15 minutes with OWL EYES

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Originally published in Lot’s Wife

An adorer of synthesisers, 22-year-old Brooke Addamo, aka Owl Eyes has taken on the musical style of indie pop and made it her own. Like her stage name suggests, Owl Eyes describes her music as simultaneously encompassing both light and dark shades, acknowledging the tranquil and paradoxically, sinister nature of owls, stating that her sound is essentially “pop, but with some mysteriousness behind it.” This “mysteriousness” is found in her juxtaposition of acoustics and electronic instrumentation, heard through the incorporation of synths and an interplay of both acoustic drums and drum machines. A thickly layered record, her debut album Nightswim was released on April 19 and will be supported by a series of headline tours throughout Australia, commencing in early May.

Five years after being a finalist on Australian Idol, Brooke Addamo has released a total of four records, including her 2012 EP Crystallised and most recently, her debut album Nightswim. Throughout her musical career as Owl Eyes, Brooke has been featured twice in Triple J’s Hottest 100 and has worked closely alongside ARIA award winning producer Styalz Fuego. When interviewed, Brooke is humble and sweet, enthusing that she is “still pretty much the same person” she always was. Growing up, it was Stevie Nicks and Ella Fitzgerald that were the catalysts for Brooke’s aspirations. She was 12 when she started singing and 15 when she wrote her first song. Her debut album Nightswim is Brooke’s “coming of age record, a document of where I am at currently.” Nightswim explores youth, yearning, self-realisation and development, universal themes that are addressed through raw vocals and edgy instrumentals. Her music has been labelled by critics as synth-pop, indie-pop, indie-rock, dream-pop and most appropriately indietronica, a sub-genre encompassing both indie pop and electronica. Subjectively, Brooke concurs with each of these definitions, hoping that her pop music also “holds some intelligence behind it.” This intelligence is manifested through the multi-layered production of her record. With various experimentations in 80s synth-pop, post-dubstep and acoustic balladry, Brooke is diversifying her sound. Somewhere between Grimes and Bat for Lashes, Brooke’s vocals are raw, dreamy and melodic. Her voice is soothing, a quality that she makes interesting by adding darker elements of electronica. While she courts her listeners with blissful harmonies and sweet and simple lyricism, her instrumentals heighten and bring dynamic to her record. The man responsible for this solid production is Styalz Fuego, winner of last year’s ARIA award for “Producer of the Year.” Acknowledged by Brooke as her “big mentor,” Styalz has made a prominent impact on the young singer-songwriter. Brooke also pinpoints various other influences on her record, including UK beat makers Jamie xx, SBTRKT and Mount Kimbie, each of whom features in Brooke’s collaboration fantasies. When asked which song off Nightswim resonates most deeply with her, Brooke is quick to answer “Saltwater.” She finds it the most honest and sincere of all her tracks, adding excitedly that she adores the “synth-breakdown” that comes at the conclusion of the song. When describing her most memorable experiences as an artist, Brooke enthuses that she loves nothing more than hearing her music out in the world, especially when people sing it back to her. She has plans to take her music overseas by the end of the year, highlighting the US as a desirable destination for the writing process of her next potential EP. She is currently in the midst of her Australian Nightswim tour and will be concluding this with a show at the Corner Hotel in Melbourne on June 1.

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