William Doyle is one of “ours.”
We mean one of those artists on whom this blog -in its own small way- has always insisted, with the spirit of prospectors finding a new seam of gold and the desire to show it to a world that seemed not to have fully noticed that luster.

When, in 2019, upon the release of his third record, “Your Wilderness Revisited”, due to the abandonment of his old business name (East India Youth), William Doyle had momentarily dropped off the radar of many, we rushed to praise his “very British blend of lunar melodies, Canterburian passages, synthesizers between Sheffield and Richard Barbieri, Frippian guitars and Bowian saxophones”, and later in 2021, on the occasion of his second work under his name, “Great Spans Of Muddy Time, we proceeded to publish an interview that William himself had been kind enough to have granted us.

In 2024, we find him even more aware of his own means, with a work, “Springs Eternal,” that seems to indulge in sunnier and more pop atmospheres, without on the other hand packing a lighter work … quite the contrary: following the most classic tradition of British artists such as David Bowie, Brian Eno and David Byrne (important names, but – believe us – not inconveniently called into question), this is a work that uses the immediate forms of pop to convey very profound anxieties (it is not by chance that we find apocalyptic themes and fears as the glue between the various episodes).
As listeners and fans, we cannot but capitulate at the lunar and unreachable beauty of the opening “Garden Of The Morning”, at the robotic funk of “Now In Motion”, at “Relentless Nest” that starts with a Blur-esque riff, and then recalls Beck, at  “Soft To The Touch”, where the vocals become a country yodel and the guitar flaunts chords and reverbs from “Trinity Session”, to the pop perfection of the “almost title track” that jumps between hummable melodies and celestial harmonies, to the extraordinary pop gem of “Cannot Unseen” to the syncopated “Surrender Yourself” that moves casually between alternative rock, Sufjan Stevens-esque vocal harmonies and a saxophone that bundles everything up…

Garden of the Morning

We could go on to describe a record that appears to be a series of Chinese boxes in the form of Pop Rock, but we preferred to contact William Doyle again to ask him a few questions.

Hi William,
we are happy to talk with you again. First of all congratulations on yet another work that leaves no doubt about your talent.
Three years ago on the occasion of our previous meeting, you argued that “A good hook need not be a solid melody – it can be a rhythm or even a spoken part” but you also said that “The songwriting tradition I love most is very melody-based, and I suppose I don’t hear that around that much with newer acts, but that doesn’t mean I think the tradition is dying. It will probably come around again in some other form.
In this record, it seems to us that you have taken on this tradition and created a pop record, in the noblest sense of the word, reconnecting to the English tradition that considers more artistically effective and valid to convey its messages through forms that can be immediate. What do you think of it?
Melody is the key to nearly everything that excites me musically. The shape and cadence of them. Constructing them is a lifelong pursuit. I definitely put that in the foreground of this album and I’m very pleased to have done so. In Britain, in the last few years, there’s been a lot of men talking over post-punk. I would like to be the polar opposite to that.

You started from ecstatic electronica that did not necessarily include vocal parts to arrive – at least for the moment – at a record that is strongly song-oriented. How did this process come about? As a musician, how did you experience this transition? And how did writing “Springs Eternal” enrich you?
I actually started with songs and singing, when I was 14 or 15. So this is very much in my blood and I think I feel like I’m returning to that mode for a while. Perhaps I’ll go back to instrumental electronics at some point too. I expand and contract, like the universe.

Forgive us if we go back to our old interview, but on that occasion, you claimed “Also because of stuff that has happened in my life, I tend to have a very fragmented view of myself, and perhaps I am trying to explore those many fragments and pull them together through what I do.” We read in the press kit that “Springs Eternal presents a strange and thrilling cast of characters -from cowboys to castaways- who just might be Doyle, once or twice removed. “Most of the songs are in the first-person, but rather than being autobiographical, I was trying to imagine hyperreality versions of myself. What if decisions I made in my life had resulted in the self of each particular song? How many degrees of separation am I from those realities? It’s a frightening thought, and frightening thoughts often make for good songs.” Would you like to delve deeper into this?
On this album, it was an interesting thought experiment to see how far I could imagine the present-day me, the me that was writing the song, taking whatever I was feeling at that time to the next level. I think pure autobiography is dull. So I’m on the precipice of alcoholism on one song, on the edge of a mental health crisis on another, and I die at the end of the album. I didn’t experience any of these things to the degree they happen on the record, but I’m just wondering what it would be like if I did. I don’t believe in “authenticity”. Everything in music is a construct, and that’s fine. 

On the album, we noticed a greater presence and relevance of the guitar. Did you simply find yourself giving more space to this instrument during the construction of the songs or was it a deliberate choice a priori? In the latter case,  can you explain the reasons behind the decision?
It’s my main instrument and I’ve neglected it on some of my records over the years. I feel most in tune with it and with my voice, and using those two things to carry the songs over. I think the next album will be almost exclusively guitar and voice based. Again, I’m returning to my roots!

William Doyle - 'Now In Motion' (Official Audio)

The album really has a spectacular sound: dense, but dynamic, clean, but not at all cold. The balance between keys and strings then is really exemplary. This time you had production help from Mike Lindsay. Since – as you have done in the past – you are a musician who can do everything on his own, why did you want to involve an outside producer and what do you think was Lindsay’s specific input? And in general what value and function do you attribute to the figure of the producer, moreover a role in which you have tried your hand yourself?
Working with someone else was meant to inject some more life and dynamism into the experience and hopefully infuse the record with a sense of fun and playfulness, despite some of the intense subject matter. I was extremely lucky that ‘someone else’ this time was Mike. We had an incredible time making the record and it cemented our friendship. Mike has a great ear, he has lots of interesting bits of equipment that he knows how to use well. But above all, he is a lot of fun to make a record with, and nothing bothers him too much – at least not externally! You can’t really ask for a better partner than that.

Finally, allow us a question as a terminal fan of Brian Eno: you had the honor of collaborating again with King Brian. What does the figure of Eno represent for you and for rock music in general? From these collaborations do you feel that you have grown in any way as a musician and as an artist?
I’ve learned a lot from Brian over the years, both before I met him and after meeting him. He’s a well of inspiration. I feel extremely fortunate that I was able to call on him to contribute even a small amount to this album. Brian is the best instigator in music. He can conjure up a scenario and get people imagining in amazing and creative ways very easily. I asked him to send me some rhythm beds he had, as he makes a lot of them, so that I could write a few more songs for this album. He ended up sending me 26 pieces! A few of them still feature on the album, but more than anything it just provided me a springboard from which to launch from. I’m very indebted to his contributions and influence.