Photography by Jackson Loria
You are the ex-front man of Melbourne band The Primary. What have been some of the biggest challenges of starting again as a solo project?
Apart from discovering that stage dives don’t really end well at folk gigs, I’ve actually found the process much easier and stress free than I first thought. This period has actually been one of the most creatively exciting and invigorating periods of my musical career and I’m finding myself doing things I used to do, such as immersing myself in new music, getting excited about seeing new bands and just generally enjoying the creative process behind my own music more than I have for many years. I have played solo gigs since I was 15 years old so returning to that mode of performance was a very easy thing and after a long time of not being too keen on doing them again it feels great to actually be excited about performing solo.
Your second album is set for release later this year. Explain the recording process. Is there anything you would do differently for your next release?
Probably not much to tell the truth. Laura MacFarlane is a truly amazing producer and gave me the freedom to make a record that I truly needed to make. It’s very minimal, with me on vocals, guitar and percussion and Gemma Helms on bass, but after the full arrangements on my first record this one needed to let the songs speak for themselves. I’m probably going to use a nylon string guitar to write my next album but that would be the only big change as I’m enjoying writing strange and Australiana-laden songs at the moment.
Your music is very slacker-rock come folk-pop. Do you believe there is a strong scene for this type of music in Melbourne?
Absolutely. It’s a very fruitful time for these sorts of bands and as a punter it is great to see that there is more of a tendency towards bands embracing their Australian accents and singing about uniquely Australian themes. Bands like Ocean Party, Vowel Movement, Tam Vantage, Bad Family and Ciggie Witch are my favourites in that respect.
Your music pays homage to everyday Australian icons and idiosyncrasies. How well are your colloquial lyrics received both in Melbourne and overseas?
I guess I will find out when I get to the UK but so far folks from abroad tend to look at them as a snapshot into Melbourne life which is something I’m very happy with. My number one goal with writing about these themes is for someone to look at my music as a means of taking themselves to somewhere else in the same manner that someone would listen to Gainsbourg to fantasise about Paris or Lou Reed to imagine New York. One thing that I have had to think about changing for the UK tour are my references to footy as that is the one point which overseas fans are at loggerheads about. But I’m a huge sports fan and not only support Essendon in the AFL but also Crystal Palace in English football so it’s a matter of changing a reference about Daisy Thomas to one about Denis Law which isn’t too bad.
You handle your own publicity. What are the biggest advantages and disadvantages of this DIY approach to promotion & marketing?
I get a real buzz out of it when the management side of music goes well but it’s highly stressful and one has to be very resourceful to succeed. You tend to hit many a glass ceiling but the best thing I find is just simply trying every option to achieve an outcome. I’ve been in music for seven and a half years now and many, many times I’ve had to go back to the drawing board with how I self-manage my music. The advantages are the freedom it permits but the disadvantages would definitely be how it can sometimes dominate more than the creative side of music.
You’ve been heralded as quite a charismatic front man. How fundamental do you believe stage persona is when playing both solo and in a band?
It is essential. People want entertainment when they see music so you can be the greatest muso on the planet but no one will care if you can’t pull off a genuine show. A lot of that comes with embracing what you want to convey as a performer. When I was in The Primary we played very raw and angry music so I would literally get as frustrated and angry as possible before we played a set so that I would truly feel the fury of the lyrics and music. Nowadays as a solo act I just tend to be myself. You’d be shocked how well a conversation about Crystal Palace FC and tramway classes goes down at gigs, but that is very much what I talk about in everyday life. Hell, I’ve even somehow included it in this interview (GO PALACE!).