A.C.T’s Noise Rockers Agency: “We started off as a dad’s band”

Handmade collage by B.

Agency’s new post-punk, post-hardcore, noise rock record is both vulnerable and staunch, there’s chaos yet a cohesive groove that drives the album along. Pretty guitars and melancholy melodies seep into the psyche, leaving it imprinted on your mind for days. We interviewed Sia and Tom from Agency to talk about their latest, Wild Possession. The album’s cover designer Adam J Bragg also gives us an insight into the art.

How’s your day been and what have you been up to?

SIA AHMAD (guitars-vocals-etc):Busy looking after my two young kids during the holidays at the moment while working from home, it’s been a juggling act I was never prepared for so learning on the job as they say.

LUKE ROBERT (bass-vocals): It’s school holidays here in the A.C.T, I’m fortunate to be able to work remotely, so I’m balancing work with building  couch forts – this morning the fort morphed into a submarine and we were attacked by a colossal squid.

We love Agency’s style of noise rock; what are some things that have helped shape your sound?

SA: Lucky for me, I got to see Hew and Luke play in their previous bands (A Drone Coda and Hoodlum Shouts respectively) a lot, even work with them when I was doing the hellosQuare label so I always respected them and loved their musicality.

I didn’t really ever play in a ‘rock’ band until Agency so the bond was really over ‘90s indie and math rock beforehand and then showed each other our other interests that lead us to fill the gaps in each other’s styles to end up where we have. I see us as a venn diagram of influence and aesthetics that make up our mess of sound.

LR: I’d say from the start we tried to not to smother the personality of each member’s playing. We had an inkling that our individual styles of playing would complement each other – it’s turned out to be the case. Songs develop fairly quickly as a result.

Agency have come back from a few years of inactivity; what was everyone doing in this period?

SA: We all seemed to be busy with our own personal stuff over the last few years – be it familial, work etc. In my case, I was juggling family time with the whole “quiver” journey for a long while. This also coincided with my last couple of years in the band Tangents, which was also full on with releases and touring.

LR:It was clear as soon as we heard her demos that Sia’s solo record was going to be special and a journey in personal growth. Both Hew and I wanted to respect that and give Sia room to explore her solo record and see where it took her. There was that and the Spinal Tap drummer situation.

The EP Wild Possession was recorded three years ago; why did it take so long to come out?

SA: Time kinda just flew by and with us maybe prioritising other things in our lives, we parked it on ice but always in the back of our minds until the time was right.

LR:It doesn’t feel like three years to be honest. The recordings sounded great to us and I don’t think we ever thought that we wouldn’t release them. Initially we thought we might record another session and then have a full length but time got away from us and it made sense to release the songs as a document of where the band was at, at that time.

What brought you all back together to release the record? Why is now the time to release it?

SA: We parted ways with our first drummer at the end of 2016 and then we worked with Hayden Fritzlaff from Moaning Lisa for 2017 – including recording Wild Possession – but then he moved on so we didn’t even have a drummer, let alone think about doing something else.

As Luke says, we didn’t stop thinking about the recordings so as we slowly got back moving on the shows front (with New Age Group’s Peter Krbavac on the drum stool), we started thinking that we should wrap it up with Jonathan Boulet and do something with them.

We’re all generally active with our politics and want for social justice so the real impetus to finalise a release ended up being that we could use these recordings as a fundraising exercise and talk about the causes we believe in.

LR:Like most, every band I’ve played in has been a collective, bigger than the sum of its parts type deal. An extension of that notion is using the platform no matter how big or small the scale to contribute to causes the collective believe in. I don’t take for granted being able to contribute in this way – a privilege awarded to musicians who, in our world anyway, aren’t looking to benefit or to pursue monetary rewards.

Do you have a different relationship to the songs now than when you wrote and recorded them years ago?

SA: I had to relearn so much when we played our first show in years in 2019, it’s pretty embarrassing to write a song and then forget about it so easily but I think it’s great that the songs still have the energy and power for us as when we were first played them out. It’s a shame that lyrically, so much of the things sung resonate a little too clearly with the current climate.

LR:Before recording we’d just finished a run of shows and were probably the tightest we ever have been. Listening to the songs now reminds me of a time when the band was clicking – that we could get the band to a level we were all stoked on feels like an accomplishment.

What’s the significance of the EP’s title Wild Possession?

LR: I liked the turn of phrase, the metaphor. Life is a number of wild possessions. It’s up to you to negotiate each possession however you see fit. There’s no right or wrong way but most people do so within a construct set of or sets of societal values. I like to find the humour, happy accidents, the absurdities in those constructs. By zeroing in on these things in each wild possession of life is a way of turning a potential cynical outlook on life into a positive one.

We love the EP cover by Canberra artist Adam J Bragg! I know Sia and Adam have collaborated on various projects for over a decade or more. Where was the EP cover photo taken? What emotion do you feel it conveys?

ADAM J BRAGG (artwork/design): The photo was taken sometime in 2012 on my parents old 35mm ricoh camera. My partner and I went out to visit a winery, Brindabella Hills, North West of Canberra. It’s directly west of Hall so the photo was taken around there.

It was taken out the car window. I have a bunch of photos of the landscape. I don’t think there was any thought put into it. I remember always loading up 400 iso film and taking photos on sunny days to get that blown out look.

When it came time to do the Wild Possession cover I really wanted to do something different, I haven’t painted in a while and nothing felt interesting. I was playing with some old paintings and it just wasn’t clicking.

A band called Regional Justice Center just put out a 7″ with a cover that was a homage to a No Comment cover and I thought it was a cool nod, especially for a smaller release.

I was listening to a ton of Lungfish at the time and knew that they are a big influence for Luke, so pitched him the idea of doing a homage to Walking Songs for Talking with an Aussie looking vibe. He texted back and said he actually kept having a dream that Agency was playing Friend to Friend in Endtime, a song from Walking Songs for Talking.

That was it, we couldn’t not do it after that point. Like, he independently had a dream about a song off an album, that I decided to rip… how does that even happen?

SA: Adam’s actually known Luke for longer than I’ve known both of them, Adam and I met when he cold called me to do some design work for hellosQuare and we hit it off to start the partnership. I 100% trust him when it comes to visual aesthetic and he nails it every time!

We placed that trust in Adam to listen and respond with the cover and while we certainly didn’t think of ‘rural punk’ when we thought of the music, I couldn’t stop thinking how much sense that phrase made to me when he showed us the cover.

I think people don’t want to acknowledge us here in Ngunnawal Country as both city or regional folk, we’re the outsiders in between and the hazy blur of the image suits that thinking too, musical outsiders.

The EP was recorded by Jonathan Boulet; tell us about working with him? What did you learn?

SA: We met Boulet when Party Dozen did an early show with Agency in 2015 or 2016 and we got along really well. I loved the music he had made and that he had both a good hi-fi aesthetic when it came to recording along with a compatible DIY ethic too. He understood what we were about, was a great listener and very giving during the process (I mean, REALLY GIVING since we were dragging our heels to finish things off!) so just working through recording without having to monitor anything and concentrate on playing was great. We did everything mostly live but he got us so tight during the recording session, more so than we’d even been I think.

What’s each of your favourite track on the record; what’s it about? What do you appreciate about it?

SA: Buffaloes could be the most ambitious thing we’ve done. Luke’s initial words, my response and then getting Hew to do the lead vocal threw ego straight into the bin and then the music came together in parts but really quickly too. We joke about Creative Adult just wanting to sound like Oasis but I think the second half of Buffaloes is us channelling our garage-y psych-pop secrets too. Personally, I had a sore throat for the recording session so I sung on the end section of Buffaloes and went super low comfortable (imagine in between Barry White and Ian Curtis). The others and Jono thought it was great but I’d say it probably took me the best part of the last three years to be comfortable without and use it to completely strip out those perceptions of the gendered voice within myself too – another journey among the others.

What was the thought behind getting Tom Lyngcoln from Harmony and The Nation Blue to deliver a monologue on track “Sensitive”?

SA:If I recall right, I had a grand idea of doing a pair of tracks that complement one another so Sensitive was supposed to be the twin of Senseless but in reality, I manipulated the music out of a Hew outtake from a longer jammed out version of Senseless and then sat on a longer version for a while. I wrote the monologue separately but it seemed to make sense over Sensitive. I wanted my voice out of the mix. Not sure why but it just seemed like he’d be able to convey the resignation well.

LR:Tom’s been a big supporter of us in our previous bands. We played a show w/ Pale Heads and on the drive back to Canberra we talked about having Tom on something. He’s a terrific guitar player so of course we asked him to do a vocal!

Sidenote: Hew and I saw TNB play Tuggeranong Skate Park in the rain in front of us and three others – I think it was for Protest Songs. The kind of magic moments that can only happen in the nation’s capital.

Have you been writing anything new? What kinds of themes are coming to the forefront lyrically?

SA: There were a whole heap of things from before the Wild Possession recording session that was so close to done but not quite finished so I think even revisiting those with current moods will be nice, when we get there. The one luxury of Agency for me is that Luke tends to roll things out that I can respond to in some kind of fashion too.

LR:I think I’m sitting on enough songs for another release. I was inspired by Sia and her solo record and the candid interviews surrounding the record’s release. I’ve written some more direct lyrics as a result.

Agency have toured Malaysia; can you tell us a bit about that? What were the best and worst parts?

SA: I always had a special connection with that part of the world and touring so it was nice to be able to do this with Agency and meet good people at each show. There’s a nostalgia for the energy and vibes at the shows, which don’t seem to be the same for us here a lot of the time.
A lot of memories from that whole trip:

We played Sonic Masala Fest and a Tyms Guitars in-store in Brissy the weekend before flying to Malaysia; Owen from Terra Pines drove us straight from Tyms (after a Bens Burgers lunch) to Gold Coast Airport.

Fitting in a one day recording session in Kuala Lumpur before our first show and eating like demons at the hawker stall around the corner.

Our tour van driver Adam and his bud Chap taking us all over the country including a late night round trip to Malacca and being stuck in an epic 2 hour traffic jam on the outskirts of KL! (Also probably the ultimate low of the whole trip).

Getting my Scottish free jazz sax friend Raymond McDonald to join us at the KL show for a noise blast improv during Stillness track On The Loop and seeing our Killeur Calculateur buds at the show.

Lovely hospitality from the Dunce crew in Singapore including the best dim sum you can imagine.

LR: So many incredible meals w/ kind accommodating people who went out of their way to show us and accept us in their community. Discovering Malay and SG bands. Watching Malaysia compete for a Commonwealth medal in badminton was a highlight. The restaurant was jammed packed and teeming w/ anticipation and excitement. Playing in a shopping mall and then walking through downtown SG to catch an outdoor set by OG Singapore hardcore legends was another.

What have you been listening to lately?

SA: I’ve bought a lot during iso – records by William Onyeabor, Party Dozen, HTRK, Stereolab reissues. Also really excited for the June of 44 album!

LR:Ancient Channels, The Meanies, The Dammed, Sonic Youth bootlegs, Screamfeeder.

Agency are from Weston Creek, ACT; what’s it like where you live?

SA: It’s the edge of suburbia before heading into National Park, quite lush in some respects but also just very suburban. It’s nice not to be so close to CBR inner-city hipster colonies though.

How did you first get into music?

SA: New Kids On The Block and Kylie on Video Hits baby! I found my own way much, much way later on into what you can unpick now.

LR:I found my Dad’s cassette draw with dubbed versions of Kiss Alive, Blue Oyster Cult, and ZZ Top. I was a silverchair/Nirvana kid.

Can you share with us some of your personal favourite albums, bands or songs of all-time?

SA: So hard…say without early Something For Kate, I would never have even thought about Fugazi and Slint so there’s a thought! Unwound, Alice Coltrane, Deftones, Low, The Slits…all faves for sure but so much harder to pinpoint something.

LR:All time CBR bands Henry’s Anger, Old Ace, Hard Luck, Falling Joys, Koolism, Looking Glass,  Voss, Babyshakers, Cough Cough.

What’s something that’s really important to Agency?

SA: We started off as a dad’s band and I think that oddly enough, that element of friends hanging out to just hang is probably more at the core of our existence as a band now than it was in the first place? Even if we’re not in the same room, we’re still texting or sliding Insta DMs with all kinds of nerdy discussion points that align with the heart of the band.

LR:Boring drummers with constant stories of ‘90s musical ephemera.

What’s next for you all? Anything you’re working on you’d like to tell us about?

SA: There’s some interesting things on the boil outside of Agency that are interesting but really, life is very slow for me at the moment. I’ve made a whole lot of new solo music between bushfire season and current iso-era so that’ll show up at some stage but also keen to see what Agency might turn out in the future too.

LR:We’re due a band and extended families catch up. It’d be nice to come out of the hibernation of bushfires/Covid/Canberra winter with a new batch of Agency songs.

Please check out: AGENCY; on bandcamp; on Instagram; on Facebook.

Melbourne Post-Punk Band Moth’s Darcy Berry: “The whole point of the band was to do something completely different, new and weird”

Original photo: Guy Tyzack. Handmade collage by B.

We’re big fans of Darcy Berry’s creative work, post-punk band Moth and rockers Gonzo, as well as his graphic design work from various bands. Moth have recently put out EP Machine Nation a slice of “discordant robot rock”. We spoke with Darcy to hear more about the EP, his art and a new Gonzo record in the works.

Hi Darcy! What have you been up to today?

DARCY BERRY: Not much, it’s my day off. I was working on a little demo this morning but now I’m just sitting in the sun.

Nice! I wanted to start by asking you; what do you personally get from making stuff?

DB: It’s just not being bored and having something to do really. I get really happy from being productive and not just sitting on my arse doing nothing.

Same! I know that you’ve grown up with a real passion for rock n roll; where did this start?

DB: When I was younger, my brother that was eight years older than me, showed me a lot of music. I was into Rage Against the Machine when I was ten years old, which I think is pretty funny. My parents love Aussie rock n roll as well. My dad’s a big AC/DC fan and loves Rolling Stones and the Beatles. I just got introduced to it, I guess.

When you fourteen I understand that’s when you really started getting into music?

DB: Yeah. I’d met Jack Kong, who I play in the band Gonzo with. We realised we lived a few doors down from each other and he played guitar and I played drums. I’d never really played music with anyone before, it just went from there. Playing with him, we’d show each other different things; he showed me a lot of ‘60s music and I showed him a lot of punk, we met in the middle. I became really obsessed with music from there.

All photos courtesy of Darcy Berry.

Was drums the first instrument you played?

DB: Yeah, it’s the only instrument that I’ve actually learnt to play and taken lessons for, everything else I’ve taught myself. I started playing drums when I was ten years old.

You moved to the city, the Melbourne/Geelong area; where were you before that?

DB: Ocean Grove, its right down the coast near Geelong and Torquay. I was a surf rat growing up.

How did you find new music?

DB: There was a cool little scene going on in Geelong with The Frowning Clouds and Living Eyes. I started getting into Melbourne bands, I didn’t even know there was a Melbourne scene! I got into Total Control and thought they were an American band [laughs]. I was at a party and some dude told me “they’re from Melbourne”. I thought, I’ve gotta get to Melbourne and check more of these bands out!

Did you also move to Melbourne for school too? I know you’ve studied art.

DB: Yeah, yeah. Uni was up in Melbourne but I was still living down the coast at that point. I stayed at my friend’s house and then I moved up myself and realised you could go to a good gig any night of the week. It was an overload of music, which was great!

Why did you choose to study graphic design?

DB: It was one of the only things that I was good at, at school. I dabbled in that and art and at uni I could do a sub-major as well, my sub-major was art. I wanted to blend art with graphic design. I became more passionate about it.

Do you have any art influences you could share with us?

DB: I really like the whole Dada movement. I really, really respect lots of different painters but, I’m not very good at painting or drawing. I really just appreciate good art.

A lot of your art and design work is digital?

DB: Yeah. It’s mainly digital. I always try to do other stuff like drawing and collage, photography but it always ends up coming back to the computer and just messing things up digitally.

Is there something that you find challenging in regards to making your art?

DB: Trying to just do it more and more. Sometimes I can get real lazy with it and not be in the mood, that’s why it’s good when I get hit up to do a poster or an album cover for someone—it makes me do it and makes me not be lazy!

It’s funny how with things that we love we can sometimes get lazy with it and procrastinate.

DB: Yeah, definitely. Even with writing songs, if I’m not in the mood, I don’t want to be anywhere near a guitar or anything. I have to really be in the mood, I have to really want to do it to make something.

Is there a piece of art you’ve made that has a real significance to you or that’s special to you?

DB: The album cover I did for Vintage Crop’s album New Age. Everyone really seemed to like it, I got praised for it, which was really weird. I thought it was a bit of a fluke! Since doing that it gave me more confidence.

Do you remember making it?

DB: Yeah. I remember I did an initial idea and it really sucked so I just started all again. I feel like when I do something good, that it just happens really quickly. I’m like, ah, cool, it’s done! I try not to spend too much time on one thing because then I start getting in my own ear like, oh, that’s shit, you shouldn’t have done that! I like to just do it and get it out of the way.

Yeah, I get that. I do that with the interview art for Gimmie. I come from a punk background and I love punk art, flyers etc. and if you look into the history of that, a lot of stuff is photocopied and taken from elsewhere and reused and they’re typically done quickly using the resources you have on hand. I like the spontaneity, get it done, resourcefulness.

DB: Yeah. That’s it. I like using my computer because I don’t have to buy another one and it doesn’t really cost me anything to use it.

Are you working on any art pieces at the moment?

DB: Not really. I’ve set up a little screen printing studio in my shed. I’m going to get some t-shirts done. That’s been good because it’s more hands on, trial and error, and messy, which is fun!

You have your band Moth, and play in Gonzo and U-Bahn, as well as make art for bands, you do a zine…

DB: I was working on a new zine but I’ve just kicked it to the curve, I will do another one eventually though.

I feel like you’re really immersed in the creative community but, it wasn’t always the case for you and a few years back you were really struggling with things and felt isolated and didn’t want to be part of a scene; what was happening?

DB: Yeah, just some personal things happened. I was in a place where I didn’t really want to talk to anyone and I didn’t really have any friends around, they were all travelling and I broke up with my girlfriend at the time… I was like, OK, I’m just going to lock myself in my house. A lot of art works and songs came from that period though, it’s classic, cliché… I think Kurt Cobain said it: thanks for the tragedy I need it for my art. It does make sense I guess. Your influences don’t have to be sad though or bad things that have happened to you, these days I try to be influenced by different things.

Do you find it harder to write from a happier place?

DB: Yeah, definitely [laughs]. I’ve always wanted to write a really nice, beautiful, happy song. I guess it’s really hard for me though.

What was it that brought you back from that darker period and got you back into doing stuff again?

DB: When I joined U-Bahn. I knew one of the dudes in the band but didn’t even really know him that well. I met Zoe and Lachlan in it and they were great. We started playing a lot of gigs and people really started liking the band. That really threw me back into everything. I think playing in a new band is exciting and fresh. That was the same thing with starting Moth, it was good not to be a drummer for a change.

I heard that U-Bahn had a new record recorded?

DB: Yeah, I’m not in the band anymore. I know they were recording with the same guy that Gonzo recorded our new album with. I don’t know what they’ve done with it or if it’s coming out or not.

You started doing Moth as a solo thing and now you’ve expanded into a full band… I noticed on your bandcamp you had the Russian word “мотылек” which means motility…

DB: Yeah. Veeka [Nazarova] who plays synths in the band, she also sings one of the songs on the 7” [Machine Nation] in Russian.

The song “Jealousy”?

DB: Yeah. That all came from a lot of the lyrics I was writing was just gibberish and didn’t make sense, I was like; what if Veeka sang in Russian? Then it’s going to sound like gibberish to people but there will actually be meaning behind it. She’s writing some more Russian lyrics for new songs too. The whole point of the band was to do something completely different, new and weird. I feel like no one really sings in Russian in Melbourne, so we just rolled with that.

Did you get the title of your new EP Machine Nation from the Richard Evans book of the same name?

DB: No, I haven’t even heard of him.

He writes sci-fi and his book Machine Nation is about developing biological robots, it’s got a real modernised society/sci-fi theme and I thought because your release has a modernised society kinda theme through it, it may have been influenced by it.

DB: I’m going to check it out, it sounds cool! The title actually came from the word “machination”. I’ve forgotten what it means, but I think it’s doing things or making things with an evil push behind it [laughs]. I read it in a book once and thought it sounded like “machine nation”. A lot of the songs I was writing revolve around the modern world, the digital aspect of everything and of humans becoming machines.

I understand you’re inspired by writers’ like Henry Miller and JG Ballard?

DB: Yeah. I really like Henry Miller, I like how the way that he speaks about himself is quite honest. You read his books and it’s just him telling you the story. JG Ballard’s books has a lot of weird subjects. Reading stuff like that makes me want to write stuff that’s honest but weird as well—it’s about embracing your inner weirdo! [laughs].

Vid: VOGELS VIDEO (for more vids go here).

Recording-wise I know you like learning different techniques and that changes the style of the way you write, with your new EP; what techniques did you use?

DB: With this one I recorded it with my friend Matt Blach who plays in The Murlocs and Beans. He’s trying to get into the whole recording world and I was talking to him about it. He wanted a guinea pig, someone to play music so he could fiddle with the controls and work all that out. I’m comfortable with him and thought it would be much easier to do it with someone other than myself. It turned out way better than I thought it could. I bought him a slab of beer for it [laughs].

Is there a song on the EP you’re especially loving right now?

DB: Maybe the last one “Indulgent Indeed” because it was the newest out of all of them; some of the songs I wrote two years ago. I wasn’t getting sick of them but, I guess it was more exciting for me to have a newer one. It was also maybe going in more of a refined direction from the other songs.  

What’s it about?

DB: [Laughs] Ahhh… it’s about people. Maybe specific people that have wronged me. It’s about back stabbing and wanting to be successful and doing anything to be successful and just leaving your friends behind.

What does success mean to you?

DB: Being content and happy with what you’re doing. It doesn’t matter if you’re praised for it or not. The whole Moth thing wasn’t meant to be enjoyed by others, my indulgence was just playing it, not putting it out or being praised for it. I just wanted to enjoy it. I feel like success is just enjoying what you do and doing it for yourself.

Just making art for art’s sake!

DB: Yeah, that’s it!

I feel like you seem to be in a really happy place with all the stuff you’re doing now.

DB: I’m pretty satisfied, I couldn’t really ask for much more.

What’s happening with Gonzo right now?

DB: We’ve finished recording the new album, it’s been done for ages, we just haven’t mixed it yet. We have plans for doing a little instrumental thing, we’re also going back to garage roots and just doing a real classic garage rock album. We’ve been starting to write new songs for it.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell me or that you’re working on?

DB: I’ve just really been trying to keep my sanity during this crazy time.

What’s helping with that?

DB: Getting drunk and doing karaoke with house mates is good! [laughs]. Dancing. I’ve gone back to work this week which has been nice, ‘cause I was getting really cooped up. I’m a graphic designer for a fashion brand, I make t-shirts and it pays the bills.

The fashion world is just a whole other world unto itself!

DB: Yeah, I never had any interest in that world but then I got offered this job and thought, I should take it, even just for an experience thing. It’s been great to learn how that whole world woks. It’s pretty crazy!

Please check out: MOTH on bandcamp; on Instagram. Get Moth’s Machine Nation on MARTHOUSE Records; GONZO bandcamp.

Hobart Post-Punk Band The Native Cats: “The satisfaction of a healthy and creative work ethic paying off in expected and unexpected ways”

Handmade collage by B.

The Native Cats make beautiful, poetic music. We’ve been fans of their sonic art and have been watching them evolve for almost a decade now. When corresponding with the Cats’ Chloe Alison Escott (vocals-electronics) about having a chat, we were encouraged to go as deep and challenging, and unrelated to music with questions as we like. Both Chloe and Julian Teakle’s (bass) answers gave as a little more insight into the people behind the music.

Tell us a little bit about how you spend your days of late.

JULIAN: I work in a large public library, so that has been pretty busy recently, with changing restrictions on access. Slightly returning to normal now, but we know what to expect if something akin to these times happens again/continues. Pretty quiet home life, running the label [Rough Skies Records] I operate with Claire from Slag Queens. Having bursts of song ideas for the Cats, and other unfinished non-Cats outlets. Really missing playing gigs, was looking forward to touring on the last 7’. 

CHLOE: This seems like the best place to start from: these past few months of Covid isolation have been utterly devastating for my mental health, as has been the case for so many others. I’m very fortunate in a lot of ways, with a steady place to live in a city that the virus has seemingly barely reached, with a job as a transcription typist that has simply carried on uninterrupted. But my friends and my life as an artist and a performer bring out the best in me, and being cut off from all that felt like being cut off from everything I actually like about myself. And you’ve sent me a wonderful list of deep and challenging questions, and I’d love to dive headlong into each one, but I’ve had very little to do with my spare time for three months except roll depressive, solipsistic thoughts around and around in my mind. So I might dodge some of these as part of my current project of getting back out of my head and into the world. I mean no disrespect! You’ve caught me at a difficult time!

Are you an optimist or a pessimist? What’s shaped this view?

JULIAN: Both I guess? On the same issues/subjects sometimes, it’s really affected by my mood at the time.

CHLOE: I’ve always been an optimist, on every scale from the personal to the global. The work is in staying focused and informed and never being complacent or naive in my optimism. No reassuring inevitabilities, no necessarily linear progress, no “all the racist boomers will die out and elections will start going our way”, no faith in electoral politics to save us at all, honestly. As I write this, we’re about two weeks into worldwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism, two weeks of sustained direct civilian action that has dramatically shifted public opinion not only on police brutality but on the very notion of policing itself, and has already achieved so much more than years and years of incrementalism from politicians and business leaders ever could. I can’t claim that I expected this to happen! But my optimism has always been in believing that it could.

Can you please share with us a life changing moment that has helped shaped who you are today?

JULIAN: Deciding to return to study and Tasmania when I was 28. I’d been living in Melbourne for three years. I was pretty over aspects of my job and living in a bigger city. My last 16 months there was marked by the death of my grandfather, having (not properly diagnosed) glandular fever and my band breaking up just when we staring to get somewhere after some rough times. It was pretty shit.

Coming back to Tasmania was a reset of my life, I’d could use what I learnt in Melbourne, and I felt like I really progressed in a musical sense. I had a better idea of what I wanted, and what I didn’t. I learnt to love writing and playing music again, with Matt & Lisa in the Bad Luck Charms, then Chloe with the Cats.

Who has had the most prominent influence on your life? How so?

JULIAN: I’d say my oldest friend Alex Lum, we met at high school, lived in the same suburb and we both dug sci-fi, comedy and music. He is a year older so he was going to gigs just before I started, so he’d give me heads up on the cool local bands to check out when I started going to gigs. In fact his whole family were super welcoming, we had kinda different backgrounds, his folks were University educated so it was good be exposed to varied cool shit in Claremont Tasmania in the 1980s. Alex and I shared a lot of stuff, worked on projects together and had some crazy fun social times. I wish we’d formed a band in retrospect

Is there a piece of art or music that you’ve had a profound experience with? Can you tell us a bit about it please?

JULIAN: I had a day at work where I was doing some repetitive processing work, I had a Discman to listen to stuff while I did this and there was a good CD store next to my work called Tracks. They had a cheapo copy of Funhouse by the Stooges, and although I’d experienced it in the past, listening to it that day turned me inside out, I listened to it about six times in a row while working. It’s a staggering piece of work, I feel flattened (in a good way) by its subtleties and depth. It’s not trying to be raw, it just is.

Another thing that really touched me was the movie ‘Good Vibrations’, it’s set during the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and follows the journey of Terri Hooley, who ran record stores and labels. Most music bio-pics are awful, usually glamourising shitty situations, never getting to any reality or wonder of being involved in music. There’s a reason why ‘This Is Spinal Tap, as ridiculous as it is in parts is the still one of truest of music films. Anyway, there’s a scene where Terri sees the Undertones for the first time. For me the scene, and the reactions of Richard Dormer who plays Terri conveys the pure joy of discovering music and letting it course through you. It was quite emotional for me seeing this cos I know this experience and it’s the best.

CHLOE: My first girlfriend, when I was 20, was an American on a study abroad program. We fell desperately in love, and we were together for three months before she had to go back to the US. A while later she told me she’d started seeing someone new, and, look, by 20-year-old having her first experience of romantic jealousy standards, I handled it well, but it still utterly consumed me, just a flood of overwhelming emotions with nowhere conclusive or productive to go. Then one night I was listening to Night of the Wolverine, by Dave Graney ‘n’ the Coral Snakes – new to me at the time, but it’s my favourite album of theirs now – and a song I’d never paid much attention to before suddenly appeared to me with startling clarity: the closing track, “Out There (In the Night of Time)”. In four verses the singer reflects on good times with an old lover, sees them happy in a new relationship, has a simple, beautiful, physically impossible dream about them, and ponders broader questions of imagination and possibility, and there’s a tremendous sense of peace to the entire thing. I was so young and lost and distressed in that moment, and that song gave me a way to feel. It wouldn’t have necessarily worked the same way for anyone else in that situation, but I was receptive to it, so it worked for me. Art affects and changes us all in subtle and imperceptible ways, over and over and over again, but that song at that time gave me a response I simply didn’t previously possess, and I’ve carried that full awareness of the power of a song or a film or a story ever since.

What are the things that you value most in regards to your creativity?

JULIAN: The satisfaction of a healthy and creative work ethic paying off in expected and unexpected ways. It doesn’t always work out that way, but you can attempt a red hot go I guess?

CHLOE: It saves my life, over and over and over.

What’s the best idea you feel you’ve ever had?

JULIAN: Forming a band with Chloe. It’s paid off in so many fun, challenging and satisfying ways. First time I saw Chloe play I knew she had considerable talent. I brought my experience of doing music for about 15 years, and I can be a pushy bastard, for all the good reasons, natch. It’s been weird and tough sometimes, but which band isn’t. It’s been a real privilege to be part of, and step back and witness, our progression.

CHLOE: Gender transition. The idea of myself as a woman. Nothing else comes close.

The Native Cats released Two Creation Myths earlier this year; what’s its significance to you?

JULIAN: I’ve been very happy to release the last two Cats record on mine and Claire’s label, very satisfying to have this control and see hard work pay off. I love the idea of stand-alone singles, entities unto themselves. Inspired by a lot of my favourite artists, maybe not with the times? But fuck it, this is one of the joys of DIY and independent music.

CHLOE: Two Creation Myths in particular stands out to me as a wonderful sequence of one-on-one collaborations I was fortunate enough to take part in: developing the instrumentals with Julian, which I then went away and wrote lyrics for on my own; recording with Ben Simms and being present for the entire mixing process, coming up with ideas on the spot and explaining them as best I could and watching him click and drag and bring each one exquisitely to life; devising and starring in music videos for each track, one in Melbourne with Julia Suddenly and one locally with Izzy Almaz, which is honestly fast becoming one of my favourite creative outlets on earth; and giving Molly Dyson just enough guidance and direction on the artwork for her to deliver something vivid and stunning once again. Those collaborative processes – leading and being led, being surprised and being inspired to even surprise myself – are at the very centre of what brings me joy about living as an artist.

How do you keep yourself inspired?

JULIAN: Watching and learning from friends and peers. Maybe a little envy of someone who’s written a corker tune, can be nice to get that little push. Have many friends who work in other art fields, great to have yarns about where our processes intersect and sharing ideas. The Hobart visual art scene is fkn amazing and inspiring. Funny when I find have more in common with visual artists than other people doing music.

CHLOE: When I need inspiration and I can’t find it, and I’ve made sure I don’t just need something to eat or to catch up on some sleep, I usually find that the problem is dissociation. Losing touch with myself as a unique person with moves and responses nobody else in the same situation would make, or at least not in precisely the same way. Once I’ve found myself in the crowd, once I’m fully aware of being Chloe Alison Escott and not, say, just any old anonymous interchangeable post-punk vocalist – which isn’t to say such a thing even exists! Every artist has their own idiosyncrasies, whether they consciously foreground them or not – that’s when the inspiration starts to flow again.

What is both a positive and negative experience you’ve had related to your band?

JULIAN: Playing the Meredith Music Festival in 2018 was one of the best playing experiences of my life. Normally I dislike festivals and camping, but we had a good crew of friends with us, and Meredith has a good rep for not attracting punishing dickheads. We were treated really well and played one of the best sets of our career. We also really bought our in-between song banter game.

Getting ripped off by promoters has been super rare for us fortunately, but the one time we did was for a gig we wouldn’t normally play, but we’re always up for new experiences. We (meaning I) provided backline for the headline act, which I had to transport via cab. It wasn’t the headliner’s fault, but I think bands should be a bit more aware of what’s going on around them. Anyway, it was a slog of a gig to an unfriendly audience, and then we didn’t get paid. I had to warn a few local acts about working with that promoter again. I was pretty angry.

CHLOE: I’m yet to have any negative experiences in this band that haven’t led to something positive somewhere down the line. Though perhaps that’s just my outlook on life – mistakes to learn from, opportunities for empathy, being knocked off one path and onto an arguably better one, that’s some of the best stuff life is made of. We had someone we’d known for a long time working very closely with us who reacted very badly to my gender transition. He privately messaged me about it, we wrote back and forth a couple of times. At first I thought his questions were from a sincere place and he was trying to understand, but, no, he’d made up his mind that I was misguided and thoughtless and selfish, and his questions were all rhetorical, intended to hurt me. I phoned Julian and told him that I couldn’t work with this person anymore, nervous about how he’d feel or how he might react – I’d only been an out trans woman for a couple of weeks and I already felt like a stereotype, making trouble, complaining, getting offended – but he didn’t hesitate for a second in taking my side and deciding we wouldn’t be working with this person any further. So that negative experience led to Julian showing his dedication as a friend and an ally, our bond grew stronger, and, as a bonus, our records also got a lot better from the lack of this person’s influence. But that’s an extreme example. Sometimes the negative is that someone says they don’t like the drum sound on one record and the positive is I make sure it’s better on the next one.

What are some things that bring you great joy?

JULIAN: My family, especially seeing my nieces and nephew growing up. My friends. Being able to still do interesting things with music after 26 years.

CHLOE: Jon Bois. Joe Pera Talks With You. @i_zzzzzz on Twitter. Destroyer songs. Destroyer interviews. Hunter Harris’s favourite line readings. The Fall covering “Black Night” by Deep Purple in 1982. Public Image Ltd on American Bandstand in 1980. Adrian Edmondson and Rik Mayall breaking character for seven minutes during the first Bottom live show in 1993. Michael Kupperman. Michael DeForge. Michael Brough. Jason Schwartzman in Listen Up, Philip. Everybody and everything in A Serious Man. Freckle invites two beautiful skateboarders up to their apartment. 

If you could change the world, what would you do?

JULIAN: Greater social mobility. Free education and health. Greater access to the arts for everyone, that doesn’t talk or punch down.

Do you have a philosophy you live your life by?

JULIAN: Live, and let live. It doesn’t always work out like that, but I guess it’s a good start.

Are you a spiritual person?

JULIAN: I don’t know. Music, art and experiences feel profound sometimes, but not always. I understand how spirituality and faith can be a balm for some people. I like to be grounded in something real, but I get the appeal of some intangible something or other. I hate hippies and religious nuts and I detest the idea of someone’s increased “spirituality” being used as some psychic superiority.

CHLOE: If you watch A Serious Man and Uncut Gems back to back you should get a pretty clear picture of where I’m at spiritually right now.

What keeps you going?

JULIAN: Family, friends, music, food, good times.

CHLOE: What keeps me going even in my lowest moods is that I would like to see and take part in as much of this story as I can.

Please check out: THE NATIVE CATS on bandcamp; on Facebook; on Instagram.

Montreal Post-Punks Red Mass: “Red Mass has a very positive outlook—it’s very much about the love and creativity”

Original image courtesy of Red Mass. Handmade collage by B.

At the heart of Canadian punk band Red Mass is Roy Vucino and Hannah Lewis, though since its inception the band has welcomed over 100 artists and musicians into its unconventional fold forming an ever evolving creative collective. Red Mass’ creation process is inspired by automatic creation techniques and Chaos Magic, openness to pure potentiality and limitless possibility—a desire to create art for art’s sake. Their latest album A Hopeless Noise is an ambitious concept album crafted as a loose modern day retelling of the literature classic Don Quixote but with a female lead, in character Diamond Girl. The LP features Mike Watt, King Khan, Mac DeMarco, Rick Froberg, members of Black Lips, God Speed You! Black Emperor and more. Gimmie spoke to Roy and Hannah to find out more after they had to cut the album’s European tour short due to the recent pandemic.

Why is music important for you?

ROY VUCINO: For years I had a darker time, it helped me get my life in order. I dropped a lot of bad habits and I really concentrated on music, not only as an escape but basically as a way to channel all of my energy and creativity into something that was more positive.

HANNAH LEWIS: I moved a lot when I was a kid. My dad’s a professor, he’s actually a theologian, and we ended up moving all over the world when I was younger. I really, really, really had an affinity for music at a young age, I really explored that, especially because a lot of the places that we ended up moving were pretty remote. We lived in Cape Breton which is a small island off Nova Scotia and Iqaluit which is in the Artic, I was there for my high school; in these places I was able to explore my mind and I think music really helped me do that and was a way for me to express that exploration.

When did you each start making your own music?

HL: I started quite young. When I was very, very young I used to just walk around and sing for hours, whatever came into my head, in the countryside or in the tundra. When I consciously started writing music I was probably thirteen or fourteen.

RV: I started music really young too. I used to play in restaurants and stuff like that. I did classical training. I started writing when I hit mid-teens. The first band I did was more of a dancehall reggae band, after that I started playing in punk bands, initially more garage-based, the rawness of it appealed to me. Skill-wise with the punk stuff it was so easy to record, I could do it with my friends in our basement on a 4-track, that was a big part of the appeal. That’s when I started recording and writing my own music.

Together you’re a really amazing creative team; how did you first meet?

HL: Though friends of friends. I’d moved down to Montreal for school to go to university. I went to see a couple of Roy’s bands before I met him. I started my own punk band and we ended up dating… we were doing Red Mass…

RV: We’re married now. I went to the Arctic to see if I could live there and open a little studio there, it was way too much The Shining for me, too isolated, so she came to Montreal and stayed here. At the beginning we weren’t doing music together, we had our bands; I had Pypy and CPC Gangbang which are more psych bands, and she had Hiroshima Shadows. I played for her band first, filling in on bass and when that broke up she pretty much came into Red Mass.

Photo by Marie-Claude Guay.

What’s something important you’ve both learnt from punk?

RV: When I was younger I’d think of it as more rock n roll based punk that had more of a party vibe that would tie into bands that had more of a nihilistic outlook like the ‘70s L.A. punk. When I got older my taste started varying, I’ve always liked all sorts of music, I really found post-punk opened up that door for me and I started exploring all the genres in that subgenre, that was really what got me! In essence the idea of punk comes from art movements like Dada, which was more of a rebellious and innovative form of creation—that’s what drew me to punk, the innovative side. I still love the wild rock n roll bands though!

I grew up in the suburbs and I listened to a lot of experimental music because of a radio show called Brave New Waves with Patti Schmidt. She would play garage to avant-garde music, you would hear from Derek Bailey to Thee Headcoats, which really blew my mind! When I got into punk, the bands that I really appreciated would be the ones that I considered were trying to innovate in the genre.

HL: For me, punk really opened up the world of music and connections with so many different people. When I started getting into the punk scene, especially in Montreal when I moved down here, it was so varied. You’d go to a show and there would be a noise band, a country-flavoured punk outfit and so many genres crossing and communicating with each other through shows and art. It was really incredible. It taught me not to limit art to any one thing and to accept anything to be art if it’s presented so by whoever is presenting it and to not just go with the concept in mind of what that’s supposed to be.

RV: Montreal was also a really fun city for punk, because there were different scenes. Bands from here achieved a certain amount of international recognition like, Godspeed You! Black Emperor; they’re all punks, they started to work with Constellation Record, and you have this whole avant-garde scene based on Americana, bands that were really influenced by that, the cinematic sound. Then you had bands like The Sainte Catherines, buddies of ours that signed to Fat Wreck Chords, so there was that skate-punk scene. We were playing more garage-punk. All these different bands co-existed and that was really great. Then there’s bands like AIDS Wolf and the noise scene. It was fun because we all had the same sentiment but we didn’t get bored because things were so varied. Someone would be on a bill doing power-electronic and someone from the country scene doing something…

HL: There would be no rules!

That’s the punk I like the best too, real varied stuff. I think genres are pretty flaky and now everything’s so blurred anyway, if you’re just playing and stuck in one style it’s so boring, to me at least. In the beginnings of punk everyone sounded different.

HL: Exactly!

I’ve read that Red Mass incorporate automatic creation techniques into your creative process. Is that like automatic writing?

RV: Yes. It’s based on a lot of ideas put forward by Grant Morrison the comic book writer as well as Austin Osman Spare; he was the first occultist, spiritualist, to bring forth notions of automatic writing and letting your intuition and subconsciousness take over, which also the Surrealists did. We use a lot of sigils and elements of Chaos Magic in our art and in our music but also in our lives, we tie it all in together. A lot of our [album] covers have sigils. We really make music and art for art’s sake. We’ve done a lot of improvisational releases and shows. I find it interesting and important to be able to communicate with people through improvisation, it’s something we try to bring into a project.

How did you first come to Austin Osman Spare’s work?

RV: I’ve read quite a few books on Chaos Magic, I’ve read Phil Hines and Grant Morrison, and some of the more recent authors, so through there I would have discovered Spare. I used to read a lot of [Aleister] Crowley, then I gravitated more to the Chaos magicians, and Austin Osman Spare is one of the originators of these techniques.

Chaos Magic is often misunderstood, from my perspective I feel it’s more of a DIY approach to spirituality and focusing on channelling your own thoughts and energies; what do you think?

RV: It’s exactly that. What you just said is exactly what it is. It’s a DIY approach to spirituality and you create your own belief system around your own iconography and your own symbolism.

I think that’s pretty cool. In a lot of religious texts, for example the Bible, it says that the kingdom of heaven is within you and everything you need is within yourself, it’s all just about tapping into that—living in your truth and trusting yourself.

RV: Yes. There’s elements of all religions and beliefs that tie into that. A lot of these beliefs systems have similar plots, if you want to call them that. Everything with Chaos Magic basically makes it so you don’t have to abide by a specific type of ritual and belief and you can morph it to your own needs.

What are some of your rituals you use to tap into your creativity?

RV: I really like sigil magic so I use a lot of that in the music. I use rituals in the bands, we’ve done performances with rituals, we use them more in our day-to-day life though. It comes and goes, they’ll be points in my life where I really delve into it but then there’s times I’ll have other creative outlets. It basically runs side by side with my artistic development.

Photo by Alex Pallion.

What does spirituality mean to you?

HL: I really connect to nature heavily. With my father being a Theologian, I grew up with him teaching at university, it really knocked down thinking of spirituality as any kind of institution of any sort that’s for sure. Spirituality is connecting with yourself and surroundings and other humans and really finding joy and peace with who you are and what you’re putting out into the world and how you’re affecting it or not, or finding whatever you are looking for in the world.

RV: Spirituality is something that’s a way to tap into the oneness of life and the greater force at work. I used to dabble more in elements of dark arts, occultism but with time I definitely prefer a more positive kind of energy, Chaos Magic gave me that. My spirituality is really open. I think every religion has its truth in it, spirituality is more expressed to oneself how we can cope and situate ourselves in that, that sometimes overwhelming sense of confusion which we may have in front of that, the interconnectedness of everything. Spirituality is a way to give oneself answers or to explain to oneself things that aren’t clearly explainable, maybe more on a metaphysical level.

Previously you’ve mentioned that playing music is a way that you can connect with people and that it’s part of the reason why you do…

RV: Totally! We’ve never approached the band as a regular recording project, we’re talking about being free in our creativity and we’ve always wanted to push our own boundaries and innovate. We decided to approach it differently than you would an art project, we choose not to have a fixed line-up, not to have a fixed genre, to throw it all out the window. What we consider was something fresh for us, was to innovate in the format of the creativity and the bands structure. Instead of innovating with a certain type of music signature or instrumentation, we thought the way for us to move forward was to throw all that out and have a very open project that in itself was…

HL: The only restrictions we had were making music that was it. Every song we were doing was approached as its own thing. We were working on a project but we weren’t restricting ourselves to sound, we really wanted to make it as open and fluid as possible by principal and see where it went.

Your latest album A Hopeless Noise is in a way a modern day retelling of the story of Don Quixote, right?

RV: Yeah, it started like that.

What sparked the idea for it? Were you reading Don Quixote at the time?

RV: Literally I was reading Don Quixote. It is an amazing novel. I wanted to touch on the idea of illusions of grandeur. We had been writing songs around a Diamond Girl character who falls from grace and we thought it will tie in. We were also into Bret Easton Ellis’ work at the time so we added these elements of decadent glamour. We threw it all in a pot and it basically gave the flavour of A Hopeless Noise.

Where did the character Diamond Girl come from?

RV: It’s so old I honestly don’t remember…

HL: [Laughs].

RV: It’s actually one of the first tracks that we recorded. One of our friends Sebastien Perry used us as his final project for school and we needed a song. I had the song ‘Diamond Girl’ that I had written around ten years ago and we just sat on it, the idea not the character [laughs]. We decided to revisit the character and had been writing a few songs like ‘Sharp’ that’s on the record and ‘Howl’. One thing that I thought was interesting is that Bret Easton Ellis had a crew of writers with him when he really exploded, all of the stories and the plots were in the same universe, different writers would be writing around the same fictional school. I always thought that was pretty neat. Their art lived and went on these adventures and pop up in somebody else’s art. It blew me away!

HL: The fictional world is from many people’s world not just one mind.

I read it took five years to make the album, but from what you’re telling me it’s been an idea and in parts for much longer.

HL: It took us a while because we were writing songs and we thought, we should do the guitar like this… eventually we thought if we want to have a bass line sound like Mike Watt or something… Roy was like, ‘I’m going to write Mike Watt and see if he’ll do it’. Mike Watt wrote us back and sent us a bass line the very next day. We thought; why don’t we approach things like that? If we think of people who would fit the part of the song best, let’s ask them! The only thing was that it took a while to get some tracks back from people.

RV: I’d say it took maybe ten years if anything. We didn’t want to rush it. It was a weird one. We’ve had a slew of labels interested at different times and some of them dropped the album because it was taking too long, some of them ended up not understanding it, but we never gave up on it! This record is also something that we have been working on in our relationship, basically we started seeing each other and then we started writing on this. It’s really mirrored our lives because we’ve been working on it so long. We ended up having to go back and work on some of the earlier tracks because we weren’t as happy with some of them as we were with the later tracks, it was a little bit of an endless circle for a while, but after a while it came together. Initially it was meant to be a double album. We ended up going back and taking out songs that had spread a little far from the theme of the record and the concept and story behind it. Once we cut down everything that was superfluous we got what we think is something solid and that we’re proud of.

HL: One of us always had a problem with it and then at one point we were both like—this is it! We left it on the table and didn’t touch it after a certain point. It’s pretty crazy that it’s out! It came out when we were in Austria recently. We were going into the studio from 9 to 1AM every night for years… any idea we had we tried. It taught us so much in the studio and so much about creativity and how we work together and separately.

RV: We really indulged. It’s really important to indulge sometimes, I often see it mentioned and it’s seen as a negative thing but I think it’s fun to be able to enjoy yourself working on something. We gave ourselves zero deadlines. I took a few months to back away from it and get a little bit of perspective and when we came back for a few months, we listened to the whole thing and knew that is was done.

HL: We were also working on other projects at the time. It was interesting how it affected how we both worked with other people and how we were expanding our skill sets.

What was something that sticks out from all the things that you learnt during this process?

RV: To work with people. Often we’d push musicians we worked with out of their comfort zones and have them do different things from what they were used to. It worked sometimes but sometimes it backfired.

HL: Because we were spending so much time in the studio we were also able to push ourselves out of our comfort zone pretty heavily. We made a concerted effort to see how far we could go with things. It was interesting to see and work with another person when they were out of their comfort zone and make them feel comfortable with you and navigate that and trust in yourself and whoever is in the room with you. Eventually we were able to access that with people we worked with because we worked with so many and had been doing it for ourselves too. It’s super fun!

RV: Most things worked well but sometimes things flop, but that’s ok because it’s part of the process. We have a follow up record coming where we’re exploring a new idea it’s, 111 Songs, which is an angel number, a magic number… songs are divided into eleven chapters, each chapter representing a type of personality. As the Diamond Gilr’s psychological state deteriorates because of her multiple personalities, we explored the idea – which is something that comic book writer Grant Morrison put forward – that we should live with a multiple personality complex. If the Diamond Girl would let all her multiple personalities co-exist, sometimes you can avoid a psychosis like that; you can also apply that on a societal level. We used some of the songs that didn’t work for the specific record of A Hopeless Noise and attached them to certain personality traits of the character. The idea is, if you let the personalities co-exist in you, you find a certain harmony.

So you’re still working on 111 Songs?

HL: Yeah, we’ve been doing it since just after we finished A Hopeless Noise. We were living in such a great apartment where we had such a great setup and were recording every single day for two years. Roy came up with the concept pretty early into working on that.

RV: We’re 90% done.

Nice! I can’t wait to hear it. It sounds really interesting and exciting!

HL: It’s certainly weird hearing my twenty-year-old voice [laughs].

RV: Yeah, some of the material is so old. We really hear ourselves’ age on some of it.

Are you working on anything else?

HL: We’re working on another project…

RV: It’s called Birds Of Paradise. It’s a little classic rock and there’s some country material. We’re working on a kid’s book. I’m writing a short novel. I’m also working with Pypy, which I do with musicians from Duchess Says. I do FUBAR… I have a band called Nightseeker, which is basically the Canadian Spinal Tap, we actually did a TV show for Vice; we play exaggerated metal versions of ourselves [laughs].

HL: FUBAR is like a mockumentary.

RV: It’s a mockumentary that turned fantasy into reality though, we go out and we play real shows. Hannah’s worked on a few documentaries too.

What’s the best thing about working with each other?

HL: We definitely have worked on working with each other [laughs], it was kind of difficult at different periods of our relationship because we’re living together too. We’ve found a really good groove with one another and we’ve been able to sit down and produce a lot together. It’s nice to have someone around that every single day you can put your heads together and get stuff done. You’re constantly really in a good work vibe and productive.

RV: For me travelling together is number one. We’ve been all across the US and Europe. That’s a big plus being a married couple and playing music and making art together.

HL: Yeah, you don’t get lonely on the road.

RV: I’d like to think we really get along, I think that’s the magic, I really love it! We definitely have similar tastes, I remember one of the first times we met. I went to her house, she was way younger than me….

HL: I’m still way younger! [laughs].

RV: [Laughs] Well not way younger but younger, she was ten years younger than me, she was in her early twenties and me in my thirties already. I came in and she was listening to Captain Beefheart and that blew my mind! I was like, oh my god! Oh my god! Who is this person?!

HL: [Laughs].

RV: She came to see me to do a little weird bluse-y set at some random place…

HL: It was a place called The Cop Shop.

RV: Yeah. After that I went to her house and she was watching Planet Earth and listening to Captain Beefheart I was like, oh my god! I need to marry this person… and we did! Our tastes are very alike in certain ways, I listen to cornier pop stuff though. I think I’m a bit more…. [*pauses to think*]

HL: Ohhhh, careful now [laughs].

RV: …I have more of a tolerance for stuff that might be a bit cornier. We listen to all kinds of stuff, we find a similar ground in the music that we like.

HL: It’s really great to be able to introduce each other to different art constantly! It would be really difficult to live with someone that you couldn’t do that with.

RV: We both know the other and we listen to anything. We both gravitated towards punk because…

HL: The ethics!

RV: Yeah, the ethics and the creative process behind it, that’s what led us to do this band. Punk’s been done for forty years now, we thought; how do we do something different? We just decided to do what we want, when we want and just indulge and have fun—only for the love of art and music. For me it’s totally been a life saver!

HL: It’s cool to be in a place where people come and contribute what they want to contribute and not feel intimated…

RV: Or obliged…

HL: There’s never an intent or expectation of anyone during it. We keep ourselves open to keep it going.

Is there anything you guys are doing in isolation to keep on top of your wellbeing?

RV: I learnt how to cook!

HL: [Laughs] He was terrible at cooking.

RV: I’ve become a just above average cook, before this you could consider me as someone that would make everything into dog food [laughs]. I had no patience and no love for it, I didn’t understand… like food was very functional for me. I’d eat standing up in my kitchen just shoving in whatever, now I cook!

HL: I used to work in kitchens. When I was really young I really wanted to be a chef. It used to be appalling watching him in the kitchen, up until very recently [laughs].

RV: We share the chores so I was always cooking and she would just be very polite and eat it. Now it’s good! I can sit down and actually enjoy a meal, so that’s been one of the big changes for me. I’ve been working a bit on my novel. We’re going to do some videos. We’re working on our country record…

HL: Yeah, we’re really starting to look at doing a country record so it’s fun looking through all the old country music and trying to figure out how that side of things work in music. I’ve been looking at different vocal styles, stuff like that. I started exercising, so that’s… interesting! [laughs]. I’m very out of shape!

RV: For the first whole month of this virus pandemic, she was also not here, she was in another province, Ontario, about an hour and a half away from here. So I spent that first month of this thing alone… I really feel for people that are alone because you kind of get loopy a little bit. I was starting to go dark and get depressed but she came… playing music also helps, you can only watch so much and read so much. We have all our guitars and amplifiers here so we have a good little setup and make music, which has been a bit of a life saver for me.

That’s the same with my husband and I, we both make art and do music, we’ve been together over eleven years. It’s nice to create together and just be around each other and like you were mentioning before, you can show each other new art and music. I think that’s really inspiring and special.

RV: That’s awesome! Yes, when it works! [laughs]. I’ve seen bands with couples and I’m like mmmmhmmm, I don’t wanna be in that band!

Last question; have you ever had a really life changing moment?

RV: I had to really flip my life around, I had two heart attacks, I was doing a lot of hard drugs when I was younger. I had to have an epiphany. The first version of my epiphany was me becoming a “Born Again” for like a minute, that faded and I found myself more in Chaos Magic, that spirituality. I definitely had a moment where I had to make a rift with my previous life and start from scratch. It really coincided with the beginning of this project. Before that I was playing in more nihilistic punk bands, whereas Red Mass has a very positive outlook—it’s very much about the love and creativity. What about you Hannah?

HL: My dad was drinking a lot and I had to go pick him up at one point and he was really ill, that was a real game changer for me, in the way that I attack life… kind of breaking away from feeling responsible for things that I am not in control of and accepting that—that has been a completely freeing experience for me. To know that I am able to love and care but also not be in control of something. That was a year or two ago, but that was a really big game changer for me.

I love hearing stories of growth and how people deal with experiences in their life and come out the other side. Life can be so rough sometimes and challenging. Sharing experiences can help others who might be reading or hearing it realise that they’re not as alone as they may have thought.

RV: It really allows you to get more perspective and have more empathy. For me, that’s a little bit of why I’ve liked to work in the manner that we have because it allows us to meet people on their terms. To try to relate to someone on a different level and to try to understand their passion and what makes them tick, is really cool. We’re all more similar than we think, we just have little variations. The communicative aspect of collaborating and working with people and the learning is really a driving force for us.

HL: It’s interesting to see how you can musically get along with someone that’s coming from a completely different thought, but then you can play with someone who has practically the same taste and it just doesn’t gel.

RV: It’s the alchemy of art! Sometimes it’s still fun when it doesn’t work, because it is just for fun. If you’re not putting an expectation or an end goal on it, it’s the experience of creating the art itself, the process, that’s enough to be fulfilling.

Please check out: RED MASS. Red Mass on Facebook. Red Mass on Instagram. A Hopeless Noise out on Mothland.

Sydney Post-Punk band Loose Fit are “focusing on the little victories for the moment”

Photo courtesy of Loose Fit. Handmade collage by B.

We love Loose Fit’s rhythm-heavy groove-driven post-punk no-wave sound. Their self-titled debut EP  was released as a limited cassette run in 2018, but was recently put out on 12” vinyl by UK label FatCat Records. We spoke to them about the release, their beginnings and more.  

How has your day been? What did you get you get up?

MAX: I’m currently ‘working’ from home. I’m waiting for the phone to ring so I can help someone with their issues using Zoom, as I am apparently an expert since two months ago.

Outside of music what do you do?

KAYLENE: I run a little knitwear label called WAH-WAH Australia and work as a design consultant.

MAX: Just the boring normal stuff. I work a normal job, enjoy socialising on the weekends etc. I’ve been enjoying cooking a lot more recently.

ANNA: I make art, illustration, painting and other. I also freelance as a social-systems designer and right now I’m doing work as a Speculative Futurist, which is basically a dream come true where I get to make sci-fi artefacts and tell people they have been sent back to us from the future.

RICHARD: I’m a video editor.

Photo by Zafiro.

What’s an album that you’ve listened to more than any other? As a music fan what do you appreciate most about it?

KAYLENE: Naughty Boys – YMO. It’s the perfect pop album. It manages to do that thing where it makes you happy and nostalgic at the same time, and such cool synth sounds!

MAX: Too hard to be completely definitive, but one I’ve been obsessed with in recent years and keep returning to is Arthur Russell – Calling Out Of Context. It’s mentioned briefly in the AR doco how he loved riding the ferry and being on the water, and that feeling often filtered into his music somehow. I love that feeling in these songs, how they just kinda meander and float by with this kinda pleasant wistfulness. They’re also still super catchy somehow! He’s a master.

ANNA: Animal Collective archive I have been revisiting for years. When I feel boxed in, I listen to them and I feel myself again.

What was your first introduction to D.I.Y. world?

KAYLENE: I grew up playing trumpet in brass bands and orchestras, which was not in line with what I was listening to, or wanted to play, but it was a great musical training. When I was in year 11, I saw an advertisement on the Wollongong Music Scene online forum looking for a trumpeter to play some mariachi style trumpet on a rock album. After my debut in the rock and roll world, I joined a local band of misfits called The Nice Folk.

MAX: I had a couple of bands during and just after high school, so I guess we were ‘doing it ourselves’ back then? Not because we were super aware of DIY as an ethos or a musical subculture, we were just entertaining ourselves.

ANNA: Tangentially to music….My D.I.Y sensibilities came through my love of fashion and making things. When I was 10 I started designing and making my own outfits and accessories. In high school my friends and I had heaps of little fashion businesses and sold things at music festivals and all ages gigs and markets. We even made swing tags and brand labels.

Pic courtesy of Loose Fit.

I understand that Kaylene and Anna first met at fashion school and bonded over a mutual love of experimental music; what were some of these bands/artists? What was your first impression of each other?

KAYLENE: Fashion school was so all consuming that we didn’t really get a chance to bond over shared musical interests until after we graduated. That was almost a decade ago now, but I remember Anna introduced me to some cool artists like Anna Meredith and Blues Control. We went to a Holy Balm gig together and that really got us talking about synthesisers, and what music we could potentially make with the electronic music gear my brother had given me.

First impressions of Anna? Charismatic, good dancer and intensely creative.

ANNA: I knew Kaylene had an entire room in her house dedicated to records, and at fashion school she also had a vintage designer handbag and a pair of Ann Demeulemeester lace up boots. So I knew she was FRESHHHHH. She is such a clever designer. I had crippling social anxiety during fashion school, it was hard to make friends properly. During fashion school I used to go to gigs by myself at Black Wire and this artist run experimental spot in Chippendale called Serial Space and a grimy stinkhole under an escalator in Chinatown called The Square. I saw the most inspiring stuff at those places, especially Serial Space.

What inspired you to start Loose Fit?

KAYLENE: Until forming Loose Fit, I’d always found myself playing in other people’s bands as the trumpeter. It was satisfying in the sense that playing music with others is always (usually) a fun experience, but it wasn’t necessarily the music I felt I wanted to be making.

ANNA: I felt angry.

Can you describe Loose Fit in a sentence please?

RICHARD: No instrument more important than any other instrument.

ANNA: I still feel pretty angry.

Loose Fit started out with Kaylene and Anna doing lo-fi bedroom recordings; did you have an initial idea of what you wanted to sound like? How did you get started?

KAYLENE: Loose Fit is actually the coming together of two half formed musical projects. Anna and I knew we wanted to make music together, but we only really got as far as learning how to program beats on Ableton, and how to integrate analogue synths and old drum machines and record on a somewhat archaic 8-track mixer that we couldn’t export the audio from. Not long after, Max and I started throwing around the idea of making some music together. Our first attempts involved synthesisers and experimental trumpet, before I jumped on the drums and decided that’s where I’d like to sit. So I guess we started out thinking we were going to be more experimental than where we ended up.

ANNA: I used to joke with my friends that I was going to quit my job, go art school and join a rock band. And then eventually all those things happened. And lucky, because otherwise I’d still be recording videos of myself lip-syncing to Brian Ferry and posting them on the internet.

How’d Richard and Max get involved in the band? How did you meet?

RICHARD: Max was (and is) Kaylene’s boyfriend, I was a friend of Kaylene’s. The first time we were all in a room together was our first rehearsal.

Your self-titled EP was released in 2018 and in April this year UK label Fat Cat Records put it out again; have you been working on anything new? What can you tell us about it so far?

RICHARD: We’re working towards an album and recorded a bunch of tracks but it all got put on hold (like everything else) back in March. We just started rehearsing again and have been working on new stuff so we might try and get back into the studio soon.

ANNA: New songs, many new songs. I really like the new songs. So fun! I really miss playing them at gigs.

How do you write? Is it collaboratively? What’s your process?

RICHARD: A lot of our songs come from stuff that just happened in rehearsal and we liked it. We’ll often just start playing until we hit on something that feels cool. We try and come up with interesting places to take it, and then edit pretty hard to turn the bits into a tight song. Sometimes someone will come in with a bit – like Max came up with Pull The Lever’s main bassline. But nobody brings a completed song and plays it on an acoustic or anything gross like that.

ANNA: Yeah and we tried to do long distance Covid songwriting over email but it sucks.

Can you share with us one of your favourite moments from writing and/or recording your s/t LP back in 2018? I read that you recorded it in one weekend.

MAX: I can’t really think of a particular moment, but the whole process was a real delight. I’m sure everyone who’s been in a band can relate to that intense burst of energy and excitement when you first get together, write your first few songs, play your first handful of shows and make your first recording. It was a blast. Also, Anna had never played in a band before and Kaylene had never played drums. We approached the EP more or less just as a document of what we had achieved in that first 6-8 months.

ANNA: Playing our first shows!!!!!!!! I was so nervous we’d play to an empty room, but all my friends caught the train up from Thirroul to Petersham Bowling Club to see us play! What a buzzzzzzzzz though. Every time someone invites us to play a show I’m still flattered.

RICHARD: We did the EP with Jono Boulet, it was a pretty fast and furious session in his little studio in Marrickville. There wasn’t much overthinking, they were all songs we knew pretty well and we just smashed through them.

The album art features details of “Lost In Highway” a painting by Botond Keresztesi; how did you first find their work? What attracted you to using it for your cover?

ANNA: I discovered Botond through Nick Santoro I think. They have a similar language in their art. It’s one of those things. You see an image it is just obvious that it is perfect for the sound of the music and the mood. I can’t explain it. But I do love the post-internet hyper-real style of Botond’s art, and the sort of awkward non-spaces of the scenes he paints. Objects floating and existing, somewhere kinda vacant and artificial, in no particular time or place.

In regards to song writing, what is one of your biggest challenges?

MAX: Sometimes it’s just hard! Sometimes we’ll stumble upon something and end up with a song an hour later, but other times ideas are just less forthcoming.

RICHARD: Everyone in the band listens to a pretty wide variety of stuff. I think we’re all interested in exploring lots of different territory stylistically. Maybe the challenge is doing that while making sure we retain the band’s own style and personality.

ANNA: Being able to retain the same off-the-cuff natural energy of jamming and chaotic improvised lyricism in the final refined song.

A couple of months ago you released a film clip for song ‘Black Water’; can you please tell us a bit about the day of shooting it?

MAX: It was a really fun day! Two of my friends from work helped us out behind the camera. Solomon directed/shot it and Gabe helped out ‘on set’ and shot some great photos. One of the dancers, Cait, is an old school friend of mine that I called upon when we needed a couple of ballroom guns. So it was just a whole lot of fun. I think it turned out really great too. We’d sort of had the basic idea rattling around for a while but when we pitched it to Solomon he really brought the final thing together and made it look super schmick. Total pro.

ANNA: It was pouring with rain and the roof of this heritage listed hall we rented was leaking. Gabe had to mop the floor between every take so the dancers wouldn’t slip. Kaylene and I spent most of the day applying makeup and fake nails. Richard brought one of his attractive vintage speaker systems for set dressing. All our costumes were from charity shops and we were aiming for daggy-glam but we kind of ended up looking like a rip off Gucci campaign.

What’s next for Loose Fit?

MAX: Hopefully we can finish the album soon! Just focusing on the little victories for the moment I guess.

ANNA: Bringing heaps of hand sanitiser to band practice.

Please check out: LOOSE FIT. Loose Fit on Instagram. Loose Fit’s self-titled LP out on FatCat Records.

Melbourne-based Indie rockers Dianas talk about new LP Baby Baby: “trying to navigate our way through life and love and defining ourselves as people, the sadness and hope in growing up”

Original photo by Tom Mannion. Handmade collage by B.

Dianas dropped a beautiful, dreamy sophomore album Baby Baby last month, it twists and turns through tracks as polyrhythms unfold, and their melodic interplay and charming vocal harmonies build around them. It’s dream pop, but it’s no nap, it’s a wild and energetic lucid dream. We caught up with them to explore their Perth-based beginnings, their move to Melbourne and the crafting of their new LP.

How did it all begin? How did Dianas get together?

CAITY: Nat moved into my house something like nine years ago and soon after broke up with her partner so we started hanging out a lot. Nat had been playing acoustic guitar for a while and writing songs, and I had stolen my brother’s electric guitar with the intention of learning to play but hadn’t got very far. We kind of just started playing together and tentatively writing songs whilst drinking a lot of cheap wine and generally annoying our neighbours. It’s kind of funny because I remember that as a really good time and Nat remembers it as one of the worst of her life, but either way that cocktail of boredom and heartbreak was essential to get us started because we’d probably have been too shy and awkward otherwise.

NAT: That story pretty much sums it up! It was definitely one of the worst times of my life but also the best, and the absolute best thing in my life has come out of it so it all balances out. Some of my fondest memories are learning how to play Best Coast, The XX and other extremely indie covers on bass and guitar together and just thinking it was the coolest. Also Caitlin taught me how to play bass!

What’s the story behind the name?

CAITY: We don’t have a good story behind the name. I’d love to say it came from the goddess Diana, of hunting and the moon, but actually it came from an op shopped Princess Diana portrait that had been tastelessly defaced for a party and was lying around our lounge room.

NAT: We were literally sitting in our lounge room naming stuff we could see so it was either Dianas or Sofabed. Fun fact we were originally called Undead Dianas but thankfully dropped the Undead before our first show.

What kind of musician would you say you are?

CAITY: A lazy one. I never had enough motivation to learn to play anything properly – despite the fact my mum is a music teacher who tried repeatedly to teach me piano – until Nat and I started playing together and writing songs. So maybe I can say a collaborative or a creative one – I’m never going to be a great guitarist but I love the process of turning ideas into songs especially when the input of other people makes it into something bigger than the sum of its parts.

 NAT: That’s a hard one! I’m all over the shop. I really enjoy trying to fit in with other people and what or how they’re playing, move with them while still trying to fit in whatever it is that I want to do or hear.  I think similarly to Caity I’m not really the kind of musician who gets great joy out of being totally technically proficient, but can take pleasure in playing with others and for others, trying to make something out of nothing.

Dianas are originally from Perth; what prompted the move to Melbourne? Nat wanted to pursue sound engineering, right? Was it a hard/big decision to move the band there?

NAT: I was always staunchly against the idea of moving to Melbourne, cos it just seems like the ‘classic’ Perth thing to do, but I also really wanted to get into sound engineering, and Melbourne was the best place for it. I didn’t really admit to anyone at home for ages that I’d moved out of embarrassment for totally flipping, and I planned to only come for 5 months but still here 5 years later! Caity and I initially did a long distance thing, flying between cities to play shows, but eventually she missed me too much and followed me over here

CAITY: I was staunchly for leaving Perth at some point so yes, I followed Nat here. I guess I figured I’d have at least one friend and something to do even if I couldn’t get a job!

What do you think of Melbourne now you’ve been there for a little? How is it different to Perth?

CAITY: It’s colder – I do miss the sun and the beach. But there’s a bit more going on culturally (sorry Perth) and in terms of the music scene there’s a lot more venues to play at and local festivals and things going on.

NAT: Quite a few winters in and I’m still not used to how goddam cold and dark it is. But I’ve also really loved getting involved in the music scene here, although there’s some similarities, it’s pretty different to Perth I think, obviously way more bands and venues, but there’s also this collective feeling of experimental space. Also being able to explore up the coast and make new friends all over this side has been amazing.

Photo by  Tom Mannion.

You recently released your sophomore album Baby Baby into the world; what do you love most about the record?

NAT: I just love how ‘us’ it sounds. We’ve put so much of ourselves into every aspect of it, from obviously the writing and playing together, but then the whole recording and mixing process to all the design and videos and releases. I’m not sure how I’ll feel in the future but I’m just honestly really proud of this thing that we made.

Can you tell us a bit about the writing of it; what was inspiring it lyrically? Do you feel there’s an overarching theme? I picked up on love, relationships, self-love and a mood of sadness.

CAITY: I think those are themes that are always present in our music and how they show up just shifts and changes depending on where we’re at personally at the time. The lyrics are usually pretty simple and direct but hopefully capture a specific mood or feeling that other people can relate to. The inspiration is mostly just our own little lives; trying to navigate our way through life and love and defining ourselves as people, the sadness and hope in growing up.

One of my favourite tracks on the LP is closer ‘Learning/Unlearning’; what sparked this song?

CAITY: ‘Learning/Unlearning’ was just me trying to tell myself not to have regrets about the past – a self-help song! I think a lot of women especially can look back and see that the way they thought about themselves and allowed themselves to be treated was ill advised and damaging, and it’s hard sometimes not to see that as wasted time. There’s a lot of bad ideas we internalise that take a lifetime to unlearn, so it’s really about going easy on yourself and allowing for the fact that you have to go through things to learn from them.

I also really love the piano, drums and bass combo in song ‘Jewels’; how did that song get started?

CAITY: ‘Jewels’ started with just the piano and vocals, which Nat and Anetta then added their parts to. We had a song on our last album that was just piano, bass and drums that we really liked so I suppose we were going for something similarly simple, but then we ended up adding lots of different vocal layers to the second part in the recording and it became a bit of a different beast. We really like this song though, possibly because it’s the newest and we’re not sick of it yet. We actually only had a chance to play it live once before all our shows got cancelled!

You recorded the record at Phaedra Studios, Nat recorded it; why did you decided to self-record? Can you tell us about the sessions? What were the best and most frustrating bits?

NAT: It sort of started off from a place of necessity, I’d dipped my toes into half recording us on our last EP, as the result of another tumultuous breakup leaving us without our usual recording engineer halfway through the recording process. I was a bit hesitant at first that I’d be able to do it but Caitlin said I should and I just do what she says. (Caity’s edit: not true)

Having the space in the sessions just by ourselves was really amazing. There was no pressure to try and fit in with anyone else’s views or notions, we could just be ourselves and get down and do it. In the past we’ve maybe struggled with communicating what we want or how we feel, but I think that we’ve learnt and grown a lot over the years and there were only minimal tears this time – a record! I think the hardest part was just trying to keep up the confidence and objectivity that what we’d done sounded good, I guess the flip side to doing it ourselves is we then only had ourselves to look to. I just had a really fun time mixing it too, I learnt a lot and had a lot of space to experiment. I think there was only one thing in the end that we had to compromise on (too many delays in a chorus vs not enough!), and I’m real happy and content with how the album sounds as a whole.

 Dianas harmonies are really cool; how do you approach making them?

CAITY: Usually one of us just starts singing and the other one joins in when they feel like it. We’ll keep going over things until we find something we like, but it’s not really planned out. At this point it’s just kind of assumed that we’ll both sing in one way or another on a song, rather than have a single vocalist. At least I’ll usually make Nat sing along with me because my voice is kind of weak on its own!

How did you first find your voice? Is confidence something that’s come to you over time? Do you really have to work on it? Are you still working on it?

CAITY: I don’t know if I would ever have got up onto a stage if Nat hadn’t encouraged (forced) me to – or even maybe sung at all. I tried to make her be the front person and just sing the songs I wrote herself but she refused, which I’m now thankful for because I really enjoy it. We’ve definitely become a lot more confident on stage than we used to be, which has just come from time and practice, but we are shy people by nature and can tend to be a bit too self-effacing at times. I think we’ve learned to own our voices a bit more and have hopefully stopped with the “what I don’t even know how to play a guitar hahahah” interview style/stage presence. But it is something we are constantly working on yes.

Baby Baby’s cover art is by artist Tamara Marrington; how did you come to her work?

NAT: We’ve known Tammy for a while (I guess since Perth days!) she’s one of those artists who just elicits a complete emotional response from me, I don’t think there’s been an exhibition of hers I’ve been to where I haven’t had tears streaming down my face. She was very patient working with us and our often indecisive natures, and we’re just so happy with how the record looks

You’ve made videos for the tracks off your LP (people can watch them all over at Baby TV) ‘Weather Girl’ is a favourite; what was the thought behind that one? I really love the fullness and chaotic-ness of this track!

CAITY: I just wanted to make a video about witches, but the kind of less cool TV witches of my childhood from shows like Charmed or Sabrina. The track was always pretty chaotic and only got more so when we recorded it so it seemed like a good fit for a narrative music video involving love potions and a stabbing (sorry spoilers).

 As well as doing Dianas Nat does Blossom Rot Records; what’s one of the coolest and hardest things about doing your own label?

NAT: It’s been really cool to just do things on our own terms, in our own way, and on our own time – not having to stick to anyone else’s schedule or run anything by anyone. I think the hardest thing has just sorta been having to write about my own band and trying not to sound too wanky. Definitely looking forward to working on some other releases! It’s also great working with Sophie, I feel like we balance each other out perfectly, she’s the boot to my scoot.

What’s next for Dianas?

NAT: I’m not sure about the others but it’s actually been a bit of a relief for me to be able to slow down, and not get too wrapped up in the constant next step motion. Having said that it will be really really nice when we’re able to play again, we’d love to reschedule the tour we had booked at some point but I’m not in a massive rush to do so until its super safe and would be enjoyable. I think for now I’d love to get back to our roots and sit at home together with some cheap wine and write some more songs 🙂

CAITY: Personally I have not found this time to be a relief at all, and I’m definitely looking forward to that tour. Looks like we’ll be waiting out the winter though so revisiting our roots sounds good – I think I’ll splurge on some nicer wine this time around though.

Please check out: DIANAS. Dianas on Facebook. Dianas on Instagram. Blossom Rot Records.

Pleasure Symbols’ Jasmine Dunn: “Colin Wilson’s The Outsider and.. Lorrie Moore’s Self-Help.. ended up proving to be great influencing texts”

Original photo by Pierangela Hidalgo. Handmade mixed-media collage by B.

Brisbane’s post-punk, ethereal, goth rockers Pleasure Symbols levelled up and really came into their own with last year’s release Closer And Closer Apart, a moody dream-pop affair. We’re excited to see where they go next, the band have been writing new material. We interviewed bassist-vocalist Jasmine Dunn.

How did you first discover music?

JASMINE DUNN: Slowly, it was always more of a background noise in my earlier years with some significant moments of discovery thrown in. I remember watching my parents dancing to Van Morrison’s ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ in the living room and realising that people can have sentimental attachments to music. On the flip side to that, I grew up in the 90’s so there was a lot of really cringe worthy pop music on the radio and on TV. I learned to dig deep!

How did the creative process begin with your first full-length, Closer and Closer Apart?

JD: I reached out to Steven to see if he would be interested in helping me record what I originally anticipated to be a solo body of work, we had only met once prior to that conversation so the direction for everything was still very unknown. The idea of a solo record quickly moved into talks of a collaboration between Pleasure Symbols and his project Locust Revival, which then evolved again into having him come on board as a guitarist to work on a Pleasure Symbols album, so we began writing and getting to know each other from there.

Photo by Pierangela Hidalgo.

Sound-wise Closer and Closer Apart is quite different from your first self-titled EP, you’ve gone from a more synth-based dark-wave style to a more guitar-orientated dream-pop, shoegaze style; what influenced this evolution?

JD: Four years between writing and then bringing in Steven on guitar meant Closer and Closer Apart was never going to sound like anything previously released under the Pleasure Symbols name. The EP is very primitive overall and I was keen to push the sound further to better represent our influences and songwriting capabilities. We still have a lot more to learn and a lot further to reach, but we’re getting there!

‘Image Reflected’ is one of our favourite tracks on C&CA; can you tell us a little about writing it?

JD: On the weekends I’d drove over to Steven’s place and we’d start with nothing, maybe a very loose idea and have a song or two close to completion in just a couple of hours. It was kind of surreal how easily we were writing together and I kept wondering if these songs were going to turn out horribly because of how easily they were coming together! I’ve never had such ease in songwriting before and I think a lot of that comes down to the trust and respect we have for one another. For ‘Image Reflected’ Steven had programmed the drums the day before I had come over and a good portion of the song really wasn’t changed much from the first take we did.

Do lyrics come easy for you? Who’s one of your favourite songwriters?

JD: Unfortunately not, I hesitate because I want the lyrics to perfectly articulate a feeling or a mood that’s driving each song. Sometimes there’s too many thoughts or it’s a lost moment in time and trying to catch those fleeting moments can be difficult. When it happens though, it’s an incredibly satisfying feeling. I mostly read to inspire lyrics and to get myself into the right headspace and I was pouring through a lot of Roland Barthes in particular while writing for the record. I came across a very well loved, second-hand copy of Colin Wilson’s The Outsider and my best friend had lent me Lorrie Moore’s Self-Help. Both of these books also ended up proving to be great influencing texts for me at the time.

We love the Closer… album cover; what’s the story behind the cover image?

JD: The photograph was taken by a friend of mine Haydn Hall who would hide out inside this restaurant on the Lower East Side in New York. The photo resonated with me as writing had already begun for the record so I had some idea in which direction we were heading sonically. It’s simple and unassuming with a soft focus. It feels like the calm before the storm.

Multiple Man did a remix of the song ‘Endless’; how did that collab come about?

JD: Chris Campion is an old friend from when we both lived in Brisbane, plus he recorded and mixed the very first Pleasure Symbols demos so there is a bit of history there! He asked to do a remix a while back but it took a little while for me to bounce it across to him in New York.

Last year PS toured Europe; what was one of the coolest things you saw in your travels?

JD: We drove the whole leg so we were exposed to a lot, but we saw so much and loved our time spent there, it’s hard to narrow it down! We hope to be back as soon as we can.

Is there anything you’ve been listening to a lot lately? We love finding new things to listen to!

JD: There’s some new Locust Revival tracks that more people should hear, as well as the new SDH record I’m really enjoying too. Still spinning the latest Tempers record too, that’s an incredible album.

Have you been working on anything new lately?

JD: Yes! We’re currently writing for the new record.

Lastly, what do you love most about making music?

JD: It’s a love/hate relationship for the most part, but it’s a vessel to create and a compelling medium to capture a moment in time and that has to be worth something.

Please check out: PLEASURE SYMBOLS. Closer And Closer Apart out via AVANT!

Sulfate and Wax Chattels’ Peter Ruddell: “I’m currently in a place where I’m trying to strip things back and make them as effective and as simple as possible to make them hit even harder”

Original photo by @somebizarremonkey, courtesy of PR’s Insta. Handmade collage by B.

We spoke to New Zealand musician Peter Ruddell from Sulfate and Wax Chattels in iso from his home studio. He shared with us a little about his band noise-rockers Wax Chattels’ new record that’s finished, new work from solo project Sulfate that’s in progress, writing and recording a song in 48 hours and songwriting in general plus more.

The most recent track that you’ve released into the world is ‘Song For Ruth’…

PETER RUDDELL: Where is Ruth at? [*looks around the room for his cat*].

I thought Ruth was your cat!

PR: It’s my partner’s cat originally. She is the best little thing. She comes and sits next to you when you’re working in the studio and hangs out, she’s kind of like a dog and sits next to you or on your lap and is always super affectionate; I wanted to acknowledge it. I made that track thinking that I needed to block myself away from all the social media and news, because I was finding myself sucked into it. I’m sure you’re the same.

Yes.

PR: I thought of making a song all about her.

Nice! What effect has being in isolation had for you?

PR: For me, it hasn’t been that bad. I know a lot of other people have been struggling quite a lot financially and mentally. I’ve got a really great set-up here where I get to keep my day job, I get to work from home. I have a great little bubble here, its two apartments next to each other and we share a deck together; me and my partner in this house and then another couple of artists and musicians in the next one. A person over there has been decorating the rooftops, he’s been climbing over and painting faces on the satellite dishes with the receiver as a microphone, all these happy faces. It really lightens the mood. He’s been a source of much admiration, keeping everyone’s spirits up.

That’s awesome! I love hearing stories like that.

PR: He changed an air conditioning unit on a bar next door into a Marshall amplifier!

Cool. Over the last weekend you’ve locked yourself away for a 48-hour song writing thing?

PR: Yeah, it’s this thing called ‘Two Daze’. It’s a compilation of New Zealand artists who write and record a song in 48 hours. It’s going to come out for music month which is May. There was something like 20 artists who have written songs for the compilation. It was nice to have a really strict deadline. I feel like everyone needs that every now and then.

What did you find yourself writing about?

PR: The state of living in isolation, which I feel is going to be the theme of the compilation. It’s not a particularly positive take on it. Sonically it’s pretty different to the songs I’ve released both as Wax Chattels and Sulfate up until now. If you compare this track to the song I recorded two weeks ago ‘Song For Ruth’ it’s night and day. That was a real positive stay-calm-everybody kind of tune whereas this one is more guttural. It finishes with a ripping sax solo! [laughs].

Nice! Did you find the 48-hour thing challenging?

PR: Yeah, it was tough. You know when you’ve got a song and you think, this might sound good or that might sound good, but you have no time to pick which version is the best way to go. It’s just about, ok, that’s it! Let’s move onto the next thing. Then drums, ok, that’s a drum sound, awesome, I guess that’s the drum sound! It was kind of nice, ‘cause you know when you use computers, with so many variables. Have you played around with Ableton?

Yeah.

PR: It’s just a black hole, right? Limit yourself with time, which means limit yourself with everything else, it actually means you produce something which is a finished thing. Its punk shit man, it’s putting stuff together and your ability to do it; you yield something which is hopefully going to have an impact on others, which is the whole point of music, right?

Yeah. You’ve been making music for quite a while now, so it’s you relying on your skill, instinct and believing in yourself to do it.

PR: I guess. I’m really curious to see, there’s a bunch of pretty big artists on this list for the compilation and it’s going to be really amazing to see what they create.

Do you learn anything about yourself when you write?

PR: I guess you learn limitations, I learn limitations. I try to go into writing things phonetically with a very clear perspective. I don’t know if it’s the content that comes before the music itself in most cases; the learning about yourself would potentially be evaluating your thoughts and evaluating what you want to write a song about. That kind of yields what you think about the world.

I remember when we were writing lots for the next Wax Chattels record, there was a lot of… I don’t know if this is particularly what I want to say or feel comfortable portraying, especially to the wider community, it’s a tough one sometimes.

Where did you learn to write songs? The members of Wax Chattels all met at a jazz school, right?

PR: We did. You had to write original compositions there. I’ve been writing stuff since I was at school though, with bands all through high school. I feel like coming out of jazz school gave you a lot of options and ideas to create interesting variations on time signatures or variations on form. I feel like a lot of the stuff that I have been producing lately, has been pretty much very stripped down to its barest.

The Sulfate record that I made, it reminds me of… do you know Jim O’Rourke? He talks about how there’s no simple songs, only simple people. I was like, hell yeah! Let’s make some songs that are super simple and see if we can make them interesting in ways that are captivating. For all the craziness of jazz school, I kind of went off all of this technical prowess, I find it limits the effectiveness of what you want to say sometimes.

I wanted to ask you about the Sulfate release, specifically songs there’s a ‘Cyclone Pt. 1’ and ‘Cyclone Pt. 2’; what was the thought behind those? The first one seems kind of calm, like the calm before the storm or even being in the eye of the cyclone where it’s calm, then you have the next track which feels maybe like it’s the storm.

PR: It was written as one song really. I figured they should be spread out on the record so that you could have… I think the reason I did it was for radio play. It was going to be difficult to get radio to play this 7-minute epic, whereas if you can just cut to the heavy bit people will be like “Hell yeah!” It does feel like two distinct songs in a way, Part A and Part B, so I thought why not just separate it into two tracks.

Who are the songwriters that you admire?

PR: Jim O’Rourke is definitely one. Prior to the Sulfate release I was listen to a lot of Yo La Tengo and Dirty Three. Swans is a big touchstone; Michael Gira has this side project too called, Angels Of Light, which is again going back to simple songs. A lot of the simplicity in that material was very inspiring. I’m currently in a place where I’m trying to strip things back and make them as effective and as simple as possible to make them hit even harder. Artists I think can do that well are really onto a good thing.

What inspired that change?

PR: Possibly frustration, frustration at my technical abilities. I just found myself listening to music that was simpler with fewer changes.

Is there a specific way that you wanted to differentiate between Sulfate and Wax Chattels?

PR: If I sit down and start writing something, I feel it goes in one of two ways. It either goes in the noisy, fast, angular stuff that is Wax Chattels – in that case I’ll take it to the band and we’ll work on it, we’ll chop it up and take an idea from Tom and take an idea from Amanda – or it goes in another direction; I wanted to have a separate outlet where it’s more beautiful and I had a clear idea of where I wanted the song to go in its entirety and it suits the Sulfate idea of simplicity and often slowness temp-wise. I feel like I’ve been making a call early on in the writing process which camp it fits into.

What’s a song that always cheers you up?

PR: Oh shit, I don’t know. I don’t do any DJ-ing for this very reason. I go through this playlist on my phone and go, oh yeah, that’s sad, oh that’s sad too, and that’s so sad—it’s a difficult question for me to answer [laughs].

Sad songs can make you happy too.

PR: True. There’s some catharsis in it. I like to think there’s a lot of catharsis in the music that I make, none of it is particularly happy or inspiring I don’t think but, maybe there’s some catharsis in it.

What was the first concert that you went to that made a real impact on you?

PR: I remember it very clearly. I went to the Big Day Out when I was fourteen and I remember walking in and seeing the band Die! Die! Die! play, you know that band?

I do, I’ve interviewed them before.

PR Cool. This was after they just won Rock Quest when they were still in Dunedin, I remember walking in and seeing this band that wasn’t much older than me – they would have been about nineteen – I thought shit this band is incredible! It was a fuck yeah, I should be doing this moment.

They’re amazing live!

PR: Yeah, so good. I’ve seen them five or six times.

What are you going to start working on now?

PR: Well, with this isolation it’s all about songwriting, right? You can’t get together with bands, it’s limiting and challenging and how we react to that. We’ve just finished recording a Wax Chattels record, we’ve wrapped up the recording… who knows when it will be released.

That’s exciting!

PR: I think right now my focus is on the next Sulphate record. My goal for the foreseeable is to have an alternating year, this year should be a Wax Chattels year and next year will be a Sulphate year, I’ll just start working on some stuff there. When we do end this lockdown I’ll hit up my mate David and we’ll make the next Sulphate record.

What direction has the new Wax Chattels record taken?

PR: It’s heavier.

Heavier?! Is that possible?

PR: [Laughs]. We spent quite a bit of time in the studio finding sounds this time. The previous record we wanted to keep as live as possible, this record maintains that live element but we spent a lot more time thickening it up, making the keyboards thicker and the bass more intense. Sonically it’s much more a step up.

Any particular themes you were writing about?

PR: It’s not too dissimilar from the doom and gloom we’ve been talking about [laughs]. I feel the world has changed so dramatically in the last month though, it’s going to be interesting to see what comes out of it, how people interrupt it post this crazy change in the world. All of the songs were written last year, we tracked it towards the end of last year and just got mixes back. The world is a different place.

You said you were exploring a lot of sound in the studio; did you have a favourite sound that you really love?

PR:  Personally, my keyboard sounds more and more like a guitar every time [laughs]. Check this out [*holds up an effects pedal*]. There’s a guy in Dunedin called Pepper’s Pedals who makes this thing called “The Satanist” which is black metal distortion in a Wax Chattels box. It’s the most straight in your ear trebly distortion, I love it! It’s all over the record.

What’s one of your favourite songs to play live?

PR: We have a new track on the new record it’s called ‘Mindfulness’. It’s all about how we shouldn’t just try to use the techniques the mindfulness to deal with the shit that we’ve got going on because that’s actually a way of not changing anything, it’s a way of just accepting the status quo rather than kicking up a fuss and actually seeing some real change. That song to play live is so challenging. Me and Tom have to lock in insanely tightly, there’s a whole bunch of aggressive vocals. It’s a thrill to play.

Any other favourites on the new album?

PR: There’s one we’ve been playing live for maybe a year now, it’s called ’Glue’. I can’t wait for the record to come out really. It’s taken a while. I’m going to be excited when it finally does come out.

Please check out: WAX CHATTELS. SULFATE. The ‘Two Daze’ comp has come out since we did this interview check it out here.

Cal from Post-Punk band Liquid Face: “Playing music is a good way to let the devil out”

Original photo by Dougal Gorman, courtesy of Liquid Face. Handmade collage by B.

Northern New South Wales band Liquid Face’s sets are hectic, chaotically energetic and in your face; if anger is an energy, guitarist-vocalist Cal’s performance may have enough to power the entire world! Their recordings are gut-wrenchingly emotional yet at times defensively apathetic. Aggressive and abrasive yet melodic with quirky synth lines and unnatural bleeps, bloops and effects taking the band beyond your traditional thrashy punk band into a futuristic slipstream where they’re riding their own wave; their wall of noise is impressive, you can’t help but feel compelled to climb, taking it in. We interviewed Cal to get an insight into Liquid Face.

CAL: Playing music is a good way to let the devil out [laughs].

I noticed when I was dialling your number that you have 666 in it!

CAL: [Laughs] Yeah, I guess it’s meant to be!

What have you been listening to lately?

CAL: A lot of Billy Childish stuff. I just came out of a late set Slayer phase after going to their show at the end of last year which was pretty inspiring haha.

In what way?

CAL: The fucking power of the riffs, the fucking huge energy haha! In a way It’s sort of what I try to channel in Liquid Face, just being as expressive as you can and letting as much out as you can in playing.

When we’ve seen you play, we totally felt that! What else have you been listening to?

CAL: Still a lot of Lumpy & The Dumpers. Still on The Coneheads as well, that really kicked off the Liquid Face stuff for me. Still all the classics too like Gary Numan and Devo. A bit of the Radiators.

Do you have any particular songs that you listen to when you want to cheer yourself up?

CAL: [Laughs] Cheer myself up, ‘ey? I’m not too good at that [laughs]. Usually I just channel it into a riff or something.

Is there a band that you listen to when you want to indulge your bad mood?

CAL: Warthog is a good one, it really brings that out [laughs]… more Lumpy! Stuff like Sonic Youth, the real early stuff where it’s not afraid to be a super ugly recording.

Photo by Nat Collins, courtesy of Liquid Face.

Who or what was one of your first musical influences?

CAL: Probably seeing Unknown Pleasures [by Joy Division] in my dad’s CD collection; my dad introduced me to that and Warsaw. That was my first introduction into something really cool with a lot happening.

What attracted you to making music yourself?

CAL: I guess, just wanting to play and having a way to express yourself creatively. It’s pretty tempting. And I’m pretty much a recluse and an isolationist! So it’s a good way to fill your time. [laughs]. I like figuring shit out myself. When I was a kid I used to plug out of the back of my guitar amp and plug that into the headphone jack of the computer and make some fuck up recordings. That progressed into getting a bit of a set-up and trying to actually write songs.

How did you come up with the idea for Liquid Face?

CAL: I was playing in the bands DRAGGS and Gee Tee for a bit, there was a lot of music happening in the house I was living in at the time, so it just kinda happened naturally. I was going through a bit of a fucked up phase in my life and I had a lot of shit to get out! [laughs]. Had my drum kit n’ amps in my room and that turned into Liquid Face.

Drums would be a good instrument to get lots of stuff out on!

CAL: Yeah, it’s my favourite instrument for that. There’s nothing like the feeling of beating on the tubs! My parents bought me a drum kit when I was a kid, they got rid of it soon after getting it [laughs], that really sparked my interest in making music though. I got a guitar a bit after that.

When you started Liquid Face I know you did demos yourself and you started doing it using voice memos on your phone…

CAL: Yeah, I did. Then it went into Garageband from that. I tried to do the first recording on tape and I put it in a tape recorder and it just spat the thing out everywhere, then I was kind of done with that format for a bit [laughs]. I’ve been living in the digital age now.

When you started it was just you by yourself, then you had a line-up with two drummers, when I saw you play you had one drummer and now you’re back to recording by yourself again, right?

CAL: Yeah, we’ve had a bit of roller coaster ride of members in Liquid Face. It’s been a pleasure with everyone but it changes quite a bit and now I’m living out in Mullumbimby where I haven’t found people play a similar kind of music, so I’m just going to do it all myself for now.

Nice! That’s kind of cool though because you can do absolutely anything you want.

CAL: Absolutely! We were meant to start jamming for new recordings with our drummer Lachie but then all of this [Coronavirus] shit happened and we can’t get through the borders, so it’s just me again.

You recently just dropped a new song ‘Animosity’; what was inspiring that?

CAL: A lot of bad feelings [laughs]. Sometimes I use making music as a way to not have to think about stuff, I guess. It’s a bit of a mix of everything really, disillusionment, I don’t know what the fuck is going on with anything in my life really. I just got fucking fired, all the good stuff. It’s pretty much record how I’m feeling or a life of crime! [laughs].

You also released the track ‘Teen Man’ recently too.

CAL: Similar stuff inspired that one but it’s almost like a self-review, aging but without the maturity and never feeling satisfied with anything that you do. I’d like to be a lot more mature and have my shit under control but, that’s not really the way things are going.

How did you record those songs?

CAL: I’m just recording them all at my house right now, just going into the old laptop. I put down a bass guide first then put drums over the top and then layer everything else over that. Vocals are done last.

One thing I’ve always loved about Liquid Face is your guitar tone, it just cuts through everything.

CAL: It’s a good representation of the feelings we’re trying to convey that it just kind of stabs ya! [laughs]. I’m really obsessed with gear, I’m a bit of a gear hoarder. The kind of gear that I was using, really bright guitars and amp, Jazzmasters, Music Man Amps, just trying to tap into that really fucking harsh sound—reminiscent of Sonic Youth and Roland S. Howard I guess.

Live I’ve seen you use a circuit bent baby doll thing! I’d never see anything like that before.

CAL: Yeah, it’s pretty cool, huh?!  Baby’s Gone to Sleep For Now. So im just using little Korg things to make some fucked up noise.

I love the weird, interesting sound you layer over the top of the guitars.

CAL: It’s hard for me to keep things simple and really not clutter I all because it’s me just writing it and I’ve never been really very good at denying myself any little pleasures. Any little bleep bloops and shit I can put on their on do!

What’s one of the most fun pieces of equipment you use?

CAL: Still the Jazzmasters, I’m really enjoying them. The trem on them! Dipping into notes and shit like that and going fucking ham on it! Good Gats. But just converted my Mustang to a 12 string. That’s pretty fun. [laughs].

Photo by Nat Collins, courtesy of Liquid Face.

Last year you release your debut LP; can you tell us a little bit about it?

CAL: It was the amalgamation, we wrote the songs two years before we put them out. We hesitated on it hell hard. We weren’t sure about the recorded sound but just though, fuck it! It is what it is, a D.I.Y. thing. We recorded at our old drummer’s jam space, I mixed it myself. Sat on it for a bit and finally put it out.

How do you feel about the LP having it out in the world for about a year now?

CAL: I’m happy with it as a statement. It was a real learning curve because it was the first full length release I’ve mixed myself. It could have been done better but it’s the intent of the sound that matters most.

Did you teach yourself to mix?

CAL: I went to Griffith Uni and TAFE in Brisbane but just dropped out of both when I learnt all that I needed it know.

So many people I know that have done courses like that usually end up dropping out, hating making music or when they do make it they just compress the fuck out of it until all the soul and fire and feeling is gone.

CAL: Yeah. All the industry shit is so twisted! It feels really dirty.

Totally! It’s so gross how the music industry operates a lot of the time. The most interesting music to me is always usually outside of the industry on the fringes.

CAL: I totally agree.

We’re big fans of your song ‘Isolate’; can tell us about making it?

CAL: Again It was inspired by the gear. I was using bass strings on a fucked up guitar with a weird tuning for writing that song. It was just about that recluse life [laughs]. The sound and the beat is what got it started; the drum beat, just getting pumped up off of that!

You do Liquid Face’s art as well?

CAL: Yeah all apart from apart from the cover of S/T. Sarah our keyboardist did that.

Did you study art or do you just like to draw?

CAL: I was really into it before I got my hands on a guitar, I filled up my time with drawing. I stopped all of that when music came along. Now I’ve started it up again so I have some thing to put on covers.

Do you have any favourite artists?

CAL: not really, I like Raymond Pettibon. Monochrome shit. album art work, that probably inspires me more than anything.

You screen print all your own merch too? Is that self-taught?

CAL: Yeah I do. My parents actually taught me to do it, they’ve been doing a little side hustle for years. keepin shit D.I.Y [laughs].. It just feels right to be doing everything yourself, especially for the music we play.

Is there anything else creative that you haven’t tried yet but would love to?

CAL: Maybe doing a bit more creative writing with other people in the future would be cool, but I’m too much of a control freak right now to give it up [laughs].

What are you working on right now?

CAL: This morning I’ve been working on the next song we’re going to release. We’re sitting on a bit of a stockpile of demos right now! The plan is with all this isolation shit is to just keep locked indoors and keep recording. I’d love to put them all together into a physical release, the plan is just to keep sprinkling them out there for the time being, give people time to digest them and think about them.

Is it the same kinds of themes you’ve been writing about it the past that’s been shaping the new songs?

CAL: Yeah pretty much, indulgence, anger, impending doom, confusion, finding your place in the world. I’ve pretty much done all of the instrumentation for the next batch and now I’ve painted myself into a corner where I have to figure out lyrics for them now.

Why is music important to you?

CAL: Music gives you a feeling like nothing else. It makes me excited when nothing else does. It’s something that I can always get stoked about!

Please check out: LIQUID FACE. Liquid Face on Instagram. LF’s song ‘Animosity’ features in cassette compilation A Long Time Alone out on Blow Blood Records – get it here.