When Hester Chambers was in middle school, she wrote in her yearbook that she wanted to be one of two things: a tattoo artist—or in a band.
It turned out to be prescient. In late 2020, about a week before Wet Leg, the band she formed in 2019 with her friend Rhian Teasdale, signed to Domino Records, Chambers, 28, inked a water droplet filled in with a smiley face on Teasdale’s leg. They were still convinced the deal could fall through, so the tattoo was a reminder: “Whatever happens, we’ll still keep on doing this—even if Domino do come to their senses and are like, ‘Hah!’” Teasdale, 29, said recently over video chat.
The deal, however, did not fall through. Instead, over the past year—since the release of their first single, the witty, wordplay-dense “Chaise Longue,” last June—Wet Leg has become one of the most talked-about emerging bands on the planet; their forthcoming album (out Friday), one of the most anticipated. With just five singles released, they’ve sold out shows in New York, Los Angeles, and London and performed on most of the major late-night shows. The fashion industry has, notably, taken notice of Wet Leg—Saint Laurent tapped the band to perform at its pre-Oscars party. At a March concert in New York, I saw a cluster of fans in the front row wearing lobster claws, which feature prominently in the music video for “Wet Dream,” the band’s equally sly second single.
Wet Leg, the album, opens with “Being in Love,” a standout that sets the tone for the record. “The world is caving in and I’m kind of struggling,” Teasdale sings over a fuzzed-out guitar, “but I kind of like it ’cause it feels like being in love.” They’ve said they wanted their songs to be fun and funny (“Chaise Longue” features a “Mean Girls” reference and the lyric “on the chaise longue” repeated an incalculable number of times), but the music is also shot through with a strand of disillusionment—a dissatisfaction with the way things are, be it a toxic romance or the simple desire to go home from a party. “I see a past version of myself in the lyrics,” Teasdale said. “It’s like a snapshot in time.”
Wet Leg seemed to emerge fully formed last summer, thanks to their acerbic lyrics and cohesive cottagecore-meets-punk visual aesthetic. Teasdale and Chambers both grew up on the Isle of Wight, an island off the south coast of England (population: 142,296), and studied music at the university there. They each worked on solo music projects after graduating, but by the time they joined up to start Wet Leg, they’d largely abandoned their aspirations of making it as touring musicians. Teasdale had found a new calling as a wardrobe assistant for commercials and music videos; Chambers was working at her family’s jewelry business. Wet Leg was supposed to be a side project, just for fun. “It’s kind of funny,” Teasdale said, “as soon as we stopped trying to make anything out of [our] music, we got really busy with it.”
They began writing “Chaise Longue” in December 2019, just a couple of months before everything shut down. Then, during the height of the pandemic, they found a manager, signed their record contract, and wrote and recorded their album. The lockdowns continued, and Chambers and Teasdale wanted to work on something productive, so they decided to direct, shoot, and edit the music video for “Chaise Longue” themselves. But as the band has taken off, and its members have gotten busier, they’ve ceded some creative control; they directed “Wet Dream” with the help of a small production team, and the most recent video, for “Ur Mum,” was directed by their friend, the musician and artist Lava La Rue. La Rue, 23, attributed part of the specificity of their sound and look to their origins on the Isle of Wight: “There’s something very special that they spent a lot of time on this island,” they said. “That brings a refreshing kind of perspective on their music and their taste.”
Blowing up has presented opportunities; in the fall, Wet Leg will open for Florence and the Machine during a handful of arena shows. But keeping in touch with friends and family back home while they’re on the road has been tough, Teasdale said. So has finding new, trusted collaborators to take over some of the things they’re accustomed to doing themselves.
“It’s a bit of a circus, isn’t it?” she went on. “When we started the band, we didn’t think about interviews and photoshoots and everything that goes along with it. That’s been…” Chambers cut in: “That’s been tough. But one of the best things is that although there’s lots of huge scary stuff, we are not alone. I have Rhi, and we have the band. It’s good support.” Teasdale agreed. “It’s really, really key in keeping it fun.”