The slick and non-conforming band Lime Garden from Brighton have emerged onto the alternative scene, and they’re here to take over. Sliding from one music genre into another – from indie to surf to disco – they play with noise in a completely fearless and youthful way, unique to the chaotic energy of their close-knit group. Named as one of NME’s top 100 artists for 2022, we talk to Lime Garden about the band’s musical roots in their shared love of the Talking Heads, the sleek leather music video for their hit single Pulp, and the teen dread they convey in song. Oh, and their plans to conquer the world, of course.
Lime Garden, you are an energetic genre-blending band from Brighton, formally known as just Lime. You play with noise in a way that is reminiscent of many genres but comes together in a spirit only you embody – a little bit of post-punk, a little bit of disco, pop and surf, and a lot of what makes alternative indie music new and refreshing. How would you describe Lime Garden and the music you create?
Annabel: Our musical influences come from all over the place - emo, indie, hair metal, disco, 70s rock to name a few! - which over time has sort of distilled into the music we make now. People always ask us what genre we are, I think the closest we have got is wonk pop (laughs).
I read that you formed through chance Facebook meetings and a shared love of The Talking Heads – an influence I can clearly see in the bubbly aspects of your sound. How did this happen?
Annabel: It’s a long story, but the short version was myself and Chloe met over a Facebook group for our college. We lived together and decided to form a band with our friend Leila. Then two of us moved to Brighton and met Tippi! We are all fans of the talking heads and David Byrne. I remember I read his book about 6 years ago and that’s when my fascination with them really started!
I recognise that your musical influences span many more genres that just the new wave scene of the ‘70s – some members of the band growing up with metal, some with psychedelic sounds, some with indie, and some even in the emo scene. Who are the bands biggest influences and how do you manage to fit all of these attitudes into one project?
Chloe: The beauty of our band and friendship is how complete differently we all consumed music when growing up. I think this variety has helped shaped us into not only appreciating each other’s taste and styles of writing but also allowing us to be more open when a part of the creative process.  I think through being a part of the UK music scene, especially in London, we have had the pleasure to meet and watch some of the most amazing musicians and bands which I think continuously gives us new inspiration and influence.
Your first successes bloomed during lockdown in 2020, when you self-released the tracks Surf N Turf and then Fever, the first being a jumpy post-punk anthem with a music video straight out of a ‘90s computer software, and the second being a slick, jazzy ‘70s inspired track. Why were both of your first two songs so wildly different?
Annabel: (laughs) I guess that comes back to our influences! We have short attention spans and get obsessed with different genres a lot. Surf N Turf was written was back in 2019, where we were really into psych music and that whole indie psych revival. Whereas Fever was written in the first lockdown where we gagging to go out and dance.
Can you describe what it was like to enter lockdown as an unknown band, and emerge with a fanbase? What was it about this period that contributed to your success?
Annabel: It’s bizarre. Before lockdown, we played a show to 60 people, about 50 of which were our mates. When lockdown first lifted last summer, we played our first ever festival and it was the first festival we had been to since covid hit (Latitude). Playing to all these people who we didn’t know was insane!
It was because of your sudden growth in these isolated months that the band had to change its name from Lime to your current title Lime Garden, as not to be confused with another band named Lime – a Montreal disco group. I like that you took this change as a huge success in your story as a band, and as a way to outgrow your original name, while still having large dashes of lime green in album art and music videos. Out of curiosity, where did the “garden” come from?
Annabel: When we realised that we had to change our name because of the other band, we spent 2 days in the basement of one of our houses trying to brainstorm names. We had many awful contenders that I won’t repeat, but we wanted to keep the Lime in the name. I have no idea where the Garden came from, but it stuck!
Since then, you’ve signed with So Young Records, and released the tracks Sick & Tired, Clockwork, Pulp, and your latest 2022 single Marbles – a cheerful and upbeat pop song with the more unsettling underlying tone of losing your grip on sanity. How would you describe this experience? Vastly different to self-releasing tracks from your lockdown bedrooms?
Annabel: It was in some ways, but it also came out in early January where covid was still lingering. We were supposed to go on tour with Yard Act, and it all got moved. Weirdly enough, that song was written in the first lockdown where we felt like we were losing our marbles, that feeling still applied a year later when we released it!
Pulp immediately grabbed my attention, with its huge classic rock guitar hooks and electronic backing that almost sounds like a videogame. The video depicts you as a group of spies, clad in leather trench coats and sunglasses, tracking down a man in the spirit of what seems like vengeance. When I first heard the song, I assumed that the man depicted in it was a more sinister character coming after the girls, telling them to wear scandalous clothing and repeating the tagline “society’s a test,” but the video completely reverses this idea, putting the women in power. What was the inspiration for this, and what crimes are these secret agent girls fighting against – society itself?
Annabel: That song was written back in 2019 before Covid. I think one of us had a note on our phone that depicted a dream of a man with orange peel for a face. The whole song sort of spiralled from there. I’ve never thought of the video reversing the idea and in all honesty we were obsessed with the Matrix at the time of the video and wanted to have badass women fighting crimes!
Your latest single Marbles, also combines these old and new elements of music, the cheerful groove of it accompanied by your signature twangy electronic backing noises. The album cover for this single is a giant pile of green marbles in disarray, which goes along with the message of the singer having lost their mind, in a strange antithesis to the happy pop sound of the song. I read that this song is about “adulthood uncertainty.” Can you expand on that?
Chloe: This song along with most of our released music is very focused on the concept of being in your early 20s and feeling somewhat lost as to what it is you’re meant to be doing with your life and even day to day. I think it’s something everyone goes through – that sort of quarter life crisis vibe. Impending doom and existential dread.
Lime Garden, to me, is a lot of things at once. It’s chaotic and ever-changing and new. Do you know what direction you are going to go in with new tracks, or possibly an album?
Chloe: Chaotic is absolutely the word I would use. I think we’re in a really amazing place creatively as a band and as friends we’ve gone through our many stages of trying to figure out what we wanted to sound like and say as a band. And now we are in pure writing mode, we’re making some of the most exciting music we ever have and I think we are definitely moving towards working on bigger creative projects like albums.
You’ve already sold-out a headline tour, signed to So Young Records, and played a support slot for Katy J Pearson, and now have been named one of NME’s top one hundred artists for 2022. How does this feel?
Annabel: So bizarre! We got a physical NME award [The NME 100: essential emerging artists for 2022] in January – it feels so surreal. Can’t quite wrap our tiny heads around the concept that there are people who we don’t know who spend money on tickets to see us live.
What is your dream as a band?
All: World domination.