Original photo by James Caswell. Handmade mixed-media collage by B.
Dynamic Meanjin/Brisbane based pop duo Doggie Heaven pull from well-worn paths of new wave and post-punk to create a freshness with their expressive and magnetic sound. There’s twinkling magic offset by emotional lyrics with bite on latest release double single Berghain / Haircut. We’re premiering song ‘Haircut’ today. Gimmie caught up with vocalist Isobel and multi-Instrumentalist, producer Kyle.
How did you both first meet?
KYLE: We met back in early 2020, at a call centre we both worked at. We were both stationed in different sections of the office, so we didn’t actually interact with one another properly until we bumped into one each other at rave one time.
Did you grow up in a creative family?
ISOBEL: Not particularly, although I definitely have a lot of music enthusiasts/snobs in my family. Growing up, my mum, uncle and I would have discos in my living room with blankets covering the windows listening to weird electronic music. Mum is mental for Bjork. My Granddad is super into his rock and jazz so I spent a lot of time listening to records with him from a young age. I was basically not allowed to listen to pop, which is ironic because I love cheesy pop music now.
K: No, not at all, although my grandad was a professional jazz musician. I think he even released a few albums, though, I’ve never been close with him/ had much to do with him.
Is Doggie Heaven the first band/musical project you’ve been a part of?
K: yeah pretty much, but I’ve been producing music alone for years without ever releasing it.
I: I was in a punk band a few years ago that never really amounted to anything unfortunately. I never imagined myself making music until that point because I was basically just a huge drama kid who loved to write and perform and didn’t (and still don’t) know how to play any instruments.
What made you want to make music with each other?
I: Kyle and I instantly bonded over our love of New Wave music from the 80s and I think we just balance each other out really well in terms of our creative approaches and skill sets. Kyle is incredibly good at all the things I have no idea how to do. Without him, I would probably just be doing terrible stand-up comedy or something.
K: Yeah, I think me and Izzy clicked pretty quickly over our shared taste in music. Even beyond the new wave and 80s stuff; we both listen too many styles and genres and are always sharing new discoveries with one another. Aside from that, after meeting Isobel I very quickly learned how fun and unique she was. I remember her telling me she could sing early on, but even before we’d ever sat down to jam or whatever I knew there was something special about her; and then yeah, shit just kinda worked/clicked immediately.
Doggie Heaven’s name is a Simpsons reference; do you have a favourite character or episode?
K: Yes it is, haha. I love the Simpsons so much. I was raised on that shit. Tough question, I couldn’t tell you what my favourite episode is, but my favourite character is Mr. Burns.
I: There are too many brilliant episodes… but I definitely always go back to the episode where they go to New York. Mr Burns is for sure the best character, but also Marge is so hot and I love her sexy voice.
We’re premiering song ‘Haircut’; what inspired it lyrically and musically?
I: ‘Haircut’ is the tortured tale of having a crush on someone when you have an anxious-preoccupied attachment style. You just want to feel butterflies and excitement, but it’s clouded by an overwhelming feeling of stress. Having said that, this is undoubtedly a bop that you can dance that pain away to.
K: I did the instrumental for haircut around this time last year. I wasn’t really sure what our sound was supposed to be yet, (and we’re still figuring that out!) But I remember I was defs inspired and listening to a lot of 80s pop and new wave tracks (which you will still find me doing regularly). Think Madonna, Tears For Fears and New Order etc.
‘Haircut’ along with song ‘Berghain’ is out as a double single 7” on Colossus Records; what can you tell us about the cover art image?
I: So that’s a photo of me when I was around 6 years old dressed as Cruella Deville from 101 Dalmations. We thought it was very fitting for our band name. Photo credit to my Grandma, Margaret.
You’re launching your release soon; how do you feel when performing? What was the best or worst show you’ve ever played and what made it so?
K: I used to be a little nervous at first, but now I really enjoy getting into it and try to put on a show. The way I write/record music is maybe a little less traditional than your typical band, I kinda just sit down and record every individual part, layering everything as I go. And there’s also no real limitations when you’re in a studio environment, I can sit down and just do a hundred takes on a part to get it right if I have to. So it can get kinda tricky when It comes time to translate it all to our live show, especially when the part I’ve written is outta my reach skill-wise. I think I learned pretty quickly that I’m not at all the musician I thought I was in terms of discipline after performing regularly. Huge wake-up call there.
Hard to pick a best or worst show; a bad show can be a fun show and a good show can be a stressful one. It’s what you make of it really, and I’m just happy to be here. I think they’re all great.
I: I’ve been performing basically my whole life so as cringe as this sounds, I think I feel a lot more comfortable on stage than I do off it. I would definitely agree with Kyle in that a bad show is kind of fun and hilarious. There has been a couple of times that we’ve played in front of like 5 people and we really just let loose and had a laugh. Obviously it’s just such a beautiful feeling to perform for a full house who are dancing and know some of the words though.
Photo: Jhonny Russell.
What excites you the most about music at the moment? What have you been listening to lately?
I: I’m loving discovering local music at the moment. There’s nothing like turning up to a show and not knowing what to expect then being blown away! Some local acts that I’m obsessed with would be Square, Scraps, Verity Whisper, Guppy and Naaki Soul.
K: I just loving writing new music. It’s so fun and fulfilling. It never gets old. I’ve been super into Show Me The Body’s new album, Alex G’s new one and also Dry Cleaning’s!
What’s your most precious possession?
K: I would say my cat but he isn’t exactly classed as a “possession” lol. Probably my bed or something. Idk. I really love sleeping. I would sleep more if I could.
I: I have this Teletubby toy that is the most munted thing you’ve ever seen in your life. She’s been mauled by a dog and out clubbing to the valley a few times but still going strong.
What’re you looking forward to and what’s in the works for Doggie Heaven in 2023?
I: Super keen to get an EP out soon. Our sound is already developing a lot and we can’t wait to show you how much it’s grown!
K: Looking forward to taking our live show interstate and maybe overseas. The Doggie Heaven EP is half done, aiming for a late summer – early autumn release!
Doggie Heaven launch their double single tonight (Friday Nov 18) at The Bearded Lady in Meanjin.