Music and Art In Your Backyard

The Noisy South London Trio: Winnaretta

Winnaretta brings a refreshing pop sound from South London, powered by the retro vocals of Sim Eldem. 

Alex Iossifidis, Sim Eldem, and Luke Gain.  Image by Abel Kohen

Alex Iossifidis, Sim Eldem, and Luke Gain.  Image by Abel Kohen

 For those who are unaware of your band Winnaretta, please give us a brief description of who you are and background of how you got together.

We’re a guitar/bass/drums three-piece based in London who make noisy pop songs. We’re a fairly new band made up of old friends: Luke and I have been in bands together for the past 6 years and my first university band was with Alex. I guess we’re a bit like a three-way of high school sweethearts who have reignited their passion for each other at a school reunion – if that’s a thing!

So you don't just focus on music. What can you tell us about The Effort Collective. How does this fit into your musical journey.

Sim Eldem. Image by Alex Kohen

Sim Eldem. Image by Alex Kohen

Over the past few years we’ve worked on several music projects and collaborative events with The Effort Collective. This has included writing music for short films, playing at themed events, kissing each other for the first time for a marriage-themed teaser, carrying a lot of equipment, as well as party games and drinking. The Effort Collective is a DIY arts initiative based in Brixton, London, set up by friends who work in different art forms to provide a platform and network for DIY artists to communicate, collaborate and create new work.

What has been the biggest influence on your music? Who do you look to for inspiration 

Other bands, other artists’ groups, and listening to a lot of music – and we go to a lot of shows, not just gigs. There are fantastic venues and initiatives that keep popping up in London, most of them cover several art forms and these are perhaps the most relevant, more inspiring environments for us.

What's next on the horizon for Winnaretta

We have just finished our first EP, All Killer, Ben Stiller, so we’re busy writing and booking gigs for this fall. It’s nice to be able to go back to playing and rehearsing. We are now giggling our way through a new 80s pop tune we’re writing, with power chords and a big chorus – it’s a lot of fun, so much so that we found ourselves learning to play Shania Twain’s Man, I Feel Like a Woman...

What are some of the challenges you have faced as group in creating and performing? What have you had to overcome to get to this point?

Space is always the biggest problem. London is full of neighbours and overpriced studios: it’s difficult to find a room where we can make noise and feel comfortable composing and rehearsing. Then there is the London gig circuit which is full of money-grabbing promoters and too many young, eager bands. Often gig bills are made up of randomly selected, mismatched bands, so we look for interesting and innovative events with exciting, friendly artists. We have been very lucky to find a community and try out a more artist-focused approach to putting on shows with the collective; most of this comes through hanging out with very talented and hardworking friends, and listening to feedback. Our EP was recorded in several bedrooms with Matt (our friend who is a musician and producer) and mixed in his flat, and it’s been the most productive environment we could have asked for.

As musicians, what are some of the odd jobs you have had to do so that you can afford to perform and make records?

Somehow we’ve all ended up in pretty grown-up jobs: Luke is a copywriter, Alex a student adviser at a university and I work in classical music PR. Perhaps this is the new model for a lot of bands – living in London is very expensive, so it’s easy to settle in an office job. We’re lucky enough to enjoy what we do in our day jobs, so that we have the time and energy to focus on our music.

If you were to pick one creative project (music track or album) you were most proud of and that describes your creative spirit. What would it be? 

Oh, well, we’ve got this new EP...and that’s all we can think about at the moment. The song-writing and recording process leading up to this were very important for us. We settled into a routine that involved going over to one of our houses, with the host making dinner, sitting down to eat together and then working until late. All three of us have been in bigger bands in the past, so we’re enjoying the cosiness of being a trio. 

Listen to more of All Killer, Ben Stiller here

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