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Interview: The Purple Lights

London-based duo The Purple Lights come to terms with heartbreak on their vibrant new single Lake. 

Concocting a unique blend of afrobeat drums with heartfelt pop vocals, the song is accompanied by a psychedelic music video following the band as they explore the back streets of Hackney Wick and forests of vivid purple foliage.  

I caught up with Rob and Akeba to find out more about how they met, how their contrasting musical upbringings have influenced their sound and why they don’t shy away from speaking their mind… 

Hey guys! How did you meet and decide to start making music together?

We actually went to the same uni together, west of London! We met at a pre-drinks party at Rob’s place, Akeba saw Rob’s Bob Marley poster and we bonded over a love for reggae music. Akeba studied production and was often in the studios and bumped into Rob regularly. One day he was walking past, noticed Rob and asked him if he’d be interested in adding some percussion sounds on a track. All kicked off from there really!

We then lived together for a couple of years in a run-down old house along with a few other mates. We spent that time working on our sound and developing the Purple Light vibe. Now we’re a fully-developed sound – both singing and playing drums, electric guitar, (accompanied by a loop and load of effect pedals) and synth. We’ve been performing gigs and festivals around the country ever since.

Congrats on your new single Lake! What’s the story behind the song and where did you film the video?

Lake was actually originally a love song written for someone very close to Rob. We hadn’t played it in a long time and Akeba suggested re-working the song. Together we brought more of a Purple Lights vibe to the track and Rob re-wrote the lyrics to direct the feeling of the song toward the ups and downs of a relationship. The break up, the hurt, the love still felt and the eventual understanding of each other.

Water has always been very calming and peaceful for Rob. The lake is a representation of something which continues regardless of outside effects, it represents a memory of what was. The song isn’t written about one individual experience or person, more of a collection of feelings and experiences. 

Lake signifies all the good memories, all the best bits of loving someone, opening up and being close to someone who feels the same. The Lake will always be there, just like these memories. Losing someone you love is hard, but once all the s*** passes you look back on how positive the time was. Well, you hope so anyway!

The video was shot near where Rob lives now, over in Hackney Wick. I love the vibe over there – I live in a warehouse community surrounded by creative and loving types.

Your music is a glorious blend of different genres. Who and what are your main influences?

Black Sabbath has been a huge influence for Rob; the sound has always directed large parts of his guitar tone. Recent influences have to be Idles (their lyrics are some of the best in my opinion). Rob loves Shame and Goat Girl, along with bands like Blac Rabbit, The Kills… the list could go on forever. There is so much great music out there!

For Akeba, loves include Bonobo, Bomba Estereo, Solko and the Skints to all time legends like Nirvana, Marley, Hendrix, Johnny Cash and a whole lot more.

Our musical content is always driven by live events and the s*** going on in society around us. Like Idles, we don’t shy away from speaking our opinion on wrongs in society.

I see you’ve played quite a few festivals and had a residency at the Roundhouse in London. What would you say has been your favourite musical experience to date?

It’s different for both of us. For Akeba, it’s about seeing people really enjoying the show, after not knowing what to expect. We get so many lovely comments – that is what makes being in The Purple Lights an experience like no other.

Top experiences for Rob would be Glastonbury. Then the day that we did four gigs in one day – two in London and two in other parts of the country. We nearly missed our train, but still made it to all of them and smashed it!!

If you could tour with any band in the world, who would it be?

Akeba: Nova Twins

Rob: Slaves 

Can we catch you playing live any time soon? What’s coming up next?

Sat Jul 6 – Chapelfield Gardens, Norwich

Thu Jul 18 – Paper Dress Vintage, London

Fri Aug 23 – Maui Waui festival, Suffolk

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