A Shoegaze Love Affair – The Story of ‘The Gulf’

by Peter Gilliver

A Shoegaze Love Affair - The Story of 'The Gulf' by Peter Gilliver (Wondergeist)
My name is Peter Gilliver. I am in a London based band called Wondergeist, along with my bandmates Sam Stretch and Sam Lott. We released our first album as a three-piece this year called ‘The Gulf.’ This is how we got there.

Listen to the album while reading the text.

The Roots of the Band

Wondergeist was formed between myself and a close friend on a small island in the British Channel Islands called Guernsey in 2014 as an acoustic duo. The band quickly morphed into a collective that at times involved up to ten people. At that time, the music we made was conceived amidst a bohemian, folk-tinged scene that was typical of the idyllic surroundings of the island.

My relocation to the urban sprawls of London led to a quite drastic new direction for the band in 2016 – new personnel on the core elements of bass and drums for one – and an opportunity to consummate a long-held passion of mine for shoegaze and dream-pop music presented itself in new surroundings.

An intense but doomed long-distance relationship and the heightened emotions this brings only fuelled the fire to explore the ardent, ethereal yet at times abrasive themes explored in the shoegaze school of thought. Lyrics were written in short, sharp bursts. Some wrote themselves as we practiced and had pockets of gigs. Quickly we amassed enough material to begin the primary goal of committing our ideas to record.

Recording ‘The Gulf’

‘The Gulf’ was recorded in the band’s original home of Guernsey over a fiercely hot week in July 2018 as a three-piece, after a year of writing and rehearsing in London. The theme of the album has a yearning for home at its core, in a physical and metaphorical sense, as well as the degrees of separation that come from leaving somewhere and someone you have a strong connection with, for better or for worse.

Songs like ‘The Leaving Song’ and ‘Sundrenched’ are steeped in longing and nostalgia, others like ‘Americana’ and ‘By Your Side’ face the immediate difficulties of the relationship head-on.

There are euphoric moments too, such as ‘Effervescent,’ which celebrates the optimism that comes from giving someone a second chance and turning over a new leaf. The final harmonized refrains in ‘Effervescent’ are, in my opinion, the happiest moments of the album.

The sessions were not easy, and mixing took a long time as we searched for how to agree on a way of crystallizing all that went before. Taking a break from it for a few weeks in late 2018 was maybe the most important thing I did. I went back to Guernsey in January 2019 to add a few extra details that I couldn’t shake off, and the producer and I completed the mixing puzzle there and then at the same time.

Within three months it was released digitally as well as physically, and we had by far our strongest gig to date in East London to launch it all on the 4th May 2019, with friends from all walks of our lives, Scotland to New Zealand and, of course, Guernsey, there to revel in it.

The Afterglow

This album is very important to me as not only does the process of dealing with difficult emotions feel profoundly therapeutic through the medium of music and performance, it also compartmentalises an eventful year of upheaval into a thing of artistic beauty that can be placed, considered and revisited both as a chapter to take strength from and also to learn from.

To have distilled such a personal set of events into music with a group of friends who not only understood but, most importantly, enhanced, creates such a natural high. People I have never met can now listen to the songs anywhere in the world, either at home or as a live audience, and maybe even feel an emotional response from them. Therein lies the magic of music.

Wondergeist

Wondergeist, Category: Artist, Albums: The Gulf, Singles: Sundrenched, Top Tracks: Americana, Sundrenched, Head in the Clouds, Effervescent, The Leaving Song, Monthly Listeners: 69, Where People Listen: London, Bucharest, Brisbane, Poplar, Colchester

Artist’s Note

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3 thoughts on “A Shoegaze Love Affair – The Story of ‘The Gulf’

  1. seaside towns, love break downs,
    locations and relocations.
    sunset, star rise, landscape, passage –

    time.
    all the elements are gathered
    here. hello and goodbye.

    *

    for fans of romance and beach fires/ sub-urban sparkle pop/
    and for those inclined toward a late night mixtape:
    british sea power, chapterhouse, mbv, ride.
    xtc, shack, the milk & honey band.

    wondergeist/ the gulf.
    file under: shore-gaze.

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