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02 Jul INTRODUCING: Luboku


Photos by Sarah Chavdaroska


Since 2014 Melbourne producer, singer and songwriter Luboku has been steadily releasing music online. Collaborative work with NZ-based Hosaia and last year’s solo release ‘The Surface‘ has seen his name popping up more frequently and with growing praise.

This year, after already releasing two singles ‘Without You‘ and ‘None Of You‘, Luboku’s burgeoning career has started to take off – with a Triple J ‘Feature Artist’ select, support-spot on What So Not‘s national tour and his recent signing to Niche Talent Agency‘s growing roster of amazing artists.

After the busy start to the year, we managed to squeeze in some time with Luis Kennett (aka Luboku) to have a chat and get to know him. We wanted to understand from his perspective how he has found this year so far, how he discovered his visual-aesthetic and what he has planned in the near future for shows and releases.

 

Tell us about Luboku. Who is he? Where did his passion for electronic production come from?

Luis Kennett: Luboku is many things, sometimes a musical vampire, sometimes a balladeer, always making songs though, that’s the important part. Luboku came about because I needed something to focus my creativity toward. I can focus inspiration more clearly when I have something specific to work on so it came out of necessity, to be honest.

‘Without You’ which was released earlier this year is a stellar track! How did that track come to be?

Luis: Why thank you, I guess people are really digging it! I had a lot of fun making that song and I think that comes through. ‘Without You’ was also one of the quickest songs to come together so far, it always felt a bit edgy. Simon Lam (Kllo, Nearly Oratorio) helped me mix this one actually, he managed to pull in some of that edginess but keep a really great vibe which was just ace.

Your John Fish video collaboration and music artwork is all very visually appealing, carrying a very strong aesthetic. Trying to balance music and visual expression is a particularly important thing at the moment for a lot of artists. Who designed your cover art? Tell us a bit about that process.

Luis: A Melbourne designer named Darren Oorloff, in collaboration with Nick Keays, created these first few pieces. I’ve felt really lucky that they’ve been on board with all my ideas and have executed an aesthetic that I am 100% behind. I feel very strongly that visuals and music work hand-in-hand, carrying a desired look and feel through any art form I’m creating.

A John Fish video also makes me *crosses fingers* expectant of a big light or visual show on the horizon?

Luis: Big light show? Of course! Working with John Fish on the video for ‘Without You’ has definitely given me some ideas on what a BIG headline or festival slot could look like.

Only the other weekend you were a support act for the Melbourne leg of What So Not’s Australian National Tour at The Forum Theatre. Tell us about how that came about! How did you find the support act spot on such a large, electronic tour?

Luis: The show was wild, one of my favorites so far. As for the opportunity, that’s something I did not see coming. All of a sudden I’m on the phone to Triple J Unearthed, being asked to play the Forum Theatre with What So Not, it was all pretty crazy. The hardest parts of playing live, I find, are always the moments just before the show – you feel like you’re waiting in live music limbo. The best thing was getting out there and playing the new live set, it was so much fun.

Last week you released your new single ‘None Of You’ and already it’s taking off – congratulations on such a solid release! Tell us about ‘None Of You’ and (if I’m not mistaken) if there is a theme connecting your two new singles?

Luis: Thank you, I’m glad you vibe it! I guess ‘None Of You’ is a pretty personal track for me. It’s about a time when I was struggling to connect with someone who was going through some stuff, sometimes that person doesn’t have any space for you and I think this song captures how I felt about that whole situation. I have always felt ‘None Of You’ and ‘Without You’ to be Ying/Yang (hence the piano at the end of Without You) – they are definitely connected. But that needs more context… There is an EP coming!

If you could play one stage or one event in the next year, what would it be and why is that your pick?

Luis: This is a bit left of field but I think the Boiler Room live stream gigs are pretty iconic, tonnes of people moshing around you as you’re performing to an endless amount of people online, that would be so sick.

Do you have any future collaborations in the works? (Dreams collaborations welcome.)

Luis: Nothing I can talk about yet… I’ve got a secret passion for really heavy hip hop though, I think a dream collaborator would be Run The Jewels but perhaps that’s a bit ambitious, for now?

As a producer and song-writer in Australia, do you think that the music industry is helping young, emerging artists make a break? Or is it a tough job and difficult to navigate with the sheer amount of new artists?

Luis: I couldn’t think of a better place to start a career in music. Australia, and Melbourne in particular, have such vibrant communities, I feel like creativity flourishes here. There are also many opportunities for up and comers in the live arena and with platforms like Triple J Unearthed the ease of discovery makes things pretty accessible (they listen to everything! That’s intense). Shoutout to my manager Brandon who’s been a literal lifesaver (haha).

Plans for the rest of the year?

Luis: More tunes! And lot’s more shows.

 


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25 Mar Aiming To Inspire Victorians – An Interview With By The Meadow


Words by Marcus Rimondini // Photos by Sarah Chav’ & By The Meadow Team


By The Meadow is a Music Festival set 90 minutes south-west of Melbourne in Bambra. They started in 2014 and they have slowly and carefully built up a respected fan base. This year marks their 5th festival and it’s their biggest lineup to date. In fact, I don’t believe there’s a better snapshot of 2018 Melbourne (plus a few imports) via a festival lineup. Without Paradise Music Festival or Shady Cottage this year, the spotlight is brighter on By The Meadow than ever and it sounds like they’re more than ready.

A few weeks ago we caught up Cameron and Ruby, two of the festival organisers. We discussed all the usual questions about running a small festival, but it was really their emphasis on the concept of local that made me believe this festival truly does care more about people than trying to make money or become the next big hot festival. By The Meadow wants to bring what they love about Melbourne to a region of Victoria that’s going through changes and deserves to be a part of the excitement, hoping to inspire the next generation to take part.

I was originally keen on attending based on the fantastic lineup alone, but now I just want to support the great cause that is By The Meadow. Tickets are still available if you not only feel like a good time, but want to also support our locals doing great things.

 

Marcus Rimondini: What’s the story behind how the festival started?

Ruby: Well, Cameron, for his 21st, had a festival party at his parents’ property.

Cameron: We had two 21sts in a row, mine and then my brother’s the year after and then the next year there was no birthday.

Ruby: So we were like, we just want to have a party, and my parents had a property, and so we started it there. It was really good for us to do it there, and the local community was really good.

How many people were there?

Ruby: The first year was 200…

Cameron: I think we capped it at 200, but we were pushing so many boundaries, we ended up saying “let’s just stop at 150 and it’ll be good.” Sold it in two weeks, didn’t have any permits, and just said if you want to make a donation at the gate to cover the generator *laughs*, that would be great.

Ruby: And we did cover it. The next year I thought, I don’t want my parents to lose their property because something happens, so we started getting permits, and then it started getting bigger, so we had it at my parents’ farm again. The year after (the third year), some of my very good friends’ parents’ were nice enough to let us expand on to their property, which is about 100m away over the hill.

Are they your closest neighbours?

Ruby: They’re not the closest neighbours, but it’s a lot bigger space for us, they loved the festival, and they were just like “yeah come have it at our house, we’ve got more room, more spaces for camping.

Cameron: We’ve gone from this tiny little spot. It was originally ‘by the meadow’ because it was going to be on the deck of a house, which would look out into the meadow. But we were like “ we cannot put this here,” so we put it in the meadow *laughs*. So we went from down in the bottom of this valley, where her parents house is. And now we have this site that’s right up on top of Bambra, and the view is mental. You just get this whole sweeping view of the flat plains out the back of Geelong.

Ruby: And this will be our third year (fifth overall) doing it there.

 

Was the first one in the back of a truck?

Cameron: Yeah, the first three were in the back of the same truck.

Ruby: And we had to wait until after business hours on Friday to set it up.

Cameron: It was stressful as. We had music starting at 10 am on the Saturday morning, after the trucks only shows up at 6 pm the night before… AND we had to deck the whole thing out like a professional stage.

Ruby: And then when we started doing the Friday night as well, we couldn’t get the truck in time, so now we have a proper stage.

Cameron: We now have the luxury of delivering a better package for the punters too, we can it in on a Wednesday, and then have all of Thursday and a good chunk of Friday to build something that looks really nice against the background.

Ruby: It started very DIY — and we’re trying, we’re slowly building it up *laughs*. We still like to keep it very local and what we really love, too, and lots of everyone being very involved. So hopefully we’re making it a bit cleaner, a bit more professional too.

What are some of the main things that have changed over the five years, aside from the stage?

Ruby: I think we have learnt that sometimes you need to outsource more and spend a bit more money to make it easier in the long run.

Cameron: Yeah, we’ve kind of ended up focusing on the core part that people enjoy, and then handing off a lot of the other stuff. So we’re involved in making sure that the lineup is amazing, and the sound that delivers the lineup to the punters is as good as we can get. We’ve been so lucky, the sound guys we started with have been phenomenal, they’re audio nerds, they’re amazing. We work pretty close with the food, we think that’s a pretty core part as to why people dig festivals. We try to keep it local as well.

Ruby: Really local, so it has been one of our very good friends for the first couple of years.

Cameron: So we’ve had a chef from back home in Colac, we get him to pick a pop-up menu for the weekend. The food’s important, making sure all that stuff is consistent.

Ruby: We want to make sure it’s good food, but not super expensive. We’re really lucky, Cameron has a motorbike shop, so he has access to a lot of things that we need. My dad and my brothers are builders, without them — at the start especially — we wouldn’t have been able to do it.

So you get the whole family to help out?

Ruby: We get my brother’s friends, and Cameron’s brother’s friends come down.

Cameron: They’ll be there for like six or so days. They’ll work hard a couple days before, then enjoy the festival, and then on a Sunday morning when they’re feeling like dirtbags, they’ll be the ones working the hardest.

Ruby: They’re very good, they put up with a lot, but they have a very good time at it as well.

Cameron: That stuff all around the outside has changed, but what we deliver in the middle is identical. We just try to take a really tidy snapshot of what’s up and coming in music around here (northside Melbourne).

 

Was there anything in particular you were looking to mix up this year with the lineup?

Cameron: I guess we need to talk about gender equality on the bill. We’re super conscious of it now. We always tried to cater towards gender equality, and I think we managed to do so pretty well from the outset like we had Ali Barter headlining four years ago. Now that there are people specifically going out and pointing out the percentage of females in your lineup, it really makes a good point. And when you see a lot of festivals that don’t, you think, you’ve got to do something about it. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to, given where we are and what we have access to. So we’re extremely conscious of trying to book an equal lineup and I think this year we have over 50% bands with female members in them, we’re pretty happy with that. But it is difficult to do so still; it takes way more work, and it would be far easier to ignore, but that’s a big part of what we set out to do this year.

Do you feel the genres are a little more varied?

Ruby: Yeah, I guess we like to put bands on that we’re going to have fun listening to, mostly.

Cameron: We’ll spend a lot of time going out and seeing these bands.

Ruby: We’re there working, but we want to hear it and be having a good time, and see people having a good time.

Cameron: So if it’s varied, it’s just an indication of what we’ve been listening to in the last 12 to 18 months. But it doesn’t feel that much more varied, I think there’s less hip-hop than we’ve had in the past.

Ruby: This is off the record, but I love hip-hop! So that’s a real disappointment to me.

Cameron: We normally tried to get two or three, but this year we’ve just got HTMLFlowers, 30/70 is I guess a little bit swinging towards hip-hop, but we definitely don’t have as much clear cut hip-hop on the bill this year as normal. There really is no picture, we’ll go out targeting some big acts to head the bill, and then fill in below, as to where we need to find the diversity. If we have heaps of rock bands, we’ll find pop bands and electronic music..”

Ruby: It’s nearly a bit selfish because it’s all just bands we love to listen to, but we think other people will enjoy it as well.

Cameron: It also has to represent either somebody who has put out a debut album that’s doing really well, or somebody that’s emerging and showing such clear talent that they’re going to go somewhere. There are not many bands on our bill that have been just punching around in the middle of the music scene for a long time.

Ruby: What I really like about Meadow is that a lot of it’s done by word-of-mouth, by people who have been before and then their friends come and they’re like, “this is amazing!” Or you go out to a bar and someone’s wearing a By The Meadow t-shirt and they’re talking about how good it was. It’s really nice to hear that, we don’t do that much advertising.

Cameron: We shut it down (during the year).

Ruby: We want to maintain the vibe of people being friendly to each other, we don’t want to cater to a completely different audience. The people who come are amazing people. You want their friends, and the people they would be with to come as well.

Did you have any issues leading up to this festival?

Cameron: This one’s been as smooth as anything. Early on we had some sound pollution issues with neighbours, but you work through those, and you try and build some relationships with those neighbours.

Ruby: It was funny because some of the biggest issues were with neighbours who actually came from Melbourne and had a holiday home.

Cameron: We’ve had nothing this year.

Ruby: Or last year.

Cameron: The hardest things would’ve been in just the band booking. Last year I was away through October, November and start of December in Detroit. That was difficult trying to book a bill from the other side of the world, because it would be like one email a day, if they came back with a bad answer, I’d be like “shit I’ve wasted another day.” I underestimated how hard it would be to converse back and forth. So the bill came out a bit later than we hoped, but that was it, we got there in the end.

 

What are some of the highlights of the previous years?

Cameron: One of the best ones for me was when I was at the urinal, and this bloke pulled up next to me and he’s like “you run this thing don’t you, you’re one of the ones who runs it, this is great, it’s like a house, but outside and not at a house.” It was like the best thing to hear. This guy was clearly wrecked, but I was like “oh my god, he’s so wise.”

So why the weekend after Easter?

Ruby: It’s a weird time of the year, because you’ve probably just gone to Golden Plains and then pay three weeks later to go to another festival. It’s necessary for us, because of the area we’re in, it has to be out of total fire ban season. We couldn’t do it any earlier than when we do it.

Cameron: Yeah, I don’t how Easter works, but it moves a lot *laughs*. It like follows a full moon or something. We pushed last year forward, because Easter was late April. We just get guided by the first weekend of April, otherwise we try to go the weekend after Easter. Because we’re all working, so we all need that time off over Easter to go and set it up. Last year was hard, because we were all trying to get time off work the week before to go and do it. The idea at first was to go the opposite time of the year to Paradise Music Festival.

Does the timing of the festival worry you financially?

Ruby: We’re really careful with what we spend money on.

Cameron: It would be so easy to go out and spend so much money on a bill, and make an amazing bill and still not get that audience down there. This year was the biggest step we’ve ever taken. But we’ll end in the same position again, net zero, everyone’s had a good time, and we’ll be like “thank god we didn’t lose any money!” You learn so much, and you just make so many connections and meet so many people, you won’t get that from going to gigs or being in a band or whatever, you just don’t learn the same stuff.

How’s the weather in April?

Ruby: Well ours was a little bit colder than usual last year; it wasn’t super cold, but it was colder. I actually noticed a drop in the visits to the first aid tent for people who got thorns in their feet and stuff — everyone was wearing shoes, which is alright!

Where do you source your artists from?

Cameron: We start booking kind of around BIGSOUND time, which is a good indicator of what’s going to go well, but you have to be careful, too. There’s also Melbourne Music Week. We source from everywhere, if you went to one source only, you wouldn’t get a very good picture of what’s happening right now.

Have you tried to reach a crowd that’s outside of the Melbourne bubble?

Cameron: We advertised for the first time, because I truly believe there’s got to be a bunch of kids in that Torquay area, there’s got to be a massive audience down there of this young population, even young families. But maybe we’re too early, and they’re going to have kids, and their kids are going to be ready for festivals. There’s just this massive population boom in and around Torquay and that side of Geelong.

Ruby: I think it’s getting them there in the first place. This isn’t meaning to speak bad of the country people, because I’m from there, but a lot of the bands we’re having are well-known in Melbourne, but not so well-known in country areas. Once people come though, they tend to come back, again and again, it’s a lot to do with them loving the music.

Cameron: I think there will be more people from that area eventually engaging with it. I think Geelong is coming up again, there are a few music venues popping up there now. Better bands are touring out there. Ten years ago they had really good music culture coming out of Geelong, it’s where like King Gizzard and The Murlocs started out. Then it died and all the cool pubs that bands played at, closed. It’s coming back, Workers Club is helping. So here’s hoping there will be more of an audience, because that’s 20 minutes from us, half an hour from Bambra.

What are some of the things about running a festival that are much harder than you expected?

Cameron: We didn’t have any experience. We went to the council and were like “how do you run an event?” like “what do we legally have to do to run this?” Then she started calling in police officers and CFA people to talk to us. We were like 21, and the police officer was like “what are you going to do when somebody dies of a drug overdose?” It was just frustrating being talked down to, we were trying to do the right thing.

Ruby: It’s a weird situation especially with drug talk, a lot of people said “what are you going to do to prevent this?” Well we’re trying to promote a culture where it’s not encouraged, and at the same time we’re going to have everything available in the event that something does happen. Originally they wanted us to put security cameras on every tree. This is when we had 400 people coming to the festival, we couldn’t even afford lights for the campground.

Cam: They were the biggest hurdles, and now that they know we’ve got the ability to run it, we’ve kept people safe for five years in a row down there. That hurdle kind of disappeared.

 

If you had more money, what would you do to the festival?

Cameron: I wouldn’t change much to be honest.

Ruby: We would probably hire people to do all the work that our dads do, so they wouldn’t have to do it.

Cameron: That’s actually a good one *laughs*. But it wouldn’t matter, they would find something else. If I get somebody else to do the things dad will do, dad will find something else that needs doing, it doesn’t matter if there’s nothing left to do. He will find something.

Ruby: They do love it, though.

Cameron: We’re nearly where we need to be for it to run successfully, and to give us the opportunity to do it again next year. We’re pretty happy. We love the way that it’s forced upon anyone, it’s not on giant billboards or anything. I don’t know if you got the press release, but we get our beers from the guys down the road, our wines from a local winery, our food from our friends in now Lorne, one from Aireys Inlet, and one from Colac. We’re pretty passionate about keeping that stuff strictly local, and deliberately steering clear of food trucks. So there will not be a food truck at our festival.

Ruby: Our stage comes from Winchelsea primary school, which is a primary school about ten minutes away, we have a guy from Colac who brings us a truck full of ice, our sound guys come from Geelong, and the coffee comes from Apollo Bay. Everything we can do, we try and keep really local!


 


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02 Mar Cities, Scenes and Radio – An Interview with Moxie


NTS Radio host, founder of On Loop record label and parties, and general music enthusiast Moxie has been on tour throughout Australia, bringing her taste and energy to such cities as Sydney and Brisbane. Tonight she is set to play at Hugs and Kisses, for an intimate evening of dance. We had a chat to the London based DJ about her city, her experience of radio and university.

You have spent all your life in London, how has music contributed to a sense of belonging in the city?
Community is a big part of London and if you open yourself up to meeting people you can come across some truly exceptional characters. Especially at events such as Notting Hill Carnival & the rave scene. I’ve made so many friends from being at those types of events, some I only ever see in those spaces but when you’re all experiencing that same magical moment at the same time it brings you together. I love London and all the different people that live here, especially walking through certain areas, mostly markets and hearing people blast music from their stalls. For me that’s what makes London so special, all the different people who make it what it is.

You have mentioned that you studied at London College Of Communication (a fair while ago now), what was a project at uni you worked on that you would like to revisit today?
Ahh yes, my uni years. Feels so long ago now and I really miss it. I studied my foundation course at Central St Martins and then went on to do my Bachelors degree in print design at LCC. It was a pretty open course and I went onto design wall paper, ceramics, fabrics and screen prints. I especially loved painting with Gouache and my final degree was all about Tropical parrots. I’d like to start incorporating it back into my music stuff, especially with the label side of things. I’ve actually set some time aside to get back on it in April which I’m really excited about!

You have your finger on the pulse when it comes to up and coming artists/producers/dj’s, how important is it to you to bring into light new music?
It’s super important to know what the next generation are up to. I’ve always tried to be as open as possible. I remember when I was younger, the older crew would have a condescending attitude and say things such as “it wasn’t how it used to be” and all of that stuff, which I found really undermining. Everyone has their own journey and things change, we need to embrace that.

What is some advice you would give to such aspiring artists/producers/dj’s trying to get their music heard?
I’d say try to educate yourself as much as possible on what labels you like and where you think your music would sit best. Don’t send every single track you’ve ever made, tailor it to who you’re emailing and send the best of the best. Maybe no more than 4 tracks. The more time you take to write an email, the more someone will take to read it. Especially if you show you genuinely like or know what that person is about.

London’s radio culture is thriving, with the likes of Balamii, Netil and 199 radio further contributing to an already established scene, what could these stations (including NTS) do to further London’s and the Worlds music scene?
I can’t speak for the others but watching how NTS programme events all around the world and making sure to reflect the scenes they broadcast from is inspiring. They’re all music heads and are about discovering the most interesting and diverse music as possible. Back home they push the new and local talent which I also think is super important. You can have the big names, but if you’re not helping out the next generation then there’s only so far you can go. Radio is such a great starting platform and it’s definitely helped me loads in becoming who I am.

Over the years, what are some personal values you have taken from radio, clubbing and music in general?
Push yourself out of your comfort zone and don’t worry about failing. Everyone has to start somewhere and you can surprise yourself. I never thought I’d get into radio, but it just happened and here I am 7 years later.

What is the sort of vibe you are expecting at your Melbourne show? 

I’ve always heard great things about Melbourne, especially the club I’m playing at tonight called Hugs & Kisses. The whole tour’s been great, but I’ve been most excited about here. There seems to be a real strong sense of community and everyone knows each other which i love.  
Are you familiar with many Australian artists? If so who and how did you find them, meet them?  

On my travels I’ve been trying to educate myself on the scene as much as possible and for my next NTS show I’m planning an Australian take over. Names that I’m especially excited about are Roza Terenzi, Prequel, Tambo’s House, Turner Street Sound, Ken Oath & a bunch more. Also Michael from Noise In My Head is always repping loads of great stuff and Butter Sessions are putting out some quality music. I feel like there’s still loads for me to discover which is always exciting! 

Moxie plays Hugs & Kisses tonight. Tickets here via Resident Advisor.


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06 Nov From a spontaneous night in Geelong to a growing ensemble of musicians – An interview with Eastern Seaboard Electric Soul Ensemble


It feels contrived to label music, sometimes. After discovering the range of musical influences inspiring ESESE (Eastern Seaboard Electric Soul Ensemble) to create their unique sound, I felt inspired and refreshed. Chatting to the humble musicians Matt and Henok left me feeling their glow. It was such pleasure sitting down with the two and discussing their musical odysseys, creative processes and what inspires them.

ESESE have created their own sound. So it was no surprise to discover the vast array of music with which they have been surrounded throughout their lives. Having dissimilar upbringings with music, the pair use their diverse and wide palette of music taste to bring new flavours and create their own unique fusion of sounds and genres.

Matt went from Michael Jackson to early 2000s, metal to British psychedelia and swing – which he recognises is from where his love for brass stems. Henok’s music timeline started with his family introducing him to albums like Encore by Eminem and Public Enemy. 

When Henok started skating in grade five he naturally got into punk: “Cheesy punk like Avril Lavigne, Green Day and Blink 182. But I liked Sex Pistols as well. But then I got into house – terrible house. Then just back to hip-hop. I found internet rap. Wiz khalifa’s mixtape made me start looking for music online instead of the radio and that just changed everything. I like jazz too but to be honest as of late I haven’t been listening to music at all, I’ve just been listening to podcasts. I have little pockets — the last great records I listened to were J.I.D’s Never Story and Saba‘s Bucket List.”

Music hunting can be overwhelming with so much content out there. Matt always goes back to Dorothy Ashby as a source of inspiration.

Matt: “She is a 1960s harpist who delved into jazz and afro-beat territories. There’s this one record called Afro-harping and I keep going back to it. The other sort of beat stuff I’ve been listening to is South African house; afro-house in general, there’s a lot of auxiliary percussion – it’s cool to DJ.”

ESESE have just released two new singles, “Slow Down” and “Home“. The pair have been sitting on the original structures for about a year and a half until they collaboratively approached them as songs.

Matt: “The original structures of the song started with me jamming on a Saturday night as an alternative to going out and getting wasted. It was our Saturday night protest to going out and it turned into being, you know, lively, which was pretty fun.”

“Slow Down” went from horns and instrumental structures to a funky up-beat jam about not taking requests as a DJ – something each member, among most DJs, have to deal with on at least a weekly basis. With their long time collaborator and long time jammer” (as Henok fondly describes) Cazeaux O.S.L.O bringing his unreserved verse to the track effortlessly.

Matt: “Having him involved was a blessing, really. He comes with so much knowledge. A lot of us have to DJ to make money and there is that element of getting accosted by a bunch of drunk people on Friday or Saturday nights. Whether it’s a grand final or hens night, they can be quite rude and demanding. He (O.S.L.O) actually put this thing up on Facebook saying this [track] is about the ‘what’s this?’ philosophy as opposed to the ‘play this.’ He put it eloquently.”

Certainly a philosophy Matt and Henok share, as the pair became friends through DJing. When asked about the conception of ESESE, it was refreshing to see their anecdotes jog each other’s memories further. As they reminisced, Henok realised that the birth of ESESE was in the very building in which we were chatting (The Toff).

Henok: “So my housemate at the time, he DJed at a club called Home-house, which was a super-club in Geelong. I finished DJing in the city and we picked up my housemate and we just thought ‘let’s see if matt wants to come’ – this is about within a month of knowing him. I’d been DJing with him every week. I was like ‘it’s just an hour drive!'”

Even though it was 1am, the hour drive lead them to discover each other’s musical interests and talents. Matt, later into the night/morning, discovered that Henok made music and Henok introduced Matt to new sub-genres of hip-hop of which he had never heard. Playing Chance the Rapper‘s Acid Rap to Matt in the car was perhaps the catalyst to ESESE – the soulful, big band fusion of genres greatly inspiring them.

Henok: “And then that coming Monday we started meeting at his house every few days and making music. We made three demos over the next few months.”

This took place in 2013, but they look back on this night as though it happened a generation ago — which makes sense considering how much ESESE has grown since then. Each memory they shared continued to unlock further memories, anecdotes and nostalgic laughs that spoke the depth of their friendship.

Individually, Henok has been making music for around six years and Matt, eighteen years. While Henok has always been making hip-hop, when Matt first started he was making — as Henok jokingly describes — “long hair music.”

Matt: “I started with garage-punk, sort of, then got into pop-punk… which naturally went to screamo and hardcore, then to really heavy shit. I started changing up style when I was about eighteen and got into blues and soul. I joined a few bands when I moved to Melbourne. I used to play at this place called The Underground (in Adelaide). There wasn’t much dancing — it was more about spinning the guitar around your neck than anything else.”

I ask them to describe their genre as though they were explaining ESESE  to someone who exclusively listens to “long hair music,” to quote Henok. They go through a vast array of descriptions such as “retro futuristo.” Matt paraphrases one of his loved records from the nineties and Henok lists a range of genres, concluding with “hip-hop jazz soul brass.” They finally lock in “big band hip-hop” as their genre. The eclectic sound has evolved from a friendship to a growing project which sometimes involves the whole twelve piece band.

Henok: “It started as us two and then more joined to fill the gaps in the music. We haven’t fully written altogether in one room yet. We jam and make many songs that we’ve never recorded, so that’s next – fully writing with everybody.”

ESESE will celebrate their release with the full twelve piece band next weekend, November 11 at the Evelyn. Despite the logistical difficulty in bringing the full band together, they’re excited for what’s in store. With a year of weekly jamming practice at the ‘Now Here This’ night at The Toff, we can expect plenty of live improvisation, some crowd interaction and maybe some acts like Baro getting on the mic.

Henok: “We’ve got a trumpet, trombone, two sax players, keys, bass, guitar, drums and vocalists.”

The future for ESESE is full of colour and passion. The raw love for music and genuine energies of both Matt and Henok left me in good spirits. I am so excited for their future. ESESE are currently working on an upcoming album as well as a number of other separate projects. Henok is working on his own production and making beats for a rapper named Piatao. Matt is also working with another artist named Nynno.

In my opinion, ESESE is a realm of sound. While the E on the end of their name stands for ‘Ensemble’ on paper, the E is also open to evolution.

Matt: “Future is anything really. Bring on the Empire. Explosion. Enything.”


Catch ESESE playing with thandoAgung Mango and Lori (DJ set) at the Evelyn on November 11th to celebrate the launch of their latest releases. Grab your tickets here.


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01 Aug Twitter, Bedroom Suck & Spotify Mistaken Identity – An Interview with Good Morning


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

 


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16 Apr The Transformation From DJ to Spotify Artist – An Interview with Roland Tings


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.

 

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.

 

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


 

U S | T O U R D A T E S
Monday 1st May – Santa Ana, CA @ Constellation Room Tuesday 2nd May – Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst Atrium
Thursday 4th May – Portland, OR @ Holocene Friday 5th May – Vancouver, BC @ Imperial
Saturday 6th May – Seattle, WA @ Neumos Sunday 7th May, Eugene, OR @ Wow Hall
Tuesday 9th May – San Francisco, CA @ Mezzanine Wednesday 10th May – Santa Barbara, CA @ Soho Music Club
Thursday 11th May – Los Angeles, CA @ The Regent Theater Friday 12th May – San Diego, CA @ The Belly Up
Saturday 13th May – Santa Fe, NM @ Meow Wolf Sunday 14th May – Denver, CO @ Bluebird Theatre
Tuesday 16th May – St Louis, MO @ Firebird Wednesday 17th May – Nashville, TN @ Exit
Friday 19th May – Washington, DC @ U Street Music Hall Saturday 20th May – Boston, MA Together Festival; The Middle East
Sunday 21st May – Hamden, CT @ The Ballroom Tuesday 23rd May – Baltimore, MD @ Ottobar
Wednesday 24th May – Philadelphia, PA @ Coda Thursday 25th May – Brooklyn, NY @ Warsaw
Friday 26th May – Montreal, AC @ Theatre Fairmount Saturday 27th May – Toronto, ON @ Velvet Underground
Sunday 28th May – Detroit, MI @ The Shelter Tuesday 30th May – Pittsburgh, PA @ Rex Theater
Thursday 1st June – Indianapolis, IN @ The Hi-Fi Friday 2nd June – Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop
Saturday 3rd June – Chicago, IL @ Concord Music Hall Sunday 4th June – Minneapolis, MN @ Fine Line Music Cafe
Monday 5th June – Omaha, NE @ Slowdown Tuesday 6th June – Kansas City, MO @ Record Bar
Wednesday 7th June – Dallas, TX @ Trees Thursday 8th June – Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall
Friday 9th June – Austin, TX @ The Mohawk Saturday 10th June – Mexico City, MX @ Sala Corona



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30 Mar Australian Music & Artists Abroad – An Interview with Daze


Words by Blake Creighton // Photos by Mathew Jones


Australian music today is not only enjoyed within our borders – it’s internationally recognised and well received. For many Australian artists, this means the opportunity to play and perform in many places across the world is not as far-fetched as once thought (even though standalone tours can be a difficult, strenuous effort). However, once greeted with open arms in such places like Europe and the UK, the idea of moving yourself and your music to a new permanent location is tempting.

In a series of interviews with touring Australian artists who have made (or are thinking about) this move, we’ll be discussing the difference between club cultures, making the decision to leave and how to tour. Our first interview is with Melbourne based, Ballarat-born DJ/producer Daze (Lobster Theremin) who was on tour in London when we sat down and had a chat with him.



Blake Creighton: Being your third time playing in Europe, how does the club culture here differ from Australia’s?

Daze: I try not to make sweeping statements, but in the places that I have played there is perhaps a level of ‘openness’ to new experiences and music that I find is a little ‘weirder’ – they push the boundaries just that little bit further. I think that at times in Australia you need to be more mindful of what you are going to play, and perhaps cater to the crowd a little bit more. I can only speak from my own experiences but when I play over here, I truly feel that I can play whatever I desire, and can follow whatever narrative I want. As a general rule as well, the crowd are happy to follow, so that is a major difference and allows me to play a lot more techno and a lot quicker.

Have you ever thought about making the move to Europe?

Definitely. It’s been on my mind since the first tour, which was largely about seeing what it is like over here. I had only been to Europe as a tourist once, so I was largely uninitiated as to what it would be like. Ever since the first tour, where I played some big shows in some big clubs, it certainly opened my eyes to the possibilities over here as an artist.

I’ve tried to just make a living as a DJ in Australia and it’s notoriously difficult. You might play Sydney once then you can’t play there for another six months. There is also not a whole lot of shows in Melbourne that perhaps suit what I do, so that becomes the major difference. I feel like over here I could probably play a couple of times a week, which would be very comfortable, whereas at home it is more of a slow grind.

I do question whether I would live in London. I feel like Amsterdam is more aligned to how I feel. I come from a fairly small town, and Amsterdam has a small town vibe… Although gentrification has certainly taken over and I have heard it is fairly hard to get an apartment in the city. So that is something that is ever present at the moment, and I’m getting very close to the point where I want to make the move. Perhaps try it out for six months and see how it goes.

 

How do you think it will improve you as a producer?

I think primarily it would give me more time to explore myself. At the moment I’m still working a full-time job back home, so finding the time around work to be able to make music is where a lot of artists find issues, like me. Whereas if I’m over here, I would try and work a part-time job and dedicate a lot more of my time and effort to being in the studio. I think it would give me the ability to explore many more ideas of what I want to make, and it isn’t strictly club music. It would give me time to let these ideas ferment, which I just don’t have at the moment back home.

How do you think it will improve you as a DJ?

The greatest benefit would come from being able to play more regular shows to crowds that are perhaps a little more open. It would allow me to play through more records, buy more records and hopefully speed up the process in regards to me becoming a more rounded DJ. I still feel that I am in the infancy of what I can do as a DJ. I have only been doing this seriously since 2014 so I feel that I have only seen a snippet of what I am able to do.

How do you think it will improve you as a person?

I have only ever lived in Victoria, Australia, so I have never made a wider move. I think it would be a process of finding out about what I’m capable of and a little bit more about who I am as a person as well. It would be interesting to see who I might become. I want to get over here and do it at some stage soon.

 

Has touring had any effects on your life in Melbourne as a DJ/Producer?

I don’t think at this point it has changed me as a producer. I’m doing what I want to do in the studio and that’s what I’ve always done. I do however bring back a lot of records from tours, so there is an overflow of music. Although, I do sometimes feel quite constrained in the shows that I play, being unable to present that weirder music – weirder techno, faster techno – but I don’t think it has made a significant change to what I’m doing.

Has touring had any effects on your life as a person?

No, I don’t think it’s changed me as a person. I am who I am, and that won’t change that much. I haven’t had any epiphanies or any grandiose plans like that at this point. Apart from now knowing that I enjoy coming over here and playing shows to crowds that are excited to see me, I tend to get home from a tour and start thinking about the next one – forever hassling my agent, “When’s the next one?!”

To other aspiring artists, what is some advice you would give on how to tour Europe?

Plan your travel well – when you do get here put some thought into it. I feel like particularly for the uninitiated, the travel can be really taxing the first time around. That was the problem I faced on my first tour. I got four weeks in and thought “Fuck, how am I going to do this!” I think the first tour was eleven weeks, it was fairly ballsy and ambitious for the first time. If you do have the luxury of having the input into what you do and how you travel, then I would do that and try to lay out space in between flights, and where possible don’t go from the club straight to the airport.

 


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23 Mar The Embrace of Nihilism – An Interview with Darcy Baylis


Words by Marcus Rimondini // Photos by Sarah Chav’


Despite only being in his early 20s, Darcy Baylis has been around the Melbourne scene for half a decade with several impressive releases. His undefined ambition, unique combination of skills and ability to execute his work so well, has caught the praise of critics and fellow musicians alike. Rather than looking to fit in, Darcy chooses his own subconscious path, involving genres spawning from every decade since the ’70s. Wanting to further pursue this approach in more interesting and different depths, makes his work some of the most memorable of our plethora of local artists we have today.

We sat down at Dr. Morse and talked with Darcy about recording Intimacy & Isolation (out via DOWNTIME) while travelling last year, the importance of vocals in his music and looking to work with local rappers and improve Australian rap music.

 

Marcus Rimondini: I’ll start with – how was the Golden Plains experience last year? Is that the biggest crowd you’ve performed to?

Darcy Baylis: It was like the greatest night of my life. Categorically, objectively – it stands out as the best hour. I have no other way to describe it. I don’t even know if I was expecting it to be that good. I guess because I had never played anything remotely on that level I knew I had to step it up. Funnily enough as well, it was the only gig where I wasn’t nervous. My manager said to me “Do you want to have a look at the crowd to get ready?” So I did, and even though it was a lot of people, I just felt so prepared and like nothing could go wrong.

You the spent last year travelling and recording this album – what gear did you take on you on your trip to record? Did you borrow gear? What do you wish you took with you?

Just my laptop and microphone. [Laughs] I’m not a big gear person, synthesisers are cool I guess, but it’s just not my thing. I think even if I had money to access things, I probably still wouldn’t buy much gear. I primarily work within my laptop – I consider that to be my main instrument. I didn’t borrow any gear. I just took my laptop and some clothes and I was good, didn’t really need anything else.

Did you try to collaborate with anyone for the album? Anyone you’d love to work with?

I think it’s very important that I’m transparent about the collaborations that were involved on the album. For instance, on the first track there’s a reading of a poem by my friend Polly titled ‘All I Is’. I think that poem is integral to a lot of the words in the album, she also co-wrote some lyrics for ‘Emergency’.

I came back to Australia with a large portion of the album half done, and I went to the studio with my closest friend and collaborator Joseph Buchan. I asked “What do you think?” and he’s someone who won’t appease me for the sake of it. For instance, I’ll play music to other people and they’ll say “This is great!” but with Joe it’s more constructive – “I think you can do better”.

As far as collaborative work, those two people were integral in encouraging me to get better, step back and think about why I’m doing what I’m doing, how the best way to do it is, and how I can actually make it stand out. As opposed to making it as good as something I’ve done before.

 

There’s a ‘90s sound that sticks out, artists like The KLF. Was there a particular era or sound that influenced the album or is that just naturally what comes out when you produce at the moment?

It’s just kind of everything, which seems like a cop out to say that. I think because a lot of this album was written with a deadline, because I needed new material for Golden Plains, I figured out the only way to make good music quickly is to not think about style, I pretty much gave up on the idea of making a house song, or an electronic record, or whatever. It’s literally all the things I like, democratised in a way, and all given their equal share of play. There’s definitely things like Orbital, Aphex Twin, but there’s also contemporary rap, like Future and Drake. Even some of favourite albums of all time like Björk’s Vespertine.

So it’s more of a natural stream of thought?

I think so. It’s very important to me in my practice, the democratising of style, and making sure that things that are traditionally considered highbrow are lowbrow, or are presented as equally important. Rather than here’s a techno record with an ironic flourish of pop, I don’t do anything ironically. I’m at a point where it’s really hard for me to find music that I dislike.

You mentioned how you hope this album appeals to teens – is that because you feel that’s difficult to do or just because you want them to access more interesting music?

Yeah totally. Teenagers are the future. The way that they approach social media and interact with each other, they’re figuratively and literally the future. I think they have the most innovating taste out there and I think that’s really interesting. I think it’s also really important to discover music that you love as a teeenager. I feel everyone’s obsession with music begins at that point.

 

If you had to associate yourself with any other similar artists in Australia, who comes to mind. Friendships to me would be the closest artist. Are you familiar with their work? What do you think is the main difference between your works? Or do you feel there’s nobody exploring the same territory?

I try not to compare myself to other people as a general rule of thumb because I used to spend so much time doing that. It drove me insane, falling into this weird insecurity, aspiration anxiety. I have a lot of respect for Friendships, I think they’re great, incredible musicians and artists. They sound a little bit like me, but not heaps. I’ve been trying to actively consume more Australian music, but I don’t try to think about what I do compared to other people. I think there’s an importance between influence and reference, there’s things that my music literally sounds like, but there’s actual reference points. I just consume music and see what happens.

There’s a lot of effects on your vocals throughout this album and your previous EP – do you feel the vocal manipulation separates you a little from the other local electronic producers?

That’s a really nice thing to point out! I appreciate that, nobody’s actually mentioned that. I think that was an essential part of the record. In contemporary rap and pop music, the timbre of the voice has kind of become the main instrument. Auto-tune itself has become a very malleable instrument, vocal processing has become an instrument, and it’s also become essential to innovative or standout or create interesting music. The human voice is this transformative, transcendent thing. I think if you spend three hours working on a synth sound and then just sing over it, seems kind of pointless, I think everything should be given equal treatment.

Do you find it easier to use your voice than a sampled voice?

Yeah I find it way easier, the big difference making this album was I had a good microphone for the first time in my life. I could get the ideas out quickly and make the music. A lot of the lyrics, I don’t tend to write them down, they’re just phrases in my head at some stage.

 

What’s the meaning behind the line “Force won’t kill me”?

That’s an example of a sentence that just appeared in my head, fully formed in that rhythmic melody. If anything it’s an embrace of nihilism – that point where you stopped being so concerned about not being afraid to die, but you also very much celebrate life as well. I feel those two things are very close. That point in the middle, where it doesn’t make sense that you’re here, but you’re going to do your best to figure it out. Which is a grand statement to explore.

Did you performed the guitar solo in ‘Emergency’?
Yeah. Guitar was my first instrument, I started when I was 11 years old, my sister played me ‘The Taste Of Ink’ by The Used. The next day I was like, I need to learn how to play this song. I started off playing punk music, then jazz and classical. After this I discovered electronic music, so the guitar has always been around, and something that’s existed parallel to my own electronic music. I think for the next show I play, I’d like to shred a bit more, to show that it’s something that I can do and because it’s fun.

 

Now you’re going back to university – how big of a commitment is it? Does it keep you free to make music and tour?

It’s bigger than I thought – on my first day back I was thinking “… I might be in a bit too deep here”, juggling study, touring this album, trying to write a 45 minute composition with an accompanied thesis, text people back and still get eight hours sleep a night. [Laughs] it’s going to be pretty tough but I think I’m very much capable of it. I don’t want any of it to slow down as a result of it. I’ll just be looking stressed out for the rest of the year, but I’m prepared for that. I think the greatest resource I have at university is the ability to bounce ideas off peers. Collaboration is so integral for any good arts, that’s why I can’t stop going back, because I want to see what all my friends are up too. I’m such a nerd about it, I want to be there all the time.

You mentioned a song called ‘Cucks’ that you’ll play live – what is it about and why does it not feature on the album?

It was made just after the album and is about me being traditionally not a very masculine person and my friends not really associating with either side of the gender binary. So being perhaps a male presented person, who embraces the ‘cuck-hold’, I guess. It’s part joke, part very, VERY serious. The song itself is like a really cheesey ‘70s new-wave, synth-pop. It almost sounds like primitive Kraftwerk before they got cool. There are other songs I’ve been writing since the album that contain more guitar, and you could definitely describe them as tech-grunge [laughs]. I’m just trying to get weirder, in terms of lyrical content and what it sounds like. I think I’m done with being suicidal and sad but with a tech beat – it was fun, but I’m ready to do something vastly different.

You’ve also mentioned producing for rappers. Any rappers in mind, local or international?

I’ve been in talks with a few in Australia. I don’t like to talk about things until they’re confirmed, because if they don’t happen it’s devastating. It’s something I used to do with weird American internet rappers a while ago. I figured I was mostly listening to rap music, and rather than being like “Australian music sucks”, why not try to make it good? Reach out to people you do admire, see if they want to work with you and try make something good out of it. People underestimate the importance of the beats, it’s weird. I feel like you don’t really realise it until you hear a great beat but with a really lackluster rapper over the top – it’s integral. Even though production is 50% or more of a song, the rapper is everything, that’s just how that form of music works.

 

I remember actually catching your set as ‘Namine’ at Strawberry Fields 2013. I was quite impressed, is there any advice you’d give to your 17 year old self?

Wow, yeah just wait a bit longer. If I could go back, I probably wouldn’t put anything out until this album. But then it’s stupid to think that you put out something that I think is this good as your first record, you have to put out a few average ones first.

 





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08 Mar Shot Out Of Barrels – An Interview with Retza


Words by Ollie Leonard // Feature Photo by Bodhi Bailey


A few days ago I caught local DJ/producer Retza (aka Nick) on the phone for a friendly yarn in the lead up to his set at Pitch Music and Arts Festival this weekend. We chatted about the genesis of his music career, his recent collaborative works, and the joys in sampling video games… that last point shamelessly introduced by my [video-game loving] self. 

For those attending Pitch you can catch Retza playing Friday night at the Electrum Stage.

Ollie Leonard: Firstly, your online identity is quite mysterious. All you truly give away is that you are Retza, a bearded man who likes smoking and being shot in black and white photos…

Nick: It’s funny because that one promo shot of me smoking is quite old and I don’t necessarily think it’s the greatest representation nor do I want that to be the main photo everyone uses/sees of me. It just so happened that when we were at this photoshoot I was having a ciggie break and then that happened to be the best photo at that time. And now it’s the one photo that people use for everything [laughs]. Maybe it’s time for some upgraded promo shots.

What are your origins? How did you find yourself getting into music/producing – tracing back to your earliest inspiration?

I always loved music growing up. My family listened to a lot of music which is a massive influence on me. When I was in high school, I was in a band with my friends which was nothing serious. We jammed out a lot and did a few gigs. I think it was around a couple years after we finished high school we slowly stopped due to general life getting in the way — uni, work, etc. I still had an interest but didn’t know many people that were making music at the time so I downloaded FruityLoops and thought I’d just make music by myself. It kind of just went from there. I always did it as a hobby then a few years later I got better at it, started to meet more producers/DJs and began to take it a bit more seriously as a career path after that.

Originally my first introduction to electronic music was trance music like Tiesto, Armin [Van Buuren]. I remember hearing Parade of Athletes in 2004 and thought it was pretty dope, but it wasn’t until I heard Trentemøller‘s [The] Last Resort that I really started getting into electronic music. It was dubby, deep and everything in between. I’d never heard shit like that before. In high school I was listening to bands like QOTSA [Queens of the Stone Age] and Tool but when I started going out more I became more exposed to electronic music. My biggest influences then were Trentemøller, Stimming and Kollektiv Turmstrasse and even Boris Brejcha. It’s interesting to see how your sound and taste changes so much over the years.

Over the last couple years your name has begun popping up at a lot of major festivals across Australia like Let Them Eat Cake, Rainbow Serpent and Strawberry Fields. How has the transition been from smaller clubs and gigs to getting billed for large festivals?

Pretty smooth, I do like both though. I feel like when you’re at a festival there is more patience and freedom. People are always going to be on the dance floor, it’s outdoors and you have a bit more time to do your thing. Although sometimes it’s a bit hard being on a stage and so far away from the crowd. In a club there is a bit more pressure that you’re not killing the dance floor vibe and to make sure people are having a good night, buying drinks etc. Playing more intimate gigs with an up for it dance floor can be a special vibe also. At a festival it’s a good opportunity to push a new sound, play new tracks that you might not have the confidence or think will fit in a club environment. Most people at festivals are going to be having fun no matter what, the vibe is already there. So it’s important to use that to your advantage and maybe try something a little different.

Do you feel the need to produce a lot more because of that, or do you spend more time digging for new music?

I’m kind of going in phases. At the moment I’m probably producing the least I have but digging way more. I’ve been getting way more into vinyl and buying a lot more music. I think I have more gigs now but I’m also having a slight change in taste and not really where I want to be yet so it helps to take a bit of a mental break. I still write music every day but it’s just music that I’m not sure I’ll ever release or finish. I just do it because it’s fun and therapeutic.

You’ve said you keep a fairly spontaneous ‘in the moment’ approach to making your music but you’ve recently done a couple tracks with Yokoo. What differences were there in your writing process during a collaboration?

I don’t think there was much difference. Maybe slightly because you do want to stick to a certain vibe. As it was for All Day I Dream, we obviously knew we were going to make music together under that dreamy, housey, melancholy sound. With that in mind you have to stick to boundaries and maybe not insert an outrageously fat bassline!

Is it more limited working with someone else’s style or does the second mind make it easier?

I think the second mind makes it easier because you work off each others ideas. With that EP, on Equuleus I started one idea and sent it to Yokoo and on Magnetic Souls it was vice versa. Then we went back and forth a few times until we reached the final product. The track starts off as one thing and ends up completely different most of the time. It’s great because once you hit a creative wall you can pass the buck over. When I was in Berlin this past year we sat down and wrote more music together. It doesn’t really make a difference to our workflow. Although when we are on separate sides of the world we are able to work on projects almost 24 hours, which ends up being quite efficient.

Also, those songs were released on the All Day I Dream (ADID) label amongst the likes of Lee Burridge, Matthew Dekay, Lost Forest and Oona Dahl, where you recently had the chance to play at their party in Dubai? How was that experience to play as a part of that roster?

It was amazing. It couldn’t have gone any better. It was a really good vibe. ADID has always been a massive influence for me, even before I released on them. It was always a goal so being slotted in and given the opportunity to play a set under that umbrella was really cool. I feel it really suits my taste and style and it’s pretty one of a kind.

Very one of a kind. I think they really promote a strong community-like ethos. In relation to that, how important do you think those values are in the music scene?

Totally! I think when you get a collective of people that are pushing the same sound or ethos they all work off each other, promote and help each other. It’s only positive vibes and it only makes everyone better. Everyone that I have met has been super supportive and helpful like one big family. You want to surround yourself with other like-minded people and people who have been there before in order to learn and grow as an artist so it feels like a good community to be a part of.



Retza’s Top Go-To-Tracks for Festival Sets

I’ve been obsessed with it for ages. I never actually had it on vinyl, but my legendary girlfriend bought it for my birthday as a surprise. Ever since then I’ve been rinsing it!

I pretty much love every track these guys release but this has to be my favourite at the moment.

Ludwig is a genius. This track is godly. Deep, groovy and emotive.


Who is your favourite up and coming local producer?

I’m not exactly sure what constitutes ‘up and coming’ but my local favourites would be Peruw, Draso, Luke Vecchio, Michaelis to name a few. There are so many good producers/DJ’s in Melbourne. We are spoilt for choice.

With your rock background behind you, if you could collab with one musician outside electronic music, who would it be?

Um, probably Thom Yorke.

Ooooh!

Ooooh! [laughs] Yeah just off the top of my head. I’m gonna say Thom Yorke or Flying Lotus. And Erykah Badu. That’s more than one.

Do you like Donkey Kong Country?

I think I played Donkey Kong 3 on Super Nintendo. I definitely remember playing 3 heaps at my cousin’s house when we were kids. I just remember being shot out of barrels.

Could you sample it in your next song?

[Laughs] yeah sure. You know what’s funny, actually ages ago there was an inthemix competition and it was a Street Fighter remix competition. I remember downloading all the parts but nothing ever came of it but if I could find some Donkey Kong Country sample packs I’ll get something going.

What is the most obscure sample you’ve used or wanted to use in a song?

I’m not sure how obscure, but I use a lot of animal noises. I had one track with a whale groan as the bass line and this unreleased track has some elephant noises. I do like to record a lot of my own samples too. It is really unpredictable and you can’t replicate it. A lot of it is the element of random. It’s not that I ever set out to do something, I just have a portable recorder and record heaps of random sounds. Some of it sounds good and some sounds like garbage. It’s not a very methodical thing.

You’re due to play at the debut Pitch Music & Arts Festival next month which probably has the most stellar line-up I’ve ever seen… how does it feel to be playing among such an array of big names?

It’s awesome. Such an incredible lineup. I really wanted to go to pitch regardless if I was playing or not. Being able to play is the cherry on top really!

Any plans for the rest of the year?

I plan on going back to Europe in June until about August then onto America so hopefully there are some gigs in between that! I’m in the process of doing the whole admin side, sorting my trek out.

Finally, is there anything you want to plug?

Everyone and everything that is awesome. Also, be sure to check out the Rework and Elite Tunes showcase at Pitch!



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28 Feb Hard Work & Accidental Success – An Interview with Tourist at St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival 2017


Words by Georgia Hamilton-Myers // Photos by Sarah Chav’ & Jasper Van Daatselaar


UK Producer William Phillips has had a busy few years, contributing to songs for artists like Chvrches, Låpsley, and Sam Smith (for which he earned a Song of the Year Grammy for ‘Stay With Me’). On top of that, his debut LP U for his solo project Tourist has seen him touring pretty extensively since its release in May last year. He made his way back to Australia for the third time this summer, and we were lucky enough to catch up with him backstage before he played St Jerome’s Laneway Festival in Melbourne.

 

Georgia Hamilton-Myers: How are you finding touring with Laneway?

Tourist (William Phillips): Great. Amazing. Yeah, Brisbane we played.. When was that? It would have been, fuck maybe Saturday? Friday? I don’t know. What day are we on? Saturday. Maybe last week! Anyway, it was amazing, like it was absolutely amazing. That same kind of psychology of the crowd and the headline show in Melbourne was like times ten, and ten of kids in Brisbane, so it was amazing. Laneway is great!

Do you find that’s the attitude of the crowds here generally?

Yeah, for some reason they’re super enthusiastic. I don’t really know why, but its great. I’m not really used to that. I think London — and Paris, and New York — its like kind of, people are a bit cooler, less… they’re way more self-aware. I think they’re really concerned with how people think of them, but I think Australian shows, people really just let up and do what they want.

They’re there to have fun.

Yeah, it’s good.

Do you find having been here before you’re more comfortable this time around?

Massively, yeah. I think the first time I came here I was really like, wow… What’s going on? I think I came here in like 2014, at the end of 2014 and I was super jet-lagged and I was here to play these two festivals, like… no one really knew who I was or anything, and not that they do now but even more so then. Then the next time, coming for those headline shows last winter was really cool, and now I’m back again, it’s great.

 

Are you still writing while you’re touring this record?

Yeah, I’ve just finished a new bunch of stuff actually. I had this kind of slow, dawning realisation… I think before I was out touring my album I was like cool, I’m going to write an album, tour, write an album, tour. But I think you only get to do that on the first album you make.

Right.

Because I think on the first album, I had the luxury of time to just sit and do whatever I want in the studio for ages, which I did. And for the second one I’m realising I’m having to tour the last album, as well as writing the second one so… it just changes where you write, it means you can’t write in your safe space, which for me is my studio in my second bedroom in our flat. In a way I kind of started embracing the fact that I have to write in hotel rooms or on aeroplanes, and it’s kind of coloured the music slightly. And I’ve started to embrace it. At first I was like no, if I’m going to write more, I need to be at home. But I think embracing the fact that I have to be in transit whilst trying to be creative is quite a good mental trick to help me be successful creatively.
So I did a lot of writing last year whilst touring and I had a bit of time off earlier this month, so I took it all into my studio and finished up all the ideas. It’s quite a cool thing because you do feel quite constantly inspired being on the road. Sometimes it’s fucking hard — you’re knackered, you’re tired, so just everything’s annoying. You don’t get to appreciate what you’re doing. You just look at it as a hotel room. Sometimes when you’re well rested, you’re in a new place, you feel super inspired, yeah.

I guess you’re seeing different things than what you’d see at home

Yeah meeting different people and seeing the results of people’s ideas that manifest themselves in the cities, like, even just going to Fitzroy this morning it was really interesting.

Yeah it’s a cool area.

Yeah, I mean it is cool. And you know you see the kind of people that hang out there, yeah it’s interesting. We were saying that like, we always try and go “Oh this is like Williamsburg” or “Oh this is like Shoreditch”, but I was saying it’s funny how we can’t just say its Fitzroy. Why do we have to kind of compare everything…

Back to something you already know.

Exactly. It’s strange isn’t it? Why cant it just be what it is?

 

When you’re playing songs from your last record, you wrote those how many years ago now?

The last song I wrote was ‘Run’, and that was like 2015, sometime before November 2015.

 

Because it’s so associated with that time in your life, do you find your relationships with the songs change as you’re playing them?

I think as you listen to things enough, you cant be objective on them anymore. You’re completely influenced by the fact that they’re so ingrained in you. I would love to listen to my album for the first time and think about it, ‘is it any good?’ I don’t ever get that luxury. Everyone else does. And I think the immediate absorption of art is really critical in how you think about it. You don’t get to see the process that made it so you don’t get to see the choices. You know, and I think critics especially forget that they have the privilege of the first view of something. They get to experience it in its entirety. And I think because I’ve involved myself so much, in the songs, they don’t.. I don’t even know if they have any meaning to me anymore, in a way because I don’t know if they’re.. I know they came from an honest place at one point, I don’t know what they mean to me anymore, because I’ve seen the reactions so many times, yeah, it was about, you know… At that time a breakup was an important thing for me to write about, so I did. But it feels so long ago in my life, I can’t relate to either the relationship or the art; the kind of “art”, whatever, that then came out if it you know.

 

I guess the audience is seeing it though, and feeling it as you’re performing…

They are, and they’re feeling it for the first time, many of those people. So that’s why you can’t be a fucking diva on stage, you know, because you can’t take away the meaning. If you demean what it means to them because you’re bored of it — which is not their fault — you know, that’s a massive douche move isn’t it?

 

You didn’t work with many collaborators on U. Are you looking to do that more for your next release?

Yeah. I think everything I do is a reaction to the last thing I’ve done. So if I haven’t collaborated for a while I probably want to, subconsciously, collaborate again. Not out of any kind of strategic move, but out of a need to keep things different, you know? I’m very scared of being mediocre, that’s my biggest fear — doing things that don’t feel difficult when I do them.

 

So in lieu of a particular strategy, do you have broader goals for what you want to do with music, commercially?

I really want to buy an old Porsche one day… [laughs] No, I’m joking. I think. No, I have a goal to reach as many people as I can. I’m not scared of being… I wrote fucking ‘Stay With Me’, do you know what I mean? In a way, the weird thing there is that I didn’t intend to do that. People can argue, they can say that was a really cynical move of you to be successful, but that was by accident. I mean I had to embrace the success because otherwise… Not embrace the success, but I had to deal with the success of that. I admire people who are massively successful but also take massive risks. So I want to do those two things. I want people to know my music and enjoy it. I don’t want to be you know..

 

Pretentious about it?

No, not pretentious! I just, I want to kind of do whatever I want and if it speaks to people, great. I want to try and push myself in as many ways as I can and I never want it to feel easy. I would never write music with a kind of goal for a [particular] listener, I write it for myself. I’d never say ‘This has got to be played on Radio One, Triple J’. I just, I would never do that. I just make what comes out of me, and I deal with the results.

 

Did you always feel that way? Or after ‘Stay With Me’ did you feel a pressure…

No — because it was by accident. It was completely by accident. If I’d gone ‘cool, I wanna be nominated for a fucking Grammy’, What kind of person would say that in the studio? This has to be selling, you know, however many copies that record sold. I’m just not interested in being that person. I think my music speaks for itself, it speaks for how successful I want it to be. Does it sound like big music? Probably not. The last album was like a bunch of instrumentals about relationships, I mean it’s very specific, quite niche music that I’ve made. But you know, if I could sell 500 albums, for me that’s a really big deal. If I can sell 500 tickets in Melbourne, for me that’s a fucking big deal. That means more than people think it does, and I couldn’t give a shit about having a medal in my… About the success of my career, I’d rather look back and feel proud — as any artist would, or hopefully would. And I don’t really think the Grammys are a big deal. I think, you know, the Muppets have a Grammy… and they’re probably better than I am.

 

Do you guys [Ed note: his partner, Kat, was with us for the interview] usually travel together?

Yeah, no its weird because like, I’ve toured the most I’ve ever toured and we thought why don’t we just go and do it together? So it’s been mental, but fun.

Have you had a chance to have fun then, in between shows? Or will you hang around or travel after?

We’re going to yeah, we’re staying in Melbourne for a week. My mate is getting married at the Botanic Gardens. And it’s also my 30th birthday the day he’s getting married, so we’re here for a week around then. And I’m gonna cry and drink champagne and think ‘where’s my youth gone?’ That’s fine. Life is temporary.

 


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