Photo by Sarah Chavdaroska
This is our updated weekly playlist of the 30 best new Australian songs released within the past two months. This week’s guide includes new entries from Amaya Laucirica, Montero, Albrecht La’Brooy, Fantastic Man, Rings Around Saturn, Gamirez, Deer, and this week’s best new track by Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever.
30. Deer – ‘On My Own (Drum Edit)’ | Uploaded: January 18th
29. Roland Tings ft. HIGH HØØPS – ‘One Hundred’ | Uploaded: December 5th | Open with SoundCloud
28. LETRAN – ‘Rider’ | Uploaded: January 2nd | Open with SoundCloud
27. Pond – ‘Fire In The Water’ | Uploaded: January 10th | Open with SoundCloud
26. Gamirez – ‘U KNXW’ | Uploaded: January 12th
25. Total Control – ‘Laughing At The System 1, Pt. 1’ | Uploaded: December 5th | Open with SoundCloud
24. Hector Gachan – ‘East – West’ | Uploaded: December 5th | Open with SoundCloud
23. Dasler – ‘Someday’ | Uploaded: November 28th | Open with SoundCloud
22. Ju Ca – ‘Wilt’ | Uploaded: December 6th | Open with SoundCloud
21. Rings Around Saturn – ‘Night Swim’ | Uploaded: December 24th
20. Shame On Us – ‘NAAM (Fantastic Man Remix)’ | Uploaded: January 23rd
19. Albrecht La’Brooy – ‘Last Light’ | Uploaded: January 23rd
18. The Citradels – ‘Pictures of Uncle Arthur’ | Uploaded: January 8th | Open with SoundCloud
17. Solo Career – ‘Let Down’ | Uploaded: December 17th | Open with SoundCloud
16. Corniglia – ‘Strange Desires’ | Uploaded: January 9th | Open with SoundCloud
15. Tim Coggins – ‘Embers’ | Uploaded: January 8th | Open with SoundCloud
14. Telete – ‘Basketball Boy’ | Uploaded: December 17th | Open with SoundCloud
13. James i.V – ‘Freda’s Jam’ | Uploaded: January 15th | Open with SoundCloud
12. Polygon Woods – ‘Royalty’ | Uploaded: November 29th | Open with SoundCloud
11. Elizaband – ‘Old Australis!’ | Uploaded: December 24th | Open with SoundCloud
10. Oscar Key Sung ft. Ah Mer ah su & HTML Flowers – ‘Fools’ | Uploaded: January 1st | Open with SoundCloud
9. Doona Waves – ‘Losing Focus’ | Uploaded: January 8th | Open with SoundCloud
8. The Plastic Fangs – ‘Kickback’ | Uploaded: December 2nd | Open with SoundCloud
7. K a r y m e – ‘Angus’ | Uploaded: January 9th | Open with SoundCloud
6. Primitive Motion – ‘Feed the Signals’ | Uploaded: January 9th | Open with SoundCloud
5. Montero – ‘Running Race’ | Uploaded: January 17th
4. Amaya Laucirica – ‘All Of Our Time’ | Uploaded: December 24th
3. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – ‘Mainland’ | Uploaded: January 22nd
2. Donny Benet – ‘Melodie’ | Uploaded: December 17th | Open with SoundCloud
1. Totally Mild – ‘Lucky Stars’ | Uploaded: December 1st | Open with SoundCloud
Off the back of his self-titled debut in 2015, Roland Tings became a mainstay of the Australian electronic scene. Throughout 2016 he played countless gigs, peddling his unique brand of layered, rolling electro across the country before taking some time to regroup.
In late 2016 he released the first pieces of new music in over a year, with his recognisable arpeggios and percussion accompanied by a slight shift in tone and influences. New, house-ier moments in tracks like ‘Higher Ground’ and ‘Eyes Closed’ set the tone for what was to come in the critically praised EP Each Moment A Diamond. As we learned from our recent chat with Roland, this EP was a long time in the making — and perhaps even longer in securing it’s release.
Roland recently embarked on a massive Australian and New Zeland tour, and despite the delays in releasing new music it became clear that fans had not lost interest. Kicking off in March the tour covered Canberra, Wollongong, Perth, Hobart, Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane before heading south for Wellington and Auckland. The new live show brings to the stage the two man live arrangement recently seen at St Jerome’s Laneway Festival and supporting RUFUS on their tour.
We were lucky enough to catch the extra Thursday show at Howler in Melbourne, only added after the Friday night performance sold out very quickly. As the Howler band room slowly started to fill, the audience found their feet to high-energy, intricate house productions by Fishing. Highlights from their recent EP Pleasure Dome — such as ‘Yuma’ and the title track ‘Pleasure Dome’ — perfectly set the pace of the evening.
After the support from Fishing and Venus II, there was an atmosphere of excitement and heady anticipation by the time Roland Tings took to the stage — which he capitalised on by immediately launching in to new material. Long, progressive tracks helped build tension in the room — like the distorted harps of ‘Turn Your Face To The Sun’ — and made the most of the impressive rack of synths and relays that adorned the stage.
Accompaniment from a live percussionist gave many tracks an added sense of weight, without overpowering the overall sound output. New numbers like ‘Hedonist’ particularly benefitted from the heightened performance value added by live drums. Its broad, reverbed-out synth lines left heaps of space for the full-bodied bass and punching kicks to cut through Howler’s sound system. Inspired by the Australian outback, the track’s sense of atmosphere made it a stand out on the recent EP and it was received as such live.
More upbeat new tracks like ‘Eyes Closed’ and ‘Garden Piano‘ were spread throughout favourites from Tings’ debut album, which helped to maintain a strong energy during the hour and a half set. The progression from track to track was often seamless, largely due to the extensions and reworks of key elements between each one. The live aspects of the performance helped to transition these extended versions together to create one continuous soundtrack for the night. The slow-to-start but eventually powerful ‘Slow Centre’ proved to be a highlight of these transitions, as it moves from a Bonobo-esque percussion piece into a powerful dance floor shaker. Another highlight was the unexpected move into a Roland staple; ‘Floating On a Salt Lake’. Its drawn out introduction was weaved so effortlessly into the proceeding sounds that the dramatic cut to only the bass line came as a welcome surprise.
Undoubtedly one of the biggest moments of the night came from recent lead single ‘Higher Ground’. The stabbing top line synths and bouncing bassline would have been more than sufficient to raise the energy in the room again, but the inclusion of the first vocals lines of the night (from local singer Nylo) gave the audience an additional element to latch onto and inevitably sing along with. A crowd singing back the words to a recently released song always creates a special moment, and through the impressive light and smoke show Howler had put on it was clear that the two piece on stage were enjoying it just as much as the audience. Bringing the set to a close was undoubtedly Roland Ting’s biggest release to date, ‘Pala’. Hearing such an often-played track live gave it a new energy that the crowd lapped up in their final dancing moments.
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.
|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|