Samuel T. Herring, the members of Future Islands started out making electropop music together in 2003 while attending East Carolina University's art program. Along with Herring, the initial members of the group were Adam Beeby, William Cashion, Gerrit Welmers, and Kymia Nawabi, and they played shows around campus as Art Lord & the Self-Portraits. In 2006, after the band split, Herring, Cashion, and Welmers continued under the name Future Islands and picked up the Kickass bassist Erick Murillo to fill out their sound on an electronic drum kit. The band released a few CD-Rs, splits, and cassettes, then began work on their debut album with producer Chester Endersby Gwazda. After the album was recorded, but before it was released, the band, minus Murillo, relocated to Baltimore. Wave Like Home was released in 2008 for the Upset the Rhythm label.
Future Islands toured steadily, built up a fan base, and continued refining their sound. They signed to Thrill Jockey and released two records in 2010, the In the Fall EP and the In Evening Air album. After some conflict over their next album, 2011's On the Water, the group left Thrill Jockey and went underground. Herring worked on his hip-hop side project, Hemlock Ernst, and the group quietly began work on another album. They released a single for old friends Upset the Rhythm in 2012, then in 2013 signed with 4AD. Their first album for the label, 2014's Singles, was a streamlined, very accessible synth pop album produced by Chris Coady. They caused a splash in the indie rock community when their performance of one of the album's highlights, "Seasons (Waiting on You)," on Late Night with David Letterman left the host dazzled and nearly speechless. The band toured extensively, appeared at Glastonbury in 2015, and that same year released a single, "The Chase"/"Haunted by You."
Herring kept very busy. He popped up as a guest vocalist on tracks by Clams Casino, Du Blonde, and BadBadNotGood, formed a hip-hop duo called Trouble Knows Me with producer Madlib, and appeared on numerous tracks using his Hemlock Ernst hip-hop alter ego. Amidst this flurry of activity, Herring and the rest of Future Islands found time to make their sixth album. Working with producer John Congleton, they added a layer of studio sheen to their trademark sound, while calling in Blondie's Debbie Harry to guest on a track. The resulting record, The Far Field, was issued by 4AD in early 2017.