Surrealist Pop Outfit Eggy on new album With Gusto: “We wanted to make something more cohesive and grand”

Original photo: Jamie Wdziekonski. Handmade collage by B.

Naarm/Melbourne band Eggy are back With Gusto! their sophomore full-length, and first release on Flightless. It’s full of charm and richness, brimming with interesting ideas and sounds. The band’s ever-experimental drive is strong with an accordion and school choir harmonies in the mix as the 5-piece deliver confident and self-aware songs, each with their own colour and heft.

Today Gimmie are premiering the album’s second single ‘Fill In The Blanks’ with its accompanying video, and Dom Moore, Zo Monk and Sam Lyons from Eggy tell us a little about making With Gusto.

What’s life been like lately for Eggy?

DOM: Life’s good! We just got back from a tour of the ACT and NSW with our sibling band Delivery. It was really fun. We were in Canberra a few days before the federal election and a few of us voted at old parliament house. It’s still set up how Bob Hawke had it in the ‘80s. It’s fun being able to do a few things around playing shows in other places. 

Your new album With Gusto comes out on Flightless in July; what are you most excited about in relation to your sophomore record?

DOM: For people to hear it and wonder what the hell is going on. 

What were the conversations like as you started working on new music for this album?

DOM: There was more planning for this album and how we wanted to shape it.  We got the whiteboard out at a band dinner and wrote things like go big or go home on it. We spoke a lot about intention and how we wanted to make something more cohesive and grand. 

What’s the story behind the album title?

DOM: “With Gusto” was a bit of a mantra for us when we were recording. It was kinda like that was a good take but let’s do it one more time, With Gusto. 

How did you feel making this album?

DOM: Real lucky. John was amazing to work with. He got what we were trying to do straight away. It was the funnest 8 days. He had heaps of good snacks which kept the energy high. 

What kind of shape were With Gusto’s songs in when you went into the studio with John Lee to record?

DOM: We had a pre recording meeting with John which kind of acted like a pep talk for us. We went in knowing the track order and having demoed most of the songs,  but things always change once you start. There was a lot of experimentation with different types of sounds and John really encouraged that. 

We reworked the structure of ‘A Toast To Good Health’ in the studio with John’s help. We were joking that we got whiplashed but John is a lot nicer than J.K Simmons is in that movie. I think Sam and Zoe wrote the Lyrics for ‘F.I.T.B. (with Gusto)’ the night before they had to record vocals. Nothing like a deadline! 

We’re premiering the second single ‘Fill In The Blanks’. It’s really interesting, with lots of cool sounds, ideas and experimentation; can you tell us about making it?

ZO: Thanks B!! We’d have to give a big credit to John for making it what it is. He brings the edge! I guess before that, the intention of the song was for it to be a bit more open and simple. Nice and chordy. I think it still holds that place on the album. 

Why did you decide to release this as the album’s second single?

ZO: To show people our softer side.

What kind of mood were you going for with this song?

ZO: Approachable, melancholic, triumphant! Somewhere in the space of those. 

Lyric-wise, what inspired ‘Fill In The Blanks’? What’s your favourite line of the song?

ZO: A bunch of things, but I guess mainly just trying to be a bit more sincere with what I’m saying. It’s nice to challenge yourself like that. No favourite line for me, unless I can count Sam’s percussive breathing in the background?

There’s multiple lyricists in the band, do you talk about lyrics much?

ZO: Sam and I wrote the lyrics for ‘F.I.T.B. (with Gusto)’ together, but I think that’s the first time lyric writing has been a collaboration. We’re always curious to what each other have written about though. I love getting the inside scoop. 

How many vocal takes did you do? Did you have an idea from the outset of how you wanted them to sound? Do you ever get self-conscious singing?

ZO: I can’t remember exactly how many, but probably a few haha. It takes me a bit to find the notes. I just wanted the vocals to be simple, and not try to be too clever or tricky. I would say it’s almost impossible not to feel self-conscious when you start singing in front of people, but I’m comfy with it now. It’s pretty enjoyable once you’re over the weirdness of it all. 

What’s one of the biggest changes you’ve noticed in Eggy between this record and your debut Bravo!?

SAM: I think we were always good at this, but something I personally noticed is how well we all gel musically. I think we were good at it with Bravo! but with the new one we definitely understand each other so much and what we individually want to make, as well as what we want to make as a group.

Listening back to the full album for the first time; what’s something the surprised you?

SAM: How much I enjoyed it haha! I struggled sometimes listening back to music I’ve made or been involved with, but I had so much fun listening back to this album. It also surprised me how large and professional it sounded. John really did some incredible work to get it sounding as big as we were hoping.

Have you had a chance to play any of the new songs live?

SAM: We’ve actually managed to play almost all of them besides the first and last tracks on the album live. We added in a few more for our recent tour up in NSW with our best pals Delivery, and I think they worked really well so we’re excited to add these final two. I think we’ve been subconsciously putting off figuring out how to play the last track ‘Upon Reflection’ because of how many instruments are running through it, but I’m excited to give it a crack.

What’s the rest of the year look like for Eggy?

SAM: Champagne and oysters hopefully.

We actually just met up the other day to try and write some new songs which was pretty exciting, so we will be doing that for a fair bit of the year. Plus some regional shows and a launch for With Gusto around August/September – can’t wait!

With Gusto is out July 22 on Flightless Records. Follow Eggy @eggyband

Zo Monk of Naarm/Melbourne Surrealist-Garage-Popsters Eggy: “We’re just trying to live our high art form fantasy”

Original photo: Sally Packham. Handmade collage by B.

We’re very excited that Eggy are getting set to release new album Bravo! on November 13 on Spoilsport Records! It’s been on high rotation here at Gimmie HQ since they sent us a sneak peek a few weeks back. We loved their 2019 EP Billy. Bravo! delivers more of the garage-surrealist-pop that we’ve come to love from the free form expressionists yet takes it even further with oodles of lyrical wit, charm and musical experimentation with a water cooler, glass bottles & glockenspiel! Eggy’s debut full-length is a delight. We interviewed keyboardist-bassist-vocalist, Zo Monk to get an insight into the new LP.

What inspired Eggy to first get together?

ZO MONK: Friendship and gags.

Did you initially have an idea for how you wanted to sound? What informed the creation of your surrealist-pop sound?

ZM: It was kind of a running gag at the start that we could never figure out what kind of songs we wanted to make. We weren’t sure what we were going for, but we were going for it haha. I think over time though, we’ve all developed more as songwriters and have a better grasp on how to bring things together. I think the surrealist pop sound just comes from having more confidence in what we’re doing.

What’s one of the best things you do to get your creative juices flowing when you set out to make something?

ZM: Make a big cup of coffee.

You have a new album Bravo! coming out in November; where did the album title come from?

ZM: The title is very sarcastic and I hope people don’t think we’re serious. It conjures such an exaggerated image for me of standing ovations and rose throwing. It makes me laugh with its over the topness. One time I went to the ballet and people actually shouted bravo at the end – it was a big culture shock for a girl from Dandenong. We’re just trying to live our high art form fantasy.

What intention did you have for this record going into it? Was there things you wanted to do differently from last year’s EP Billy?

ZM: When we recorded Billy, we were all so new to recording and didn’t have a great grasp on how to actually make a record. I think with Bravo! we were a bit more confident, and had a better understanding of the process itself. So there was a lot more attention to detail with the ideas, but also just a push out of the comfort zone. Taking a few more creative risks and letting that momentum drive itself.

I’ve heard that the process for writing this album was quite varied, to give us an idea of this variance and your process; could you tell us a bit about the first song that was written and the last most recent one?

ZM: ‘Another Day In Paradise’ is the last song we recorded, which we wrote all together on the last day of recording. It started with a 5 minute piano loop, and then 3 or 4 misc percussion tracks – after that everything was pretty much just done in one take. Big improv energy. HAL 9000 is one of the first songs we ever wrote, and definitely the most senior song on the record. Dom [Moore] had his guitar part and lyrics, and then we all just jammed it in rehearsals. Actually when you remove the context, they don’t sound that different haha. I guess one was being written as it was recorded, and the other jammed out over time.

I understand that on this record you were more interested in and focused on capturing the expression of an idea rather than getting it technically perfect; what were the things that helped you in doing this?

ZM: Trusting your gut. If you hear something and it sparks joy, then roll with it. 

There’s also a lot of experimentation on Bravo using things like a glockenspiel to a water cooler; how did the water cooler idea come into play? What other things did you experiment with?

ZM: The water cooler was Fabian’s idea I think! Nothing was sacred anymore. Other things we experimented with were a Space Echo, glass bottles, and sometimes too much caffeine.

Fabian Hunter recorded this album and also added additional guitar and drums; what were some of the best things working with Fabian?

ZM: He was keen to roll with whatever idea we had, always had tea and coffee, has a really cute dog, and would tell us when we weren’t quite hitting the notes haha. He’s a really kind and supportive person to work with, who makes an effort to make sure everyone in the room is comfortable. Do recommend!

What was one of the most fun moments you had while making this record?

ZM: I know it’s tragic to say, but the whole thing. Sue me.

What was the idea behind going with the minimalist, exclamation point album cover design by Ashley Goodall?

ZM: Ash is such a master. When she came up with that exclamation point design we just knew it was the one. I love that it’s all wrapped in itself, but with bold simplicity.

How has not being able to play live over the last few months due to the pandemic and lockdown affected you?

ZM: Playing live isn’t really my favourite part about being in a band or making music, so it hasn’t hit me super bad not being able to play shows. But I reallllllly miss seeing shows, and the community aspect of that. I miss cheering for my friends.

Anything else you’d like to tell us or share with us?

ZM: Gay pride! xoxo

Please check out: EGGY. EGGY on Instagram. EGGY on Facebook. Pre-order Bravo! now HERE.

Kosmetika’s Veeka Nazarova: “Every day is a challenge, trying to keep sane and at the same time trying to stay creative”

Original photo: Chelsea King. Handmade collage by B.

There’s a little mystery surrounding Melbourne-based pop band Kosmetika and Gimmie love them so much we wanted to learn more so we interviewed co-founder, Veeka Nazarova.

Veeka, you were born in born in Khabarovsk in south-eastern Russia; what was it like growing up there?

VEEKA NAZAROVA: I love my hometown! It’s was definitely a very interesting and quirky place to grow up in.  No doubt, it shaped me the way I am now and I have no regrets growing up in Khabarovsk! The ‘Far-East’ of Russia has a much tougher climate than the European side of our country and I reckon it definitely makes the Far-Eastern people stronger in some ways. When I was younger and growing up in Khabarovsk, we didn’t have much exposure to the Western world and the internet, so all the kids mainly listened to Russian or Russian-speaking bands/artists, watched Russian speaking TV-shows/films and sort of made up our own little sub-cultures! I mean… we definitely had pop punk and emo at the time [laughs]. It was a little bit of a blend, I suppose, but still predominantly Russian/Post-Soviet culture.  It’s a completely different place right now in terms of the music and arts scene, unfortunately a lot of the ‘new’ generation in Khabarovsk are too absorbed in the social media and don’t want to put much effort into creativity. A lot of cool creatives I knew at the time have left to study in big cities such as Moscow and Saint-Petersburg and now permanently live there, and I think there haven’t been many others who would follow their creative pathways in Khabarovsk. On the other hand, I’m still friends with some musicians and artists who stayed in my hometown, but there is a handful of them and they definitely don’t make living as artists.  I know it sounds grim but unfortunately in Russian culture, most of the time, you have to sacrifice your life to have a family and /or a ‘good job’ so a lot of people have given up their art/music dreams to 100% dedicate themselves to a family life or career. I really hope it can change one day.

When did you first discover music? How did you start playing music yourself?

VN: I first discovered music when I was seven. My parents brought a piano home and it was decided that I’ll be going to a special music school to learn piano, music theory and singing. It is very common in Russia for kids to go to music school, it’s a separate institution where you go after your ‘normal’ school hours. I guess I was always a musical kid singing here and there. My parents had a big music collection on CD and cassettes and that’s how I started getting into heaps of Soviet bands and weirdly enough they also had tapes of artists like Nirvana, Red Hot Chilli Peppers , Blur and Madonna and a lot of 80’s and 90’s disco music, so I was absorbing all these completely different influences [laughs].

How did Kosmetika come into being?

VN: Kosmetika is my first ever band and I always knew I will start or join one [laughs]. One day I decided to post on Facebook asking if anyone in Auckland wanted to start a group, half serious half joking, and suddenly Mikey [Ellis] responded asking me what I wanted to play. We started jamming every week and I got really into it and slowly we formed some solid ideas and Mikey recorded everything properly and mixed it all in his bedroom and vu a la the songs were ready! Then we both moved to Melbourne and asked Jake [Suriano], James [Lynch] and Dom [Moore] to join Kosmetika and have been playing together ever since!

Photo: Chelsea King.

Where did the name Kosmetika come from?

VN: The name ‘Kosmetika’ comes from one my favourite Soviet bands ’The Institution of Kosmetika-Nee Kosmetiki’, I am very inspired by this band. Also Kosmetika sounds like a cool word, sort of a mash up between ‘cosmetics’ and ‘cosmos’ …I don’t know, it is just my interpretation.

I understand your LP Pop Soap is lyrically about/themed on your experience of moving to New Zealand from Russia when you were younger; what was the catalyst for your move? Is there anything you vividly remember about your move?

VN: To be honest, I don’t think Pop Soap is about anything specifically or has a strong concept. It’s a collection of ideas. There is just one song that sort of talks about me moving to NZ but overall it highlights mine and Mikey’s experiences living in NZ and Australia and how we dealt with it. And yeah, back to your question about my moving to NZ. It was pretty hard and I couldn’t relate to a lot of things in their culture to start with, but now finally I consider it my home and miss it a lot, it’s a very precious place to me.

Another theme is of nostalgia and memories; is there anything particular that you get really nostalgic for?

VN: I can’t speak for Mikey, but as many people everywhere in the world, I get nostalgic about being a teenager or young adult and not having a lot of responsibilities. I think it’s the best time for creativity. I also get very nostalgic about 70’s and 80’s pop culture and style, it definitely has a special place in my heart, even though I can’t really explain why [laughs]. I guess it’s my ‘fake’ nostalgia.

Was there a song on Pop Soap that was particularly challenging for you to write?

VN: All the songs on our first album were written by Mikey and I, so whenever i would come up with an idea Mikey helped me to develop it further and vice versa. I guess it’s our process of writing music. I mainly have an initial melody or lyrics and Mikey just turns it into something much more solid and cooler. At the same time, heaps of the songs from Pop Soap were Mikey’s demos from ages ago, so it’s a bit of a mix. I can’t really emphasise any particular song that was hard for me to write because it’s a mutual process. I suppose the hardest part was to mix the songs that were recorded in a bedroom and Mikey did it all of it so, it was definitely hard for him in terms of a production.

I know that you had planned to release an EP of unreleased songs from your current live set; will we see it anytime soon? What inspired this idea?

VN: We have thought about releasing a small EP of the other songs but now we have a lot of ideas enough for another album or two, so we are currently deciding on what we are going to do with it [laughs]. We have recorded a bunch of songs with the band and without so just need to figure out how we would put it together, but something is definitely coming out soon so keep your eyes wide open!

Can you tell us about your favourite Kosmetika show you’ve played?

VN: My favourite Kosmetika show was probably when we played in Rebecca Allan’s kitchen at her house party. It was extremely loud and super hot but, I loved how packed the kitchen was and people going crazy trying to dance [laughs] great party!

How is not being able to play live because of the pandemic affecting both the band and yourself personally?

VN: Pandemic is very strange times for everyone for sure… At first I felt very productive and was coming up with many ideas almost every day and now since it has been dragging for so long, I have been feeling very jaded and quite frankly depressed. Every day is a challenge, trying to keep sane and at the same time trying to stay creative. It is very hard, but a lot of people are going through the same thing, so I know I’m not alone. It has definitely been super difficult to get together with the band. We had a few practices but unfortunately had to stop due to stage 4 restrictions. On the good side, Mikey and I live together and have a little studio set up in our room which is great for recording, so we are currently trying to finish off some ideas while we are in isolation.

Have you been working on anything new? Has anything been inspiring your creativity of late?

VN: As I said previously, we have been writing a lot of new music recently. I think a lot of inspo came from our imaginary worlds that we live in at the moment [laughs]. I personally have been getting inspired by a lot of 80’s Soviet music too. Being away from the Motherland makes me re-discover more things about my culture and turn it into the source for my inspiration I guess. But this is just my inspo things.

What bands/albums/songs have you been listening to lately?

VN: I have been listening to a lot of electronic 80’s music, more weird synth-y stuff [laughs]; a lot of European and Soviet music!

Outside of music what do you do?

VN: Outside of music I love to go for nature hikes, ride my bike around the city, take photos, read some old books and paint.

Please check out KOSMETIKA; on Instagram; on Facebook.