You are here
Home > Q+A >

Q + A With Inovo

Come and dive into the ambient, hazy realms of Brisbane alt-prog rockers inovo with the group today releasing a brand new single Swim Alone. An atmospheric and immersive outing that meshes grooves with moody textures, inovo’s new track also comes armed today with a visceral accompanying music video, drawing you deeper into the band’s sonic universe ahead of inovo officially launching Swim Alone in their hometown on Friday 31 March at BackDock Arts in Brisbane

Karl and Declan dropped by for a quick Q+A

Hi, thanks for taking the time to chat with Hear 2 Zen, what have you been up to today?

(Karl) – Nothing too exciting for me personally. I have a 9-5 job like most humans so my day so far has been commuting to work and going through emails.

Tell us about yourself, how long have you been performing/creating music for? 

(Declan) – Personally I’ve been writing music for around thirteen years. I’ve leapfrogged between a few different bands and projects and now I’ve settled on just the one since it’s exactly the kind of music I love to create, and everyone has the same vision and aspirations for the band and our sound. It’s a great feeling to share that!

Who are your greatest inspirations? Why?

(Karl) – I have SO many but I’ll keep it short. David Bowie is important to me as both a queer person and a creative that thrives on artistic exploration. His music inspired me to explore genres and not allow yourself to be boxed in. 

How do you create music?  Are you lyrics/story driven, or does the music/melody come first?  Explain your process.

(Declan) – I usually start with the instrumentation of a song already done or mostly solidified so I can get to know the song and what it’s trying to say. Then I’ll write melodies based on the feelings and movements I feel when listening to it. Once that’s done, I try to figure out what the melodies are communicating and shape words around that, finding the theme that starts to surface and exploring that idea. It usually ends up as some kind of story since I’m a big fan of writing those.

What has been your greatest challenge so far in performing/creating music?

(Declan) – I’d say my greatest challenge would be every new song we write together, which sounds strange but bear with me! We are constantly coming up with new and exciting ways to write songs, experimenting with rhythms and different time signatures, and just generally challenging ourselves and each other. It makes for a really exciting writing process since we can never just be comfortable when writing – we find it brings out the best in each of us.

Tell us about your new release Swim Alone, how did it come about?

(Declan) – The original inspiration for the song came from inovo’s early days back when we had our rhythm guitarist Jamie, who initially wrote the main riff for the song. Due to his departure we were unable to continue playing the song to its full extent so we rewrote it to better fit our new ensemble. The song is about a dream I had a few years ago in which I envisioned a gigantic humanoid entity drifting through space, swinging off of planets to change its trajectory. In this dream I was a prophet on Earth and wanted to warn everyone that it will be here soon and bring about the end of the world.

What advice do you have to artists who are just starting out?

(Karl) – Learning how to write a good song is much more important than having a pedal board full of $600 boutique pedals. Yeah, cool tones are great and all but so many bands focus on having all the gear and end up writing very pedestrian music. Figure out a good riff/melody/chord progression and create a structure that keeps the listener enthralled. THEN you can worry about spending 2 hours to find a cool distortion tone.

Tell us your favourite Zen practice.

(Karl) – I’m not sure if this counts but one of my absolute favorite “chill-out” things to do is going to Roma Street Parklands, getting a coffee, doing a bit of reading and walking around amongst the flowers. I live pretty close to there and like to get to the park as often as possible. I try to make friends with the bearded dragons there but have been pretty unsuccessful so far.

Pulsing with artsy alt-rock and explorative flourishes, Swim Alone firmly displays inovo’s love of unorthodox rhythms, a la Karnivool, Incubus and Tool, along with the colourful, textured storytelling of the likes of Tesseract, Devin Townsend and Thrice. With guitarist Rhys Tyack editing and tracking parts in the band’s studio, Swim Alone also reached its layered and dreamlike present state via James See mixing, and Steve Smart wrangling the levels for mastering. Moody, modern and sonically expansive, Swim Alone’s surreal qualities stem partially from an actual dream experienced by vocalist Declan Nicholls, with roots also flowing from a song devised by the band’s former guitarist. “It’s about a dream I once had about a gigantic humanoid entity drifting through space, swinging off of planets to change its trajectory,” shares Declan of Swim Alone’s origins. “In the dream I was a prophet on earth that had predicted its imminent approach to Earth, and wanted to warn everyone that it will be here soon and bring about the end of the world”. “Swim Alone is actually based off an old song our ex-guitarist Jamie created called ‘It Swims Above’,” adds Rhys. “We loved the elements but couldn’t perform it when we were reduced to a smaller group. It’s completely different but if you squint your ears during a full moon you can hear a glimpse of similarity.”

Perfectly complementing the glossy darkness and cascading grooves, the accompanying music video for Swim Alone marries the track’s lyrics of uncertainty and angst with riveting and disconcerting visuals. Shooting the video themselves over a series of weekends, special effects masks, costumes, body organs and props were made by guitarist Rhys, whose work as a cinematographer has seen him shoot music videos for Halfway, Sarah Stockholm, Daylight Ghosts and many more. Drawing together a team of actors, friends and crew, the clip ultimately oozes with sharp aesthetics and boundless imagination. “Declan writes all the lyrics which invokes a very vivid representation of the story and meaning,” shares Rhys of making Swim Alone’s music video. “I wanted the story to take some of that and combine it with the feeling I had when I wrote the track. In the video we incorporated quite a lot of symbolism and centralised the theme around confinement, while keeping a cosmic horror aesthetic. We wanted to create a visceral dimension to parallel our reality, or collective experience, relying on semiotics for layers of meaning. Every shot was storyboarded as we didn’t have a lot of time on-set once people had intestines glued to their stomach or full-faced latex masks muting sense receptors.”

Sharing a love for thought-provoking music and haunting tonalities, inovo started life when Declan, Rhys and drummer Jackson Caswell met at university before evolving into their present iteration, with bass player Karl O’Shea joining a few years later after meeting in a shared rehearsal space. Originally called Solus before changing to inovo, Latin for ‘in the egg’ reflecting the conceptual and embryonic nature of their songs, inovo is ultimately passion project dedicated to making music that each band member loves, with significant emphasis on storytelling, irregular rhythms and arrangements that pervade deep into your soul.

inovo’s live show is an equally memorable affair, with the band set to launch Swim Alone on Friday 31 March at BackDock Arts in Brisbane – and there may just be a few surprises in store. “We may have a few surprises coming up, maybe…” teases Jackson of the upcoming launch show. “We like to keep things fun and unpredictable,” adds Declan of inovo’s live performances. “We tend to move with the music, so one minute we might be chill, and the next minute really not so chill”.

A labour of love, Swim Alone is just the beginning of a huge 2023 for inovo, with the group primed to reveal even more musical goodness in the near future. “It’s very relieving to release Swim Alone,” says Rhys. “We’ve been working on these songs for quite some time so it’s exciting to release our child outside of our collective womb into the big wide world”. “We worked so hard on this song and the video,” concludes Declan, “and now that it’s finally going to be out there in the world I just hope it’s something people connect with and enjoy. We have so much more to show you guys, so if you like what we do – then watch this space. Also, I love you.”

Swim Alone is out today, Wednesday February 22, and the band will be sharing a new single every fortnight thereafter, leading into the album, Desmoterion, which is set for release on May 10.

Tickets available from



Hear2Zen Magazine
Hear2Zen is a "Non Genre Specific" publication that celebrates all things sensory.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: