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TALKING AUTHENTICS WITH THE TWOKS

Melbourne violin-drum duo.

Photography by Beata Mazur
Answered by The Twoks’ Mark Leahy

Have there been any challenges to being limited to drums, violin and vocals? If so, how have you overcome these challenges?

It’s true — there are a few challenges. The obvious one being filling out the sound of the band, but that challenge is really an opportunity —an opportunity to be original and to embrace the weirdness and limitations that we have as this line up. There is a great freedom in limitations and together we have learned to love that.

What do you love most about the Melbourne music scene?

I love the scale and the quality of the music scene. I’m proud of the city and I’m proud of how important music is to Melbournians. There is a great gig on every night somewhere in Melbourne without question. It’s a brilliant, supportive, diverse, competitive and original music scene; I wouldn’t change a thing.

How did you two meet and what clinched the musical partnership?

We met a few years back. We were introduced by a mutual musician friend. For the most part Xani and I didn’t really mix in the same circles music wise, but she was in need of a drummer. So we met up and played some tunes in a rehearsal room. My playing was awful that first night , but I really liked the music Xani was making and the direction she wanted to take it in. Luckily she hung in there with me. I can’t speak for Xani but for me the partnership was clinched that first time I got to play with her.

You’ve expressed your love for Melbourne music venues. Is there a particular favourite in mind?

I couldn’t give a particular favourite. There are so many amazing ones: big, small and in-between. I love the Tote, Howler, the Rainbow, the Social club, Bella Union, the Espy, etc. I must also give a special mention to Bennetts Lane who were the first venue to take a punt on the Twoks and give us a gig.

You’ve expressed your struggles when it comes to recording. How did you overcome these concerns when recording your 2014 EP First Light?

Well with the recording of First Light there were two main things that helped us along. The first was that we would treat the studio as a performance space and perform as we do when we play before an audience. The second was building trust with a great producer. Tony Buchen produced First Light and it was really great. He was challenging, inspiring, whip-cracking and brilliant. But most importantly there was a great amount of trust between us.

Your live show is known to be rather impressive and engaging. What is the best advice you can offer other performers when playing live?

That’s great to hear — I hope people do feel that way about our live shows. Live shows are really important to us. My only bit of advice would be to be authentic. I think that is what audiences really crave. The truer we are to the good bits and the bad bits of The Twoks the better things go for us. That seems to work for us anyway…

You handle your own publicity and marketing. What are some of the biggest advantages and disadvantages to this D.I.Y approach?

The biggest advantage to being D.I.Y is that no-one knows you better than you do. Once you really understand your message and what you are about it’s easy to be true to who you are and spread that word. The main disadvantage is the amount of work it is. There is no shying away from that. Some days it would be great just to hand that off and get on with writing songs or something more creative. But it can’t always be that way.

How valuable is self-promotion to an artist’s career?

It is very valuable, but it is very difficult. Self-promoting is not something that comes easy to either of us in the band. But for the most part you have to back yourself and believe that you are doing something important. All the other stuff usually follows on from there.

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