The Last Dinner Party: “It was really important to us to establish ourselves as a live band first and foremost, because that’s what matters the most, it’s who we are”

I practically forced my way onto the list of The Last Dinner Party, begging my editor for an interview, as with just one single and a few live videos alone, I was obsessed and desperate to find a way in. So, when I received the go ahead that we had in fact landed an interview with one of the most exciting bands in the UK right now, my journalistic brain was thrilled, and my inner fangirl heart was set alight.

From the University Halls of London to the Glastonbury stage, this transcendent band have taken the music scene by storm, and believe me when I say, the hype is real. As they waltzed around in their renaissance gowns and Marie Antoinette esc corsets on Nottingham’s Bodega stage in all of their theatrical glory, it was evident: this is a once in a lifetime band. The Last Dinner Party are the perfect concoction of the female-led rock bands that came before with a punk attitude and ethereal vocals. 

After meeting during fresher’s week and immersing themselves in the capital’s vibrant music scene for the last two years, they finally released their much- anticipated debut single ‘Nothing Matters’ and have more recently added ‘Sinner’ to their arsenal. Since then, they have been catapulted to great heights, gaining millions of streams and opening up for some of the biggest artists in the world with- and I repeat – just two songs released.

Post Hyde Park blues, a week after opening for Lana Del Rey and just days ahead of their headline UK tour, I sat down with the people behind TLDP to talk all about their summer success. I was greeted by two giggly girls on screen – which soon became three – sat in a garden, beaming with pride.

How does it feel to have had such a positive reaction to your debut single and now ‘Sinner’?

Georgia: It’s great, it’s been so overwhelming. But to sit with these songs for so long and to now have them out there in the world, it definitely feels rewarding.

After what has already been a cataclysmic year, what has been your highlight so far?

Abigail: Definitely Glastonbury. It just felt like everything was aligned that day, I think it’s the energy of the place. I think there were such high expectations, because all of these things being said leading up to our performance like ‘buzzy’ and ‘ones of the 10 bands to watch at Glastonbury’, so there was a definite pressure… But I felt like we did it. 

Georgia: For me, it was meeting Florence Welch. She is my everything, my childhood idol, and if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be doing this. So to meet her and receive such great advice about what it’s like to be a woman in a very male dominated industry and how to deal with the things that will get thrown at you, it was amazing.

Genuine Indie-Band or Industry Plant?

Alongside their success, The Last Dinner Party have had their fair share of critics, with many accusing the band of being so called ‘industry plants’, which seems like people’s ignorance to the idea that women are able to be successful and talented enough on their own. How wild is that? It’s definitely reassuring to know that they have a female artist like Florence to guide and advise them through the twists and turns of the turbulent industry.

I’m interested to know more about the inspiration behind your second single ‘Sinner’?

Lizzie: At the time I was listening to a lot of LCD Soundsystem tracks and we wanted to do something a little bit different and create a guitar chorus instead of one with lyrics. I wrote about being from a small town and moving to a big city, experiencing things for the first time.

Abigail: We wanted the music video to be a live performance in contrast to ‘Nothing Matters’, just us playing all in one take, to really showcase what we do as a live band. Because that’s what we’re all about – it’s who we are.

You are often dubbed as a ‘London Band’, but you’ve just mentioned you’re from a small town, Lizzie. Where are you from?

Lizzie: I’m from West Yorkshire.

Abigail: Yes, none of us are actually from London, apart from Rora, we’re from all over!

You said you have your formative years on Tumblr to thank for inspiring the ‘Nothing Matters’ music video. But what other art, books and music inspired your music and image as a whole? I see so many fragments of things that piece together and make it so unique.

Abigail: God, so many! Me and Georgia were English literature students and so we were heavily inspired by gothic fiction and romanticism. Obviously, Sophia Coppola, Petra Collins, and David Lynch in the film and photography world. 

Georgia: Both Abi and I fell in love with Virginia Woolf’s novel ‚Orlando‘. It’s a queer romance journey which bends time through periods of history since the Elizabethan era, which explores such intense emotions: despair, ecstasy, desperation. We love to combine fashion and musical inspiration from different times and places, so it makes sense as a companion piece to what we do. ‚Orlando‘ was so ahead of its time! 

Lizzie: Musicians like PJ Harvey as well! 

From ball gowns to funeral scenes

The comparisons this band has received are endless, but something that people cannot compare is their image and music video aesthetic. It’s a heavenly collage of everything that moves and inspires them, and when that was thrown together, something distinctively different was born. From ball gowns to funeral scenes, running through fields and tearing apart bedrooms, they didn’t play it safe for their first visual representation of their band – and for that, we can’t thank them enough. The music video for ‚Nothing Matters‘ is a true masterpiece and the perfect introduction to The Last Dinner Party.

Artists like Taylor Swift have created an entire universe around their music through music videos and outfits. Is this something you intended for, and do you see yourselves evolving your aesthetic as you enter different eras?

Abigail: Yes, definitely! We aren’t going to be stuck in this sort of renaissance style forever, but it’s what we love right now and of course we’ll evolve as we create more music. One day it’ll be time to throw away the corsets and move onto the next thing. We always want to grow and evolve. 

Well, I’m thrilled to see what happens as you grow into new eras. It creates an entire fan experience and live experience, setting a theme for your fans to dress up in and have fun with it.

Georgia: “Yes, exactly. We want people to feel like they can be themselves at our shows and express themselves, their sexualities, their identities and give them a safe space and the confidence where they can wear these extravagant things.

Abigail: I know that I used to feel like gigs were the places I could go and wear a ball gown and things I wouldn’t feel confident wearing down the street. We just want people that listen to our music feel the same way at our gigs. We would even just set themes for ourselves to all dress similarly, because we wanted to, before it even became a thing.

And are you yet to experience fans really partaking in this, or have you already seen it take hold of the crowd?

Lizzie: Oh definitely already, we even had someone paint their entire arms and body!

Georgia: We sometimes set themes for our shows, ‘A Night at the Opera’ or ‘Folk Horror’, for example. But we also like to see people give their own responses to our music in their outfits, it’s so wonderful to already have such a creative and dedicated fan base. I like to imagine it’s like young women getting ready for a ball together!

The dress code memo

I arrived at my first of many The Last Dinner Party gigs in a long and almost-shear, lace dress with oversized flared sleeves and dusty Doc Martens, to find that there were plenty of men in jeans and t-shirt, who maybe didn’t get the memo. However, amongst them were these tiny pockets of people in skirts down to the floor, bold eye makeup and bows in their hair – these were my people. The possibility of the whole comradery of it has the potential to create a real spectacle at their shows, and as the crowds grow in size, I’m sure so will the dresses.

We’re in the age of viral songs and the ‘recording artist’ which we saw a lot through Covid, but you guys were known as a live band before you even released your first single. Was that intentional?

Abigail: Yes, you’re so right, it has definitely been the birth of bedroom pop and whilst we love and respect lots of those artists, I think we are in the renaissance of it now, where people can’t get enough of live music, which is lucky for us. It was really important to us to establish ourselves as a live band first and foremost, because that’s what matters the most, it’s who we are.

Georgia: Oh, definitely yeah, during Covid and these last few years there were artists who had millions of streams and had never even performed live, it’s crazy!

Celestial beings armed with instruments

When you watch them on stage, they quickly become these celestial beings armed with instruments, who create the kind of magic that can only come from honing in on your craft in dingy bars, when nobody’s listening. But everyone’s listening now and the smiles on their faces show just how much that connection means to them. 

Where are you most excited to play? Lizzie, are you excited to play some shows closer to home up north?

Lizzie: Yes, definitely Leeds. Glasgow as well!

Abigail: Blackpool for sure, we’re just excited to see this Aussie’s reaction to the British seaside. We’re going to blindfold her and do a big reveal…

Georgia: I’m so excited for it, my expectations are so high!

Just like Georgia’s expectations for Blackpool, mine for this band were through the roof and within minutes of them stepping foot on stage, they were exceeded. The girls that make up The Last Dinner Party are filled with both confidence and humility, and I was amped up to be able to see them perform for the first time, just days after our virtual meeting. There I was left standing in a crowded room, feeling alone. Not because I was lonely, but because I felt personally seen and touched, as though they reached out, pulled me out of myself and put me into their music. That night and henceforth, I pledged my allegiance to the cult that is The Last Dinner Party, and it seems, you’re all invited!

Foto © Universal Music