Sarah Chav' - facebook.com/sarahchavphotos

16 Feb Delivering A Sonic Landscape – St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival 2018


Words by Kitty Chrystal // Photos by Sarah Chavdaroska


Over a decade in the running, Laneway Festival has well and truly solidified its stronghold in the Australian music scene as a leading day festival. Always boasting a stellar lineup of international and local acts, this year was no different with the likes of The Internet, Bonobo, Slowdive, Mac Demarco, War on Drugs, Badbadnotgood, Miss Blanks and many, many more.

The downside of such a star-studded cast is the familiar and constant rigmarole of Laneway — the perilous clashes that leave one running from stage to stage in an attempt to catch as many acts as possible. This being one of the few years the festival hadn’t sold out, however, meant a fewer people in rotation and a bit more room to breathe when you did finally get to plonk yourself down in front of your stage of choice.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, though, it would be amiss not to mention the exponential growth and change this festival has seen in its years of running. With Big Day Out’s demise and the emergence of the vibrant day festival Sugar Mountain, Laneway now slots in towards the mainstream end and certainly draws a mixed-bag crowd (some who I am not so sure would survive Meredith’s no dickhead policy, for example).

 

That being said, Laneway seems to have its proverbial fingers in enough pies to keep its life forces at an all-time high, continuing to cater to a diverse crowd of nostalgic rockers, internet kids, indie-pop lovers, techno daddies and everyone in between. Despite feeling slightly as though one is walking through a surrealist shopping mall (I’m referring to the constant advertisements, streams of stalls and gimmicky bars), and suffering utter fatigue at the sheer amount of legwork involved in getting from one stage to another under the beating sun, I still (optimistically, perhaps) think Laneway is pretty alright.

It’s not everyone’s cup of tea and unfortunately, it has well and truly shifted from the intimate music lover’s experience it once was. But, I mean, you still do get to see some really, really good bands.

Walking through the festival gates (adorned with a big ol’ rainbow – a nod to the queers, Cheers Laneway!), I heard Spike Fuck’s dulcet tones floating over from the Dean Turner stage. Performing with a full band (named The FML Band, at that!), Spike’s songs took on a whole new energy, bolstered by the band’s absolute teen-dream-70s-icon demeanours and outfits. Adorned with aviators and radiating ethereal and anachronistic coolness, the nostalgia of Spike’s songs hit hard and had the growing crowd on their feet and swaying. It was a pretty special moment for those who got down early.

 

Cable Ties took to the stage with the fierce energy they are fast becoming known for. This band have been deservedly shooting for the stars, opening the stage at Meredith in ’16, slipping over to Europe for a brief tour last year and releasing an incredible album along the way. The three band members belting out the chorus of ‘Same For Me’ (Nick Brown mic-less and singing just for the hell of it, what pureness) gave a powerful energy that the crowd happily bore the sun for.

Hopping over to Dream Wife at the river-side Spinning Top Stage. I was particularly excited for this performance, as was the increasing mob gathered to welcome the Icelandic-Brightoneon femme rock group. With dizzying stage presence evocative of Debbie Harry, lead singer Rakel Mjöll seemed at home on the stage and delivered the band’s hits ‘Somebody’, ‘Lolita’ and ‘Kids’ with memorable charisma. As a group, the three bandmates and drummer wove together tightly and projected an inspiringly energetic dynamic; it was hard to tear myself away!

But while the Wives rocked on down by the river, I jogged on over to the Future Music Stage to check the last of Melbourne act Kllo. Channelling varying degrees of electro-pop, alternative soundscape, hypnotic hip-hop vocals and bubbling housey beats, Kllo’s sound is liquid and delicious. Riding the highs of their continuing success, the duo worked the crowd into a fluid dance and the audience seemed hell-pleased to hear some treats off the debut full-length album Backwater, which came out October last year.

 

At the much more green and breezy Future Music Stage, next on was Brisbane’s Miss Blanks. Fed up with the commodification and tokenisation in the white-consumption-oriented Australian hip-hop scene, Miss Blanks is hitting new highs in a variety of artistic musical spaces, originally catching eyes at Dark Mofo in Hobart last year and later, BIGSOUND. Now, rocking out to a huge and pumped crowd at Laneway, I don’t think any audience member could have been left uncertain of Miss Blank’s title as iconic. Complete with her backup dancers and Kish Lal on the decks, the Australian trans woman of colour delivered a set of absolute bangers that hit all the right spots and pushed themes of black power, body positivity and femme energy to the forefront.

Continuing the theme of femme badassness in typically ‘boys club’ genres, Lucy Cliché once again proved herself to be a force of nature with a flawless live techno set at the I Oh You Bloc Party Stage. Despite it being a kind of weird vibe (the designated dance-floor area also being a walkway to and from a big ol’ portaloo arena), Lucy made the best of things and masterfully built her industrial electro sound from her all hardware set-up. I kind of wanted to grab people walking by and be like ‘hello, you’re missing some really good shit please stay and dance,’ but look, these things happen.

 

Back down at the Dean Turner Stage, the sun was beginning to set and the night air was a sweet relief, giving the atmosphere a transformative lift. Bonobo drew an excited crowd and sent the vibes flying high, opening with the dreamy-smooth and building ‘Migration’, before inviting Szierdene on stage to sing ‘Surface’ and playing through a set-list of diverse and powerful tracks. Simon Green’s ability to cascade through genres and sounds and have the crowd blissing out to every Bonobo iteration is testament to his skill as an artist.

 

With a breeze picking up along the riverfront, reformed 90s shoegazers Slowdive carried the crowd gently into the balmy summer night with their shimmering guitars and meditative vocal lines. Seeing old rock dogs in the crowd holding hands and swaying with tears in their eyes filled me with such tenderness, it was one of those ‘could literally sob’ kind of performances. Their finishing song, a reworked cover of Syd Barret’s ‘Golden Hair’ was the crescendo of their finely crafted dreamscape that left the enraptured crowd in a state of awe.

Wandering back to the Future Music Stage, now swathed in darkness and holding a growing throng of punters still riding on a high from the days’ events, Badbadnotgood gave us all a sonic hug, closing out the festival with their jazz-fusion set. It was probably what we all needed, without even really knowing it.


Read More
Sarah Chav' - facebook.com/sarahchavphotos

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



Read More
St. Jerome's Laneway Festival 2017

02 Mar Exploring the Space Between Niche and Indie Pop – St Jerome’s Laneway Festival 2017


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


Since it moved from the laneways of Melbourne’s CBD to Footscray Community Arts Centre in 2010, St Jerome’s Laneway Festival has grown exponentially. Laneway has not only expanded across the country, but jumped the oceans to Auckland, Singapore, and a brief showing in the US. With the demise of festivals like Big Day Out, Laneway has grown into the space and become one of the premiere festivals on the Australian scene.

A few of us at Ripe went down this year to take in the sights and sounds of the day. In between dashing off for interviews, Alex Gleeson and Georgia Hamilton-Myers took in as much as possible, and they’ve joined forces to recap their experience of the day. These are their stories…

 

Alex Gleeson (AG) : Well, where do you begin? I’ve kinda avoided Laneway for a little bit. Last one I went to was in Sydney. Was it fun? Heck yeah. So why all the avoiding? I got elbowed in the face, heard more homophobic f-bombs than I did compliments, and felt the festival was a far cry from its original warm, safe and welcoming space. That being said, being 18 (or thereabouts) for my first Laneway, I hold the experience of sliding on in with my dad close to my heart. It was the only festival at the time booking the music I loved, without asking me to travel two hours outta town and sleep in a tent with snoring mates.

I thought that was pretty grouse.

So this year I tried not to let past experiences ruin my expectations and excitement, and instead just go with the flow. So how was the crowd? Yeah, look. It wasn’t the best. The singlet bros chanting over the top of Tame Impala’s live set wasn’t a highlight on the day. BUT, with a few handy clashes and perhaps positional fortune, I found that the slots I was looking towards with the most excitement seriously delivered.

 

Georgia Hamilton-Myers (G HM) : I’m with Gleeson on the dichotomy of Laneway, but I do have a slightly different relationship to the festival. I’ve only missed two of its last seven outings, although I have to admit going into this year I was a little wary, preparing myself for a day of trekking throughout the grounds and fighting through drunk teens. I am glad to see Laneway grow, but a bigger festival means bigger crowds, bigger sponsors and a loss of the feeling that you’re part of a special little separate world for a day. The space at FCAC is ideal for a festival, but as the stages have been pushed further and further apart you end up spending a lot of the day going up and down concrete ramps in the beating sun. Another drawback of the setup is clashes hit harder, with hefty transit time limiting how long you can spend at the stages. Basically as impressive as the line-up always is, you have to accept that you’re going to miss a big chunk of the music you’re there to see.

After getting my bearings and finding some friends, I managed to catch most of Julia Jacklin‘s set at the Spinning Top stage. Her dreamy vocals floated across the crowd and towards the back of the grassy hill, over the scattered groups of people applying sunscreen and huddling around sheets of set times. I was forced to sheepishly reassess my curmudgeonly attitude towards the rambunctious youth who have co-opted my favourite festival, and realise that maybe wanting something you love to stay secret and safe is erring too much on the side of pretension to be valid criticism. By the time she launched into her beautiful cover of ‘Someday’ by The Strokes‘, I was pretty damn excited for the rest of the day.

 

AG : Whitney’s crowd felt thinner than I envisioned, however they brought such bliss to the mid afternoon. A live show that felt more buoyant and a heap more jazz-oriented than their LP would suggest, you could never have picked while watching them that they’d had a hefty night on the Friday prior to the show. Nor would you have guessed that they were smack bang in the middle of an extensive touring schedule, and no doubt growing tired of that rotating wheel.

Call me a romantic but I can’t help enjoying seeing a crowd smile in unison. And that’s the state that Whitney left the crowd in. Rollicking, freewheeling, and god damn amazing.

Hmmm. Me thirsty. Not sure if I’ll get a Corona® from the ‘CANS, CANS, CANS’ bar, or a Budweiser® from the Budweiser® Car. Man, it feels good spending $10 on shit beer. At least it wasn’t a Somersby®.

Camp Cope were on before Whitney. Not sure why I started with Whitney. Such was the impact of their set… I guess? Anyway, Camp Cope are a band that everyone who plays music would like their band to be. It’s remarkable how they can seem so unabashed, personable and genuine, while maintaining the highest levels of cool. They nailed it with their first album. Absolute cracker, filled with some serious goodies. ‘Stove Lighter’ has so much anthem in it, and anyone who thinks lyricism is a dying art should be promptly directed toward ‘Charlie’s Song’.

My past experiences with them are limited to seeing them at a boozy Music Victoria Awards a few months ago. Hardly the perfect introduction, but they still managed to kick up a serious storm at that one.

 

This was something different though, hey. With an on-stage dynamic, and a set that seemed expertly crafted, they operated on levels of serious might. Not an easy task in the heat, with a decent sized crowd. Georgia Maq’s delivery is deserving of no lazy comparisons, I honestly believe it transcends all that bullshit. They’re superb musicians, hastily carving a path that hasn’t been walked before by contemporary Australian ‘rock’ musicians. Super cool.

G HM: While Gleeson dived into acts early, I took in the rest of the festival and had a wander down to the Very West Stage. Down a side street to the right were a handful of market stalls, including clothes, jewellery and a glitter application station. There was also a stall selling records, which I’ve never really understood the idea behind. I get irritated enough having to carry a bag with water and my phone, let alone a breakable 12″ disc. Putting one aside to pick up in store could be an option, although sinking money into something while in an altered state may not be the most advisable choice. Walking back to the stage I figured I was there early enough to get a decent spot for Tash Sultana, but alas! I was severely mistaken. Happy to see such a strong crowd for someone so deserving of recognition, I’ll hopefully catch her before getting tickets is impossible.

 

AG : I caught ten minutes of Carseat Headrest, who probably had the most vibrant crowd I came across for the day (keeping in mind i missed both King Gizz AND Dunies). Another example of Laneway giving us some kick arse international tunes so close to home, their 2016 LP hit the lofty peaks of many ‘End Of Year’ lists. I would’ve stayed for longer, if not for holding a ticket to their sideshow at The Gaso.

So yeah, the LP is incredible, but the big wow-factor came with Carseat Headrest’s early cover of Rowland S Howard’s spine tingler ‘Shiver’. Serious task, but I reckon Will Toledo’s voice hung on all the right notes, culminating in a moment that felt more suited to a brisk night in a tiny pub, rather than an sunny-day open air fest. Not a complaint by any means. Quite the opposite. I wholeheartedly enjoyed the jarring nature of its setting!

 

G HM: Say what you will about Aussie hiphop (and I certainly have), there are few other genres that attract people so ready to let loose and party. The hype levels of the crowd were high, peaking when ‘Turn Down For What’ played for AB Original to take the stage. The only backdrop a huge Aboriginal flag, Briggs and Trials don’t shy away from their ambition to create music with a message and a purpose. They started some call and response and this crowd was so down, getting their asses up off the grass and swarming towards the stage before the end of their first song.

 

I had to run over to see British producer Tourist, and as I slipped down the side to find a spot there was a noticeable shift from the hype I’d just left at AB Original’s set. It really speaks to Laneway being whatever you make of it now, with something to do at any point of the day regardless of what your tastes are. Tourist’s stage set-up was minimal, just some long freestanding LED lights and the DJ decks, but being at the smaller Future Classic stage it fit well. His music is deeply considered but still definitely dance, and his set mirrored that with solid builds and great dance peaks.

AG :
Sampa The Great is so refreshing. I am someone who admittedly knows very little about the realms of hip hop, but the feeling I get is that Sampa gives hip hop newfound levels of positivity and authentic self-confidence that I haven’t yet encountered elsewhere in the genre. Rather than arrogance or aggression, her lyrics find their strength in pleasure and self worth. Not only this, her on-stage composition has lifted to masterful levels, with particular credit deservingly sent in the direction of her backup singers, sitting on those melodies with such beauty, and occasionally stepping up to soar on a solo.

‘FEMALE’ felt like a serious moment, with all the “queens” in the crowd chanting the letters at quite a rate. There was the patchwork that floated across the sea of hands. Gorgeous no doubt, however I felt an explanation wouldn’t have hurt! However perhaps in it’s ambiguity, that people could find their own reasoning.

 

Tycho sounded a lot like Tycho at the main stage. I like the way Tycho sound, so that’s ok. It was pleasant, the sort of music you can sway to effortlessly, with the gentle haze of your Corona® intoxication slowly settling in. I feel like the Paradise promoters must be shaking their fists in despair when they see Laneway consistently landing the perfect weather, year after year. For Tycho, there was the most delightful of golden hues, sitting atop the milling crowd, shimmering off the neighbouring river. It made everything seem infinitely better.

 

G HM : In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit Glass Animals hold a very special place in my heart. I saw them live the first time they toured here, early enough that for their encore they had to ask the crowd which of the nine songs they had we wanted to hear again. With the incredible success of their two LPs since then and the hectic touring schedule that followed, their presence and energy on stage was incredibly impressive. Their set was undoubtedly my favourite of the festival. A shoeless Dave Bayley built on the crowd’s raw enthusiasm, who in turn built on his, and vice versa to create a magical atmosphere. It was a blistering set, with a blistering version of crowd favourites “Youth” and “Gooey“.

 

AG : Floating Points played to a crowd of about 300 people, and it made me so happy. Having room to move is a priority, especially when experiencing something as monolithic as his live debut in Melbourne. With visuals almost as astounding as the sounds, the set was an unbelievably polished work of art. It’s near impossible to dislike what is happening before you. Operating as the leader of the 45 minute long, near solitary composition, Sam Sheppard seems to breathe new life into the idea of instrumental jazz music. The electronic component sits quite pleasantly, toiling away at a level that is exploratory yet holds a beat constant enough to have people moving, some (quite possibly) in a subconscious state.

Laneway now is too big and expensive to be a sweet indie darling, too niche to be a festival that attracts the ‘mainstream’ crowd. But that really isn’t a fault of the festival. They’ve found their space, and it’s up to the crowd to adjust their own expectations and take the day for what it is. True, it isn’t a kickabout festival jammed into the laneways of the CBD anymore, for people who want to be at the very cutting edge. Even if it loses that crowd, if it gains 18 year olds discovering live music for the first time and realising they love it, adding more people to a thriving music scene. Above anything else, its a day where people have a whole damn ton of fun.

 


Read More
Sarah Chav' - facebook.com/sarahchavphotos

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.

 


Read More
Sarah Chav' - facebook.com/sarahchavphotos

22 Feb The Brilliant & Twisted Mind of Mish Way – An Interview with White Lung at St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival 2017


Words by Alex Gleeson // Photos by Sarah Chav’ & Jasper Van Daatselaar


Last Month at the Melbourne leg of the Laneway Festival, our writer Alex Gleeson sat down with the lead singer Mish Way of the Canadian punk and noise rock band White Lung. Mish discussed the influence of producer Lars Stalfors, personally enjoying music that sounds nothing like White Lung and being obsessed with filicide and neonaticide.

 

Alex Gleeson: I feel like there was a bit of a noticeable shift on your latest album, starting to sing from other people’s perspectives. Was this a result of being a bit burnt out from pouring your own life into lyrics, or were you more keen to explore a new style of songwriting?

I think it was more that I was bored and I’ve also always written from a place of discontent, and right now I’m really happy with my life. I’d just gotten married, I’d got this great house with my husband, everything was just happiness. I didn’t have as much to get up there and scream about. It’s not as if, as you get older you lose your anger or your passion for certain things, but it just starts to quell. And also fiction gave me freedom, so I could just take these stories that I’d been working. I do journalism and I write too, so you know there were certain stories that really stuck with me and I just decided to put myself in the position of this person, or this imagined person and speak from their perspective. It’s much more interesting that way, you get to say things you could never say yourself! I wanted to write in less of a “leaving it up to the viewer” kind of manner and give these really strong images, like old country and blues songs, that leave no possibility of misunderstanding the content.

 

I was going to ask about your writing actually! You’ve written for a handful of places, from Broadly to Self Titled, sometimes broaching on some very serious, intense topics. Do you feel that you’re journalism informs your songwriting at all?

Oh for sure. You get obsessed with the same things, and you get to explore them over and over again. So yeah, and now I mostly work for Hustler and Penthouse which are of course two nudie mags. You’re a boy, you already knew that (*laughs*). I love girly mags, I’ll never stop with girly mags so that’s changing things, so maybe that’ll play up in the next album.

 

Was teaming up with producer Lars Stalfors on the new album. Is this another sign of you taking your songwriting in a slightly different direction? Or was this just a coincidence

I think well if you consider it this way – You don’t want to write the same record over and over again, because that’s not only boring for you, the person that’s writing it, but it’s boring for the listener too. Lars had a large part in the production on that record, so the brightness and all that, the loss of fuzz, that all came from him. But it’s a logical thing as well, our band is fast and there’s a lot going on. So you have to produce it clean or else you lose all those nuances that are happening in the sound.

 

For sure. Do you feel that cleaner sound is a reflection of what you’re listening to at the moment?

Kenny and I both do this when we are working on a record. We don’t listen to anything that sounds remotely like us. I know Kenny listens to Electronic and Rap music, and the last record I listened to was old country and blues. You don’t want to get too close to something you’re listening to when recording.

 

And do you write in isolation or is it a shared writing experience?

We mostly write in isolation. Generally, Kenny will show me something he’s working on and then I’ll start thinking about it. We used to write very collectively, but now that we write mostly in the studio, it’s very different. Technology allows you to do that.

So you write mostly in the studio?

Oh this last record, I went in without a single lyric done. I didn’t have a single melody done. I sat there and worked you know, ten hours a day, for two weeks.

 

Do you think that it’s a product of the immediacy of that writing style, or is it that you just find the studio a good creative area.

I think it’s a combo of both. Kenny would continue to toil, and a song would never be done unless he had a deadline, so he needs a deadline. For me, I just like to work under pressure, and I like to have a coach there, helping me along and pushing me, and that was what Lars was.

Sounds like a good little team that you’ve built there…

Oh, it was a fantastic team for sure.

 

Paradise feels particularly referential lyrically. Did you find yourself reading up on psychopaths and serial killers to prepare for the album?

Well, I’ve always been obsessed with that stuff, I mean I have my certain favourites. I was writing a lot of reports that year, and I read up on filicide and neonaticide, which is when parents kill their children. So I did a huge research piece on that, and then I was doing a bunch of other stuff that was linked to gender and murder, and I guess all of that was in my head, and I mean I’m obsessed with that stuff.

 

It’s certainly fascinating stuff, the gruesomeness of it all. It’s so unthinkable, that it almost seems like…

I mean yeah it’s unthinkable but it’s also human nature. Like it’s power, and we’re animalistic in a way. I like psychological stuff!

 

Looking ahead, you’ve kicked off 2017 on the laneway tour. What’s to come for this year?

I’m looking at this more as the end of last year. Because we toured all last year, and it started in March. So I’m going to have a nice 4-month break, our next show isn’t until April in New York. We’re planning on touring a little more, doing a few festivals, keeping it calm, and hopefully writing another record.

 


Read More
Laneway Festival 2016

09 Mar Laneway 2016 – An interview with East India Youth

East India Youth’s career has been an interesting one, albeit short. The project started from humble beginnings, but quickly moved to the world stage with the success of his debut album Total Strife Forver. His follow up Culture of Volume only a year later saw him touring the UK and the world with a reinvigorated live show. When we talked to East India Youth at Laneway, he reflected on this rise, and pressure as an artist. More importantly he mused about what would come next, only to announce on the 19th of Feb that he would be taking an indefinite hiatus…

 

So what’re you’re thoughts on the tour now you’re nearing the end?

I know, I know, I was just settling into the tour and now it’s almost over. And I’ve gotten pretty used to the lifestyle of it already, it’s been a lot of sun time and going to the beach.

I guess that’s what tourists tend to do in Australia

Well yeah, I’m used to playing at like 2 or 3 o’clock at every Laneway so I’ve got the rest of the day to enjoy myself, and I’m going to miss that. I’ve just had a few days off in Melbourne though.

I was going to ask you what you’ve managed to do outside of your sideshow?

We played with Chvrches at the Forum on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then Thursday/ Friday off, but I haven’t really done anything in particular. Melbourne’s great for food and beers I guess, so I’ve just been doing that really. Oh, and I went to the botanic gardens, that was beautiful. It was right near our hotel, so I walked round there for an hour or so and got to get some writing done.

 

 

So do you get to write much on the road? Between your first and second album there was just over a year, and with all the touring how did you work it in?

Well, I finished the first album just over a year before it came out. In the process of starting the live show and trying to find a label, I just started working on the second album. So by the time first one had come out I was kinda already half done with the second.

When that first album was finally released, did it help galvanize your creativity and help you finish off the second so quickly?

I think the time period all bled into each other so much I didn’t have time to think about what impact that was going to make. The reviews and all that for the first album were so good and the Mercury Prize… but if I hadn’t started the second album already it would have had a bigger effect on me. I already kind of knew what I wanted to do, but then the Mercury Prize came along… and in fact, by the time the Mercury came along I’d finished. So what do you do there?

 

 

So when every one was asking you what you were going to do after the first album, you were just sitting there going “I’ve already done it!”.

Well, I hadn’t announced it when the album started going well – I just had to sit there and play dumb for a bit! But by the Mercury ceremony we’d mastered the second album so I thought whatever’s going to happen will happen now.

When you work with a label like XL what sort of privileges and advantages do you have with a turnaround like you had?

Just an incredible resource of people who are so creative and passionate about every facet of the album’s creation. No matter how mundane it may seem to other people, as long people are going at things in an innovative way it makes all the difference for the whole campaign. So with XL you’re blessed that so many people are doing such a good job.

And does that give you more time as an artist to focus on what’s important?

Yeah, although I do like to be pretty hands-on in every part of the process, but that’s me I guess. I think XL afford you the opportunity to be more of an artist, and let that be the primary thing you need to worry about.

 

 

When you put out the album I read somewhere that you said you almost consider yourself a pop artist now. Do you think pop has become less of a dirty word?

That was kind of the plan for this album, but I think I failed horribly. I failed horribly because I’m not headlining tonight! So something went wrong… Nah, I’m only joking! I think what I really wanted to do was make pop music, and probably I don’t think I’m really cut out to be a pop star. I’m not really good at it, I’m too anxious and commanding of my space. I don’t think I’ve got the gravitas to really be Grimes. And then when she brings out an album like Art Angels, it’s like… Ah fuck, what’s the point? Haha. I’m going to focus on other areas now ‘cause when a pop masterpiece like that comes out, all you can say is “fair play”.

So where do you see yourself heading next then?

I don’t know, I’m trying to write… I was really sure about what I wanted to do a couple months ago, but now I’m not. You just go through waves of certainty and uncertainty and making an album or next project will feel like you’re banging your head against a wall for months asking why you do this. And eventually you’re like “ahhhh okay”, but you’ve already been building a bank of songs and stuff like that which you think are rubbish, but actually they’re alright and you just need to hold onto them. So what I’m basically saying is the next period of my life is going to be utter madness for however many years. When I go back on Monday I don’t think I’ll be touring again for a while. This is the best way to go out I think! I’ve met so many good people and a great lifestyle, it’s been so rewarding… so might as well quit while you’re ahead.

 

 

Read More
5D3_1626

02 Mar Laneway 2016 – An interview with DIIV

What better way to celebrate an Australian tour with St Jerome’s Laneway Festival than to drop an album halfway through – and that’s exactly what DIIV did. As fans have been patiently waiting worldwide for a follow-up to the very successful 2012 album OshinAustralian fans were gifted with Is The Is Are straight away. The album so far has been well-received by crowds and critics, described as a bold evolution and the product of much soul searching in the troubled years between releases. We met up with them before they hit the stage during the Melbourne leg of Laneway.

 

Matt Bladin: With the release of a few singles at the end of last year and early this year, do you think the festival crowd was more prepared for the new album’s material on this tour?

DIIV: Yes, because we’ve noticed people are starting to react in a way they haven’t before when we play new music… it’s kind of weird.

Was it strange having an album release while you were already on tour?

Yes, definitely – especially while being in Australia. It’s a weird feeling being so far away from home when it has comes out.

 

 

Do you think you’ve missed that launch party aspect to the whole process? Or has it just been such a long time coming you don’t really mind?

We probably wouldn’t have done too much anyway. We are playing a residency in L.A, San Francisco and New York so that will feel like the big release celebration once that starts.

How many shows have you got lined up there?

Three in each city… Actually, no, two in San Francisco, and then three in L.A and New York.

How do think having such a long break between records helped shaped how ‘Is The Is Are’ turned out? Did you ever stop writing?

No, I mean, we were writing all the time. We never took a hiatus, we were just touring basically non-stop the entire time. A lot of bands it seems will take about six months to make a record, but we were constantly getting offers to play shows so we just kept playing.

 

 

I heard you guys wrote something like 150 songs for this record?

Probably about 250 in the end.

How did you decide what would make the record from such a plethora of material?

We would simply send the demos to people and see what they liked. It was a pretty natural process and didn’t feel forced, so the record came together pretty organically.

Were there any themes that started to emerge as you were picking and choosing between songs that would form some of the narrative on the album?

All the themes were already there I think. The record existed, just the lyrics and everything else came after the songs were finally written.

I am basically always writing lyrics but never for specific songs. I kind of just take all the material I have and fit it to the way songs are already. So in the end all the stuff I want to say is already there – it was just about getting the actual songs for it.

 

 

You said you wanted a sense of humanity to come across on these new records. How do you think that’s been achieved?

I believe humans are flawed and I wanted the record to feel like it would be an easy thing for people to just criticize. I find it’s generally been a hard divide between amateur college journalists, who don’t really give the record time, and then the good reviews are from professional reviewers whose job it is to take some time with the record. You know, I think it’s a record that reveals itself to you. It’s supposed to be like meeting a person.

I don’t think the record is meant to be listened to all in one go – there’s a tonne to come back to. It’s a double record, and I wanted it to be something that people engage with. I wanted it to be that you have to get up and flip the record over. It’s definitely not like Oshin where only one thing washes over you; it’s something you have to engage with directly.

Do you think when you return to America and play those residency shows, the crowd will have had enough time to engage with the record?

I hope so, and that’s what’s cool about it. When we were first playing shows on the record, playing songs nobody knew, they’d still go crazy. I think now it’s a cool thing to see people starting to recognise our new stuff, more and more every show.

 

 

With such a large band, how did you all collaborate in terms of writing ‘Is The Is Are?

We’ve got a big warehouse in L.A., so it would be Bill playing the bass , Col on drums, and then we’d all just switch around and just kind of jam on the song to get the arrangements and structure. Then with the little scraps of demos I’d write what would never be an entire song, but just so we could combine parts, Col heads the writing process and then we work to put the parts together.

I wanted the record to feel like a live band in a room or studio, on tracks like ‘Dopamine’ and ‘Loose-ends’. Others just start with the rhythm section, bass and drums, and build from there. But we always had this live element we wanted.

With that recording, arrangement and structure process,  was it an easy transition to start playing on a tour straight away?

Kind of, I mean the songs are simple – there’s not many parts to them. The arrangements are based on prog rock and stuff, like a kind of repeating idea.

There’re one or two that are quite tough that we haven’t played yet like ‘Valentine’, and that’s because it’s based on a vocal loop. We recorded the whole record to a click, so live, if it requires a loop, it’s really hard to do. So we haven’t figured that out yet.

 

 

Off to Perth next on the Laneway 2016 tour. Who are you looking forward to catching?

I’m not sure! It’s a shame we’re not there very long , I’ve heard it’s cool.

… Actually, I want to swim in the Indian Ocean before I leave.

Just to tick that off the bucket list?

I’ve actually done it once but it feels like something I should do.

Wait, how many oceans are there? Four? Well then all I have to do is swim in the Arctic Ocean and I’ve done them all!

Read More
5D3_1581

01 Mar Laneway 2016 – An interview with Banoffee

 

Bringing a revised live show to the Laneway Festival, Banoffee put on a spectacle for audiences featuring a live band and dancers. The new lineup complemented her already well-established stage presence and gave the audience a chance to hear (and view) new materials off her new Do I Make You Nervous EP Despite an untimely bout of illness, her afternoon set proved to be a highlight. We managed to catch Banoffee for a chat about recent projects and what’s to come next.

Besides getting unwell, has the tour been fun?

Yeah its been really fun. I actually wasn’t sick for all the shows, apart from my home city – which is the worst one to get sick for. But I guess people here get to see me more often so its not the worst.

Have many of your friends come down?

A couple who I could score passes for but it was mostly just people to see Banoffee which is really nice. It’s a bit shit when you play a gig and its only your friends and you’re like, “Ah… it’s a sympathy audience.”

 

 

And the new EP has had a good response at the shows?

I think so. I mean it’s pretty different to the last one, so I think what’s cool is that it’s pulled in a new group of people, which is always the aim when you’re playing music – to reach new audiences. So it seems to be going alright.

So you’re ready for the next one?

Yeah pretty much!

I heard that when you took on this EP you went overseas, worked with new people and tried new things, and you said that was a risk for you. Have those risks now become how you would approach the next EP?

Totally, yeah! Exactly. Last time it felt so strange to get into a studio with strangers and find that balance of communicating your own ideas but also being open to theirs. Just that really hard situation where you want authorship over your music and to prove that I can do this on my own – but at the same time, two heads are better than one, and people will come up with some really cool stuff. So this upcoming EP, yeah, I’m looking to collaborate.

I also learnt a lot about production, and I feel more confident about doing more on my own. The most important thing with that now is that I feel more confident in communicating ideas, instead of maybe not having the authority to communicate with who I’m working with.

You can talk the language now.

Yeah, I can say “this is how I want it”, and don’t feel ashamed about asking for what I want. I’m a lot more confident in being my own boss, which is cool.

 

 

Is that development in your production skills going to shape your sound a bit more in this next project?

I think so, yeah. I still rely on vocals a lot, but yeah. Like ‘Oceans’, a track on the last EP, is an example of an area that I’ve been fiddling with a bit. I’m trying hard to not sound too pop or radio friendly. But I think the more I worry about it being radio friendly the less it might be, so I won’t be happy with the music I make anyway. So I’m ready to just go in and go “there’re no rules now!” I think second records are often bridging the gap between the first and the third.

Because when you release your first, people form a preconceived notion of how you sound? And then you go on to try and break that. Do you feel the pressure to maybe break that again?

Exactly! Yeah, I do feel that pressure. It’s interesting, I was having a conversation with another artists here, QT, and she was speaking on this exact sort of dilemma, but in terms of personality and beliefs. I think humans are really attached to certainty and need to know what’s happening next. We’re really attached to everything in life being linear, so you make a decision and you stick to it and then the decision you make after that is based on whatever you’ve done. It’s like if you stayed in a school from grade one to year twelve – everyone who’s been there from year one still sees you as that kid. I don’t want my music to be linear. So some skills I’ve learnt I might chuck, and go “I liked it when I was an amateur producer using GarageBand” – although it’s still my favorite program to use.

I hope this record comes from completely where I’m at now, and nothing to do with the last EP or the one before. Nothing linear. This is what I’m doing now as of now.

 

 

I wanted to talk to you about your collaboration with Pageant as well. For those who don’t know, how did this come about?

That came about a long time ago. Maybe two years ago. I’ve always been interested in fashion, and I’ve always wanted Banoffee to be multi-faceted and its own little world. Its own character and nothing to do with Martha, just its own thing. Part of my hope for it was that it would have a visual component; I work a lot with video and other things. So I was always looking for things that inspired me onstage, and Pageant approached me and were constantly lending me clothes, so I thought “I really want to make clothes”. I don’t know how to do that, so I approached them and they said “lets do it”.

It just made sense. What did you draw upon from ‘Banoffee’ to turn into wearable art? How do those translate?

We’ve been drawing from a lot of the motifs in the tracks. A lot of the emotion that has been put into the clothing is emotion that has been taken from a track and put in there.

It was hard at the start, like “how do we do this?” But my music is really a representation of all things I’ve experienced, so making clothing that I enjoy is always reflected in the tracks. A lot of the clothes are sort of aimed to quite gender neutral. I don’t identify too much with either gender, I like to just be able to do whatever I want and not tie myself down about the things our parents were taught about being a human. I think that comes through in the clothing, because I like to jump around a lot – it’s very practical. But it’s also just super fun and colourful, with lots of unexpected colour combinations. Really loud. A lot of the clothes were based on that song ‘I’m Not Sorry‘ from my last EP, and not apologising for wearing something ridiculous.

And does this project go back to your attitude of pushing things further and trying new things with each step along the way?

Yeah, I think it comes with the urge to completely defy embarrassment. It’s just about doing what you want and not being embarrassed about it. That’s when things don’t work, when you’re doing something and you feel ashamed. So the clothing line is about that.

And when will it be out?

Actually, in about a month, we’re premiering it at BAMF, so I.D is premiering it on their runway and it’ll be available as soon as the runway finishes online. I think it’s the 10th or 12th of March.

Thanks Martha, best of luck!

 

 

 

Read More
5D3_1662

25 Feb Laneway 2016 – An interview with FIDLAR

 

When we caught up with frontman Zac Carper at St Jerome’s Laneway Festival the other week, we were keen to discuss just how FIDLAR had gone from a group of mates wanting to play music together with the very simple ethos: ‘Fuck It Dog, Life’s a Risk’, to finding international success and playing packed-out sets. Their breakout album reflected their early attitude in much of its subject matter, and also marked the beginning of a tumultuous time for the band. With the release of their second album, we were interested to hear how they’ve grown and evolved with no compromise the quality of their music.

Matt Bladin: How has your trip to Australia been so far?

Zac Carper: It’s been really good. Australia has been a sick place for us to visit and I really enjoy it. I think all the people are on the same wavelength and it kind of reminds me of home… Somebody explained it to me the other day: they said, “People in Australia don’t live to work, they work to live” and I was like, “Yeah, that’s it man!”

Do you find as you travel around the world that you can often find a crowd for the type of sound you guys put out?

Yeah, sometimes. There’s definitely the feeling that rock and roll is universal. I think we’re bigger in the UK than we are in the States, you know; I think it’s a pretty universal language. And the stuff that we play isn’t fucking rocket science, just three chords and the truth.

 

 

Do you feel like the new album has been received well?

I think so. Kids sing along, and Triple J has supported us a bunch, so yeah, I think so.

When you guys were writing the second album, you had that big break inbetween. With every thing that was going on in your life, do you think that attributed to your growth as a writer in that period?

Well, a lot. I went to rehab and I got sober – so that’s a big shift coming from a junkie. I think that’s all in the music. It’s not about getting fucking up, it’s about being fucked up.

I guess it just got kind of boring getting fucked up. I mean, some people may beg to differ but when you’re always fucked up? That just becomes the norm that you know.

Basically, on the first record, no-one took us seriously. We were this quote unquote ‘party band’ and none of us said we were that. The first record was about getting fucked up because I had some fucking problem, so I guess it came down to the label, or the press, or whatever, deciding, “Okay, these guys sing about getting fucked up… so they’re a party band.”

…You know we’re really not, but we just went with it and people called us ‘slacker punks’ and a ‘party’, so we just said,“Whatever man”.

 

 

Have you noticed off the back of the second record when the themes changed and you had developed more that you were being ‘sold’ differently? That you guys were no longer just a “party band”?

People are taking us a little bit more seriously now. I think with this new record they’re realising these guys are an ‘actual band’, not just a bunch of stoner guys who sit on the couch. That was the turning point, and I hope they look at us differently from the first record. That first record was fucking dark dude, those songs were dark.

Do you think as you’re growing as a song writer, maturing and looking towards the next thing you start on, that it brings in other influences to your music?

Oh yeah totally. I think with the second record we started doing that. I think that now when we’re talking about the third record I’m really excited. We’ve all been listening to the Beastie Boys a lot, different kinds of music and influences. We’re really getting back to the core of what FIDLAR was about in the beginning, and it’s about doing whatever the fuck you want.

Not being tied down to those labels and genres.

That’s basically what it was. The first record they were like, “They’re a garage punk band”…“Oh, ok. Fine?” Then the second album comes out and they’re like, “Oh, they’re an indie band!” I kind of just want to keep people on their toes.

 

 

And how far into that process are you now?

The very beginning as it’s hard writing on the road. We’ve already toured a lot on this record and we’re touring more.

I’ve also been in Melbourne already for like a month producing other bands too. Dune Rats was my fifth record this year and today two records came out that I produced – a band called The Frights and a band called Swimmers. So just looking at my phone, it’s going crazy!

So it must feel familiar being back here.

Yeah, yeah exactly! I’ve been really fucking busy this year, so now I have to get back into the FIDLAR world and get my brain into that zone.

 

Read More
5D3_2124

23 Feb Laneway 2016 – An interview with Purity Ring

Purity Ring have had little time to rest in their latest visit to Australia as part of the St Jerome’s Laneway Festival. In addition to their closing sets, the duo have played at each stop to packed-out side shows around the country, including premier venues The Forum Theatre in Melbourne and the Sydney Opera House. As the festival tour draws to an end, we talk with Megan and Corin about the shows that were, and what’s to come after two massive albums.

 

 

Matt Bladin: How has the tour been going so far?

Megan: Good, really good. I didn’t know what to expect with Laneway. It’s kind of a weird festival, but with great summer camp vibes.

We’ve heard that a lot today, especially how bands get to hang out and watch each other. Who have you seen?

Corin: Today I watched HEALTH and Metz. Amazing!

Megan: They’re Canadian though… did you not know that? Have you not seen them before?

Corin: Well the only other time I’ve been able to see them was one song at another festival. But I’ve liked their music for a long time and I’ve never been able to watch a full set, so it was amazing. Caught a few other bands, and Beach have been going on before us every night so I’ve been watching them while we set up.

So you guys get to enjoy the last few songs every stop?

Megan: Yeah it’s so nice!

 

 

There’s a few Canadian bands on the line up this year. Do you find many parallels between what crowds in Australia and Canada want from a festival like Laneway?

Megan: I think there’s more of an audience for it here in Australia. There’s definitely less of an audience for Canadian bands in Canada… maybe they’re even bigger over here.

Why do you think that is?

Megan: I think Triple J mostly.

Corin: You guys are so lucky to have Triple J. Canada doesn’t have anything like it that kind of unites the country in one sort of taste.

Do you guys have college radio stations that kids can go to when they want to find new music outside of the mainstream radio stations?

Corin: Yeah, but it’s all very regional and not nationwide.

Megan: More city to city.

Corin: And also Canada, having a border with the U.S., allows so much of their culture to seep in that way. Whereas you guys are more isolated so you kind of appreciate your own more, which is nice.

Since your albums have been out for a while now, how are you finding the Laneway crowds’ reactions? Are they singing back the words etc.?

Megan: Yeah definitely, well, I guess also because this album is much more sing-able. So that helps. There’s more audience interaction, dancing and singing. The kind of key things you want! But other than that, when that doesn’t happen, it feels respectful, surreal and nice. So it’s not always in need of singing and dancing.

 

 

So when you’re on tour how do you guys go about bringing the visuals and aesthetic that comes with your shows to a stage at a festival, or even to a sideshow like the Melbourne Forum one?

Megan: There are somethings we cut, but mainly the light elements are there.

Corin: There’s a little bit more we can do at a venue like The Forum because there’s a lot more darkness. We can keep the fog in, but at a festival a lot of what we do disappears because its based around lighting affects and how we utilise it. But there’s still a lot we can do on a festival stage. We had that in mind when we developed it.

Following on from that, are these aspects of your show something you consider when writing? Or is it something that comes after?

Megan: It’s always after. We don’t really like thinking about the stage development, so we don’t do it till we have to really.

Corin: I think it’s generally a bad idea to think about how people will react in a live environment when you’re writing because then you might make a decision based on a more immediate festival reaction as opposed to making something that you care about in the moment. I guess it’s the same as making a song for radio – if you think about that you’ll make something you wouldn’t make otherwise.

You’re going to limit yourself creatively.

Megan: Yeah, exactly.

 

 

Having written two albums now as a partnership have you guys refined the process between yourselves or does it continue to evolve?

Meagan: I think we have a few different approaches we’ve gone through when writing. I think its more… it’s kind of like we have a studio and we get together when we want to work on something. That sounds like a generic way to write, but inside that process we have a lot of different ways we can work

After two albums are you still looking for new ways to do things or have you found what works?

Megan: Oh god no, I still have no idea what works!

Corin: We never want to sink into a comfortable routine. I think that’s when bands can potentially get boring.

Megan: And I think so far we’ve been pretty lucky.

Corin: I think feeling like you can always do better is an important thing, staying hungry for the next thing. And not just better but different. It’s always nice to not just come up with a formula and stick with it, but try and do something new. We can always decide to release something or not. That’s what I like about working in a studio, you can try random stuff and if it’s terrible no-one needs to hear it. You can just try something else.

 

 

Have you thought about what you’ll be doing in the near future, or will you be still just touring this album for now?

Megan: Mostly just touring.

Corin: I’ve been thinking about it a little bit, but never really plan it out…

Megan: We haven’t done anything serious yet.

Can you write on the road?

Megan: A little bit, but not together.

Corin: I write on my laptop a bit. I like to make random things from day to day, most of which never seem to get opened up again, but just sit on the computer. But now and then you get something that once you’re home you go, “Oh, that sounds cool!” and we can pull it up and maybe do something with it.

Well we look forward to hearing what comes next, and thank you so much for taking the time with us today.

 

 

Read More