Band of the Month: GLADES
Welcome to Band of the Month, a series here on Mouthing Off which aims to introduce our readers to some of our editor’s top music picks – both old and new.
At a time when live music may seem a faraway memory, we want to recapture the excitement for music and performance. It doesn’t hurt that we’ll be spicing up your playlist while we’re at it.
This month we’re taking our readers across the world to meet Australian indie electro-pop group GLADES. The Aussie trio have experienced major success in their home country, hitting mainstream charts shortly after hitting the scene in 2015. With praise from the likes of Troye Sivan and Clean Bandit, GLADES are quickly gaining popularity amongst artists and listeners alike.
With 2021 marking the release of GLADES’ second studio album, Planetarium, we thought it no better time to introduce them to our readers.
Who are GLADES?
Formed by three high school friends, GLADES is made up of Karina Savage (formerly Wykes), Cameron Robertson, and Joseph Wenceslao. Savage performs lead vocals for the group, while Robertson and Wenceslao tackle instrumentals and production – although the trio have indicated they all take part in song-writing.
The trio met while studying at William Clarke College in New South Wales, working together on music projects through clubs and extracurriculars. Graduating in 2014, Robertson and Wenceslao spent some time producing for other artists, but eventually decided to explore their own sound as artists. When Savage graduated a year later, the boys invited her to join the group, forming GLADES.
Following a string of well-received covers, GLADES were signed to EMI Australia in 2016, where they went on to release the EP This Is What It’s Like (2016) alongside the albums To Love You (2018) and Planetarium (2021).
Success and Milestones
As mentioned, GLADES started to receive major recognition after releasing covers on SoundCloud. Their most popular cover – Troye Sivan’s ‘Fools’ – has more than 801k streams alone and was praised by the artist on Twitter.
The spark of intrigue this ignited on the internet laid the foundations for a strong fanbase, propelling the trio into mainstream success. Original songs such as ‘Drive’ (2017) and ‘Do Right’ are now Spotify favourites in their own right, with the latter recently surpassing the 100 million stream mark on the platform.
Their first full-length album, To Love You, met similar feedback. The album saw multiple tracks go to number one on Australian music station triple j radio, as well as a sold-out tour across the globe.
GLADES have since continued to play live shows internationally, both as headliners and supporting acts for the likes of Clean Bandit and LANY. Their stream count on Spotify has also gone well beyond 200 million.
Sound and Musical Influences
With electronica underpinning their sound, GLADES can easily flit between upbeat dance music, syrupy slow beats, and classic pop. One thing that stands out though is the feeling of nostalgia that comes with a GLADES track.
Songs like ‘Do Right’ and ‘Blonde’ are reminiscent of a coming-of-age film soundtrack, intertwining familiar beats with the concerns and issues that young people obsess over: relationships, insecurities, growth, and transition.
But that isn’t to say that GLADES are just an echo of a song we’ve all heard before – they’re much more than that. The trio embody the experience of youth in a way that is completely their own, using personal experiences to shape the stories we hear in their songs. This becomes all the prominent as the band get older; they show that personal development is an ongoing experience. Where other bands my focus on the thrilling highs of the first teen movie, GLADES prove that the sequel can be just as exciting and tumultuous.
GLADES’ second studio album was preceded by a string of successful singles in 2020 and early 2021, with the likes of ‘Blonde’ and ‘Dancing in the Mirror’ exceeding 500k streams well before the release of the LP.
The band have characterised their new album as “a declaration of self-confidence”, where they can openly share their emotions and struggles. Speaking to Warner Music Australia, the GLADES commented:
“We’ve changed as people since writing these songs, and it’s really interesting reflecting on who we were then, and who we are now. We wanted to be more personal than we have before with Planetarium, and as a result, each song is like a marker on a map — a projection on a screen — all with distinct pictures, memories and feelings attached for us. Every person is like a planetarium. Here’s ours.”GLADES
Planetarium plays on the themes of vulnerability and personal development, following on from their previous album’s exploration of forms of love. Where To Love You arrive at “the realisation that everyone needs love in all its different forms”, Planetarium more deeply explores relationships with our inner self and the journey towards self-love.
But while these topics may fall on the heavier side, the accompanying sound still retains GLADES’ signature airy electropop sound.
But why Planetarium? Savage explained in a conversation with Broadway World how:
“A planetarium shows projections of outer space, but we interpreted it as being projections of our own lives and looking at them from different perspectives. That self-assessment also translated into a bolder sound – one that reflected the changes that all three had gone through.”Karina Savage
‘Dancing in the Mirror’, for example, follows Savage’s reflections on self-love. The singer has previously admitted to feeling self-conscious about her body, a concern that was only intensified as negative comments surfaced online during the band’s rise in popularity.
A common narrative amongst young people, Savage’s relationship with her body image became a source of inspiration for her song writing. But rather than focus on the lows, she wanted to highlight the experience of coming out the other side – in particular, the point of feeling happy with herself and how she looked.
‘Dancing in the Mirror’ perfectly represents Savage’s confidence. Set to a strong guitar rhythm and drum beat, the song is a firm rejection of hateful doubt and celebration of who she sees in the mirror.
“I remember the first time I ever saw stretch marks on my legs. I just stared at the mirror and cried. I was so embarrassed. I changed the way I dressed, I was too self-conscious to go swimming in front of anyone, I avoided my reflection in the mirror. Something so small changed my perception of myself. What I didn’t realise was that so many people were going through the same thing.
I’ve wanted us to write this song for so long because it’s easy to be unkind to yourself, but learning to love yourself is something that’s worth celebrating. It’s been a long journey and sometimes I still catch myself thinking unkind thoughts (especially last year), but this girl is seeing herself a little clearer, and lately she’s been dancing in the mirror.”Karina Savage
With a promise to practice care and exercise happiness, Planetarium is the love letter we wish we’d had during the low points of adolescence.
Check out Planetarium below!
Illustration by Sofia Toi.
Check out our last instalment of Band of the Month here.