After achieving wide acclaim as finalists on the 2017 installment of The Voice UK, Welsh duo Into the Ark are touring the United States for the first time supporting Tom Jones, who was their coach on the show.
Into the Ark, which is composed of Taylor Jones and Dane Lloyd, have mastered the art of creating nuanced vocal soundscapes – something we really don’t hear much of nowadays (at least to their degree of caliber) – to the point where it creates a transcendental effect on the listener. Impressing with immaculate harmonies and polished arrangements, Into The Ark is the ultimate embodiment of raw, authentic talent.
AMPLIFY. had the opportunity to speak with Taylor Jones in advance of their two-night stint at Chicago’s House of Blues on May 12th and 13th, where we chatted about the music scene in Wales, the band’s forthcoming EP, and…well, you’ll have to keep on reading to find out.
Taylor Jones and Dane Lloyd had been creating music together for several years, and Jones described their work as being partly folk-influenced in the beginning, specifically citing The Lumineers as a band they were listening to at the time.
“We were influenced by that [sound] when we were first recording,” Jones said. “But that’s changed as we’ve gotten older. We’ve started listening to older music and became really inspired by that generation.”
Jones mentioned that The Beatles and The Beach Boys specifically have impacted how he and Lloyd stack their harmonies. “We’re going backwards in decades, but we take that and make it more modern,” Jones said.
Their track “Caroline” is a perfect example of this. The chorus contains a harmonic arrangement that Mike Love and Brian Wilson would undeniably rave over (and, honestly, probably feel a bit envious of), and yet the track is still very much something that Into The Ark makes their own. Creating a nexus between innovation and classicism is always a winning combination, and Into the Ark has consistently cracked the code time and time again.
If a film were ever to be made about Into The Ark, Jones knows just who he’d pick to portray himself onscreen – Craig Roberts, who is known for his role as Oliver Tate in Submarine.
“He’s a local actor,” Jones said, referring to their shared Welsh nationality. “He’s done a lot…I know he was in a film with Zac Efron. We have similar mannerisms, so that would be who I would pick.”
Transitioning from the screen to the studio, Jones reflected on the process of creating Valencia, Into The Ark’s upcoming EP that’s set for release on June 22 via Blackwood Records.
“We tried to record it as live as we possibly could,” he said. “All the songs were live and recorded in one take. We didn’t have auto tuning or anything like that. It captures the rawness of what we do.”
While Valencia showcases predominantly “arty, moody” tracks, Jones shared that an LP Into The Ark has in the works “has more pop sensibilities.”
“It’s a nod to all the music we’ve been playing for the last three years,” he said.
Into The Ark recently released a heartfelt music video for their track “No Place Like Home,” which is a part of a trilogy of videos leading up to the release of Valencia.
“We were excited to make a visual trilogy that tells the story of the boy and the girl in the video,” Jones said. “We tried to think of something relatable and touching, which is why the video shows the girl leaving home and disagreeing with her family.”
Jones also shared that the concept of the video was in part influenced by the popular Netflix series “The End of the Fucking World,” which also features a boy and a girl running away together.
As AMPLIFY. has an emphasis on supporting and covering local music, Jones was asked to share anything he’d like to about the music scene in Wales.
“It took a dive for a bit,” he said. “There weren’t a lot of local bands and venues were shutting down.”
Thankfully, a lot of that has changed within the past two years due to funding.
“There were more smaller festivals in Wales with accessible tickets,” Jones said, also sharing that this came with a push for more local festivals to be created in order to give young bands a chance. “There was more support for local artists, and the community was more supportive of new music.”
Jones also described the emerging presence of rock in Cardiff, the capital of Wales.
“There’s a lot of that happening right now, as well as folk and singer/songwriter music, too.”
If Jones had to pick one Into the Ark song to serve as an introduction to their work, he’d select “Better Than Never At All.”
“It captures the kind of music Dane and I were into at the time,” he said. “It was the first song of ours people seemed to really pick up on, and it showcases our harmonies.”
As far as Into The Ark’s first visit to Chicago goes, Jones emphasized how excited they are to perform at House of Blues.
“We’re excited to play such a historic venue,” Jones said, expressing astonishment at how many legendary artists had performed there in years prior. “It will be cool to add our names to that list.”
Nearly every AMPLIFY. interview ends in asking the artist which aspect(s) of their creative work they’re most proud of, as it creates a time for them to reflect on their journey and subsequent successes. The first aspect Jones mentioned was Into The Ark’s dedication to live performance.
“I would say our drive to keep playing anywhere and everywhere,” he said. “We’ve played shows in many different places, like farms, churces, coffee shops, and streets.”
He also mentioned having their music published by Warner/Chappell, their harmonies (which, if you’ve listend to even a second of either of the videos embedded in this article, you know just how magnificent they are), and the fact that they’re a duo – something he noted isn’t as commonplace as it once was.
Perhaps there isn’t a high frequency of musical duos due to the fact it is indeed a complicated feat to create a powerful, dynamic sound between two individuals alone. However, Into The Ark has managed to not only accomplish this, but accomplish it brilliantly through mastery of vocal art.
That’s their magic.
Into The Ark will be performing at House of Blues in Chicago on May 12th and 13th. For tickets, click here.