Image: David Tudor

‘Are you nervous?’: An insight into the workings of a student band

“Are you nervous?” reads a poster that has appeared around the Warwick campus over the last couple of weeks. The line is taken from ‘Oh My Lover’, a song I wrote and released with my band, Beltane Dew, from 21.08.23, our new EP.  

We formed our band in 2021 in London, starting our music career by covering songs and playing local gigs and events. The heavy sounds of Nirvana dominated our set lists, making grunge central to our music. Once we began writing original music, we combined the deep tones of grunge with a more melodic sound, inspired by Lana Del Rey and Angel Olsen, to create the music of Beltane Dew.  

However, unlike most bands, we now live far away from each other. We are originally from London, but university has split us up. I, Lola Terek, play the bass and study at Warwick, Daisy Carbin, the singer and rhythm guitarist, is studying in Exeter, Pari Ahuja, the lead guitarist and singer, is at UCL, and Finlay Calvey, the drummer, is in Liverpool. When we do write together in London, we follow the classic archetypes of songwriting: we sit in a room, we mess around with riffs, and jam, and we feed into each other’s ideas. But the distance between us has shaped the way our music is made. 

It’s been difficult being apart from each other as we are best friends. It is strange not to have my bandmates at arm’s length. But the separate experiences and emotions we live through while apart allow us to form a unique dynamic with our songwriting as a band when we are together.  

Despite calls and texts, we never truly understood what was happening in each other’s lives

wI finished my first year in 2023. Like many, I had bittersweet experiences. That prompted me to write any words or phrases that felt natural to me. Just like me, my three band members also lived their lives and had their experiences. Despite calls and texts, we never truly understood what was happening in each other’s lives. We knew the surface of each story. But once we were in the studio, where we could talk and play music together, our emotions and experiences were exposed, and the songwriting began. 

On 21.08.23, we released two songs, ‘Playground’ and ‘Oh My Lover’. ‘Oh My Lover’ is a perfect instance of how we collaborate as a band to create a song that belongs equally to all of us. Even before any lyrics were written for this song, the main riff was first played in December 2022. To set the scene, we were in Calvey’s studio, Carbin played these three notes on repeat, Ahuja added a lighter and dynamic layer on top of this with her Telecaster, Calvey messed around with a drum lick, and I added a simple bass line. At this stage, this jam was an experiment with a sound we all connected with.  

After another two terms of university, distance, and experience, we returned to each other, and ‘Oh My Lover’ became our primary form of expression. We felt a deep connection to the riff. Initially untitled, Carbin experimented with the melody and improvised lyrics on the spot. When I looked over my writings from the previous year, I was able to arrange my thoughts and convert them into lyrics. Carbin’s melody and my lyrics worked together perfectly. 

If I could spend every day writing with my band – I would

We spent almost every day with each other. Just like the insane recording practices of The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, we were locked in Calvey’s studio with numerous crisp packets and sushi. Once we finished our demos, we spent three days working with Liverpool-based producer Noah Roche, producer of Crawlers and The Sukis, in his Somerset studio. In these three days, our two songs came to life.  

If I could spend every day writing with my band – I would. I am not trying to say distance is needed to create songs, but I think for us this distance is inevitable. Distance allows us to live through these moments and then retell them through our songwriting. I love my band members, and I love that I have members who want to hear my thoughts as much as I want to hear theirs.  

Beltane Dew has more coming out very soon. I am confident that next year and the distance between us will contribute to our songwriting when we are together again over the holidays in a cramped studio. 


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