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by Kat Parsons

October And The Eyes: Don’t Ever Give Up

by Kat Parsons

October And The Eyes: Don’t Ever Give Up

Building on her debut EP ‘Dogs and Gods’, October And The Eyes has been scouting a place in the UK music scene since 2020. Fresh off a tour with Yves Tumor, with a new single, Spiral, and mind-spinning music video to boot, Kat Parsons catches up with October to talk about toxic friendships, dual personalities, and life on tour. Made with the support of NZ On Air Music.

“It feels like child’s play,” smiles Kiwi-born, London-based singer, songwriter and producer October (aka Emma Logan) of October And The Eyes, when asked what excites her most about music.

“I’m a bit of a drowned rat. My life’s chaotic. I’ve just moved into a new flat so stuff is everywhere. Just started a new job so my brain is catastrophic and chaotic, in every sense of the word. But apart from that, I’m really great,” remarks October dryly with a smirk.

Raised in small-town Blenheim and by now well settled in London, Logan’s one-woman act October And The Eyes released new single Spiral on February 22. It’s a much anticipated follow-up to her 2020 EP ‘Dog and Gods’, and is accompanied by a darkly hypnotic music video that collides music, theatre, and fashion together in an edgy, almost uncomfortable, creation. This is just the latest in an exciting portfolio of work from a young talent who has known she would be making music from almost day one, and has coined the term ‘collage rock’ to define her own musical genre.

“My earliest [musical] memory has got to be when I’m like 3 or 4 years old, squashed in-between my two brothers in the car,” October describes. “We’re on a road trip to Christchurch with Mum and Dad, and my mum is playing Mozart or something, and she’s asking us what the time signature is? Is it in a major key or a minor key? What instruments can you hear? I think that was quite a formative experience! I owe my mother, and my father, quite a lot, when it comes to this musical brain of mine.”

That ‘musical brain’ is very evident behind the creation of October And The Eyes’ new track. This poignantly direct and honest song tells the story of an unhealthy friendship from October’s past.

“The song is about a very real experience and a very real friendship, with a person I had known for a very long time,” she explains. “It sort of developed into this thing where I never quite knew at any point in time where I stood with them.”

“It was an extremely toxic thing that I’m quite relieved to be rid of now,” she sighs.

Logan wrote the song with one of her best friends, Oliver (Ollie) Johnston. Johnston is another Kiwi artist; alias Hugo Jay.

“Ollie is primarily a house producer, and I write rock and roll. So I think the combination of these weird electronic beats, and this quite classic sort of psych-rock, shoegazey guitar that I was really into meeting in the middle created this sort of weird amalgamation of our two styles.”

With the outbreak of the pandemic in the UK, two weeks after writing Spiral, Logan was on a plane heading back to New Zealand.

“I remember we were sitting in his Ollie’s room, and we were almost joking about Covid. We had no idea how serious the whole thing was,” she grimaces.

The upshot was she ended up sitting on the song for quite some time, and only on returning to London fleshed it out into the finished track, co-produced by Macks Faulkron.

Spiral, and her debut EP ‘Dogs and Gods’, have had a huge shift in sound; a contrast to Logan’s earlier work performed under the alias October (with no Eyes mentioned). 

“I used to make music under October, which was very much an industrial electronic, pop project – and I grew very sour of the music I was making and the association I had built up,” she explains. “I came to realise all I ever wanted to do was write rock and roll. I got sucked into the pop machine and spat out again. I just decided that I wanna do things my way from now on.”

The 2018-released October album ‘Ultra Red’ had seen her working between Auckland and LA with fellow Kiwis Joel Little, Thom Powers and Alex Wildwood. At the time Logan told NZM’s Felix Mpunga that she wanted to start a band, delve deeper into industrial electronic music, get a little bit weirder and be creative in every way possible.

“I guess ‘The Eyes’ are representative of the fact that I wanted to be more collaborative with other musicians, and have a fully-fledged band. The Eyes are also in reference to one of my tracks I released under October called 1000 Eyes. A little reference to that.”

The music video for Spiral is an artful reflection of both the story behind the song and the artist herself.

“So Max McLachlan was my flatmate in London. We came up with this idea; a sense of constant spinning to the point of it feeling quite nauseous and sickening. I wanted the whole experience to be disorientating – like that of the friendship that I had experienced. So he came up with this crazy rig, I think it’s called a satellite rig, which literally arced the camera over my head from one side to the other, and we created this continual looping sensation. He’s great! He’s so talented. He pulled many a-favour for me, so thank you Max!”

Billed elsewhere as making music that is ‘dark, sexy and a little dangerous’, October portrays two characters in the video.

“In my music and career, I have to be quite self-assured. There are a lot of people putting their own ideas into the mix and it dilutes the purity of your ideas. So that’s the sort of strong, confident character that sits in the chair and almost looks like a dominatrix – leather-clad, really sharp pointy boots. Then the other is more sort of meek and mild, wounded and confused, almost animalistic creature. I wanted that character to look like roadkill. Not only are they two versions of myself who I identify with, but also representing myself and this ‘friend’ in the roles that we played in our friendship.”

Asked what she is most grateful for right now she answers without missing a beat.

“Most grateful for going on tour with Yves Tumor,” she smiles. “I mean, what a dream come true! I was a fangirl, then we became friends, got me signed (to KRO Records), and then he took me on tour! I mean it’s just mind-blowing stuff and I still can’t quite believe or comprehend it. I owe so much to him! If it weren’t for him, I don’t think any of this would be happening!” 

Despite the exhaustion factor, she describes the touring life as dangerously alluring, adding that she can definitely see herself doing that for the rest of her life. 

“The Yves Tumor crew, they really go hard! It sounds incredibly cliché, but it was truly the rock and roll experience of being on the road you would fully anticipate from way back when…

“I’ve never been on tour before. It was just pure chaos. I can’t explain how exhausted I felt every single day. Turning up after being in a van for ‘x’ amount of hours, doing a soundcheck, trying to shove some food down my throat. Then you’re getting rushed into your outfit and literally pushed on stage. Time seems to evaporate when you’re on tour,” she laughs.

It’s apparent that her live shows are drawing in the crowds. Paired with her bold on-stage persona Logan’s understanding of image and connections within the fashion industry artfully supporting her music’s narratives.

“I don’t want to rely on the theatricality of a crazy set or light show, because I think at the end of the day, the music needs to be good enough to stand up on its own,” she argues. “Costuming is always a huge part of it. Charlotte Knowles [London-based fashion designer] who I have done a bit of fit modelling for, and is also like my big sister at this point, very kindly lends me outfits for most of my shows!

“In terms of a persona, I’ve heard people say that I can appear quite differently on stage from how I come across in real life, but I don’t necessarily see it as a separate character. I’ve always sort of described it as the other side of the coin.

“People don’t come to my shows to see me be nervous on stage. They wanna see a fully-fledged, confident, roaring performance; and that’s exactly what I’ll give them!”

You easily get that feeling October is a fast-developing project and it’s no surprise that the musician has plans already in place for future releases.

“We’re in the process of mixing the next singles, and eventually we will release an EP, sort of mid-year,” reveals October. “That’s all to be confirmed and announced at a later date, but you can definitely expect some more music coming super soon.”

As she continues to make waves in the UK music scene, October leaves us with some succinct advice for others wanting to start a career in the industry.

“My first piece of advice is: do not even think about university,” she states resolutely. “It’s not worth it! Any career in the music industry, whether it’s being an artist, working at a label, or doing PR, whatever it is; you don’t need a degree. Just be hard working and show passion and vigour if you really wanna a job in the music industry.

“My second piece of advice is: do not rush into any sort of deal too soon! Even if you think it’s gonna be this massive opportunity chances are it probably isn’t… You should always let people approach you first because that tells whether they’re into you or not. If you want to get a good team around you the first thing is that they need to be super passionate about you first. That is the only way that success is gonna happen.

“So many people, including myself, have been roped into bad management or label deals with the promise of making it big. As a young and naive artist like I was, you get ripped off so easily and taken advantage of. So don’t rush into anything! Because if you’re truly talented and you’ve truly got something going on, people will always come to you.

“And don’t ever give up! Don’t give up!”