INTERVIEW: Methyl Ethel

Methyl Ethel is a visionary. The way Jake Webb sees his creative vision is so unique and he continually brings a theatrical flair to everything he does. Each Methyl Ethel album has got increasingly darker, honest, and well-rounded with a very distinct visual identity attached, and his fourth studio album ‘Are You Haunted?’ was a perfect example of this. Following a big run of headline shows, and ahead of his Splendour In The Grass set next weekend, he’s dropped a groovy 90’s inspired track. ‘Talk Louder’ is signature Methyl Ethel, while also being a little genre pushing in the way he’s approached how he wants his trajectory to keep growing. 

I recently chatted to Jake Webb aka Methyl Ethel about the 90’s inspired ‘Talk Louder’, reflected on his fourth studio album ‘Are You Haunted?’, and explored the visual identity behind his live show. Check it out BELOW:

THOMAS BLEACH: Your new single ‘Talk Louder’ is a groovy 90’s inspired moment that immediately captures the listeners attention. Can you explain the creative process behind this song? 

METHYL ETHEL: I basically cobbled together five or six songs very quickly, to play a solo show for a small arts festival in Fremantle. It was liberating to force myself to work quickly after two years of toil working on ‘Are You Haunted?’.

TB: How many versions of the song did you go through to get it to where it is now?

ME: Just two. I recorded myself playing the song live, and then re-recorded everything based on the live recording.

TB: Do you see ‘Talk Louder’ as a continuation, or a new chapter of ‘Are You Haunted?’, and why?

ME: I’d call it more of a seductive hyperlink that takes you down some other path.

TB: Your recent fourth studio album ‘Are You Haunted?’ Is a theatrical leaning, and sonically breathtaking body of work. When you sit down and listen back to the record now in full, where does it visually and emotionally take you?

ME: Well I don’t ever listen to it, but playing the whole thing live, which we did in full recently, has certainly galvanised the work for me and also brought about a whole new range of shared emotions with the band and audience.

TB: ‘Something To Worry About’ to me is one of the album’s pure genius moments. It’s such an incredible song. What is a fun fact you can tell us about this song that people may not know?

ME: It started as an instrumental demo called ‘Grey Day’ that was resurrected successfully very early in the creation of the record. There’s a lot of sound design in there, unfortunately pretty buried in the mix but, for example, you should be able to make out an orchestra tuning up in there somewhere.

TB: You’ve just been on a national tour that has led you up to Splendour In The Grass. From playing these shows, what is something you are taking away and changing or adapting for this forthcoming festival set? 

ME:  I’m just not over-thinking the whole thing. It’s so easy to put too much planning and stress into shows. I want to just find that flow state and enjoy it all while it lasts!

TB: Your main support act for this tour was Ash Baroque and Les fleurs d’ombre, who brought a very unique perspective to these shows. Is cabaret and drag something you would like to intertwine your music more in-depth in the future? And why is it something you are drawn to creatively?

ME: I love what Ash does and felt so grateful and honoured that they brought such an incredible show along with ours. I just follow my instinct and taste, wherever it leads me. I couldn’t say why I’m drawn to anything in particular. Like I said, it’s just a taste thing perhaps?

TB: For the Perth and Melbourne dates you performed these shows “in the round”. When you were adapting the show to cater for this, what was one of the most challenging aspects you worked through, or one of the things you learnt? 

ME: I was definitely conscious of having to play to essentially four sides of the audience. It was a workout in the end, but very thrilling.

TB: Let’s play a quick game of rapid fire questions about the song. Are you ready?

ME: Yes!

TB: The emoji that best describes my new single ‘Talk Louder’ is…

ME: Hmmmm, is there a shoe? That’s the first thing that comes to mind for some reason.

TB: My favourite lyric in the song is…

ME:  Can you walk by me, I can hardly see a soul.

TB: A lyric I changed was…

ME: None, I don’t think at least.

TB: The thing this song taught me about myself while creating it was…

ME: Not to forget the joy of creation in the struggle to complete.

TB: The colour that comes to mind when I think of the song is…

ME: Gold.

‘Talk Louder’ is out now!