Digesting the BIGSOUND line up is always time consuming. With so many artists to familiarise yourself with, it’s hard to discover everyone. From running in between all the showcases and sponsored parties there are many moments to discover new acts but there are also so many moments that could be missed.
With one of the most diverse line ups in BIGSOUND history, I sat down with four very different acts who are bringing the future of music to you in their own unique way and became some of the biggest talks of the town during the festival.
Here is part one of the Meet The Future series featuring interviews with Approachable Members Of Your Local Community and Wolfjay
APPROACHABLE MEMBERS OF YOUR LOCAL COMMUNITY
Approachable Members Of Your Local Community are no strangers to the live stage. Off the back of recently touring with Half.Alive and Polish Club, this four piece are preparing the release of their new EP ‘Love Thy Neighbour’ out next year lead by their new single ‘On + On’. Sitting down with the boisterous collective compiled of Joshua Blashki, Maxwell Korman, Samuel Korman and Michael Fisher, they bounced between serious music talk and hilarious jokes as they proved why they are a force to be reckoned with.
TB: ’On + On’ is an anthemic track with a real summer arena edge to the production, so how did this track come together in the original writing and recording sessions?
MK: We did a lot of demoing last year on our own where we would just work on stuff by ourselves then come together as a group and share what we had. There was a lot of weird smacking around on laptop buttons that lead Josh into the creation of the original demo. And it was the catchy hook with that pulsating drop that really stood out to us.
When we all heard the original idea we collectively decided to push the production as far as we could. We worked with Gab Strum from Japanese Wallpaper, who’s a really good friend of ours, and we tried to push it to the stadium pop, Coldplay esq vibe.
So basically we just jumped straight from the demo to the birth of a stadium ready track *laughs*.
TB: With the growing discography of Approachable Members Of Your Local Community starting to take full bloom and your new EP ‘Love Thy Neighbour’ on the horizon, how do you want to sonically grow and evolve who you are as a band?
MF: We started off by cementing how we work as a band by doing our first couple of songs. They were formed ideas and they were then collectively developed and recorded in a very live setting for our first EP. That has changed a lot, we are trying to more ambitiously pursue that pop sound which we shamelessly love, we think it’s hot.
Sam’s been working on his production skills a lot and we’ve been working with the likes of Gab Strum and Oscar Dawson who produced a couple of the last songs. But for us it’s really about seizing more and more control over the production process so we can create a sound that we’ve developed ourselves. Big sounds are fun!
TB: Was that a punny plug for BIGSOUND?
MK: Yes! That was a paid ad! We get paid $45 every time we mention BIGSOUND in our interviews *laughs*
TB: From the release of your debut single ‘Millennium Queen’ to your current release ‘On + On’, what would you say is the biggest thing you’ve learnt about yourselves as musicians so far?
JB: We’ve learnt to be less bad! Our first EP was recorded at the Korman’s house and we essentially recorded like a high school band with just the main instruments in a live setting. We didn’t even know what production was. Now we produce the songs we create in a bigger way.
When we did ‘Millennium Queen’ it was just that basic recording, but then we had Gab Strum add all the synths to make it sound like a song. Now we sort of know how to do that ourselves a bit, thanks Gab!.
TB: So you guys don’t even need Gab’s help anymore?
MF: Oh no, no, no, we are extremely dependent on him!
MK: Pretty much what happened is that we improved and he got more amazing *laughs*. But I do think that collaboration is another thing we’ve learnt as a band. Working with producers instead of handing it off and going “make this sound good so we can play it”. It’s about using collaboration as a means to improve and grow.
JB: We’ve also just had to learn how to deal with global fame.
MF: Yeah, that’s tough *laughs*. But in all seriousness I think our live show has become something we are really good at and are so proud of.
JB: You gotta be the change that you want to see!
TB: You guys have a real cheeky energy that is light hearted and easy for a listener to gravitate towards, but with that comes the worries that people might not take you completely seriously. Has this ever been something you’ve been worried about or worked on to tackle?
MF: It’s something we talk about a lot. There was a genius copyrighter we worked with and when she was finding a way to describe us she said “funny but not a joke”, which I think is quite consistent with what we’ve discussed.
Music can be fun and it can be really energetic, intense and emotional at the same time, but we don’t want to position ourselves as a joke because we don’t think we are. There is a really fine balance. The outfits are fun but they’re also high impact as it creates a presence on stage.
MK: From the couple years of being a band, the idea of having a crowd feeling like they could be on stage with us is the aim. It does breakdown the barriers with people. We’ve done show where we had 8 people sitting 200m away across the room and by the end of the set 5/8 were up the front dancing with us. And that’s only because we’ve said extremely unusual things or they think we are pretty funny or engaging. We want to bring people in.
Listen If You Like; San Cisco, Half.Alive, Total Giovanni
Wolfjay is a non binary artist who alongside Cry Club are trying to spread the message of inclusivity, the creation of safe spaces within the Australian music industry as well as the education of the use of the right pro-nouns.
With their new single ‘Together’ out now, the Melbourne based singer-songwriter is finally sharing their unique story of how they have embraced themselves through their honest storytelling.
TB: ’Together’ is a track about love, hope and warmth. With the lyrics being written at a very important time in Australian history with the country voting to legalise same sex marriage in the nation-wide plebiscite. When you reflect back on that journey and how you felt when you wrote it and how you feel about looking at it now, how cathartic was it writing that song on that day for you?
W: I think it was interesting because I didn’t understand the significance of it until later. I wrote the song purely out of hanging with someone on that day.
That morning they had messaged me and asked if I wanted to hang out and watch the plebiscite results and I’m like “okay, cool”. So we went to this pub and were drinking margaritas at like midday and everyone was just hanging out and watching this historical thing happen. We then went to a recording studio where we just hung out and when they left I wrote this song.
I never really felt comfortable releasing it. Even though it was so simple, I never really felt at ease with it. So it took attempting to release it multiple times and putting it back to realise the significance of the song to me. So after I came out, I finally felt like I could put it out as I could be authentically honest with what the song was about and what it means to me.
TB: What is your favourite lyric from the song?
W: I really like the line about drinking Prosecco even though I don’t usually drink it *laughs*. People will message me and be like “I’m drinking prosecco right now and listening to Together’ and I think it’s so funny because I’m not a Prosecco person *laughs*, but it was such a big part of that moment for me.
TB: When I listened to ‘Together’ for the first time, I got some flashbacks to my early scene kid days with the progressive pop-rock production. What sort of sounds were influencing the sonical direction of this track for you?
W: We only really nailed that in and got really specific with that sound towards the end of the production process of the song. The producer Hayden Jeffrey and I came together with a bunch of different stems and parts and we just added what felt right and hadn’t really been to genre specific with what we were aiming for.
It was right at the end of process and we were doing the final mix and I realised that ‘Together’ was a song I wish I heard when I was a teenager riding around my neighbourhood on my BMX listening to my scratched up iPod mini with Fall Out Boy, Blink 182, Good Charlotte blasting through the headphones.
All of the stories in those songs are so straight. They are all sung my straight white guys who are dating or not able to date pretty girls. There was nothing more diverse or outside of that. I loved that music growing up but I couldn’t really relate to the stories at all. So I wanted to pay a nod to that and finally give myself those stories I deserved as a kid.
TB: Were you a scene kid growing up? Who were your favourite acts?
W: I was a closeted scene kid. Everything in my life was closeted *laughs*. There was a lot of music I liked but I didn’t know anyone else that liked it. I remember being in high school and seeing this girl listening to Fall Out Boy which isn’t even a niche pick and being like “omg you listen to Fall Out Boy!”. I feel like everyone was listening to it at the time but wasn’t talking about it. Which may be a representation of the time as there wasn’t really a strong social media presence or a platform to share playlists and songs with friends unlike now.
TB: You’ve been very open about being ‘Non-Binary’ and the importance of using the correct pro-nouns. So with the direction that society is heading towards, why do you think it’s important more than ever before to have a strong queer representation in the music industry that encourages the understanding and education of personal identities?
W: I think it’s especially important to me because I don’t find there to be that many interesting stories coming from straight people. I’ve heard all that shit before. The only stuff that is kinda pushing it is the people that say “I might be bi” but ever really clarify it and keep it vague.
So I think by celebrating queer voices and really establishing that they are queer voices, if they are comfortable with it, gives so much more room for others to feel confident to step up and share their stories. We are at a point now where it’s not enough to just have a catchy song. It’s the whole story behind it, the marketing, the branding, the artwork, the music video and the social media engagement which makes a song.
If we can cultivate an environment where people feel comfortable being earnest and sincere across all of that then we are going to get far more interesting stories which will help put Australian music on the map.
TB: In the lead up to BIGSOUND 2019, you’ve been very vocal in making sure that artists that didn’t get selected to showcase this year understand that it doesn’t define who they are or define if they have got talent or not. But rejection is something that is hard to deal with. Over the years how have you dealt with rejection or false promises from the industry?
W: I think it’s just realising that music industry is totally arbitrary. It’s fickle and it changes it’s mind every five minutes. There’s this perception that people with the power to make decisions are also the people with taste and that’s not the case at all. The people with the power to make decisions are dictated to what one person in their room who listens to Spotify is doing. And they are desperate to find out what those people are doing and they don’t feel like they have the authority to make big decisions.
I booked my flights and accommodation for BIGSOUND months before applications even opened. I decided I was just going to go and I was going to make it happen. At the same time I had just come off four of five big rejections for grants and support slots and it was a dark time for me.
But through that I realised that timelines never mean anything. Everyone has a different story and sequence to how things happen and it’s just about living in the moment and discovering yours. Theres no such thing as expiry in the industry or running out of time.
Listen If You Like; Blink 182, Fall Out Boy, Panic At The Disco, McFly but with a queer representation