Shattering the glass ceiling – the rise and rise of Wet Leg

ALREADY one of the most exciting bands ever to emanate from Isle of Wight shores, Wet Leg have exploded into the global conscience during the past six months, with the release of deliciously irreverent singles Chaise Longue and Wet Dream  accumulating more than 2.5 million views on YouTube to date.

The enthrallingly offbeat Wet Leg – fronted by effortlessly cool duo Hester Chambers and Rhian Teasdale – have also been streamed across music platforms more than six million times, with third and fourth single releases confirmed within the past 24 hours to unbridled acclaim.

Kureen has spoken to the band, festival organisers and others within the industry as we basked in the reflected glory of the journey, starting with an interview we conducted shortly after their rousing Sunday afternoon Big Top set at the Isle of Wight Festival in September.

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The big interview

Kureen: You’ve exploded onto the music scene this year, but how  were the early days of Wet Leg?

Rhian: Our first gig was actually at the Isle of Wight Festival in 2019 on a much smaller stage. About 15 of our friends happened to be there. It’s funny to come back two years later on a bigger stage with so many people watching.

 

Kureen: Debut single, Chaise Longue, was recently released on vinyl, how did the limited edition run go?

Rhian: It was available on pre-order and sold out on the first morning of being available. I don’t know how many copies they produced though…

Hester: Maybe it was only 20 copies! They’re going to release some more, originally it was going to be limited but we were surprised by how well they sold.

Wet Leg performing on the Big Top stage at the IW Festival.

Maybe it was only 20 copies! They’re going to release some more, originally it was going to be limited but we were surprised by how well they sold.

 

Kureen: Were you both born on the Isle of Wight?

Rhian: Neither of us were born on the Island, but I moved here when I was eight and I always say I’m from the Isle of Wight as I don’t feel like I’m from Liverpool.

Hester: I was a baby when I moved here, so I feel like a fully-fledged Islander!

 

Kureen: I’ve seen you both performing in various bands in recent years, when did you form Wet Leg?

Rhian: I was doing solo stuff and at one of the first hurdles I cried two songs into my set, I wasn’t enjoying it. I asked Hester if she’d like to finish the run of shows I’d been booked for and we started playing together.

We decided to have fun making music that was a bit silly and I think we’ve achieved that.

Rhian: I went to a gig at the ‘100 Club’ in London the other day to see a band called Honeyglaze and the lady signing me in asked “are you in Wet Leg?” It was the first time that’s ever happened!

 

Kureen: Do you get anxious before you go on stage?

Rhian: It varies depending on how we’re feeling that day, when we played at the Green Man Festival we thought there would be nobody there, and (the tent)  was full.

Hester: When we saw how many people had come to see us I had a bit of a breakdown. It does feel weird having gone from doing shows with small crowds to these unexpected stages now.

Rhian: We didn’t expect any of this when we started Wet Leg, we just thought it would be small, sweaty shows and hopefully a few people would listen. It was really fun playing Big Top today.

Hester: It was surreal; I’ve only ever been on the audience side of that tent before today.

 

Kureen: Do you focus on the faces in the audience when you’re on the big stages?

Hester: I can’t look at anyone, just in case they look angry!

 

Kureen: Can you reveal how you came up with the name ‘Wet Leg’ or is it a guarded secret?

Hester: We made a really long list of names, some sounded cool.

We then got a bit busy with the emoji keyboard, which it turns out is a really good way to find band names – you can close your eyes and do it with two or more and see what comes along.

Rhian (pulls out phone to show some examples): Cry Donut, Factory Book, Angel Love, Alien Pumpkin… So there are endless possibilities and when you’re on social media you can use the emojis with your posts.

Kureen: I’m stealing Alien Pumpkin.

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Relentless rise from obscurity to stardom…

Subsequent to the interview, Wet Leg, who will be touring Europe and the US for the remainder of 2021, featured on the November 1st edition of BBC Two’s Later… With Jools Holland and have been named by Amazon Music as one of their Artists to Watch 2022, as well as featuring on VEVO DSCVR.

The band have also been announced as ambassadors for 2022’s Independent Venue Week, the annual event which celebrates music spaces around the country.

The great and good of the music industry have been fulsome in their praise of the duo, with musician, Iggy Pop, telling The Guardian:

“When I heard Chaise Longue by Wet Leg I got really excited: it’s cheeky, with a wicked groove, but it’s the vocals – they’re almost metronomic.

“You could ask 100 people to sing it and it wouldn’t sound the same.”

DJ and Festival curator Rob da Bank at the 2021 IW Festival.

Speaking exclusively to Kureen, Radio One DJ and Bestival founder, Rob da Bank waxed lyrical about Wet Leg’s unabated ascent.

He said: “The Isle of Wight has a special place in my musical heart for lots of reasons and every time an Island band gets recognition it’s exciting.

“This year (that has been) happening for a few acts, but Wet Leg have shone brighter than all. I know Rhian from the Plastic Mermaids choir days and as soon as I heard her sing I was struck by her incredible voice.

“Obviously the girls are also annoyingly very witty, clever with videos and their image, and know how to write a very, very catchy song. One of my top tips for 2022 for sure!”

John Giddings at IW Festival 2014

Isle of Wight Festival organiser and promoter, John Giddings, is another to rave about the band.

Giddings was the driving force behind the IW Festival being resurrected in 2002, more than 30 years after it had last been held.

“It is great to see emerging talent from the Island,” he told Kureen.

“The girls are great and well deserving of their success.

“They went down a storm this year – and we have booked them for 2023 higher up the bill.

“One of the great things about promoting the festival is that it gives us a chance to help local talent, (Wet Leg) will go far”

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Influence on/with other local musicians

Meanwhile, Isle of Wight based musicians have expressed their own delight at the success of a band from these shores, hoping it may blaze a trail for other Island acts to follow in their footsteps.

Beth Brookfield, an 18-year-old singer/songwriter from the Island, has found herself inspired by the success of Wet Leg and other female-fronted bands from the area in the past couple of years.

Beth Brookfield is one of numerous local musicians inspired by Wet Leg’s recent success.

Beth told Kureen: “The music industry has seen a rise recently in successful women fronted bands from the Isle of Wight making a statement such as Lauran Hibberd, Coach Party, and now Wet Leg.

“As an artist from the Island myself, and having gone to the same music college as Wet Leg, their success is so motivating and shows that Island bands are being noticed.

“I have found myself singing the hook ‘Baby do you want to come home with me? I’ve got Buffalo ‘66 on DVD’  from their song ‘Wet Dream’ over and over again!

“I played the Isle of Wight Festival this year, which was just incredible but I aspire to play the Big Top soon just like Wet Leg did this year.”

Tom Farren, a founding member of Plastic Mermaids, a band with whom both Rhian and Hester have been affiliated, believes the success of Wet Leg is no accident.

He said: “What seems like overnight success is actually two brilliant musicians making incredible music for a very long time in different forms.

“I was very fortunate to be involved musically with them both.

“They deserve everything that’s happening and “I’ll be watching from the sidelines with a sandwich and a beer”.

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So far, so good – but what next?

Wet Leg recently announced details of a UK headline tour, where they will perform at nine different venues in April next year, including Bristol’s Trinity Centre, the O2 Institute in Birmingham and Scala in London.

Before then, a relentless schedule sees them spending January to March touring both the UK and Europe. They recently confirmed they will be supporting rockers, Idles, during their travels.

On Monday November 29, Wet Leg’s third single ‘Too Late Now’ was selected as Radio One’s Hottest Record in the World on DJ Clare Amfo’s evening show. 

This accolade was followed by the duo’s announcement of a self-titled debut LP, which will hit the shelves on April 8.

The New York Times is among the latest titles of note to add to the growing list of admirers, stating:

“They’re one of those new bands whose sound and aesthetic seem to have arrived fully formed, promising exciting – if totally unpredictable – things to come.”

Further tour dates, this time in North America, have also been confirmed for Spring 2022.

In the meantime, both ‘Too Late Now’ and another single, ‘Oh No’, have been made available to the public, with the Wet Leg juggernaut gaining ever more momentum.

Two genuinely talented and hard working musicians, who more than paid their dues, have risen to a prominent position within the industry they love, here’s hoping this is only the start of their domination of global airwaves.

Read more: Wet Leg earmarked for mainstream success after debut single

To find out more visit: www.wetlegband.com

Additional image credit: Hollie Fernando Photography and Domino Records.

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Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

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