you and what are you listening to at the moment?

Lara: I’m always inspired by the voice and harmony. Recently I’ve been really engaged with the scene from Copenhagen artists like Astrid Sonne, Clarrissa Connelly and ML Buch, they each create and curate unique worlds through their music and accompanying visuals that I find so inspiring.

Gray: I've been listening to a lot of music that I used to love when I was a teenager! There's something so magical and singular about that time of life wherein you first discover your own taste - the way music makes you feel at that stage is so deeply powerful and never quite the same again. A lot of Joni Mitchell, Imogen Heap, Ella Fitzgerald - all incredible vocalists that made a big impression on me when I was younger.

Alice: I’m inspired by so many artists; past and present but I’m often drawn to great lyricists and artists who are good at encapsulating my feelings. This week I'm listening to Horse Jumper of Love, Kate Bush and Vegyn.

Isobel: Sometimes I go through periods of not listening to much new music or music generally, like I need an ear break for the mind. i have been listening to a lot of the blind boy podcasts and Psychology and politics stuff. However I have been cycling to work and listening to some recent discoveries which have turned into obsessions and singing with them as i cycle, such as: John Carroll Kirby, a beautiful brazilian album called Grandeza by Sessa and also an old favorite for the melodies and lyrics and hardcore bass riffs - Big Sir.

What are the secrets of your creative process?

We've worked hard over the years to develop a creative process that is very democratic and equally weighted, while allowing space for people's individual strengths to come into play. Listening to each other, and giving time to try out various ideas with patience and good faith is a huge part of how we work together successfully.

I think a lot of what we do is strongly based on feeling and instinct. And collectively we aim to listen to that and go with our guts.

Other secrets are long chats, cuddles, giggling and lots of roast potatoes and salads (our staple meal).

if you were told tomarrow that you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be any way?

We were so thrilled that we recently got to collaborate with director Andrea Arnold for her new documentary Cow. This collaboration really inspired us to expand the remit of our project insofar as it pertains to other disciplines - not just musical, but visual and narrative modes as well.

We’re really interested in expanding on the mediums in which we create, collaborating with other musicians, and scoring music for film or theatre. We'd also love to work with a full orchestra one day.

These are tough times! How were you affected by the health crisis? Do you have any rituals to preserve your well-being?

It has been a very surreal few years. One of our members has Long Covid so it’s been a first hand experience of how tricky it can be. We were lucky to have recorded our ‘Into The Rest EP’ before the first lockdown, so it was nice to be able to work on and release that over the pandemic (albeit odd all being physically separate). It was also strange not being able to gig or tour as that is a big part of what we do, but ultimately we feel very fortunate to have each other and the times have probably only made us stronger as a group of people working together. It also makes us all the more appreciative now we can gig and do things together again. And has shown us that it is important to do things at your own pace and to take your time.

Rituals; breathing, downtime, music, nice food, singing, good tv and films, connecting with friends, cycles

We recently saw you perform at the Southbank centre, what a beautiful show. What's it like to be back in action again?

It was wonderful to be able to sing with an audience again, it is how we started and developed our sound and where we feel WOOM makes most sense. The energy that is created in the moment of a show and the interaction between listeners and performers is very special.

We've been fortunate to have been able to curate our recent shows with other musicians; horn players and string players and more experimental sounds. This has opened up a new terrain and potential for us that we are so excited by. We felt that the Purcell Room specifically was so fitting for our sound. The space allowed a more theatrical setting where we could incorporate stage sets, lighting and an orchestral quartet, enhancing the immersive atmosphere that we want for our music.

What's next for WOOM?

We are really excited to be playing a lot more shows this year. Festivals include; The Great Escape (Brighton), Norwich and Norfolk Folk Festival, Jazz Stroud, Mirrors and more. We plan to finish our second EP soon and maybe even release some live recordings too. We're very keen to keep making and expanding the boundaries of WOOM.

Woom x Renli Su

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