Posted at 12:00h
in Gig Reviews
Words by Sam Chesbrough // Photos by Kathleen Mary Lee
The months leading up to Christmas can be an absolutely tiring time for some. Between festivals that go loud and large like Strawberry Fields, time honoured classics like Meredith and a slew of other events, it’s easy to get lost among the big names. Hopkins Creek not so much managed to get its foot in the door for summer festivals, as it did firmly kick the door down. While only sporting two international headliners, Hopkins Creek nailed so many things in its second year that larger and more established festivals still seem to fluff up.
If you’ve kept your ear to the ground you’re sure to have picked up a bevvy of track IDs from the weekend – so rather than a comprehensive list of every act, we decided to go with Hopkins Creek’s top five moments (in no particular order). Hopefully, if you were there you might agree – and if you missed out, maybe this will encourage you to get your act together and come along next year.
CC Disco smashing out “Great Southern Land” by Icehouse
If you follow Melbourne’s disco darling on Instagram you might have seen a great clip from under the tent of Courtney pounding out an Australian classic. In a set typical of CC’s fondness for definitive disco cuts verging into housier gems, it’s hard to pick out a song or two. However, closing up her set as Saturday night ticked over was a track that got everyone singing. Other noteworthy numbers would be “Dance Ritual I (Lipelis Dream Dance Remix)” by Auntie Flo, but nothing quite compares to a track that would have my parents dancing as much as I was.
Mount Liberation Unlimited teasing out “Double Dance Lover”
The two Swedish maestros brought a brimming live performance to the crater this year, the first international act to play for the festival. Stringing the crowd along with the chipmunk vocal snippets of their most popular track, Mount Lib kept punters going with a fifteen-minute epic.
Sunnyside bringing the funk on Sunday morning
Bringing some balance to the electronic skew of tracks, Sunnyside’s psychedelic jazz performance was the perfect balm for those who might’ve gone a bit too deep in the crater the night before. Proving once and for all that the clarinet can well and truly be an instrument of dancefloor destruction, the quartet swung effortlessly through tempos and some bonus lyricism, bringing some hip-hop swing to their jazz.
Brian Not Brian singing along to Vera’s “Take Me To The Bridge”
Coming in hot from the UK was certified crate digger Brian Not Brian to headline Hopkins Creek. Slotted with the closing set for Hopkins, Brian Not Brian came on after a phenomenal closing track from Pjenne (Kings Of Tomorrow’s “Finally” if you’re interested). Opening up with a spoken word piece announcing that “peace is the word, the word is peace. Peace,” Brian brought in the healthy kick drum, bells, and whistles of Beautiful Swimmer’s “Oh Yeah”. With plenty more percussive belters like “Trummor” by HNNY, Brian Not Brian guided dancers through an exceptional sunset over the crater. As darkness settled and the end of Brian’s set came rolling around, a scarily familiar slap bass line came crawling over the speakers. There was a palpable energy as everyone grabbed their closest friend and sung the hook to “Take Me To The Bridge”. Clearly, Brian was vibing it too –
having an absolute ball in his gumboots (clearly well equipped) and it was enough to get an extra half an hour out of his set.
Hopkins Creek DJs, playing pretty much every classic under the sun
Whispers had been floating around that there would be an extended bar set after Brian Not Brian from the organisers – and after such a stellar effort from the team, they had truly earnt themselves that dream closing slot. Not one for subtleties, things got started with Tears For Fears‘ “Everybody Wants To Rule The World”. Between Todd, Olly, Ryan, Josh and James Keys there was a bit of one man upmanship over some hours, maybe being a bit disjointed sometimes but certainly entertaining. Everything from some deeper cuts (Dense & Pika’s “Colt” and Fort Romeau’s “Saku”) to soulful disco numbers (Jocelyn Brown’s “Somebody Else’s Guy” and Mary Clarke Jr’s “Take Me I’m Yours”) to the downright classics (Eric Prydz “Call On Me” and Groove Armada “Superstylin’ ”). Arguably it would be “Retro Grade” by Moda that burnt the house down, heavy on the effects and a nostalgic throwback to the parties that incubated the idea of Hopkins Creek. For me, that would have to be a personal highlight for Hopkins Creek 2017.
Of course, there were plenty of other exceptional moments that deserve a mention. Andy Garvey playing some electro bombs like “My World (Night Drive Mix)” by Sunday Brunch would have to be a hit. Also props to the annoyingly rare “Do I Do” by Maurice McGee getting a spin by Barry Sunset and Fitz-e (Rayko’s edit to be specific, a gem that teases out the vocal for oh so long). Also Claudia Jones – you guys were so much fun and exactly what Hopkins needed to get everyone dancing that Friday night.
All in all, Hopkins Creek proved that bigger isn’t necessarily better, during a time where Australians seem to steer towards smaller and more boutique festivals. The organisers held it together despite any inclement weather (I was feeling nervous camping in what was essentially a giant bowl during a one in a hundred year storm).
Everyone looked like they were having a good time, and from what I heard their policy of inclusivity and calling out any unwanted behaviour was held up. Facilities were ace; staff, sound, and light all did a fantastic job – as did Rhys Newling on the visuals. Not to mention the setting in the crater was sublime. Checklists aside, it was simply an incredibly fun weekend, and hats off to the crew who put it together. You can count me in for the crater next year.
Posted at 19:28h
, Gig Reviews
Words by Elvis Walsh
From Ariel Pink’s ‘scatological’ cycle of creativity, to the deeply intertwined cultures of Krautrock and the Aussie music scene, Face the Music 2017 was as interesting and educational as it was diverse and expansive in topics. The two day Australian music industry conference, annexed by Melbourne music institution The Push, is in its 10th year, marking a milestone in public arts and the local music industry. An absolute Mecca for aspiring youth craving to cut their teeth in the music scene, as well as seasoned veterans willing to explore the infinite facets of an ever moving culture, Face the Music prides themselves on their scholarly speakers and the spectrum of expertise brought with them, ensuring a fascinating experience for attendees with a plethora of musical backgrounds.
This year’s was based out of the grand St Paul’s Cathedral, an iconic central Melbourne landmark in its own right. The conference took place over eight separate venues, often running over four sessions at once. The breadth of topics and range of geographic, gender, racial and cultural backgrounds of the over 100 speakers is obvious draw card for the conference’s continual turn out, with purple lanyard sporting conference dwellers to be found in every corner of the CBD.
Kicking off the first day was a keynote panel featuring the ever exciting and enigmatic Ariel Pink, offering intimate insight into his creative processes and influences, including the unusual and poignant story behind his latest album Dedicated to Bobby Jameson. Later, and certainly a highlight for the day, the panel ‘Whitewashed’ tackled the prominent issue of the misrepresentation of people of colour throughout the industry, spawning debate and praise throughout conversations overheard around the cathedral.
Taking an international perspective, through the Victorian Govt.’s brand new ‘Music Passport’ program, there were a range of German guest speakers representing names such as Hamburg’s Reeperbahn Fest and German label Kontor Records. These speakers gave interesting advice for Australian musicians regarding the mega yet obscure market of the German live music scene. Concluding the first day were local artists Body Type and Press Club supporting the ever invigorating Kirin J. Callinan on the St. Paul’s stage for a free show, accessible to anyone so inclined.
Day two began with Herald Sun’s musical ex Mikey Cahill with a nostalgic retrospect of Melbourne music. Simultaneously, talks on artist management essentials such as exposure and accounting took place across the seven other venues. Later on was the hugely popular Planet Radio featuring Cheryl Waters, globally renowned DJ, programmer and host for Seattle’s KEXP radio station. You may be familiar with our own King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s numerous appearances on the station. Spread amongst the remaining day were numerous discussions and panels, including Marky Ramone, who featured in conversation on the ins and outs of the dense yet rewarding and expressive industry. Again, to top it off was ‘Cookin’ with Kirin J. Callinan, an interview/showcase of Kirin’s culinary skills and inner thoughts as an artist, cooking and divulging live from the carpark.
To mention every standalone event held at the conference within one article would result in a short book. This year’s event has topped its previous year’s yet again, with a larger turnout every iteration, and a continually impressive lineup of speakers.
For any person even remotely interested in music or behind the scenes of your favourite artists, festivals or labels, Face the Music is an amazing resource at your disposal.
Posted at 00:54h
Words by Marcus Rimondini // Photos by Sarah Chav’
Good Morning may not be one of those well-known household names in Melbourne at the moment… But they should be. With a recent signing to Bedroom Suck Records, it was an absolute no-brainer to take the opportunity to chat to the Melbourne pair Stefan Blair and Liam Parsons to find out how they’re going.
In the world of laid-back, mellow and subtle artists, it is a rarity to see any bands or solo artists rise up the ranks. For instance Mac DeMarco would be one of the more recent artists to achieve this, and the “feature” that separates Mac from his peers is his humour, whether lyrically or on stage. This is something that Good Morning share with Mac, their ability to laugh and enjoy a good joke. Although I feel at times a more serious nature could help them on their way up, their playful approach to life and music translates to curiosity, and an eagerness to keep an open mind. Their signing with Bedroom Suck (who I feel are heavily underrated, signing some of the best bands in the country) could be that final step-up Good Morning needs to break out and become an industry staple.
So Good Morning is where my money would go at the moment, with a brand new album already recorded, I get the impression that the boys are in a good head space right now. They seem to be taking leaps, with a Europe Tour being the biggest one, and I can’t imagine they’d take these risks unless they believed in the new album. Until it comes out, let’s play catch-up below with Good Morning.
Marcus Rimondini: Where have you been hiding for most of this year?
Liam Parsons: Recording, slowly.
Stefan Blair: Mixing some stuff.
Liam: [laughs] Taking ages to finish it. It’s been nice though, no time restraints or anything. We checked out of the whole thing for a while there.
Did you not know the next step after the initial releases?
Liam: We’ve had demos of what the album’s going to be for a year and a half or so…
Stefan: We started mixing it, but it was a bit fucked. So we went back and started again just a few weeks ago.
Are you two mixing it?
Liam: Yeah, [we] tried to do everything this time.
Have you always done everything yourselves?
Liam: It has slowly progressed that way. The first thing we did was recorded and mixed with our friend Hamish Mitchell (I’lls). Then with the second EP we recorded it all ourselves, then mixed with him. Now, with this one, we’re recording and mixing it all ourselves.
How did the Bedroom Suck Records signing happen?
Stefan: One day Joe Alexander just sent me a message on Facebook [laughs]. I think he was just plotting away things, like he usually does, and was interested in doing this re-issue. Which was coincidentally around the time we were thinking about the record and wanted to send it to him anyway.
So he snuck in by just asking about a reissue, but was secretly looking to… ?
Liam: I think secretly we were trying to get the album in.
So you were both secretly trying to play it cool?
Liam: [laughs] Pretty much. I think we both got what we wanted in the end.
It looks like you barely have a break from touring until October, is this the longest you have ever toured?
Liam: We have actually never really been on tour… we did go on a trip to New York once for CMJ, but that was just staying in the same place.
Stefan: It was sort of more of a holiday.
Liam: I guess we’ve been to Sydney a couple times? And went to Brisbane once.
Does this tour make you excited or daunted?
Liam: Excited! I haven’t been overseas since CMJ.
Stefan: I’m into it. I like getting out of Melbourne, and visiting somewhere near like Switzerland will be exciting.
Question… Do you get paid more or screwed over more in Switzerland?
Liam: … I don’t know actually [laughs].
Stefan: [laughs] We’ll probably end up spending way more money than we should.
Liam: The beers cost more, that’s for sure.
Has it always been just the four of you in Good Morning?
Liam: Yeah, just the four of us playing live.
Stefan: And Joe’s coming too this time.
Liam: And our friend Kim Ambrosius is over there in Copenhagen. She’s been helping Joe with Bedroom Suck so it should be good. It’s going to be busy I guess.
What’s the jamming/recording process like in Melbourne?
Stefan: We mainly work at home and Liam’s beach house in Lorne.
Liam: … And I guess we are mixing it in my bedroom in Fairfield [laughs].
Did the beach house influence the sound or the atmosphere of the recordings?
Stefan: It kind of sounds glassy?
Liam: [laughs] There’s glass windows everywhere. We recorded the Glory EP there and had a construction site going on next door the whole time. So yes, you can hear hammering and drills in the background. However, there’s no WIFI, no people… it’s good for that. You just kind of sit there, and all of the sudden you’ve been there for 14 hours.
Stefan: You sit there until very early in the morning, go to sleep, wake up and do it again. It’s a nice routine.
Liam: There’s nothing else to do, maybe rent DVDs? [laughs]
Do you do anything creative outside of music?
Liam: Not really, we’re not very good at anything else [laughs].
Stefan: We play in other friends bands and stuff like that.
Liam: We try to do our own artwork, posters, and t-shirts!
Stefan: Although, they are usually thrown together in a couple minutes [laughs].
… Is ‘we’ actually just one person?
Stefan: Nah, whoever wants to do it.
Liam: [laughs] Whoever can be bothered.
Is it just you two who record the music? Or do you bring in the band when it comes to recording?
Stefan: We record it all. Some of the songs we will play with the band before we go in and record them. But most of the time we just record them as demo’s and show it to everyone else and see what they make of it.
Has the band always been the same four members?
Liam: It’s always been the four of us because there are more shows at the moment. Not everyone can always make them, so we’ve had Joe filling in on drums and Stefan’s brother on bass for a while as well.
How was the Tasmanian tour?
Liam: So good!
Stefan: It was pretty wild.
Liam: There was this crazy bar called Dan’s Bar in Franklin. It was this weird little alternate universe [laughs].
Stefan: We ended up having an after party at this woman’s house named Jane – she was 82 I think. She had a bunch of us back at her house for drinks and weird stew.
Liam: She was just sitting there drinking goon and chain smoking [laughs].
Liam: There were some good, weird pub shows as well – especially in this place called Wynyard. People were just shouting at us to play covers [laughs]. So it was us TRYING to do that, and making up covers on the spot.
Do you guys have any directional changes moving forward? Anything new you want to add to Good Morning, or just more refining?
Liam: We’ve been thinking more keyboard. It’s probably cleaner.
Stefan: Yeah, more saxophone as well. A lot of it was written on keys, there wasn’t much of that before.
Liam: No huge effort put into changing things, but it has naturally changed I guess.
Are the songs more internal or external?
Stefan: I feel like they’ve stayed somewhat the same.
Liam: They go deeper, maybe. We tried to be somewhat less whiny, tried to whinge less [laughs].
Stefan: The vocal performance hasn’t improved whatsoever.
Liam: [laughs] I don’t know how it panned out though, it’s really pretty whiny.
Do the track lengths vary more this time around?
Stefan: They are all pretty short still.
Liam: There’s a couple of four minute ones… Or almost four minutes [laughs]. One’s about 3 minutes 50 seconds, but at the end of the day, it’s like 10 songs in 27-28 minutes.
Have you been playing the new album on the recent tours?
Liam: Yeah, we’ve been playing most of the tracks for a fair while. There’s still a couple that we don’t know how to play live because of the arrangements – trying to figure out how to make it a band song.
Stefan: Yeah, how to tune without having four guitars on stage.
Liam: [laughs] Like Wilco.
Stefan: Jet [laughs].
What’s your connection to Baro?
Stefan: We still play in his band – I play bass.
Liam: I’m on guitar.
Stefan: We recorded a couple tracks with him on the EP that he just put out.
Is it nice being able to defer to somebody else?
Liam: Yeah, it’s great [laughs].
Stefan: You just rock up, you’ve got your instrument and that’s it. It’s nice to add another genre to what we can do I guess. I think we’re going to try and make a record with him at some point, but we will see if that happens.
Have you learnt much from that type of experience?
Liam: It’s definitely helped me play the guitar better, expand the range I guess.
Some guy named Alejandro Tafurth made the ‘Warned You’ video on YouTube, did he ask you? It has 660K views
Stefan: Yes! So he sent us a message and said: “I made this video, can I put it up on the internet?” I was like “Sure!” [laughs].
Liam: Me and Joe were talking about that yesterday, people think it’s the actual video. It’s quite funny. The video is very sexual [laughs]. There’s a couple of those, where people go on skiing trips or hiking trips and they’ll make little holiday videos.
Stefan: It’s like those videos you see of like two twelve or thirteen-year-old kids hanging out with their iPhones, filming some shit. It’s just their day, hanging out.
Liam: There’s this one where some kids in America played one of our songs at their high school talent show [laughs]. It’s wild, and actually really beautiful.
Stefan: There was also a band in Japan that used our track in some sort of battle of the bands.
Have you guys gotten any other weird requests in your DMs?
Liam: Not exactly weird, but a lot of people ask for lyrics because we never put our lyrics online. I guess we mumble a lot, so nobody ever knows what we’re saying [laughs]. We just sort of ignore them. I think we used to send them out.
Stefan: There’s a lot of Genius.com incorrect lyrics out there [laughs].
Liam: The reissue has a poster in it with all the lyrics that we did, it’ll be interesting to see if that actually changes anything.
Have you seen what’s happened to your Spotify? There’s an album in your profile clearly not by you…
Liam: [laughs] Yeah it’s so good.
Stefan: That shit got us a lot of weird messages. People were quite confused.
Liam: There’s some great tweets actually.
Stefan: There’s a really funny one that we got this morning. A girl in South America sent us a message saying “Come play!” Then we got another message this morning and she changed her mind: “My girlfriend and I just listened to your new album, it sucks, don’t come” [laughs].
Liam: [laughs] Here’s another one: “Confused as to what the fuck you just released, did you just record some pre-made beats and just loop them?” — “I am sorry if you spent a lot of effort on the new album, but it sucks” [laughs].
What’s planned after the Europe tour?
Liam: More touring and more writing.
Have you played any festival circuits?
Liam: The only festival we’ve played was Paradise Music Festival. We did a few with Baro over summer which was funny. It’s a whole different world and pretty entertaining. The problem was we just got drunk and tried to meet semi-famous people all the time.
Stefan: Jamie T side of stage [laughs].
Liam: I don’t think we met anyone at Laneway, but we used a bunch of their resources, someone got a free massage.
Stefan: I did get a free massage! Then we just took all the free beers and went to the nearest fish and chip shop.
Liam: Cheers Laneway! [laughs].
A U S | T O U R D A T E S
|Thursday 20th July – Melbourne @ The Tote w/ Dianas & Way Dynamic
|Saturday 22nd July – Geelong @ The Barwon Club Hotel w/ Great Outdoors, Hachiku, Hollie Joyce & The Tiny Giants
||Friday 28th July – Adelaide @ The Metro w/ WORKHORSE & Goon Wizarrd
|Saturday 29th July – Adelaide @ Holly Rollers w/ AVANT GARDENERS, Fair Maiden, David Blumbergs & The Maraby Band + more
||Friday 4th August – Coldedale @ Coledale RSL w/ Ciggie Witch, Unity Floors & Solid Effort
|Saturday 5th August – Braidwood @ Braidwood Hotel w/ Ciggie Witch
||Sunday 6th August – Sydney @ Petersham Bowling Club w/ Ciggie Witch
|Saturday 12th August – Beechworth @ Tanswell’s Commercial Hotel
||Friday 25th August – Castlemaine @ Petersham Bowling Club w/ Ciggie Witch
|Tuesday 5th – Friday 8th September – Brisbane @ BIGSOUND
E U R O P E | T O U R D A T E S
|Friday 15th September – Copenhagen @ Stengade
||Saturday 16th September – Stockholm @ Landet
|Tuesday 19th September – Aarhus @ Tape
||Thursday 21st September – Berlin @ Internet Explorer
|Friday 22nd September – Dresden @ Ostpol
||Saturday 23rd September – Trier @ Ex-Haus
|Wednesday 27th September – Manchester @ Castle’s
||Thursday 28th September – London @ Shakwell Arms
|Friday 29th September – Brighton @ The Joker
||Saturday 30th September – Paris @ Espace B
Posted at 16:03h
Words by Sam Chesbrough // Photos by Jasper van Daatselaar
Come April you could easily be fooled into thinking that the Australian festival season had well and truly run its course. The nights are longer, colder and having so many weekends away have taken a heavy toll on your mind, body and bank account. However there’s still respite to be found from the impending Melbourne winter, with Inner Varnika — a three-day festival situated in dusty Bookar. For many, this last hoorah might even be their biggest, with the combination of a small crowd, broad music styles and a single stage lending itself to prime festival vibe.
The first peek of the rolling hills and white tents from the windows of the coach bus up to Bookar was enough to stir a whole lot of excitement. The familiar rocks, thistles and occasional cow skull that are now engraved into the Inner Varnika experience haven’t changed a bit.
And neither have some of the DJs, apparently. IV favourites the Alley Tunes DJs were the first to play, bringing with them some heavy dub tracks. DJ Manchild was back again too, dealing a healthy dose of afrobeat tracks in the afternoon. Set highlights include the stuttering organ of Timmy Thomas’ ‘Why Can’t We Live Together’, and uplifting soul of ‘Awake O Zion’ by Twinkie Clarke.
The first international of the festival was Stones Throw staple James Pants. Performing live, Pants bought a weird blend of funky, psychedelic jams. Experimenting with vocal work, the off kilter beats teetered on the edge of that oft-overlooked genre of aqua-crunk/wonky. Testing the water with tracks maybe a little different to what revellers have come to expect from Inner Varnika, Pants no doubt captivated the crowd with a set that was as danceable as it was unique.
As night had well and truly fallen it was time for one of the hardest working producers around Melbourne, Rings Around Saturn aka Dan White aka 2200, to take the stage. The multitude of gun fingers and air drumming for ‘The Hammer (Think Mix)’ proved jungle is still enjoying a strong renaissance. Dan White’s latest release ‘Erosion’ (on Analogue Attic Recordings) also enjoyed a very warm reception.
While the night tipped over into the deeper and darker side of things, In Aeternam Vale was setting up. Playing in a dusty bowl to revellers kitted out in all manner of haphazard clothing, I couldn’t imagine a better scene for IAV’s caustic sounds.
Working tirelessly on a hulking mass of cables in front of him, IAV whipped the crowd into a frenzy. Switching between the more traditional format of 4/4 techno and jarring polyrhythmic sounds, the Frenchman seemed to be enjoying himself as much as those in the crowd. As impressive as it was to see him holding his iPad up to the crowd and happily pointing towards the screen, he could’ve been pointing at Candy Crush for all I know about modular synths.
It’s no easy task following an act like IAV, but Inner Varnika knows how to structure its timetable and selected Moopie to follow. Having played several years ago, Moopie is a veteran to hard hitting techno that draws upon a breadth of influences like breakbeat, electro and acid. Crowd pleaser ‘X’ by Gesloten Cirkel was my swan song before turning in for the night.
Come Saturday morning and a much-needed coffee from the guys at Alley Tunes, it was nice to sit up on the side of the hill and hear Silver Linings exude some lovely funk sounds. It may still be the morning but that wasn’t stopping revellers from pulling out the badminton nets for a quick hit or trailing a silken wedding dress through the mud, a tinnie in hand. The hedonistic nature of the Australian doof coupled with its unique setting is really worthy of admiration.
Who better to compliment this debauchery than Toni Yotzi. As many talented artists as there were for the weekend, Yotzi would no doubt have to be my pick of the locals. Running effortlessly through genres, Yotzi swung from noise to punk to grime, possibly via trap, and many more. Big man tune with ‘Shots’ by Lamont & Grim Sickers as well as the very NSFW track ‘Manikin’ by Dopplereffekt.
Heading into the evening there was a lot of excitement building up for Terre Thaemlitz aka DJ Sprinkles. A lot can be said about her vast body of work and strong political messages embedded in her art. If you are interested in the above I strongly urge you to visit Comatonse Recordings’ website and have a read of the articles and essay transcripts.
While it is impossible to detach the political nuances of Sprinkles set, I’ll try my best to recount the set for the music alone. Put simply it was one of the most cohesive and emotive pieces of music I’ve heard. Deeper than deep sounds coming from the stack of speakers, the crowd almost in a meditative dance for parts of the set. Over the rolling bassline you could hear people talking to one another, in lieu of the familiar vocal loops and samples that charge DJ Sprinkles’ work. As much as a buzzword as this sounds it felt like “conversational” house, an unhurried moment where you could dance or talk.
This was until about halfway through where Sprinkles, hands scurrying across an echo sampler, worked in the charged vocals on Nina Simone’s ‘Sinnerman’. Continuing this dynamic, DJ Sprinkles played what I’m sure would be many people’s festival highlight – Frankie Knuckle’s poignant ‘Whistle Song’.
Given a mammoth four hour slot to close the Saturday night, Peter Van Hoesen played all manner of techno. It would almost be easier to recite the tracks than describe the closing Saturday set. Everything from ‘Alienate 4a’ by Alien Rain, ‘Chrome’ by Roadking, a subtle nod to IV15 with Voices From the Lake‘s ‘258 B’ and the massive ‘XLB’ by Pearson Sound.
Dusting off the cobwebs for the last day of Inner Varnika it was time for Suit Sunday, an event that has taken on a life of its own. Thanks in part to a loophole which affords Inner Varnika tax exemption if a significant portion of attendees are wearing church-appropriate garb — i.e. a shirt and blazer — Suit Sunday is one of the festival highlights. Some beautiful numbers were on display, with Christmas suits, wetsuits and hot pink numbers with matching flamingo sunnies.
Not to make the same mistake as last year, I was up early enough to see Albrecht La’Brooy performing live to a crowd that sat patiently on a tarp in front of the stage. Shifting from gentle ambient sounds with a rich selection of field recordings, the two worked up their improvised set into more of a driving rhythm.
After kicking myself for missing D. Tiffany‘s set on Saturday, I was sure not to miss the second musical offering from Canada for the festival – Jayda G. Considering she made her debut on none other than Frankston’s finest Butter Sessions, I’d like to think Jayda would be vibing Melbourne in particular. Her performance, dance moves, mixing and selection gave us the impression that she was enjoying the show almost more than we were.
Heavy on the faders and bopping to all manner of hip house and disco, Jayda laid down some huge numbers. The strong female vocal presence in her track selection like Norma Jean Bell – ‘I’m The Baddest Bitch (In The Room)’, Cece Peniston – ‘He Loves Me 2 (Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley’s 12” Mix) and the hugely addictive hook of ‘Who’s Dick Is This’ by Princess Di brought out the most salacious dance moves, before closing on Aaliyah’s ‘One In A Million’.
The bar was set high for Sex Tags, both by Jayda and their previous two years. Could they deliver for almost six hours? Would Sotofett and Burgerfett be able to match the energy of the Suit Sunday crowd? Would they play ‘Return of the Mack’ again?
To clear up the last question, lest it linger and distract from the rest, the answer is unfortunately no. That’s not to say the set wasn’t full of some feel good housey-garage numbers though, like Terrence Parker’s ‘Your Love’ and Barbara Tucket’s ‘Beautiful People’. The whole set was certainly a journey with an electric hour of rolling acid-type dub, finishing off their set with a bass heavy number. Or was it their last? As the crowd was clearly begging for more, Sotofett asked to play one more track (or was it ten more?), finishing with The Brothers Johnson‘s ‘Stomp!’.
So, yes — that was IV 2017. Dare I say it, the bar was raised slightly higher once again. All the feedback I have for the crew, crowd and artists of Inner Varnika is: keep on doing what you’re doing.
Posted at 23:00h
Words by Marcus Rimondini // Photos by Sarah Chav’
One of the most exciting Australian electronic artists on a continual rise at the moment is Roland Tings. Since his debut LP release back in 2015, he has played festival stages across Australia, headed overseas to play internationally and dropped a new EP Each Moment A Diamond which has received nothing but praise alongside his first release. His music brings to our Australian scene a vibrant array of colour, interesting textures and basically an overall package that is totally unique to us at the moment.
Whilst touring around Australia and New Zealand on his ‘Each Moment A Diamond’ EP – AUS & N.Z Tour’, we caught up with Roland Tings in his old suburb of Fitzroy to chat travel and tours – in particular his inclusion on the St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival 2017 line-up -, his friend and also rising artist Harvey Sutherland, his inspirations and future, and what we can look forward to from him in terms of his production and vision.
Marcus Rimondini: So in the past year you have spent a lot of time travelling around the US. What were some of the ups and downs of being there?
Roland Tings: Touring there is in its own world – it’s very different to touring in Australia where you fly to most of the gigs. In America it was a 30-day tour with Chrome Sparks, in a van, just driving all day and playing all night. We’d only be sleeping in shitty roadside motels for three or four hours at a time.
Did you find it difficult to perform by the time the 25th gig came around?
It’s easy in some ways, harder in others. You can get into the venue, set up your stuff and do what you have to do – but by like the 27th show in Washington D.C., after we had driven around the entire country, I was just at the end of my tether. Doing 27 supports in a row with a variety of good and bad shows, it was taxing emotionally.
But so many great things did happen on that tour! I even went out with RÜFÜS / RÜFÜS DU SOL as well and did six dates with those guys, really cool time. Touring around I enjoyed the vibes in Seattle, Portland and LA, whilst New York was quite an experience. I stayed there for about a month and a half in between tours with my friends in Greenpoint.
Why did you choose to release just an EP this time around?
It just made sense. From my perspective, my manager’s perspective and the label’s perspective it seemed right to not jump straight into an album. I’ve got so much material, the EP could’ve easily been an album; my last one was eight and ten on the vinyl, so it just felt like the right thing to do. I think for a lot of the time while I was making the EP, I was trying to work out what kind of music I wanted to make.
When I made the first record, I didn’t really know what I was trying to do. I just made a bunch of stuff quite quickly and I didn’t have a whole lot of faith in it. But everyone did seem to like it, which was really cool for me. So with this EP, it was a case of going back to the drawing board and having to think deeply about what I was trying to achieve, what kind of sounds I wanted to use and how to push the sound forward from what it was through to what it is now (which is a bit more refined with better production).
On your new EP ‘Each Moment A Diamond‘, is there a reason why you included ‘Hedonist’ and not ‘Eyes Closed’?
The EP was done quite a long time ago. I got really frustrated with various delays and thought ‘I just need to release something to feel like I still exist’. It’s hard to be a musician and go a whole year without releasing a single piece of music. I had ‘Eyes Closed’ sitting around, made it in winter last year, so we put that one out to stop myself from losing the plot while we waited for the EP to come together [laughs].
I did think it might be a bit confusing to not have ‘Eyes Closed’ on there, especially because the artwork is similar, but the tracks didn’t tie in… You got me [laughs]. I honestly thought about this, and I thought, you’d really have to be paying attention to notice.
How much do you think about the track order of the EP? Or now that we’re in the streaming age is that less of a big deal now?
For me, it’s really important and it’s still something that I care so much about. I want to create a body of work that flows and is a good listen from start to finish – I want people to sit down and ‘LISTEN’ to the record. I mean, I used to listen to DJ mixes almost exclusively and that was the only thing I would listen too. But since I’ve started getting into Spotify, which I had to get for Roland Tings, I really got into it and now I only listen to albums start to finish. It’s funny because the consensus is that in the streaming age fewer people do this, whereas I’ve gone the other way.
When you’re constructing a song is there anything specifically that you start with or does it vary?
It’s never the drums. It’s always something melodic and it’s also usually never a chord progression. Some kind of sequence, some interesting melodic idea, or an interesting combination of things that I’ve chopped up and rearranged. Then from that point, it’s anybody’s guess. [Momentary distraction by every one of cute dog in Edinburgh Park]
When you added a vocalist, did you look specifically for a female voice? How did that come about with Nylo?
I definitely wanted to work with a vocalist but didn’t really have any solid ideas about who that had to be –
I had a think through a bunch of different options. We hit up a whole bunch of different people, and very interesting, talented people had a go, but Nylo was the one who really stuck with me. She did a great job, we got straight into the studio and nailed it in just a few sessions and that was it. It was a fast process.
Who does your artwork? It’s one of the few pieces of music artwork I’ve seen recently that seems to match exactly how the music sounds [to me] – how did you come across them?
The guys who do the artwork, Tim and Ed, they’ve been my friends for ages. Previously when I was a graphic designer they were like my idols. I loved their work so much and they kill it with everything they do. I think we come from a very similar place – we’ve spent years going to the same parties, listening to the same music, going to the same exhibitions. We have the same friends, go on holidays together. Tim, Ed and Roland Tings come from the same world. When it comes time to do a record and the artwork to go with it, we have a meeting and I tell them what the record is about, what I was thinking about when I made it, and they just go and make it happen.
When they come back it’s always spot on, it’s always amazing, and they always nail it. The stuff they send back is always kind of weird, but then you look back in two years and everyone’s started doing that same thing. Their aesthetic is part of the sound. They listen to my music while they work on other stuff. Sometimes I look at their work and I think about what kind of artwork they would make for the song that I’m working on. I feel like they’re almost members of the band.
You mentioned you used to listen to post-rock? That escapism can still be felt in the new EP. Do you still listen to post-rock or have you moved on to a more modern version?
[Laughs]. Yeah, that post-rock stuff is a little dated now… Maybe. I very rarely find myself listening to electronic music these days. I mostly listen to ambient music or rock bands, you know, good old Smith Street Band or like Eddy Current.
Are you keen to explore more usage of guitars on further releases?
There’s guitar on the last record, and I’m definitely keen to explore a bit more of that when I make an album. It’s going to have a lot of guitar. [CORRECT] I really like as a great blueprint for the way that these palettes are done in post-rock, combine well with electronic music like Mount Kimbie. [CORRECT] I think they do an amazing job with those sorts of tones so that’s a huge reference for me.
Where’s the best place to listen to the new EP – the countryside?
I would say just driving through the countryside. I like listening to stuff on planes, looking out the window, and not everybody gets the chance to do that very often. I think moving vehicles, especially in the car are one of the best places to enjoy music. You can have it up as loud as you want, the physicality of the sound coming out, the changing scenery and crazy coincidences with the weather. You can’t be on your phone, so you’re more locked in.
So yeah, I think the car, unless you have a really good setup for listening at home where you don’t have your housemates coming in [laughs]. Or let’s just say ‘kick-ons’, but the more relaxed version where it’s just a few people, all the lights are off and you’re all lying on the floor of your living room with the music up really loud and the sun’s coming up.
‘Each Moment A Diamond’ EP – AUS & N.Z Tour @ Howler Melbourne
How important is it when it comes to translating the songs live?
The live thing has always been a large part of it. I noticed not a lot of people doing that in Australia (playing electronic music live) when I started. I knew there were loads of people in America doing it, and always been reasonably big in Europe, but not many people were doing it here.
One of my favourite Australian groups for the longest time were Seekae. They were so cool and I went to all their shows. So it was those guys and Speed Painters that I know for me and my friend Harvey Sutherland were basically our inspiration.
Who is your live partner in crime?
Bill was the drummer for the Chrome Sparks tour – he’s played for Shlohmo, he’s based and produces in LA, he does loads of different stuff, session and live touring stuff. On the Chrome Sparks tour, I was doing lots of improvisation and Bill has existed not so much in the world of house and techno, but he was like “I love what you’re doing with your modular, we should do something”. So we went out to Joshua Tree after the tour and just jammed it out, it was sick. I was like “Dude, come to Australia and we’ll do this on the St. Jerome’s Laneway tour and make it happen”, so he did. It was a lot of hard work but we put it together and it worked!
Now I work with Julian Sudek who plays in World Champion. He’s used to playing on a live kit and an SPD, as opposed to Bill who was all MIDI-Control, so that again brings a different vibe. However I think this is the one that’s going to stick for awhile – it just really works.
How was the St. Jerome’s Laneway tour?
It was really cool. For a very long time I didn’t really feel like a part of the music industry or anything. I hadn’t felt like I was a part of a Melbourne scene at all, and I’ve never felt part of the higher level Australian music scene of people who do these big festivals and stuff like that. Splendour In The Grass last year, for my first time, I was in the artist area and there were people that I knew there, it was like “Oh hey, I met you at this festival and we had a beer” [laughs].
I feel like the Laneway tour was again was like that – I knew some people on there, I had some mates on the tour. Bill and I were doing a show that we really believed in, and people responded really well. It was wild some of the scenes in Melbourne and Sydney in particular – just hundreds of people going mental and we were basically on the stage doing completely improvised modular techno [laughs]. It felt like something very special to me.
The Laneway crew was sick as well and I had so many cool random encounters. I was talking to somebody about why do people always cry on planes, and he had an amazing and elaborate theory, and we just kept talking. Then he was like “Oh I’m in Glass Animals” and I was like “Oh cool!” because they’re like a really big band and it was cool that the tour had big bands. They were full of the people that I would just hang out with.
‘Each Moment A Diamond’ EP – AUS & N.Z Tour @ Howler Melbourne
What’s some of the gear you use live on stage?
It changes drastically all the time. For example, the current tour has the full drum kit on stage with a snare drum, a tom mic’d up and running into a mixer on the stage where I’m doing delay and reverb effects on the live drums with an SPD also running into my mixer. So essentially I’m manipulating the live kit and sending back out to the front of house. Then I’m doing my usual thing of a synthesiser and effect pedals.
It’s fun to play, as opposed to the Laneway tour, where it was all modular and mostly improvised which made it very hard. It’s way more nerve racking because if you get up and don’t have anything prepared, and there are a thousand people watching you, it can create a lot of stress [laughs]. People are going to hate this if it doesn’t go well, it’s really bad when it goes bad [laughs].
I’ve used a few Roland Tings tracks in DJ sets – do you ever think about the intro and outro and how it translates to mixing like some house artists do?
Absolutely, I think it’s one of the prime things – even though I’m not really making music for DJ’s so much anymore like I used to when I started. Now I know my audience is more like people who are listening on Spotify rather than DJ’ing. It’s always got a DJ friendly intro and outro, there’s always 16 bars of something to get you in and out if you choose to DJ the songs. I don’t know why I keep doing it, it’s just how I like to make music, and when I’m making my songs I like to try and mix into another track and see what works, and what doesn’t work.
The art of the intro is actually really, really hard to get right. I don’t know why it’s so hard but it is. If you listen to some commercial dance stuff it’s literally just 16 bars of the drum bit and then it drops into the song. But getting something that builds up organically from the intro and is interesting I can find very difficult yet fun [laughs].
What’s the plan for the rest of the year?
I’ll be going back to the US in May to go on tour with Com Truise and Clark which will be sick. It’s a big tour going everywhere so that’ll be cool to eat McDonald’s with those guys every day [laughs]. Then I’ll come back and start working on an album, or whatever that looks like, I don’t really know.
Are you excited or nervous?
I’m excited and honestly can’t wait to grow this project because I already feel like I’ve advanced musically so far beyond where I started. I just can’t wait to keep it going. So many sounds I want to explore, and so many people that I want to work with – I’m looking forward to it.
A U S & N Z | T O U R D A T E S
|Saturday 15th April – Sydney, Oxford Art Factory
|Sunday 16th April – Adelaide, Fat Controller
||Saturday 22nd April – Brisbane, The Foundry
|Friday 28th April – Auckland, REC
||Saturday 29th April – Wellington, Meow