Tuesday, February 21

interview: tom lee-richards

Tom Lee-Richards is a Melbourne-based musician with a debut E.P coming out sometime this year. After recent touring, Tom left his day job for music. And why not? His highly-textured, magnetic sound begs pursuing.

1. What fell into place for you to quit your day job and pursue music full-time?

Good question. I was touring NZ and Australia late last year and was enjoying playing in different places so much that I thought why don't I just do this. The volatile state of the world we are heading into has only really highlighted that nothing's as important as the things that make you happy - cos none of it lasts forever anyway. Plus, people find a way. If they don't well then they have to change something. I'll see how I go.

2. Where and how did you record your new E.P.?

This is my debut solo E.P actually and is probably more of a mini-album just because there are a fair few tracks that had to go together. I recorded it mostly with Pip Norman aka Countbounce (Jarryd James, Troye Sivan) at his studio in Northcote, Melbourne. One track was recorded with Matt Neighbour (Matt Corby, Courtney Barnett) at Sing Sing Studios. There are a couple of tracks that some regular band mates played on but a lot of it was shaped from the ground up from a demo guitar take or mouth percussion improv.

3. Can you tell me about the collaborations that happened when making this E.P.?

Working with Pip Norman was great. I sent Pip a few recordings and he was drawn to 'The Wearing Kind'. He said, "I really like 'The Wearing Kind' - I think it's got a charm and magnetism that I feel I could bring something special to". We agreed we should explore the song's calypso influences in a fresh way that suits us, whilst staying true to my vocal delivery and the nostalgic feeling in the song. It wasn't long before Pip was swinging his arm at a solo floor Tom, hammering out what would be the backbone of the track. I grew to love Pip's signature sample-driven approach and the wisdom he brought to the process. I laid down the vocals, guitar and (usually) bass and then we worked on adding some synth and keys magic.

Matt Neighbour, who co-produced 'Madness' with me, is a young production star and a super nice guy - loves 'Parks and Recreation' amongst other good shows. I had previously worked with Matt on my band Catch Release's album and was always impressed with his technical nous and consistently patient listening mode. 'Madness' was really about capturing what I do live and adding the bare minimum in a tasteful way. I knew I would enjoy that process with Matt.

Rob Wardrop (keys), Thomas Young (bass) and Danny Finkelstein (drums) also played on one of the tracks giving it killer feel. The E.P/mini-album thingy is a definite journey.

4. What are three words you would use to describe your new music?

Rhythmic, nuanced, textured.

5. Where is the best place in Melbourne to write music and/or to get unexpectedly inspired?

Haha well I may not be fully aware of where I'm going to be unexpectedly inspired next and that's awesome. I often find myself on a park bench looking sideways at a flying bird. The bird often doesn't make it into the song but is aware I'm there. I do also like grabbing a coffee somewhere and letting the wash of social noise create enough distance to write.

Saturday, February 11

'oh so you're off I see'

A few days ago Kane released the first single, 'Oh So You're Off I See' for his upcoming album. He also announced the big news...Kane has signed with U.S. label Dead Oceans. The response and coverage to his single and his signing has been staggering. I couldn't be more happy for Kane. You can even find posts about his new single on NMEClash and Stereogum. Listen to his new song above and, trust me, if you like this - the full album will take you to a whole new level.


Wednesday, February 1

contemplating the absence: children's grief and art

Photo by Dexter Murray
My first feature this year for The Pantograph Punch is on children, death, art and the workshop that addresses all three. You can check it out here.


Wednesday, January 25

interview: alanna eileen (musician)

Alanna Eileen has a quiet, pressing presence when she performs. She may describe herself as shy - her music is anything but. Alanna is on the cusp of releasing her first full-length album, which was produced by Ben Edwards (he also produced Aldous Harding's and Marlon Williams' albums). She'll be touring New Zealand in February before the release of her first single. Keep an eye out.

1. How does your self-described shyness and your desire to perform interact?

If you’re quiet and introverted, it can be quite daunting getting up on stage.  Being a naturally introspective and private person makes me nervous about performing, but it’s a great feeling when you overcome it and manage to connect with people.

2. What was it like to do shows with your dad?

It was a valuable opportunity to get comfortable performing in public without the pressure of being entirely solo.  I learned a lot about people and the multifaceted nature of adult life because I was singing alongside my father in bars and other venues while still only a teen.  It was also the first time I realised my voice seemed to have an impact on people and that, while surprising to me, was a great feeling.  It felt like I suddenly had a place in the world.  Additionally, I got better at singing harmonies and that remains one of my favourite things to do.

3. What are 3 words you would associate with your new album?

Hushed, atmospheric, real.

4. Where and how did you record your new album?

I recorded the album at The Sitting Room in Lyttelton with producer Ben Edwards.  I had been playing shows and traveling around New Zealand for about a month before we were due to record.  I also spent some time alone in a shack in a remote mountainous area and wrote some of the songs that ended up on the album while there.

The recording process itself took three weeks and we tracked a lot of it live.  I felt like a different person by the time we finished.  Ben Edwards is so gifted at what he does.  He’s funny and genuine and fosters a non-judgmental environment that mitigates the anxiety typically associated with recording.  He seems to understand the importance of space or atmosphere and the album is what it is because of that.  He also works extremely dedicatedly and the studio feels like a magical place to make music.

5. Where are you looking forward to playing in New Zealand?

I’m looking forward to playing at Wunderbar in Lyttelton; it’s quite an intimate venue and I really like the shadowy, red-curtained vibe.