Meet…SHONA McCOY

 

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Up and coming Melbourne rapper and pop artist Shona McCoy takes some time out to talk about her music, her love for rap and her plans for 2015.

What is it about music that you love the most?

I love how it can conjure up personal feelings in an individual. I love how it can make us dance!

Which artists dominated your playlists growing up?

Growing up my Mum listened to 50’s and 60’s Rock’n’Roll. I loved the pop music played on the radio and listened to artists such as Lauryn Hill, Usher, Beyonce, Rihanna, The Game.

Who are the biggest influences on your music today?

Today I still love pop music. I try to mould my own sound whilst keeping on top of what is being broadcast across the industry. I love to learn about new artists and how people feel about them. I also love Nicki Minaj and Azealea Banks. My family and friends are very supportive and are a great influence on my life.

Tell us a little about your style of music.

My music is mostly pop and dance with a bit of a rap/hip hop flavour blended throughout the vocals.

Tell us about the last song you wrote.

I wrote a verse for 666 Drop whilst I was sleeping. I had a pen and paper next to my bed and the next day, I completely forgot about it. I found it a few days later and sent that to my friend, Holly-J (Fox FM DJ) who started making beats for it while I continued to write.

Do you have any pre-gig rituals?

I listen to my set while I am driving around in my car so that I feel like I know it inside out. I am sure people look at me strange at the traffic lights! Before going on I just try to stay calm and take deep breaths! Not always super successful but it’s difficult to rap and sing if you run out of air!

Who would be your ideal collaborative partner?

I would love to collaborate with so many different people. Everyone has their merits. If I had to choose one today I would ask for Timbaland I think…

Where do you see yourself and your music by the end of the year?

I hope to have finished my EP and also secured a great team to work with on getting my music out there to a wider audience.

The Commonwealth Government’s Creative Industries Innovation Centre just released a study that showed that musicians are the lowest paid of all Australian creatives. How does this statement make you feel?

Like we need to start recognising our home grown talent while they’re still on our soil!

Do you think this news could potentially inhibit musicians from following their dreams?

I don’t believe that money should be a significant motivator to undertake any career. You can continue to work a ‘day job’ whilst following your dreams to a level where they support you financially.

Do you believe change rests solely on fans and listeners?

Change involves everyone. Certainly fans and listeners are a key factor however there needs to be support from all corners of the industry: radio broadcasters to producers to investors.

What has been your most memorable moment as a musician?

I did a gig down in Geelong and some girls gleefully threw Granny Panties on stage at me and my co-performer!

Let’s pretend your music is a chocolate bar. Sell it to me in a sentence.

A rich, bubbly flavour with a bouncy rush that leaves you hungry for more.

 

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20 minutes with SOUL SAFARI

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Originally published in Beat Magazine.

 

Soul Safari are a confident bunch. They’re about to release their new single The Weather and they are pretty damn proud of it. And so they should be – it’s fucking good. Boasting an impressive octet– led by the soul-drenched powerhouse vocals of Lisa Faithfull, these guys are doing everything they can to get their presence known and their music heard across Melbourne.

“It’s been a crazy week!” Taking a break from rehearsal, Faithfull and some of the boys took some time to discuss their new single and its anticipated launch party. Faithfull’s enthusiasm was tangible over the line, “We are really excited to release it. It’s been a long time coming. We’ve been recording the song since about May this year, so we’ve been in the studio, just sitting on it, waiting and waiting and waiting.” Even though the band have been playing together – not the same line-up – for five years, Soul Safari have only just found their niche and their new single The Weather personifies this re-defined sound, a sound which owes its influence to the likes of Badu, The Roots and The RH Factor.

The Weather tackles the universal struggle of balancing work and creativity, of pushing through the storm of routine in order to support creative pursuits. Faithfull elaborates, “I was sitting one night after work – cause I’d been working at a cafe at the time – and I’d worked all day and when I got home, my partner was in bed and the house was silent and I just sat there thinking ‘there’s this thing that you’re so passionate about but it’s quite a lonely thing, because when we’re creating, most of the world is asleep.’ You wonder if all the other musicians, artists and other creatives are feeling this way, you know, you work a normal job to make ends meet and then most of the money you earn from your normal job, you invest back into the passion you have. The bridge section is ‘dying to be alive’ and I sat there thinking ‘we literally kill ourselves to make ends meet.’  It’s a bit of an irony I guess, you have all these passions for something and you will kill yourself to get it, but at the end of the day you’re sitting there alone and no one may ever hear your music.”

An incredibly moving soul ballad, Faithfull is not shy in stating that it may be their best song yet. It’s honest, raw and universal; an ode to all those people who kill themselves every day to make ends meet. “We want people to connect with the song. People aren’t alone – whether you’re creatives or whether you’re someone working in a factory – you’re working your ass off and at the end of the day you get home and you’re questioning why you’re doing it. We just want people to be able to play this song and go ‘we’re not alone.’ It’s almost like an anthem for people who are trying to get by and trying to be noticed.”

In the months leading up to the release of their single, Soul Safari decided to shoot the music video in the Flinders street underpass, an event which coincidentally complemented the theme of the track. “We decided to film it there obviously because the song’s got that urban kind of feel. We also thought, ‘what better way to capture it than having business people walking past, kids on skateboards, etc.’ I’m singing like I would on stage and people didn’t even double back. I felt that everyone was going to stare and it was going to be really awkward, but it’s almost like they were so busy going about their day that even the things in front of them didn’t make them stop.

“One of the boys who did vocals in the male part of the song was dressed as a homeless person and we sat him in the spot with a sign that read WE WILL SING FOR FOOD. And the whole day, we were completely ignored, except for this one man who stopped and said to him ‘mate, I’ve got a bag of chocolate coated almonds you can have if you’re hungry’ and the guy sitting goes ‘oh nah mate, we’re filming a video, but thank you so much!’ The shoot proved to be an interesting little sociological experiment for the band and a complimentary visual for many of the ideas inherent within the song. “We wanted to capture that feeling of almost feeling senseless in the crowd,” Faithfull explains. With only one person acknowledging them, this feeling was more than manifested; as like many people out there, their art was mostly ignored and unappreciated.

On a more positive note, the upcoming single launch party is hardly something to disregard. Dominating the Espy’s Gershwin room will be Soul Safari and their stellar guests, which include funk queen Kylie Auldist, Cookin’ On 3 Burners and LABJACD, a mammoth outfit which will include 15 musicians, “a real hit you in the face set,” Faithfull enthuses.

“This one is going to be big. From start to finish we’re going to have people dancing. There’s going to be giveaways, like merchandise and promo cause we’re getting sponsored by some awesome companies. We’re going to have a walk of fame at the entrance, so when everyone comes in they can have their photos snapped and it will go up on our website. We just want everyone to leave the event going ‘Holy shit! That was the best line-up we’ve seen in Melbourne in a really long time.’ We want to show that live music and our style of music in particular in Melbourne is very much alive.”

Soul Safari are incredibly grateful to the artists joining them on stage and Faithfull is more than appreciative about this, “We feel so blessed to have them on board with us. As a band we’ve done some work with Cookin’ On 3 Burners’ drummer, Ivan. They’re awesome! I’ve done some work with Kylie through PBS. They did a Women of Soul series and I was on the line-up with Kylie. She’s someone we’ve respected for so long. Ivan gave her a call and she said she’d be happy to come along and have a sing. Having her as part of the show is such a blessing.”

Soul Safari’s humility is overwhelming and their unconditional love and belief in their music is inspiring. Their music is a movement, an image of perseverance and hope for all those artists out there struggling to share their voice.

 

Check out Melbourne’s neo-soul heavyweights SOUL SAFARI when they play the Gershwin room at the Espy on Saturday November 2. Joining them will be Kylie Auldist, Cookin’ On 3 Burners, LABJACD, plus DJ Vince Peach and DJ Mz Rizk.

TV SERIES REVIEW: DEREK (2013)

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Originally published in the AU Review.

 

In a recent photo shoot for The Hollywood Reporter, Ricky Gervais is captured flipping the bird to the camera, whilst burning money with the smoke of his cigar. Say what you will about him, but I think he’s brilliant. His aptitude in developing comic relief which showcase the raw reality of banal existence is spot on. Where shows like The Office and Idiot Abroad were particularly cringe-worthy – focusing on mockery, dehumanisation and cruelty – Derek takes Gervais out of his comfort zone and into a brand new territory: sentimentality.

Successfully re-commissioned for a second series, Derek is a dramedy set in a nursing home. Parodying the documentary form, the series explores the interrelationships between residents and workers and ultimately, their relationship with the outside world. Derek –played by Gervais – is the nicest protagonist the latter has created, the polar opposite of David Brent and Andy Millman. When you see Derek for the first time in the nursing home, you automatically shift in your seat. He is slightly simple, socially awkward, meticulous and a hunchback. Immediately you assume, ‘Fuck, now he’s making fun of autistic people?’ But no, the show isn’t about that. Derek probably is autistic (it is never discovered), but Gervais’ portrayal is so sincere and beautiful that you quickly put aside your reservations and start enjoying the show for what it is. Derek is not a comedy in the sense that Gervais’ other works were. Yes, there are a lot of funny moments, but Gervais’ objective is a lot more sincere this time round.

Derek is a worker at the nursing home, but he goes beyond his job description to help those residents that he cares about. Unlike Brent, he is selfless, kind, popular and actually funny. His favourite person is Hannah – a colleague and friend who has worked at the home for 15 years – who he says would be the beneficiary if he won “Secret Millionaire.” Along with Hannah, Derek also has two other best friends: Dougie and Kev. Dougie – played by Karl Pilkington – is the caretaker at the nursing home, a handy man who pretty much does “everything.” Although this role is pretty much an inflated version of his character in Idiot Abroad, we can’t look past Pilkington’s skill of portraying self-deprecating, cynical guys. Typecast he may be, no one does it better. David Earl plays Kev, Derek’s homeless friend who hangs around the home like a bad smell (literally), making crude innuendoes and shitting his pants. In some respects, Kev is a lot like Gareth Keenan: inappropriate, sleazy and just plain fucking weird. They are both sexual predators and they are both mocked by their friends. Unlike Gareth however, Kev is genuinely liked and looked up to by someone: Derek, however misguided it may be. Derek loves everybody and is proud of his infinite kindness “It’s more important to be kind than clever or good looking. I’m not clever or good looking, but I’m kind.” Essentially, this is what the show is about: human kindness and Derek is the incarnation of this.

Gervais’ portrayal of Derek is extremely moving. Everything about Derek is sweet. His favourite things are Hannah, YouTube, reality programmes, animals and frog sculptures. In a recent interview, Gervais stated that Derek is his favourite character. With his nervous flicking of his fringe, his big grin and his shuffled movements, you can’t stop looking at him. Particular adorable moments include the episode where Derek calls the ambulance in an attempt to save a dying bird and the pilot which shows a particular scene where he is cutting the toenails of a resident. His incessant displays of kindness and child-like naivety make it impossible for the viewer not to fall in love with him. Hannah – played by Kerry Godliman – comes close to stealing the show with her expressions and selfless nature. She loves Derek unconditionally and stands up for him when he is being picked on by outsiders. There is one particular tear-jerker of a scene where she stays up all night at the home to supervise the animals that have been brought in to pacify the residents. Like Derek, she’s a real sweetie and goes way beyond her job description to help and befriend those she cares about.

If you want to feel really good and gooey inside, watch Derek. It is hardly pretentious and there is no hidden motive. Gervais has delivered a really beautiful story in an attempt to highlight all the brilliant aspects of humility and kindness. According to Dougie, Kev and Hannah, Derek is the best person in the world, a person who “chose kindness” and who “hasn’t got a lot going on in his head, but what he has got going on is all good.” Where Gervais’ other shows made you cry from laughter, Derek makes you cry for real. It’s about a kind, innocent man who loves life. That’s all it is and its brilliant.

REVIEW SCORE: FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

60 minutes with JENNIFER KINGWELL

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Originally published in Lot’s Wife.

 

Meet Jen Kingwell. Born in Darwin, raised in Canberra and now based in Melbourne, Kingwell is gearing up for the release of her first single off her debut solo EP, The Lotus Eaters, due for release early next year. “Kissing in Tutus” is a bold declaration of resistance and love in the face of war and chaos and Kingwell is only a few weeks away from releasing it at the Empress Hotel in Fitzroy. Formerly known as one-half of the indie-cabaret sensation The Jane Austen Argument, Kingwell will be joined on the night by her new band The Garland Thugs. Sitting inside her cosy flat – complete with Film Noir artworks, scattered keyboards, an overstuffed bookcase dedicated to Jazz music and an adorable black pussycat named Maceo – Jen openly discusses her new tunes, The Jane Austen Argument, her nostalgia for Casio keyboards, her fascination with Greek mythology and her upcoming collaboration with Neil Gaiman, yes that Neil Gaiman.

It all started with a Casio keyboard, you know the one, that basic beginner’s instrument with the “cheesy backing tracks.” Laughing, Jen recalls her first instrument, the first medium that really kicked off her love for music. She even wrote her first song on it: a country love ballad. How old was she? “I was six,” she cackles. How cute. After graduating from the school of Casio, Jen went on to study classical piano, a study that evolved into the dream of wanting to play professionally. After high school, Jen was accepted into the Canberra School of Music. However, halfway through her degree, she dropped out. Her heart wasn’t in it anymore and she had lost her perseverance, “I didn’t have the disposition to stay in a music room by myself for eight hours a day, pumping out classical tunes.” She then did the polar opposite and began a degree in Electronic Music and Interactive Multimedia, where she stayed until graduation.

With a degree under her belt, Jen then took her boyfriend and bike to Central Europe, where she rode the streets, sightseeing with a delicious pastry under her arm no doubt. After doing a few odd jobs here and there, she returned to Australia, moved to Melbourne in 2006 and went back to school to study a Masters of Communication.

It was at RMIT where she met Tom Dickens, a cabaret aficionado who was in desperate need of a pianist for his upcoming show. They formed a duo and started performing under the name Tom and Jen, a temporary title that was officially replaced with The Jane Austen Argument. Did the name come to them whilst arguing about Miss. Austen perhaps? Laughing, Jen replies “I’m a huge Jane Austen fan and Tom can’t stand reading her. He is under the impression that all her novels are about doilies and balls. We needed a name and Tom came up with it I don’t know if he had been thinking about it for a while or if it just came to him – but we were at the pub and he was like ‘How about The Jane Austen Argument?’ and I was like ‘That’s a terrible idea!’ but it somehow caught on.”

A blend of cabaret and indie folk music, Tom and Jen were taken under the wing of the infamous Amanda Palmer, a kinship that led to the duo supporting Amanda on her Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under tour in 2011.

After three years together which saw the release of two EP’s and one LP Somewhere Under The Rainbow (2012) which was recorded in Seattle, Tom and Jen separated with the motivation of beginning solo careers. Will we be seeing The Jane Austen Argument again? “Absolutely! We haven’t officially stopped doing stuff.” So it’s like an indefinite hiatus? “Yep, exactly.”

In saying this, Jen emphasises the importance of moving away from the Jane Austen sound in her solo release, “I wanted to pursue something that wasn’t necessarily right for The Jane Austen Argument. I want to explore different sonic possibilities and weave in electronic elements. I want to push the limits of a three-minute pop song and I want to work with other musicians that are pushing the limits of their instruments.”

So what can we expect from the single launch with new band The Garland Thugs? Jen answers with a big smile, “Apart from the audience thinking ‘That was a fucking killer show!’ they can expect killer songs, a killer band and a really intense set with real audience connection. It’s also going to have a really lush, rich orchestral feel. Chad Blaster, my drummer, brings this real hip-hop element in, so there’s a real hard groove in there.” The band also features Jess Keeffe on electric cello and Adam Rudegeair – Jen’s partner – on bass.

The single in question, “Kissing in Tutus” is an ode to radical love in the face of revolution. Jen’s poignant lyrics focus on the powerful image of love as a tool of resistance. The words are supported by a beautiful piano composition, a string section and light percussion. An anarchist’s anthem, “Kissing in Tutus” celebrates infinite, universal emotion in a chaotic and uncertain reality. The idea came to Jen when she was recording The Jane Austen Argument’s debut LP in Seattle. “We lived in Seattle for around six weeks and it was just when the occupy wall street movement was kicking off. It was really inspiring to see this totally like, complete grass-roots swelling of resistance. I was really fascinated. The single came to me because I had the idea of this power of people who come together to resist something and want to change something rattling around in my head.” When she was at University, Jen was also a radical cheerleader for the G20 protests, another image of resistance that inspired the theme of the single. One particular image of the G20 protests stands out, “A while ago, I discovered a photo – which I haven’t been able to find since – of me and my partner at the time kissing in the street in our tutus. I just remember one of the cheerleaders saying that that was her favourite moment from the whole thing.” The beauty of “Kissing in Tutus” is further solidified by this deeply personal recollection.

While “Kissing in Tutus” sees its official launch in a couple of weeks, Jen’s debut solo LP The Lotus Eaters teases us a little more with its release date. Expected in March, maybe even early April, The Lotus Eaters takes its title from a much-loved story which Jen discovered as a child. The Lotus Eaters, a short retelling of Homer’s original story of the same name from his classic the Odyssey, tells the tale of what happens to Odysseus’ men on a small island dominated by lotus plants. These plants are narcotic and cause the men to become stoned, happily content in their apathy. By using Odysseus’ men as a metaphor, Jen’s EP is fundamentally about overcoming obstacles and temptation, avoiding indifference and lethargy and being enlightened about a specific purpose, “waking up from a dream that is keeping you down.” Funnily enough, most of the tracks off the new EP came to her in a dream, hence the essential themes of the record: Dreaming and awakening.

Before we round up our interview, Jen lets slip of a little teaser that is only mildly exciting, “One of the tracks on the EP is going to be an instrumental improvisation to a spoken word piece that I wrote and which Neil Gaiman will narrate.” Seeing as Mr. Gaiman is married to Jen’s good mate Amanda Palmer, this collaboration really doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Oh man, March/April is too far away, what a tease.

 

Jennifer Kingwell will be launching her brand new single “Kissing in Tutus” at the Evelyn Hotel on Friday October 25. Her debut EP The Lotus Eaters will be released next year. Tickets for the show are available via http://music.jenniferkingwell.net/album/kissing-in-tutus-single.

15 minutes with BEACH FOSSILS

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Originally published in Beat Magazine.

 

Nearly six months after the release of their sophomore LP Clash The Truth, Brooklyn indie outfit Beach Fossils are gearing up for a debut visit down under. I caught up with frontman Dustin Payseur to discuss his September Australian tour, Clash The Truth and the benefits of D.I.Y recording. I also got him to lift the lid on his side project, Divorce Money.

“I have no idea what day it is.” Dustin is relaxed and casual throughout the entire interview, the antithesis of how I’m feeling during my first interview for Beat. In an attempt to break the ice, I remind Dustin of that crazy video uploaded on his Facebook, the one where he is seen taking a dive at his drummer Tommy Gardner during a set at SXSW and then as a consequence, being politely escorted off stage by security. “We do that a lot,” Dustin laughs. “That guy [security guard] was actually very pissed off at me cause that wasn’t our drum set.”

This kind of stage spontaneity is a habit for Beach Fossils. “Sometimes I’ll be like ‘don’t smash your guitar, don’t smash your guitar’ and then like four seconds later I’ll be like, ‘I guess I smashed it.'”

One wonders if a similar spectacle will occur during their upcoming show at The Corner Hotel. “Don’t expect anything, we will surprise you. We feed off the energy of the audience, so you know, we have to make sure that the audience is prepared to be very energetic.”

After postponing an original trip to Australia late last year due to bad timing, Beach Fossils are extremely eager to make it up to their fans and have scheduled a trip to Melbourne and Sydney next month. Having never set foot in Australia before, Dustin’s enthusiasm is palpable over the phone. “I don’t really know what to expect. I don’t really know how much time I’m going to have there.”

Beach Fossils originally began as Dustin’s solo project in 2009. I asked him if he ever desired to sustain it as a solo idea. “It didn’t really matter, I just wanted to write the songs. If it turned into a band, then I would be happy with it. If it was a solo thing, I would be happy with it. I didn’t really think that far ahead. The reason it started as a solo project was because when I moved to New York I just didn’t know anybody. I really wanted to play in a band, so I just recorded everything myself.”

After meeting the rest of the band in various jamming sessions across New York, Beach Fossils released their debut eponymous LP in 2010. Since then, Beach Fossils has seen a multiple change in line-up, with Dustin being the only original member.

Earlier this year, Beach Fossils transcended from its original days of DIY and stepped into the studio with producer Ben Greenberg to record the sophomore LP Clash The Truth. “I love recording stuff myself. I just wanted to see what it [the studio] would be like, you know, it’s such a different experience. I liked the producer that I worked with, but I don’t really know if I like going into the studio that much. I kind of like the feeling of just doing it at home. You have more control over the sound, more control over everything.”

Beach Fossils’ debut was defined by its low-fi garage sound; minimalist atmospherics fused with subdued vocals. It was recorded in Dustin’s bedroom. When asked if Dustin recommends the DIY approach to musicians starting out, he takes his time in answering. “Yeah, maybe just at least start that way and then go from there. There’s nothing wrong with going into the studio, especially when you work with a producer that you can be friends with.”

Clash The Truth personifies the trials of human existence and the everyday inability to grasp reality. “[Clash The Truth] kind of stood for this idea of daily life, of going through the motions and accepting everything as it is and trying to make sense out of what you want to call reality and then realizing that it’s much different than you think it is. All the time, you actually have no idea what reality actually is.”

This aspect of confusion and self-doubt is personified through Dustin’s lyrics. Thematically, the first half of Clash The Truth deals with an anxious and insecure protagonist struggling to come to terms with reality. The second half, however, is dominated by acceptance and self-actualisation. The idea to construct an episodic linear structure was not a conscious decision for Dustin during production. “I didn’t really think about it on purpose, but most of the songs are about myself and my feelings and everything that I am going through. A few of the songs are about some of my friends and what they are going through. It’s about all these conflicting feelings that come from just being a human, you know, just everybody having the same feelings. You have times where you’re feeling great and confident. You also have times where you’re like ‘I have no idea what I’m doing with my life.'”

So, are there any downsides of being a musician? “I would say no. I think everybody should have some sort of creative hobby that makes them feel like there’s something beyond this experience. Something that can make you emotionally transcend everything that you are experiencing. It never ceases to be a great feeling, to know that other people are enjoying what you’re doing.”

Besides from his work with Beach Fossils, Dustin is also involved in a side project called Divorce Money. He plans to hopefully bring something out with this band sometime next year. “The guitar player just got ran over, he’s alright, but really not in shape for us yet. This summer was supposed to be my summer of playing shows with that band. It’s horribly unfortunate. We had to put that on the back wagon.”

Before concluding the interview, I asked him to describe his music as a means of selling Beach Fossils to Beat readers that are unfamiliar with his sound. “We’re like dub-step.” Really? “Oh yeah. Like a combination of Skrillex and Backstreet Boys.” Say what?

BEACH FOSSILS will grace The Corner Hotel with their spontaneity on Saturday September 21. Clash The Truth is available now through Inertia.

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.

15 minutes with LAST DINOSAURS

 

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Originally published in Lot’s Wife.

Being on the telephone with a member of Last Dinosaurs is enough to make my nerves jittery and my voice dry. However, Sam-Gethin Jones, the bass guitarist of the Brisbane indie band, is incredibly laid back, a factor which quickly puts an end to my nervous stuttering. Having just released their debut album In a Million Years, the Last Dinosaurs boys are having the time of their lives, sky rocketing to number eight on the ARIA charts and gearing up to do a UK tour at the end of the month.

In a Million Years deals with the brevity of relationships and youth. These themes were inspired by the lead singer Sean’s recent breakup, and the band’s collective interest in the idea of time and space; “The idea of time is something that fascinates all of us,” says Gethin-Jones. Influenced by the song writing skills and eclectic beats of Foals, The Strokes and Phoenix, In a Million Years blends the genres of indie rock and power pop, resulting in a variety of catchy tunes that explore universal struggles and significant everyday moments.

I was first exposed to the band at the 2010 Falls Festival and was intrigued by their name. I spent half of their performance fantasising about the origin and meaning behind it, wondering if the band had some evolutionary theory about humans and dinosaurs. However, as it turns out, Last Dinosaurs is the name of a song in Japan that has resonated deeply with the band’s drummer. Japan is an important place for the band; they recently completed a tour there, which was extra special for the band’s other three members, Sean, Lachlan and Dan, all of whom are half-Japanese.

Last Dinosaurs more recently performed at Splendour in the Grass, where they shared the stage with a number of local and international wonders including Angus Stone, Jack White and The Smashing Pumpkins. Gethin-Jones gets incredibly excited here and enthuses that “Splendour was ridiculous. The goose bumps I got when I heard the crowd’s reaction is definitely something I am never going to forget.” When asked if he had any anxieties about playing in front of over ten thousand people, Gethin-Jones confesses that he was worried that they would only be “that band” that people watch whilst waiting in line at the hot dog stand. However, “everyone knew our songs and was singing along.” Gethin-Jones describes this as the highlight of his career so far.

Last Dinosaurs also recently gave an exclusive performance with Bloc Party, which resulted in the English band trying to learn Last Dinosaurs’ Zoom on the guitar. This was a huge honour for the boys, as Bloc Party is one of their favourite bands. When asked who he would want to collaborate with, dead or alive, Gethin-Jones is quick to answer: “Andre 3000 or D’Angelo. I would love to jump on the keys and do a soul album with D’Angelo.”

With their performance at Splendour and their tours in Japan and the UK, it is clear that the profile of Last Dinosaurs is growing. The band is currently gearing up for their Satellites Tour around Australia, which is on sale now and selling fast. They have announced a second gig at the Corner Hotel in Richmond on Thursday the 25th of October.