Post-emo outfit Propaine: “When you start a band and put your art into the world you’re always full of self-doubt”

Original photo @meandmimicry. Handmade collage by B.

We first came across Propaine when we were in Naarm/Melbourne earlier this year, we had gone to check out Gut Health play at The Retreat, on recommendation from Bryce from Laughing Gear, and Propaine were the opener. We appreciated their rousing post-emo sound that’s coloured by a dreamy combination of post-punk and indie rock. 

Today Gimmie are giving you a sneak peek of their debut EP The First Part.

Tell us a little bit about each of you? What might people be surprised to know about you?

PROPAINE: Our four-piece ensemble consists of Jack (TK), Jack (Poggo), Angus and Mia. Mia and Poggo worked together slinging beers at the Gasometer Hotel and TK and Angus met in the dusty warehouse of a local wine store. Sharing music with each other was a big part of all our friendships before we ever thought of making songs together. When we’re not huddled up in the shed making songs, Mia manages a bar and occasionally TikToks, Angus saves the world, and the two Jack’s do Jack things. 

How did you first discover music? Why are you drawn to making your own?

P: All of us grew up in the golden age of pop punk in the early 0000’s listening to My Chemical Romance and trying to be cool. It feels like that era of music and pop culture in general is having a bit of a renaissance, which is nice to see because it brings up a lot of memories of how music slapped as a 10-year-old. In a way, we are drawing on that period, but also the period that came before it, especially the 90’s hardcore scene. We really wanted to take bits and pieces of some really great guitar sounds from the 90s punk subcultures. 

What’s Propaine’s origin story?

P: The two Jack’s used to live with one another and had been making music together on and off for a few years. Like all good origin stories, a breakup happened and some music therapy was needed. A new direction of making cathartic, romantic, emo music ensued and the two Jack’s wrote a couple of songs. We knew straight away that there was only one person who was romantic and emo enough to send the songs to and it was Angus. Angus loved the tracks and agreed to smack the toms. The three of us played around for a bit but something was missing. The songs needed an injection of life from a powerful storyteller. We already knew Mia could sing, she’d done some backing vocals on another project. So, we invited her to join, and we all immediately felt that we were all going to work really well together. 

We’re premiering your debut EP The First Part; how long did it take it write? What’s your process?

P: The EP took a couple of months to write. The process for the songs that made it on to the EP usually start with TK, our guitarist, making little scratch demos and sending it to everyone. Angus, Poggo and TK then refine it and fill out the drums and bass whilst Mia sits on floor scribbling down lines and ideas for lyrics. The songs usually take form fairly quickly. 

Photo by Jhonny Russell.

What is your EP all about? Please give us an insight into each song on The First Part:

P: With the instrumentation side of things, when we first needed to describe our music to other people, we came up with the description of the music being romantically emo. Romantic doesn’t necessarily relate to the idea of love. But the heavy burden of the romantic feeling. Romance involves deep stress and confusion, as well as intense euphoria and viscous fluctuations between feeling joyous and feeling hopeless. We wanted to make music that captures the timeless, weightless effect of going through these romantic feelings. 

MIA: Lyrically, the EP is a combination of love, addiction, relationships, confusion, maturing and trauma. I like to think of this EP as relating to people who feel as though they are lost or hurting. 

‘Rotting’ was something I wrote as more of a poem which is how a lot of my writing begins. I was in I guess my “party phase” at the time doing lots of things I shouldn’t have been. Exploring avenues and dabbling in drugs whilst looking somewhat presentable on the surface- all the while rotting where I stand. 

‘idkwiw’ I feel is the anthem for 20-somethings who just have no idea what it is in life that they want! Questions with no answers, feeling lost and unsure. Why universe why?! Kinda like a why was I born lol vibe.

‘Shin Splints’ is similar to ‘idkwiw’. Just a general feeling of hopelessness when you can’t get out of bed or shake a depressive routine. 

‘Cut My Hair’ is my silly little love song, for someone who helped me through a really rough patch in my life. Who loved me and embraced me but still acknowledged that I was a little broken and that that’s okay.

‘Devoured’ is a song I wrote about the anxiety I feel as a woman in everyday life. The constant uneasy feeling you have even when doing everyday tasks. The line “undressing me mentally, sure feels like a felony” isn’t the most poetic, but I think it really paints a picture of how horrible even a glance can make someone feel. 

What aspect did you like the most about recording the EP?

P: The best part was finally hearing the songs not in a live context. The way that a song sounds when it’s recorded versus playing it live is so stark that it’s always a real treat to hear the ‘hi-fi’ version of what you wrote for the first time. We had an amazing audio engineer working with us- Julian Cue- who has loads of experience, so he was able to really bring out the most of what is essentially one guitar, one vocal, a bass and drums. 

What was the trickiest part of recording?

P: The flipside of hearing the ‘hi-fi’ version of your songs is feeling incredibly self-conscious about your parts and trying to resist the urge to change things all the time. The music we all listen to and currently connect with has a big influence on the music we make, so trying to stay true to our initial inspiration and not just change it because we suddenly loved the new Drake album is a tricky one.

Album art by Chloe Shao.

We love the EP artwork; who did it? How do you feel it complements the EP’s songs?

P: The EP artwork was done by Chloe Shao – a digital artist from Naarm/Melbourne. Choosing the artwork for the songs was almost harder than making the songs themselves. But one day, we walked into the home of some good friends of ours and Chloe’s work was up on their wall. When we asked who it was and checked out her stuff online, we knew we had found the one. Chloe had mentioned that she created the final piece we went with when she was struggling with alcohol, feeling rotten inside. Chloe’s inspiration and process mirrored Mia’s lyrical experience, capturing the turmoil of alcohol dependency and the mental havoc of her recently having quit drinking. 

How do you hope people feel when they listen to The First Part?

P: There wasn’t a particular feeling or cultural zeitgeist we were tapping into when making The First Part. Our aim really was to make powerfully emotive songs accessible for people who don’t listen to much emo/ punk, but also putting in enough there for the nerds. We hope the collection of songs can be played driving home when you’re feeling fresh or when you’re strolling the murky foggy streets of deep winter Naarm/Melbourne.  

What’s the best and worst shows you’ve played so far? What made them so?

P: We’re looking forward to playing our worst show. 

Our best one was probably our debut show at the Old Bar with Metdog and Spunk. When you start a band and put your art into the world you’re always full of self-doubt so it was amazing to play a sold out show with a couple of incredible local bands. We also have a played a few house parties and they are always great.

What’s your favourite way to wind down after a show?

P: Pint of diet coke, no ice. 

What’s the last song that you heard that was really, really amazing, that you think we should check out?

JACK: Garage Sale – ‘Shoes On’. 

ANGUS: Duster ‘Retrograde’.

MIA: Eat Your Makeup ‘Holy Bats’. 

JACK: Nuvolascura ‘Death As A Crown’

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

PROPAINE: Yeah! We’re launching the EP this Saturday the 2nd of July at the Old Bar. We also have a track coming out on compilation album for a new Melbourne label called sore horse, which we’re super excited about. And currently busy in the works making the next ep, so if you don’t like this one then we’ll hit you with another one till you do. 

Propaine’s EP The First Part EP out June 2 – find it HERE. Follow @propaine. Watch our live vid of Propane’s ‘idkwiw’ HERE.

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