The Islays are an international band, born out of quarantine. Billy and Nektarios are two friends from Rhodes, Greece. They’ve known each other since 2008 when they were both playing together in a band in Athens. That group lasted for four successful years. Eventually, Billy found his way to London and the duo ceased collaborating for a time.
Then the pandemic happened. It’s a story we have seen played out dozens of times here at The Static Dive. Musicians across the globe have used their lockdown time to create. In the case of Billy and Nektarios, they began a new project together when they realized both had been writing new music. They were each sitting at opposite ends of Europe at the time, but the two friends did not let a thing like geography get in their way. They started sending song ideas, recorded tracks and mixes back and forth over the Internet. Once they had the logistics of their cross-continental collaboration worked out, The Islays were born.
“I Can’t Breath” is the band’s debut single. The song tackles the social injustices that plague our modern world. The title is a reference to the last words of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who was killed in 2014 after being put in a chokehold by New York City police officers. The phrase has become a rallying cry from the Black Lives Matter movement. And clearly, the message has travelled all the way to the Mediterranean.
Musically, the track is high energy, Modern Pop/Rock perfection. “I Can’t Breathe” opens with a cool bit of psychedelic guitar until it kicks into a radio-ready Power-Pop rocker. The group lists everyone from Michel Jackson to Nirvana as influences. The sound on “I Can’t Breathe” brings to mind classic Bon Jovi. From the pitch-perfect power and sustain of the lead vocal and harmony to the rocking and bluesy, Sambora-esque guitar solo, these Greek friends stand toe-to-toe with the best of New Jersey.
You can check out “I Can’t Breathe” on the Deep Indie Dive playlist. And follow the links below to connect with The Islays. They have a lot more music on the horizon, including a new single this fall called “Can You Tell Me” and a full length album in the summer of 2021. So, dig in and stay in the loop on all that is to come.