How Seamus, Kai and Daisy found one another is serendipitous. They are, after all, three young people who feed off the same very niche and intense strand of creativity. Their music – aggressively hyperactive in Seamus’s and Kai’s case, and too strange in structure to be easily pop in Daisy’s – is not for everyone. And what are the chances of someone else buying into your trees-and-dog-piss perfume dream enough to give you their spare bedroom? It’s quite something, then, that Seamus and Kai grew up in the same dead town in Dorset, where nothing’s happened since Ridley Scott filmed an iconic Hovis bread advert there in 1973. “Kai’s a damn baby,” says Seamus, referring to the fact that he’s three years younger and was introduced to him via his younger brother.
Because 18-year-olds don’t want to hang out with 15-year-old babies, Seamus and Kai were “Facebook and email exclusive until a couple of years ago”, but Seamus always had words of encouragement for his brother’s friend. “I could tell Kai was good, so I’d be like, ‘keep doing you’re thing’,” says Seamus today, adopting a goofy voice at the thought of being a roll model. “It’s got to the point now where everything he sends me gets me into fight or flight mode. It’s like a threat. It’s really cool because he’s overtaken me, in my perspective.”
“Some people have the perception that you taught me from scratch,” says Kai. “It was more like an arms race,” says Seamus.
Daisy – who grew up in the Margate area – only met Seamus because Kai couldn’t play their joint tour date in neighbouring Ramsgate. BABii filled the spot on the bill and the pair have been inseparable since.
As we spend the day hanging out on the beach, eating fish and chips in Margate and exploring Fire Eye Land, the hodge-podge creative warehouse and photography studio owned by Daisy’s dad, the three of them make for a cute family unit. Daisy describes them as “competitive and co-operative at the same time”, and Kai insists that they’re “not this happy, hippy commune creating in a dojo – it’s a war room”, but it’s clear how much they love and support each other. Having their photos taken Daisy puts her arms around Seamus and Kai and calls them “my boys”. Kai frequently jokes but complements his two friends almost as often.
When I ask who brings what to GLOO, Daisy – the master craftsperson – is quick to say, “I make stuff with my hands.”
“Kai makes this abrasive shit that I can’t always get a hold of,” says Seamus. “I make a lot of melodic shit that comes with weird sounds that sometimes goes into Kai’s shit. Obviously neither of us can sing, but Daisy is more than that…”
“I’m not just a singing girl!” she yells.
“She produces crazy drum shit as well that my male brain can’t create,” says Seamus, while Kai praises her as a producer. “We’re all perfectly stupid in our own ways,” he says, which pretty much sums up how they tread between self-belief and self-deprecation.
They’re a very fun group to hang out with – funny, sarcastic with each other and instantly welcoming; not an impenetrable club at all, as the control freaks in each of them could easily have it. Perhaps that’s what happens when you take managers and strategists out of the equation; teams of people ‘protecting the brand’ and inadvertently smothering its spirit.
“Seamus, what are you?” asks Kai.
“He’s the king who sits on his throne,” says Daisy.
“Yeah, you’re a pretty creative guy,” says Kai with sarcastic over–sincerity. “You’ve got some good ideas.”
“I’m quite bossy,” says Seamus. “I think I try to control the narrative a bit. I think it works sometimes…”
I’d hesitate to say that Seamus is the creative leader of GLOO if the others didn’t think it too. It stands to reason that, four EPs and an album down, having previously signed to Brainfeeder, Iglooghost’s solo success has helped facilitate BABii’s and Kai Whiston’s. But much of the vastness of GLOO is down to a world entirely imagined by Seamus. The world is called Mamu, and if you’re hearing it for the first time, you might need to read this twice.
Seamus has thematically set his music in Mamu since his Chinese Nü YrEP in 2015. As a kid who grew up on Pokémon and filling sketch pads with his own creatures, he started with the cover art, not the music. For Chinese Nü Yearhe drew a bomb, two pools of water, a cup of tea and two giant eyeballs that would soon become as important as the blue, gelatinous worm in a witch’s hat hurtling towards a wormhole. From there he wrote a soundtrack to what all of this could mean. The four tracks on Chinese Nü Yearwere an intense introduction to Iglooghost’s ADHD brand of wonky: speed garage, dubstep, footwork and glitch all cut at lightning speed to chipmunk yammer and a million tiny bass drops. It was so crammed full of ideas (and completely instrumental) that a fantastical backstory was either completely redundant or the only way to make sense of the sounds we were hearing. Seamus leaned in to the latter.
He called the world Mamu and the worm Xiāngjiāo – a time-traveller hurtling through nonsensical lands. You can hear when Xiāngjiāo has bolted through a portal to another world on the record, signified by the sound of a pitch-shifted scream – a recording of Seamus’ dad, who’s in punk band.
Xiāngjiāo’s adventures continued on debut album Neō Wax Bloomin 2017, which brilliantly added elements of grime, jazz and ambient to all the maximalism. Mamu’s name was revealed and more characters introduced, most explicitly via the IKEA-like instruction manual that came with the record’s vinyl edition. “Eyes turn into witches & witches turn into Iglooghosts,” read the first pane in the storyboard. But one day two giant eyes fell out of the sky and the life cycle froze. Xiāngjiāo is a witch mid transformation, while a group of witches stuck in their middle form began singing together as the Melon Lantern Girls, trying to cast a spell to fix Mamu – their melodious hook is weaved through the tracks of the album. There’s a mysterious thief called Uso and a monk from a different dimension called Yomi, and an ominous shadow in the sky, which turns out to be the God of Mamu – those giant eyes are his; they’d fallen out of his head. But how? The story ends on a cliffhanger.