Saskwatch’s fresh and third 7″ Single titled “Your Love”, have a listen:
When the full 9-piece that is Saskwatch enter a venue and unleash on you a tantalisingly-modern take on the R&B/Soul on the 60′s & 70′s that inspire them, surely heads will turn. Saskwatch are quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with, especially when fronted by vocalist Nkechi Anele, who’s soaring throat-box brings to life musical pioneers alike Aretha Franklin or Gloria Gaynor. They’ve been snapped up quickly by Northside Records, which is great news for the rest of us as we wait in anticipation for their soon-to-be released debut album ‘Leave it All Behind’, due August.
The following is our chance to chat to Liam McGorry, one of the Saskwatch family. Together we delve into topics of what influences them, their greatest memories of influential shows, and what is coming up for them next in the future. Enjoy the read.
First of all, how do you all know each other? Seeing you’re quite a formidable 9-piece band live on stage.
Well we all met studying music in Melbourne, at the Victorian College of the Arts / Monash Uni.
How long has Saskwatch been around for, is this everyone’s first involvement in a band?
We’ve been around I guess 3 years… (Woah)….In terms of other bands, we’ve played with a variety of bands over the years and still do. Tom and Ed play in Tessa and the Typecast, Rob, Tom and Nkechi in The Do-Yo-Thangs and myself in Eagle and the Worm. But in terms of Saskwatch, we started out playing covers of our favourite Soul tunes outside Flinders St Station, and gradually over a period of about six months, started to write our own songs and play at real venues.
You guys have obviously played a few large sets, but being a soul/R&B band do you prefer playing more intimate shows like ‘Soul Thursdays’ at Melbourne’s Cherry Bar? Of which July 12th was your last I sadly hear?
I love how different it can be show to show. Our shows at Cherry over the years have been incredible in such an intimate setting, and it is much easier to gauge the reaction of the crowd, and vibe is definitely always up. I guess in terms of some of the larger shows, festivals, theatres etc, you can feel quite isolated, but for me it’s the buzz of playing those venues, amphitheatres that is so rewarding. That said, it will be sad to finish up at Cherry which has been i guess the spiritual home of Saskwatch pretty much since inception (of the band not the movie).
With your schedules becoming more and more hectic as Saskwatch lifts off, are you finding it increasingly difficult to all come together to make more music?
Actually, I feel like it’s kind of the opposite. The longer we’ve gone on as a band, the closer we’ve all become… we’ve worked harder and harder at our music. We have our time for rehearsal, which no one misses. Everyone enjoys it (I think thats the main thing).
Together you’ve been able to support some self-described ‘soul legends’ through touring, is there any show that you consider your most influential or just simply the best?
There have been a few standouts. Golden Plains was just ridiculous for us. We’d never played to crowd over 300, and then suddenly we were playing to over 8,000…everyone was so excited, and rose to the occasion… and we shared our dressing room with Chic. Also, supporting Earth, Wind and Fire was terrific. To see those guys still killing it at 60 or 70 y.o, still touring internationally and to be so incredibly supportive (and not jaded) was really refreshing.
Who are your influences as a group, both old and recent?
More soul / R&B and a lot of mixed modern influences. We all love the classics (Otis, James, Aretha, The Kinks) but also new stuff from Dr. Dog, Javelin, Alabama Shakes, Mark Ronson, Charles Bradley etc. I love the language and forms from 60s and 70s soul / but with a bit of modern sounds and style.
Who had the idea for the name Saskwatch, does it have any meaningful reference, or is it just simply a snappy sounding name?
That would be our trumpet player Nic – he thought it was pretty snappy. And it stuck.
What does the future hold for you all, are there any big steps for Saskwatch ahead?
Hopefully, I’d like to see into a crystal ball or something. We’re launching our new 7″ ‘Your Love’ at Ding Dong in Melbs on Fri July 20th and in Sydney at The Beresford Sat July 28th; we’re touring internationally for the first time (to the Edinburgh Fringe / UK this August), and our debut LP ‘Leave it all Behind’ is out August 17th thru Northside Records / Shock which we’ll be touring nationally sometime later this year. Can’t Wait.
An intimate insight into Saskwatch’s flawless instrumental talent:
Artist Name: Sigur Rós
Members: Jón Þór Birgisson, Georg Hólm, Kjartan Sveinsson, Orri Páll Dýrason
Album Year: 2012
Active: 1994 – Present
The collective Sigur Rós stand as a guiding light for all musicians striving towards creating an atmospheric, and ambient sound. Throughout the entirety of their music, nothing ever feels rushed or forced, and merely leaves you pondering how such long and intricate tracks could be made by four simple people. “Ekki múkk” comes from their sixth and most recent album ‘Valtari’, one of ten tracks on this delicately pure creation. Sigur Rós became renown internationally after their third album ‘Ágætis byrjun’, with Jónsi’s falsetto vocal style and the group’s ability to almost instantly exude such strong emotions gathering them a large fan-base.
The combination of their front-man Jónsi‘s peculiar appearance as a result of being blind in one eye, and his high-pitched, ethereal voice gives the collective a definitive surreal and mysterious appeal. Yet despite certain interest in the band being dependent on mere curiousity, Sigur Rós most definitely validate their place in the music industry with incredibly immersive, unique and touching music. Most intriguingly perhaps is the group’s decision to use the ‘nonsense’, unintelligible language ‘Vonlenska’, or ‘Hopelandic’, using it with the intent to express emotion with mere sounds and language that doesn’t necessarily translate to anything. Separate to Sigur Rós, Jónsi has released quite a lot of his own solo music, with certains tracks like his cover of MGMT’s ‘Time to Pretend’ drawing much attention.
In a some-what awkward interview with BPPNPR, the band discuss the process for creating such diverse, and atmospheric music. They say that never did they “set out to make a certain type of music”, that simply what they made was what “happened naturally”. Struggling with annoyingly general questions, they still managed to narrow down on the simple fact that together they just wanted to “make music”. Never did they “expect anything” like the fame that has found them, that they just created what they felt they wanted and needed too.
A goosebump-inducing performance of ‘Ára Bátur’ at Abbey Road Studios:
Artist Name: White Flight
Members: Justin Roelofs
Album Year: 2010
Active: 2006 – Present
White Flight is the name given to the solo project of Justin Roelofs, a now ex-member of the indie-rock band The Anniversary until their split in 2004. This track ‘Panther’ comes from his single release in 2010, after having already released a self-titled album back in 2006. Roelofs sound in his solo work differs quite a bit from what he contributed to The Anniversary, with his previous band making more mainstream, pop-emo/rock music. After his first solo release, Roelofs literally disappeared from the U.S. just prior to its public release, later telling the media that he went to live in the jungles and towns of Peru, Guatemala, Hawaii and New Zealand. The sound that Roelofs has put into his single releases, as well as his 2010 album ‘White Ark’, comes from his experiences with hallucinogenic and medical plant-life that he partook in while overseas. While his new music isn’t necessarily revolutionary in any sense, certain tracks have distinct and rememberable melodies, which may have to do with the electronica group Ratatat’s involvement with production.
A Ratatat-esq track ‘Dream Lover’, with shots of the wildman Roelof:
Artist Name: Air
Members: Nicolas Godin, Jean-Benoît Dunckel
Album: Moon Safari
Album Year: 1998
Active: 1995 – Present
The electronic-ambient French duo Air consists of Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel. Their name is an acronym of the phrase ‘Amour, Imagination, Rêve’ (translated to Love, Imagination, Dream), and under this they’ve released upon us all 7 albums over the past decade and more, as well as several remix compilations. The pair work quite often with director Sofia Coppola, responsible for the film ‘Virgin Suicides’ which includes their probably most well-known track ‘Playground Love’.
The sound that comes from Air differs quite dramatically from track to track, yet all the while building off a consistent electronic, ‘dream-pop’ structure and sound. A song like ‘Cherry Blossom Girl’ reflects their ability to write and sing a lyric-based track while still keeping their trademark crazy instrumental solos (whether it be flute, saxophone, guitar, keyboard, etc). Yet a track like ‘Alone in Kyoto’, from the soundtrack of ‘Lost in Translation’, reveals their true talent in being able to create effortlessly flowing, ambient instrumental music.
When interviewed by Last.fm on whether they have interest in other artistic areas, Godin comments on the danger of “an artist’s ego”, and the delusion that “anything you make” will be good. So whether we see them involved in screenplays, or films or not it really doesn’t matter, given the calibre of the music they’ve given to their fans.
The entire of Air’s most recent album, ‘Le Voyage Dans La Lune’:
“We’re really just a mob of imbeciles though” says bassist Nick “Paisley Adams” Allbrook in an interview by Under the Radar Magazine, when questioned on their links to drugs and ‘coolness’. “We take less drugs than people think” Parker says, and that in reality they’re more ‘geeky’, or just more normal than what people think as result of their strongly psychedelic music. Yet together they’re very comfortable with that, as they’d rather people take drugs and put their music on while “visiting their mind’s engine room”, then simply being a fan because of a materialistic drug-hyped image.
Bands like this invigorate burning rebellion inside the hearts and minds of teens, as well as add new fuel to the old flames who remember chaotic live rock shows of the 60′s and 70′s. They stir creativity and force the mind to expand; whether by following an intricately connected melody such as the one in ‘Jeremy’s Storm’, or from the frustrating simple yet undeniably catchy riff at the start of ‘Half Full Glass of Wine’. Tame Impala seem set to release their second album later in 2012, with them just releasing this teaser-video which gives a short glimpse into what we can all expect from their new sound. I can’t fucking wait.
‘Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind’ performed in California. Enjoy:
So first of all, how did APES come to be?
Billy: APES formed out of a break-up with our ex-drummer (in the Boo Hoo Hoos), who is an awesome guy by the way. But-
Sam: It really started with me and you though.
B: Yeah me and Sammy moved out together, and wanted to keep things going after the Boo Hoo Hoos.
How old were you when you started recording as the Boo Hoo Hoos?
B: 17 I think. It was when I was talking to you (at James Toohey), and I was talking to Toohey online and asked him if he knew any drummers and that’s how Rohan joined really.
What influences you all when creating new music?
S: I mean, definitely performance wise we try to kick it up a notch, and vocally we all try and pull from a band such as The Hives. But musically, Black Keys, Black Rebel, some Strokes and Jeff Buckley. Billy’s a big Jeff Buckley fan.
B: Definitely the Stones man too.
S: Yeah, and definitely anything from the early blues period.
B: It’s about getting that good blues, but making it, I don’t know, catchy you know? More radio-friendly. But not everything’s in that vein, I mean a lot of it has that White Stripes feel. And Jack White does the same thing. He’ll have a solid blues track and then the next thing is something like ‘Seven Nation Army’, he just hits that many genres and categories of music.
Toohey: (stirs from his quick drunken slumber) I really just want to make guitar rock with pop-hooks.
S: Exactly man. Amen.
B: Not exactly typical pop-hooks though. I mean, you want to be able to leave a song but still know and remember it.
Whose idea was it to incorporate Ray Charles in the track Cheatin’?
S: This boy here (points to Billy)
B: Yeah I wrote that song.
S: It doesn’t really have much of Charles in it, but really it’s our way for all of us to pay homage to all sorts of blues records really. I mean, essentially it’s our tribute song. I mean with the opening line, people may misunderstand it at times.
B: What you have to understand though, is that when I wrote that line I didn’t intend to like, make my own version of Ray Charles’ music, it’s just a small glorified blues tribute really. And it was our first sort of step towards thinking like hey, ‘Why aren’t we making more music like this?’ You know?
So it’s a mix between paying homage to the blues, and taking control of the direction of your music?
S: Yeah I mean, I remember back where we were living we were just listening to ‘Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time’, and we were listening to a lot of late 50’s, sort of American-Blues stuff. So we really didn’t want to trivialise the blues or anything, it really is just our own little ‘nod’ of respect towards great music made by someone like Ray Charles.
So who writes most of your music?
B: Yeah but the thing is, I can’t write guitar like Toohey does, which is what makes him such a valuable asset. I mean we’ll jam and mess around and stuff, and Toohey will just come out with these riffs and it’s a sort of sound that I couldn’t even begin to imagine thinking of myself.
From seeing you play, I feel like your live shows can musically go anywhere. How much is impromptu between you guys?
B: Oh well I mean anything improvised on the spot is really just what you’re feeling at the time. You can just take it wherever you want, and that’s really the best thing about music.
S: The performance will always dictate it too.
B: Yeah, you have that freedom to do whatever is based on the mood of the show I guess. And that’s going back to blues as well I suppose. I mean, you listen to 100 different artists and then listen to them live and it’s never the same. I mean you don’t want it to be as simple as ‘this is what is sounds like on the record’, so ‘this is what it will sound like live’.
S: Yeah definitely.
B: I mean we’ll be recording in the studio and I’ll still be writing lyrics there and wherever the fuck we’re staying.
S: (laughs) Yeah it’s basically Billy’s motto that ‘We don’t use any lyrics until we bend them in the studio’.
So you guys do quite a bit of in-studio writing?
B: Yeah, you get that definite freedom of trial and error that you might not get rehearsing. It’s just easier to set something new down.
So would you say your process is half together in studio, and half making things on your own?
B: Well kind of. I mean, I never write any lyrics down or anything, they’re just all in my head.
S: Plus the process is never pure improvisation or anything, and it’s much more about the music than the performances. But yeah, we never finalise any lyrics until right up till we’re about to record.
B: Just what I don’t like about penning down lyrics is that is just feels so permanent. It’s like, if you record a song, you’re stuck with a certain image of a song and it makes it difficult to work off it.
(Sam assist’s Toohey to the bathroom)
So what would you say has been your greatest live performance yet?
S: (returning to the interview) Did you say greatest gig? Because I’ve got this one covered. The best gig we’ve ever played I reckon, and probably not the tidiest but the most fun, was our gig in Brisbane at Comic Sans last show.
B: Ah that was fucking sick. It was Bleeding Knee’s first show and Comic Sans last, and we played right in the middle.
S: We just got the perfect audience and atmosphere, copping a lot of Comic Sans supporters’ right when we started played. And up in Brisbane they just have the greatest people coming out to check out the local music scene so it was just the best. It wasn’t our greatest show musically, but I’ll tell you what I loved about it. You always want to go see a filthy, debauched, garage rock n’ roll show and that show absolutely embodied every part of that. People were pissed, speakers were falling over, the bar was wrecked and for me that was the epitome of growing up and playing in a band and it absolutely fucking rocked.
Jaar officially began his public-music career with a 3-piece band called ‘Clown & Sunset’, yet released his solo-debut album, Space is Only Noise, in January 2011. The album received wide-spread positive reviews, with many surprised at Jaar only being 22-years-old at the present date. The sounds that Jaar gives us through this album reflect a unique mind, and an ambition to find a new sound. “Balance her between your eyes” resembles quite a slow, yet immersive track, with Jaar becoming known for slowing his BPM to under 100, whereas its more common for his style to have 120-130. Jaar explains that “interesting” things can occur between beats unexpectedly, and regardless, all genres get “put into the same box at the end”.
“People use music like fashion”, Jaar says to Gouru in Paris, and to him reflects a danger of making music just like a clothing brand. It’s a process that “disgusts me”, he says, explaining that his album is almost an “anti-album”, designed at trying to get a genuine response out of people.
Part interview, part live performance, part music video in New York:
C418 makes quite a lot of music outside the world of Minecraft though. This track ‘Familiar Faces’ comes from his early 2011 ‘Little Things’ album, and reflects the difinitive ambience that he works through a lot of his music. Other tracks like the 8-minute ‘Timelapse Kingdom’, shows his integration with a more ‘techno’ feel, yet still retains the transcendent atmosphere that C418 does so well. When asked about what his inspiration is though, C418 replied that over time he’s really come to “hate that word”. Inspiration becomes misunderstood with subconsciously ‘stealing’ other peoples music it seems, and that ultimately he never “wants to” rip off one of his idols, but subconsciously, no-one “can really help it”.
Little known to some, C418 is also responsible for many other various sounds found throughout the game Minecraft. One such sound being that the eerie cry of a ‘Ghast’ is actually a recording of C418′s cat. C418 is currently working on ‘Volume Beta’ for Minecraft, which hopefully will be eventually intergrated within the game, as well as plans for it to be used for the upcoming documentary on the making-process of the game itself.
Part 1 of a teaser-trailer for the upcoming Minecraft doco’:
It’s easy to foresee a band like this playing in-front of thousands of screaming girls at some gigantic festival, but it’ll be interesting to see whether they have what it takes to make a real impression. The longer you listen to them, the more you can hear bands very similar to them, but ones that have made the big-time. You can hear The Vaccines, the beat of a bit of Mystery Jets’s old work, and even some of the light guitar stylists of a band like The Maccabees. In an interview to ‘The Middle’, they do cite these guys as some of their main influences. It’ll be interesting to see whether they can steer away from this ‘mash’ of bands, and cement their own mark on the alt-pop industry. They already seem to be creating quite an electric atmosphere around them though, with comedian/broadcaster Tom Deacon, BBC radio-presenter Annie Nightingale and Media Prima manager Paul Moss all having expressed their respect for the band. Young Kato urge you to give them a try, tempting any ‘would-be’ fans with a free download of their track ‘Lights’ which can be found here.
A little insight into the workings of Young Kato, and their live shows:
This track featuring Ivan Vizintin from Ghoul, comes from their ‘STFP’ album and is one of their rarer tracks which incorporates vocals. Personally, I wish that Seekae and Ghoul would just mash together and create one ultimate ambient band, because Vizintin’s voice is something else. When talking to ‘Sound Quality’, the trio were told that by holding back on vocals and instead working on the “layering” of each track, it gave a distinct longevity against mainstream music. The boys agreed, and said they try to give it “as much depth as possible”, and if anything they made sounds like something else already, they’d simply “scrap” it and start over.
Seekae playing ’3′ from their ‘+DOME’ album against a sunrise: