Deafheaven @ Beep Studios (3.05.14)

Never trust Google Maps.

It could lead to you wandering around for an hour in the heat, eventually abandoning all hope in technology. “Where could this place be?”, you’ll wonder. After stopping and thinking for a moment, you’ll remember that you are going to a Deafheaven show, and scan the area for black t-shirts.

Upon arrival at Beep Studios, we could sense the anticipation from the fans waiting around the courtyard; smoking on the steps, arguing over album superiority and gathering around one of the men they were all there to see. George Clarke‘s usual persona was surprisingly absent; out among the people his demeanour was the polar opposite of what we’d expect from the vocalist onstage. Polite, friendly and more than happy to stand for photo after photo with fans, he was signing anything they handed over. I instantly regretted leaving my copy of Sunbather back in Melbourne.

George eventually headed into the venue and the majority of the crowd followed, ready for their first taste of music for the night. Singapore locals Paris in the Making were up first and, with a few words from the band, they began their set. After a massive build up, the progressive hardcore group burst into a barrage of heavy hitting riffs and screams from the band’s frontman. They were tight, however their heavier moments were eclipsed by their “prettier” passages which illustrated the bands intricate instrumentals.

After the set came to a close, the fans scuttled out of the venue for another smoke and some air before the main event. “KittyWu are on a roll,” I heard someone say, and it’s true. In recent months the label/promoters have been doing everything right, bringing in Irish post-rockers And So I Watch You From Afar and Japanese math-rock girls Tricot for successful shows. Tonight was not going to be an exception.

wandered inside as the band was putting together the final touches before what was going to be a phenomenal set. The lights went down as the band (minus George) took to the stage, before bathing them in red. The band broke into ‘Dream House’ as George arrived on stage.  He commanded the stage entrancingly, and had all eyes squarely fixed on him. Part commander, part conductor, he flowed with the music, punched the air and gestured to the audience to creep forward. Once he opened his mouth, letting out a frighteningly high scream, the audience was putty in his hands.

What followed was a phenomenal assault on the senses as the band made their way through the rest of their highly acclaimed sophomore album Sunbather. It was great to see the somewhat timid crowd begin to loosen up, as they sang along to the melody of ‘Irresistible’. The band continued with extreme professionalism and energy, creating the most incredible wall of sound I have ever faced. With the band still playing, George jumped into the crowd and the devoted carried their “master”.

As George screamed the words “I am my father’s son” during ‘The Pecan Tree’, you could both hear the emotion in his voice and see it on his face. The power behind those words gave the whole audience a look inside the man in front of us. His veneer slightly cracked, and I was reminded of the guy I met outside before the show. Just a man, with incredible talent.

The room was still charged with energy when the band put down their instruments and waved thankfully to the crowd. It wasn’t the loudest cry for an encore I have ever heard, but you could tell the fans wanted more. After a quick “piss break” (in a beer can, apparently), the band returned to treat the dedicated fans to their 10-minute epic ‘Unrequited’, from their debut album Roads to Judah.

As the show came to an end, fans rushed to congratulate the band as they walked through the crowd to their dressing room. Deafheaven tore away all expectations, and hearing Sunbather in it’s entirety had left us drenched in the best way possible.

By Ale Launech

Home Club: This is the end, beautiful friend

Jim Morrison sings, “this is the end, beautiful friend” on the classic track ‘The End’, and these are the words that Home Club owner Roy Ng has left us with, following the announcement that after nearly 10 years, the venue will  be closing its Doors (ha).

The song pretty much encapsulates the whole situation perfectly, as the venue has been a labour of love right from the start, “our elaborate plans, the end“.

Arguably standing ground as one of the few and longest-standing venues in Singapore to bring live music to  us, the venue has played host to a number of our most memorable shows over the years, including controversial Canadian electronic musician Peaches, Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke, experimental glitch artist Baths, and all-round weirdo Mac DeMarco to name a few, and more recently, the Blue Hour Sessions in collaboration with longstanding local music programme Identite.

The announcement of the club’s closure however, doesn’t come as a total surprise, given that Home Club’s in-house programming has been relatively sparse in recent months (and some may even say “uninspired” for years). It’s hard to tell whether this stems from punters’ lack of interest in supporting live music, or the fact that it may just be easier to simply settle for the catering of external events — a catch-22 either way you look at it, really. External factors have surely not made it easy either, considering the difficulties we face in the current state of our music scene.

Home Club will now be transformed into yet another ’boutique’ dance spot, resulting in the blaring of overplayed drivel, muffled beats, and D-grade cover bands that can be heard on an evening stroll along Clarke Quay. Shame.

The sad reality is that we have almost come to expect these closures. The Pigeonhole on Duxton Road, despite persistent crowd-funding efforts, was forced to shut down in December 2012; just last July, probably the city’s only truly underground (i.e. perfectly scungy) bar and sometimes-venue, Night & Day, also closed its doors for good.

Most recently, Broadcast HQ in Little India was another piece to fall in this looming domino effect. Although short-lived, the venue showed great potential, however, they were never even given a chance to find their feet due to preposterous licensing restrictions — a massive hinderance to the progression of our music scene.

The closure of Home Club may leave many misty-eyed, but even more so, we are curious to see how things pan out without it: what does this loss mean in the grand scheme of things? Where do promoters put on shows? How about local bands, where do they perform?

Having said that, not all is lost.  With the opening of Pink Noize on North Bridge Road in March, and with recent renovations at BluJaz’s third floor, we see that there are still people dedicated to fighting it out.

RIP Home Club.

by Ale Launech

Keep them coming! More acts announced for Music Matters

Last week we got our first taste of who to expect at this year’s instalment of Music Matters Live with HP. Now we can confirm the second batch of artists to be added to the already globe-spanning line-up.

Singapore locals wyd:syd and sub:shaman will be joining the line-up, as well as UK alt-rockers The Boxer Rebellion. They will be joined by a whole bunch of other bands from Singapore, Japan, Korea, Canada, Australia and many more.

640x412xMML,P20Logo,P20with,P20HP,P20preferred_1.jpg.pagespeed.ic.mnKdhm8Ziq

Also announced, is the return of the festival’s country specific showcases including:
Korea’s K-Pop Night Out, Canadian Blast, The Aussie BBQ, JAPAN NIGHT, Bravo Taiwan and Singapore’s very own Made In Singapore featuring at six of the city’s finest. Sounds Australia will also be debuting Sound Gallery for the first time in Asia at Music Matters Live with HP, following success in SXSW (USA) and Canadian Music Week (Canada).

Check out the extended line-up and venue details below:

Music Matters Live with HP 2014:


Afgan (ID)
Art of Fresh (CA)*
Ash Grunwald (AUS)
Asian Chairshot (KR)*
Bamboo Star (HK)*
Bec Laughton (AUS)*
Buffalo Sunn (IR)
Bunkface (MY)
Cream (JP)*
Daybreak (KR)*
Dualist Inquiry (IN)
Dune Rats (AUS)
Empra (AUS)
Endah N Rhesa (ID)
Gareth Fernandez (SG)*
Gentle Bones (SG)
Hogan (IR)*
Jaurim (KR)*
Jeremy Neale (AUS)
JPNSGRLS (CA)*
Juveniles (FR)
KID MAC (AUS)*
Kyoto Protocol (MY)
Lim Kim (KR)*
Love X Stereo (KR)*
Lyon Apprentice (AUS)
Mad August (MY)
Mark Bonafide (SG)*
MC HotDog (TW)
Ming Bridges (SG)
Naoto Inti Rayami (JP)*
Oral Cigarettes (JP)*
Quarterback (TW)
Quest (PH)
SEYRA (SG)*
Sezairi (SG)
Shining Bird (AUS)*
Sidney York (CA)*
Slapshock (PH)
Sophie Koh (AUS)*
Stars and Rabbit (ID)
sub:shaman (SG)*
Sultan of the Disco (KR)*
Take Two (SG)*
The 13 Band (TW)
The Boxer Rebellion (UK)*
The Family Cheese (IN)*
The Love Junkies (AUS)*
The Pinholes (SG)*
The StoneWolf Band (PT)
Tired Lion (AUS)*
Trick (SG)
Tully on Tully (AUS)
wyd:syd (SG)*
Ying Hao (SG)*

(* indicates new addition)


Music Matters Live with HP festival,
Wednesday to Saturday, 21-24 May 2014 Venues:

  • Aquanova, Beer Market, China One, Crazy Elephant, Fern & Kiwi, Kuro, Paulaner, Shuffle, Fountain Stage @Clarke Quay, 3 River Valley Road, S179024
  • Switch, 73 Bras Basah Rd, NTUC Trade Union House #01-01, S 189556
  • Barber Shop, 1 Old Parliament Lane #01-03, Singapore, S 179429
  • Timbré @ Substation, 45 Armenian Street, S 179936

 

By Ale Launech

These Brittle Bones: “I don’t want to impress people”

Chris Jones, of These Brittle Bones, often has people tell him that he has an ‘old soul’. “I find it extremely annoying,” sighs the Singapore-based Welsh singer-songwriter, who began putting out records from his bedroom when he was twelve. It does seem that young musicians are frequently subject to this sort of trite remark when they display talent or depth ‘beyond their years’ – it’s practically inescapable.

It’s impressive, no doubt, that at fifteen Chris has risen to some fame within the local scene. “But I don’t want to impress people,” Chris counters, “I want people to be able to connect to my music.” The irony here is that Chris’ age helps to draw attention to his music, yet at the same time has an effect on the way his music is perceived. But he doesn’t want to be patted on the head and praised: he wants a real emotional response.

People might do better to stop reacting so effusively to Chris’ ‘precociousness’, and react instead to the actual music. Take These Brittle Bones’ latest single, ‘Hollow’, which was reworked from an earlier and less polished version. When asked what it’s about, he replies obliquely: “it’s about being in this place, and you can see something but you’re not quite able to get it, something intangible.” What Chris is hinting at is that there’s something deeper, and perhaps symbolic that lies in between the lines – it can’t quite be grasped or verbalised easily, it’s more internally felt, more visceral. “I don’t usually like to give specific meanings, I like to be quite implicit,” he adds. His lyrics are certainly ambiguous, but they are also inexplicably evocative.

For Chris, it’s important for his songs to be affective, to stir up depths, to strike a chord. “You don’t have art because it’s nice, you have art because it makes you feel something,” he states firmly. An avid reader, Chris also has a particular liking for the works of Edgar Allan Poe; whether coincidentally or not, the celebrated Romantic poet was part of a movement which emphasised the value of emotion and intuition in art.

“Sometimes when there’s another person involved, the direction can get confused.”

Three years have gone by since the release of These Brittle Bones’ debut, self-produced EP ‘Leaving the Woods’, and a lot has changed since then: the bedroom recording has been upgraded to studio production, and These Brittle Bones now play live as a band. “I’ve grown up a lot,” Chris muses, “I’ve had a lot of experiences musically, and even socially – to become a better person.” And now that Chris has ‘grown up’, he has developed a very clear idea of what he wants to achieve as a songwriter, how he wants his music to sound, rather than leave it to his producers.

“I want to have full control,” he confesses. “It’s quite selfish… But sometimes when there’s another person involved, the direction can get confused.” Chris is quick to add that “it’s not all the time I’m sure of the meaning myself – it just happens”. The idea is that in order for it to be able to ‘happen’, he needs the creative freedom to be able to explore what he wants on his own, not to always have to be accountable to his collaborators.

It’s because of this that Chris is contemplating going back to what this project originally was, going back to where it all started: self-produced, home recording. “I find that I’m a lot more creative when I’m recording in the bedroom,” he explains, “Rather than in the clinical space of the studio where there’s no windows, no daylight or anything.” But the difference is that Chris is no longer an amateur newly inducted into the world of Garageband; he’s bringing the experiences that he’s accrued in the studio and on stage back to his bedroom. Going further, he’s also planning to draw on the unique advantages of home recording, to “experiment with how you can use background noise and atmospherics to build on to the music, rather than have absolute silence”.

 “You don’t have art because it’s nice, you have art because it makes you feel something,”

It’s an exciting time for These Brittle Bones, with a new approach to production, a new release in the works – he’s even got a new piano in his bedroom. He’s come a long way since he first started out, and now is the time to take things to the next level, to push the envelope and break new ground, to “do something that I’ve never done before”. Chris’ age may disadvantage him in some ways, but ultimately, it’s because he started young that he’s been able to learn more and develop himself more fully as a musician, taking the time to figure out what he wants, and where he wants to go from here.

By Li Shuen Lam

Passport #1: Amadou and Mariam – Dimanche à Bamako

Passport is a new series on Other Sounds that scours far-away places for records of note. We start off with Amadou and Mariam’s Dimanche à Bamako from landlocked Mali, a former French colony in West Africa that since 2012 has once more been embroiled in conflict.

Malian music, like many of its African counterparts, is deeply political. Given the country’s long tradition of oral history passed down through griots, it is not hard to see why music is both a source of aesthetic pleasure and a tool of mass communication for Malians. Nowhere is this more evident than in the nationalistic desert blues of the Tuareg group Tinariwen and the charged lyrics of Mali’s hip hop scene.

Where do the soulful husband-and-wife duo of Amadou Bagayoko and Mariam Doumbia fit in this milieu, then? Many of the tracks they have recorded on earlier albums have often explored the love that they share (‘Je Pense à Toi’ and ‘Mon Amour, Ma Chérie’ are classic examples) and they have only occasionally delved into commentary on socio-economic issues (‘Pauvre Type’). The territory that this blind couple from Mali seems to be most comfortable in is mostly defined by the light-hearted and danceable.

On Dimanche à Bamako, however, Amadou and Mariam’s honest blues-inspired tunes meet the activist fusions of Franco-Iberian singer Manu Chao. Chao, who produced and performed on the album, has lent much to the energetic vibe it possesses in comparison to Amadou and Mariam’s older work. You will hear lyrics about immigration and identity, African street soundscapes and a whole variety of synth touches from sirens to simulated audience roars – these are elements Chao is well-known for.

Chao’s fingerprints thankfully complement rather than drown out Amadou and Mariam’s soul on this record. The opener ‘M’bifé’ recaps the duo’s established form with delicate strumming backed by male harmonies, while its instrumental counterpart ‘M’bifé (Balafon)’ is a frenetic track by Chao that lays the groundwork for the jumpier ‘La Réalité’ and ‘Sénégal Fast Food’. This memorable pair of tracks is steeped in a sense of duality that spans both time and place, bridging Amadou and Mariam’s music directly to the francophone African diaspora.

Dimanche does not deliver body-blows with the politics it deals with, but ‘La Paix’ and ‘Politic Amagni’ are much more direct in their messages than past attempts. Where the album really shines in making a statement comes directly from its title, translated as Sunday in Bamako, which makes for the most satisfying reading of the entire record – a cross-section of urban life in Mali’s capital, a city torn between the modern and traditional. Bamako has much to be proud of in this portrayal, and in the starkness of its present troubles, Dimanche would undoubtedly serve as a comfort.

9/10

Listen to: ‘M’bifé’, ‘La Réalité’, ‘Sénégal Fast Food’

M’bifé:
[youtube width=”457″ height=”343″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uw3cy0C4NnM[/youtube]

By Manoj Harjani

Muthafucka I’m Ill: Hip-hop as a medium for mental disorders

You all know how it’s been; Ever since Kanye “…so the world could feel his pain!” West blew up the rap scene in 2004 with his debut record The College Dropout, the conscious rap that the likes of Aceyalone, Common and Talib Kweli have been rapping over the last decade took on a whole new look, feel and level: now, not just conscious but self-conscious, much of popular rap has flipped its script and went introspective and retrospective. It’s gone from self-appraisal to self-abasement, from Diddy “Bad Boy for Life” to Drake “What Am I Doing?”.

Bar a few exceptions (e.g. Lil Wayne), even the most pompous of rappers now remember to keep their self-awareness in view – who would imagine Black Album-era Jay-Z, notwithstanding the Nirvana reference, calling himself “stupid and contagious”?

But where Kanye West has dealt with the god complex, newer off-radar rappers have taken the self-conscious rap ideology to a whole new different level, not just identifying but even embodying mental issues and disorders within their sound and image.

Driven by the near-inevitable rapper’s drug addiction, Danny Brown personifies his ailments into his music, flipping his voice from the deliriously high-pitched peak-outs to the painfully sober down-lows, as he raps between (in the former voice) literally shitting all over recording booths and (in the latter) trying to smoke his depression away. And as much as Childish Gambino may deny it, his Instagram letter antics, coupled with his Because the Internet album cover .gif, paint a picture of a comedian’s tragically ironic depression.

And they’re not even the best examples. The still-marginally-controversial Odd Future ring leader Tyler, the Creator, despite all his current wild successes and fame, started off as a spitefully maniacal teenager murderously angry at the world for… what, exactly? The answer is explicit in Tyler’s Wolf cut ‘Answer’ – his dad “not being there fire-started [Tyler’s] damn career”. Like Eminem before him, Tyler’s depression and frustration was cultivated by a troubled childhood. But much unlike Eminem, Tyler’s rage-fuelled stories delved into rape and (right after that) cannibalism.

Despite all the grotesque imagery (or because of it), misunderstood, antisocial teenagers from around the world found, perhaps, or hopefully, not relation, but understand where he’s coming from, and understand they could very well, harbouring at the deepest recesses of their fucked up minds, have such dark thoughts themselves.

[youtube width=”457″ height=”343″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aW2lDWAIcwc[/youtube]

[spacer height=”10px”]Actually, psychologically, depression tends to lead to extreme tiredness, or not wanting do anything at all just about forever. Modern hipster-hop has got that covered too, in the 16-year-old white Swedish rapper Yung Lean, who, with producers Yung Sherman and Yung Gud, form Sad Boys. They try to pit a Main Attrakionz-esque flow with cloud / trill / trap beats and end up sounding like a not-so-wild-for-the-night A$AP Rocky.

In fact, even though they usually rap about getting bitches / doing drugs, Yung Lean’s not-even-trying delivery and the accompanying clouded beats come across as more passive-aggressively… sad. Yung Lean even says it himself on ‘Lightsaber // Saviour’: “I’m on the floor crying, crying / Why do I gotta be alive / I ain’t about that life / I ain’t about that life”.

That’s not to say they’re all lame – along with their vaporwave-influenced image, Sad Boys are at the forefront of what’s cool in the post-swag landscape, the next big are-you-serious thing in rap after Das Racist’s ‘Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell’, where the medium is the message and not much else at all. And what’s the message? Beats me, but they’re definitely reflecting a group of fashionably depressed Tumblr-core hipsters who constantly nod back to their childhood with 90’s cartoon .gif’s and Windows 98 screen-savers.

[youtube width=”457″ height=”343″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stgrSjynPKs[/youtube]

[spacer height=”10px”]The most extreme and prominent example however, would be the Sacramento hip-hop (?) act Death Grips. While some claim that their brand of industrial-influenced rap has already been done by experimental hip-hoppers dälek, they miss the vital difference that really defines Death Grips, which is their schizophrenia-induced (or -inducing!) sound, cultivated mainly through, among the dissonant production, MC Ride’s mad pseudo-rap screams, which at times recall an unkempt homeless man’s incessant word salads.

In Death Grips’ lyrics (made accessible through the band’s uploading of accompanying lyrics in their YouTube video descriptions), we see lines like “Cobra spit over apocalyptic cult killer cauldron smoke”, or “World of dogs gone mad / Above the law in your ass / Fire trash meltdown I’m not here / I’m world of dogs infrared”.

Of course it could all be an act, and of course all those word mishmashes could provide some insight, but that doesn’t discount the image that Death Grips give off. It’s clearly disturbed music and a clear-cut case of mental disorders being channelled through the highly-malleable, highly-personalised medium of hip-hop.

[youtube width=”457″ height=”343″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2cQvZPX3OY[/youtube]

[spacer height=”10px”]Rap has always been the message of the masses, reflecting the social attitudes of the people themselves. So when personal issues become bigger, more worldly relatable problems than the political conflicts of Public Enemy or the oppressed rage of N.W.A., what more mental issues and debilitating sensations could we see becoming more prominent in the field? ADHD? Nausea? Insomnia? Or even, allegedly, Asperger’s syndrome?

Whatever way it is, these examples are evidence that hip-hop continues to evolve, even more so than other genres, into not just different sounds, but different psychological states of mind. That’s probably what makes hip-hop what it is today – relatable on all fronts, or, in Yung Lean’s words: “so real you can call me reality” – or perhaps, has it always been that way and not just today? Check out this list of rappers with mental disorders. Or this Wikipedia article on how mental disorders can lead to creativity. Even Lil Wayne insists, “Muthafucka I’m ill”. And in spite of the connotations of their lingo, maybe they all are indeed.

By BJ Lim

Music Matters Live with HP announce globe-spanning line-up

Music Matters Live with HP have announced their line-up for this year’s festival, which features a roster of artists from around the world.

The festival will run from 21-24 May and will feature a heap of showcases over the four days. In its fourth year, Music Matters Live with HP has become one of the highlights of Singapore’s music calendar, as one of the largest music festivals in the region.

With the addition of an extra night, we can see the festival slowly but surely expanding.

The promoters have stated that this year’s festival takes “a giant step upwards”. With the announcement of more bands and venues, they’ll be flying their “super-music-discovery flag even higher”.

Festival-goers will be able to catch the acts more than once over the four nights at different outdoor and indoor venues.

Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 5.51.41 PM

The bands playing include Other Sounds favourites Dune Rats, French synth-pop band Juveniles, Australian lo-fi musician Jeremy Neale, Melbourne indie-pop darlings Tully on Tully, and Singapore local chart-topper Gentle Bones, plus many more.

Check out the full list of artists below:

Music Matters Live with HP 2014:


Afgan (ID)
Ash Grunwald (AUS)
Buffalo Sunn (IR)
Bunkface (MY)
Dualist Inquiry (IN)
Dune Rats (AUS)
Empra (AUS)
Endah N Rhesa (ID)
Gentle Bones (SG)
Jeremy Neale (AUS)
Juveniles (FR)
Kyoto Protocol (MY)
Lyon Apprentice (AUS)
Mad August (MY)
MC HotDog (TW)
Ming Bridges (SG)
Quarterback (TW)
Quest (PH)
Sezairi (SG)
Slapshock (PH)
Stars and Rabbit (ID)
The 13 Band (TW)
The StoneWolf Band (PT)
Trick (SG)
Tully on Tully (AUS)

Music Matters Live with HP 2014
21-24 May 2014
Clarke Quay (various venues TBA)

By Ale Launech

Re-united Slowdive announces first ever Singapore show

Just months after bringing in genre leaders Foals and Explosions in the Sky, Symmetry Entertainment has announced its latest show – Slowdive, live at *SCAPE, The Ground Theatre, on 31 July 2014.

Slowdive, the acclaimed band behind the immaculately paced, fuzzy tremolo-infused pop sound of the early ‘90s, has reformed with the full line-up from its Souvlaki days. Twenty years after releasing Pygmalion, the band has resumed “making some noise back in Reading together.” And with its somewhat small but fervent population of shoegaze devotees that have attracted the likes of Yo La Tengo and Deafheaven (playing here in May), Singapore seems a more than befitting stop in Southeast Asia.

[youtube width=”450″ height=”340″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMrOtuJMv4A[/youtube]
Peculiarly, or coincidental as it may be, Slowdive’s reunion materialises at a time when several of their ‘90s peers have staged returns to music making. Will they follow the lead of Neutral Milk Hotel and bank on worn classics? (Not that anyone attending the upcoming gigs will mind.) Or will the band step into the spotlight again with an impeccable new record à la My Bloody Valentine? Only time will tell, but all fingers will be crossed for a release bearing the aesthetic and mythological mantle Pygmalion shares with the similarly named George Bernard Shaw play.

Another interesting question that arises is whether Slowdive’s new shows would inadvertently draw those who link them to their ‘cool’ ‘90s contemporaries. ‘90s dream pop bands, even those at the denser end of spectrum, have seen their sepia icons splashed across way too many blogs parading hazy lyrics, amalgamating any band with the slightest hint of daydream guitar. There is, however, no reason to be all that pessimistic. After all, modern communication enabled a good number of fans to find Slowdive long after its 1994 closing act.

There will be expectations to realise and Slowdive has much to catch up on with its members rejoining from their various diverse projects. The band, though, has a solid catalogue of articulate pieces of music that will certainly be a pleasing and cathartic return to. Surely they won’t go wrong playing those.

Slowdive
*SCAPE, The Ground Theatre
Thursday, 31 July
8pm
$75 (early bird), $90 (standard), $100 (at the door)
Tickets available 16 April at EventClique.

By Edward Eng

Saskwatch rise up with new album ‘Nose Dive’

On the eve of dropping their new album Nose Dive, Saskwatch member Liam McGorry caught up with Other Sounds to chat about how nine kids went from busking on city corners to sharing an arena with the Rolling Stones.

The past two years since releasing their debut Leave It All Behind have been fuelled by ambition and filled with endless nights of writing and performing. After scorching stages across Australia, the UK and Europe — Nose Dive has proven that the hard work has paid off.

OS: There are nine of you – so the obvious place to start is: how did you all find each other and get together?
L: Most of us met studying music at uni. We used to busk for change outside Flinders St Station in the city once a week on a Friday.

The soul attitude of your music seems to pay homage to the swing and RnB originals. You have managed to give the spirit of the greats an upgrade into the 21st century. How do you manage to entangle these worlds?
I think personally just growing up Melbourne in the mid 2000s and going to see gigs, there were a lot of great ‘soul’-inspired bands. Seeing bands like The Bamboos, The Cat Empire and Dynamo were great because they fused soul with rock ‘n’ roll, blues, funk and many other types of music.

“… There’s been a definite choice to try and write better songs and for it to be really not just a bunch of songs but an album as a whole.”

There seems to be a soul revival in the works on an international scale. Who inspires you?
Daptone Records, Lee Fields, Primal Scream. These days, hearing bands like Alabama Shakes, Dr Dog, The Black Keys, Arctic Monkeys all play soul in their own way is really great. I guess we just listen to lots of music.

The new album is launching today. You have given us a taste by releasing the new single, ‘Born To Break Your Heart.’ The single seems a bit more reserved compared to the previous collection of songs on ‘Leave it All Behind’ which you released in 2012. What can we expect from the album?
I think the album is a bit more well-rounded this time. There’s a bit more light and shade, and a bit more range in terms of emotion, dynamics and sound. I think it takes on some new influences from the bands above, and there’s been a definite choice to try and write better songs and for it to be really not just a bunch of songs but an album as a whole.

[youtube width=”450″ height=”340″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSGlfcP6A2Y[/youtube]

As a collective, you have brought together an eclectic style. Since you have been working together for four years now, have each of you acquired a role in the group?
I think over time, just working together, everyone really has acquired their own role. One person looks after the merchandise, writes songs, organises everyone, brings up a idea about live set… It’s just happened pretty organically, really!

Do you think that Nose Dive reflects the always-evolving maturity of the group?
I think it is something we’re all really proud of, to be honest. I think our main goal really was to just try and make a better album than the last.

Your live shows have been described as “electrifying.” The energy and vibe of the show is always high – how does this translate from the writing and recording process you go through? Are your live shows a reflection of the creative process?
I guess it is pretty similar to shows because most of the time we record live. There will always be little issues that we’ll go back and work on pretty thoroughly, in the rehearsal room and the studio. But I guess the only time it’s different is just the writing itself.

You have quickly become an international name and have graced stages from Meredith and Falls Festival in Australia to BlackisBack in Europe — not to mention Glastonbury, arguably the most recognised festival in the world. What was the highlight of these amazing globe-trotting tours?
There have been many; personally, Meredith for sure. BlackisBack was definitely one as well. To be honest, it’s probably Glastonbury. Its scale is just ridiculous and it was just an incredible experience.

One of our shows there, we started playing on a very small stage halfway through the [Rolling] Stones’ set. We would finish a song and hear the intro to ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ in the distance. It was surreal… and when they finished, we had about 5,000 walk past and stop and watch us. It was amazing.

“… It is also great to come crashing down back to reality with a 6.00am flight home after playing in Perth and go straight to work.”

With such a massive year behind you and the ‘Nose Dive’ tour approaching, how do you all keep your cool during down-time?
I just think we’re all very lucky to have done half of this stuff. But it is also great to come crashing down back to reality with a 6:00am flight home after playing in Perth and go straight to work.

You had your breakout residency at the iconic Cherry Bar in Melbourne. With great venues like The Empress and The Great Britain closing down – and organisations like SLAM (Save Live Music Australia) trying to save them, what do you think the future holds for indie bands in Melbourne?
Obviously more has to be done to save these great venues. At the same time, the future is still bright with new ones like Boney and Shebeen opening up as well. I think Melbourne has such a great musical culture it will be fine. The people can’t do without music.

Looking toward the rest of the year – what does 2014 have in store for Saskwatch?
We’ll be touring Nose Dive a little later in the year around Australia and hopefully getting back overseas as well. And working on the next album too.

By Lucy McPherson

Order ‘Nose Dive’, the new album from Saskwatch, here.

The Cairos return to Asia

Brisbane boys The Cairos will once again be gracing the shores of Singapore when they play Home Club this May as the first stop of their six-date tour of Asia.

The Cairos

The last time the band were in the region, they were set to play CAMA Festival in Hanoi back in 2013. And athough the festival was cancelled, they still made their way over and played alongside Singapore’s own The Pinholes.

Now, not so long after playing the same venue back in October last year, the boys have decided to return, this time with an upcoming new album to showcase.

Dream of Reason features the band’s airy new track ‘Desire’ and last year’s saccharine, laced single ‘Obsession’.

[youtube width=”460″ height=”345″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAsjO3UIUsY[/youtube]

The band has really been putting in the hard-yards as of late and are touring extensively throughout Australia and Asia in the coming months, including dates in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City. 

Vocalist Alistar Richardson doesn’t like sitting still, and says that a few weeks after a tour, the band “start getting that niggle [to tour again] and just want to jump in the car and go for a drive.”

It’s good to see bands like this returning to play in the region so quickly. Let’s keep building this culture and seeing bands come back time and time again. Definitely get out and see the lads when they tour in a city near you!

The Cairos ‘Good Days‘ Asia tour

7/5 Singapore – Home Club
9/5 Hong Kong (Kowloon) – Hidden Agenda
10/5 Hong Kong – HK Brew House
15/5 Shanghai – Yuyintang
16/5 Bangkok – Cosmic Cafe
17/5 Ho Chi Minh City – Cargo Bar

By Ale Launech