Reading Patti Smith’s 2017 book “Devotion” on a flight back home to New Zealand to quarantine, the London-based artist October and The Eyes was struck by the line, “They were at once dogs and gods.” Stuck on this phrase, October not only found the title of her debut EP, Dogs and Gods (KRO Records), but the words somehow encapsulated everything she had been writing up until that point.
“It felt like divine intervention,” says October. “It was too perfect. It seemed to sum up the EP perfectly as well and speaks to my belief that we are not ever entirely bad or entirely good. I have never believed in moral absolution. We are both, always, simultaneously.”
Throughout Dogs and Gods, October explores the deeper recesses of lust, desire, anger, and paranoia. “It feels like a personal little snapshot of a day in the life of a young 20-something, and all the confusing and contradictory emotions that come along with growing up and experiencing early adult disenchantment,” shares October. “As a whole, it speaks to the chaos of emotions that surmise my silly little existence.”
Bursting the bubble of its six pent up tracks, “Playing God” is the opening page of Dogs and Gods. Exquisitely lit by electro volts, “All My Love” offers a glimpse into what October’s more prophetic lyrics, singing about a lover, love and its self-destruction that somehow manifested into truth on In tin cans and other crumbs of temporary sеlf-satisfaction.
Mostly written in 2019, the 23-year-old October says many of the EP’s lyrics resonate more now, following her journey across the world and life during a pandemic.
“I think when you’re young, a lot of your life feels so uncertain at times,” says October. “I was already writing about all the anxiety and confusion and paranoia in my life, yet I think this year those emotions were so heightened and more relevant than ever because the whole world experienced those feelings as we coped with a global pandemic.”
The darker synth of “Wander Girl” seques into a slightly chaotic “You Deserve It,” written post-breakup while quarantining in New Zealand. “I felt like it needed to go on the EP,” says October, “because it marked the end of an era for me.” Still covered in some industrial layers on “The Unraveling,” Dogs and Gods closes its daunting growl on “Dark Dog,” a track October originally wrote three years earlier.
“It made sense for these two to bookend the EP,” says October of opening track “Playing God” and “Dark Dog,” both perfectly aligned with the album’s title. “I also like how the inversion of Dog-God accidentally manifested itself.”
Sonically, Dogs and Gods is an amalgamation of October’s musical roots, cut up and pasted as if a “collage,” but everything is cohesive in October’s production and experiments with guitar tones and feedback.
“I’m really attracted to that rockabilly guitar tone that utilizing a lot of them, but I like to dirty it up with the distortion pedal, too,” she says. “I almost always add a delay to my vocals and I like to play with the rhythmic feedback is creates. So those are two things that are almost always a constant.”
For October, some songs write themselves in a matter of hours, while other take months. Some come from a stream of consciousness or fragments from a poem. “I generally start out writing the bass line for a song before anything else,” says October. “It sets the tone and the mood and gives me a good rhythmic base to start.”
Making music in her bedroom since she was a child, October taught herself how to record and produce by the age of 12. Raised in the small town of Blenheim with a population of 26,000, living in London—a city with a population larger than the whole of New Zealand—was just the setting October needed for Dogs and Gods.
“I say the Internet raised me, because it introduced me to so much information and culture and music that I otherwise would have never discovered within my own hometown Blenheim,” says October. “I think that I somewhat thrive being out of my comfort zone. The greatest thing about living in London is that I’ve met so many like-minded, creative weirdos who I now call my friends. There’s no competitiveness or pettiness that I often felt within circles of New Zealand. Everybody supports everybody else here.”
London is “fast, loud, and big” and feels like a growing community for October. “It’s exciting for somebody like me, and the constant stimulation is necessary if you’re in need of constant inspiration,” she says. “I see this place being home for quite a while.”
For now living in more of an isolated state suits October, who is already writing new music and hopes to eventually perform live, just fine. “The lockdown situation suits me well, because I write and produce and record at home anyway. If anything it has encouraged me to make music more often. I don’t have an excuse not to write.”
October adds, “On one hand you could argue it’s a terrible time to be putting music out. On the other hand, it’s never been a better time—to hear of others uncertainty and anxiety and worry is comforting in a time like this, to know that you’re not alone.”