Saturday, July 26, 2008

Firekites, Newcastle/Sydney

Current band rollcall? (Members and instruments/other bands that they are in?)
Tim McPhee (vox, acoustic guitar, keys, bass/The Instant), Jason Tampake (violin, bass/Charge Group/Josh Pyke), Rod Smith (acoustic guitar, vox, keys, bass, blog interview-answerer), Jane Tyrrell (special guest vox/The Herd and the Urthboy show) and Ben Howe (drums, percussion).

Firekites have been around since...
We began life as a two piece acoustic outfit in March 2005 but gradually grew into the current format.

Let's play Six Degrees of Firekites. Who have you collaborated with?
Andy Howe, Richard Pike and Matt Blackman among others.

First song ever written?
Finding Home.

Music making for you began when...
I found my sister’s acoustic guitar in the hall cupboard in 1989.

Most unusual sound/instrument you’ve used in your music?
Recording remnants of a broken wine glass for the track History. There have been many broken wine glasses! Ha!

Strangest gig you’ve ever played?
We once played a pub in two-piece acoustic mode and got heckled by bar flies with calls like,"You boys must have big hearts!" Classic.

Unlikeliest thing to influence your music?
Brownies with rosemary.
Seeds and scotch finger biscuits.

Most unconventional topic you’ve covered in your lyrics...
Sleeping in your best clothes and courtroom juries judging old clothes.

If you had to offer any of your lyrics as love advice (or life advice), you would offer...
If you’ve got something to say, then stroll out in the park.

Most useful lyrics you’ve heard in a song?
Should I take that risk or just smile?

Do you think where you live in affects your music in any way?
Yep, as does all your experiences in that place.

You would love to record with...
Nigel Godrich or Jim O’Rourke.

Favourite person you have performed with/recorded with...
Simon Connolly doing sound for our Northcote Social Club album launch. Great times!

Outside of Firekites, the band members are involved in...
Busy times...
Janey with Herd haps...
Tim with abacus duties...
Roddy holding down the law...
Benny chefing and chopping wood on the Kites' kit...
Jason with chargies, building an empire in World of Warcraft and otherwise slaying gents on the poker table.

Next for you is...
Some great supports, film clip, the Great Escape festival and a headline tour.

If record stores had to come up with a new genre name to file your music under, it would be called...

Five things you currently love

Keyboards through guitar pedals, because the possibilities are endless.

In Print?
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, because of Frost at Midnight.

Feast cafe in Bull street (Cooks hill), because of the relaxed vibe and smiles.

Art deco, because it's quirky but classic.

I haven't seen a movie in a very long time...

Firekites write beautiful, sleepy-eyed songs softly brushed with electro-folk touches. If I was going to apply one of those over-the-top musical equations to describe it, I'd say it's like Psapp meeting Sea and Cake in an empty school playground at sundown. You can find out more about their music and shows on their MySpace.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Cleptoclectics, Sydney

Current band rollcall?
So far, Cleptoclectics has been a solo project, just me (Tom Smith), some synths, various keyboards, a microphone, two computers, an MPC1000, a saxophone, some home-cooked software, and lots of records.

Cleptoclectics has been around since....
I've been around for about 24 years, but I thought of the name four or five years ago, and it never went away. Even though I still find telling people embarrassing... "Cleptowhat?"

Let's play Six Degrees of Cleptoclectics - are there any note-worthy musicians you've worked with?
I'm fairly solitary as far as musicians go. There was talk of me doing a remix for The Paper Scissors at one point, which seems unlikely.

First song ever written?
I used to churn out beat tapes as a kid, on cassettes I stole from hi fi shops. But it's hard to say at what point the sketches I've been been tinkering with for years turned into songs, I'm still not sure they have.

Music making for you began when...
First song I can remember is Buffalo Soldier, I was wearing a nappy at the time. I grew up thinking music wasn't something people actually 'did'. At the school I went to, you were showered with praise for getting an accounting scholarship, not for making tunes. But I think when I was about 17 or 18 I realised there are paths open to people who want to make music in their own way, even if they're fairly protracted.

Most unusual sound/instrument you've used in your music?
My grandmother recently handed down her koto to me, which I've been playing lots lately, it's that twangy plucked string instrument you hear in Kabuki, and generally associate with Nippon stereotypes. I once made a tune out of black swan calls, if you put them through an amp they distort nicely.

Strangest gig you've ever played?
I played a party once which had a peacock theme and you weren't allowed to wear shoes, everyone was on drugs, not that strange I suppose, but it's one of the most memorable for some reason. The first legitimate 'gig' I ever played, I followed a 12 piece improv band who had stage props and stupid theatrics, I then climbed on stage by myself and bunted away at my sampler, to the bemusement of the 10 punters in attendance, also not that strange really. I've been turfed out of a couple of illegal type gigs before I even got to setup, which is just annoying.

Do you pin up images when recording to help inspire your songs? (Or put up other things in the studio for the same effect?)
I've got a poster of Antonioni's Blow Up, some King Kong posters, a collection of West African and Sepic ceremonial masks, a Bridget Riley print, a replica Sun Ra hat which - when you put it on - gives the effect of a solar system orbiting your head, I wear it whilst channeling the cosmos. I have a thing for kitsch sleeve designs too.

Unlikeliest thing to influence your music?
Sometimes people struggle to believe that I actually like some of the crappy exotica records I buy.

When you're working with electronic music, is it easier or harder to get across a message or mood when you can't use lyrics?
Obviously if I wanted to write a polemical song about an issue, it would be hard to do without words, so it's lucky I'm not really interested in saying things consciously with my music. I find music with too much intention tiresome. As far as mood goes, maybe lyrics can obscure as much as create it, they can lock an experience down by making it 'about' something, obliterating the possibility of people formulating their own response. I'm interested in phenomenology, and by extension, people's unique responses to sound, which can become less important in lyric music because it's spelled out for people.

It's a good question, kind of leads to other questions though; like what is musical communication? Music is sort of impotent in lots of ways, that's probably what leads some people to approach music like an intellectual game, rather than a vehicle for emotions. I'm not quite at that stage, but I'm not really into 'message' music either.

Do you think the country/city/town you live in affects your music in any way?
In all sorts of ways. The relationship between music and geography is really interesting I think. I find Sydney isolates people a little, I've found it easier so far to get gigs in other cities. I've played almost as much in Melbourne, without really trying, even though I hardly knew anyone down there when I started. So my music isn't made with much consideration for my immediate context, which is I think something that a lot of music from Sydney has in common, a kind of spatial dislocation, which paradoxically comes from the city perhaps.

You would love to record with...
Rahsaan Roland Kirk

Favourite person you have performed with/recorded with...
The most challenging performance I've ever done was at TINA last year: a bunch of friends, calling themselves DKDC, loosely connected to this site - - asked me to score their performance live. It was a kind of absurdist theatre performance and I was pretty far out of my comfort zone, which made me feel embarrassed, but then thrilled and satisfied. Flying Lotus and Touch Typist were the two best support slots I've done.

Outside of Cleptoclectics, you spend your time....
Working in a gallery/artist agency, teaching at the College of Fine Arts, taking up space.

Next for you is...
Limited edition 3" release coming out through this label sometime in the not too distant future, just working on music generally.

If record stores had to come up with a new genre name to file your music under, it would be called...

Tonally Considered Rhythm Scapes
Variable Drone Beats
Swinging Interval Meditations
Syncopated Granulation Edits
Brick Wall of Sound Constructions

Five things you currently love

Musically? Alice Coltrane - it's next level amazing shit.
In Print? George E Lewis' various writings, Roland Barthes' A Lovers' Discourse
Locally? Pigeonground - right near my house, perfect thing to do on a lazy Sunday. Consolador de Dos Caras - crazy music, loud, awesome.
Satellite cafe - do yourself a favour and get a veggie breakfast.
Visually? Edward R Tufte's Envisioning Information - sort of information design 101.
Cinematically? Blade Runner - doom, gloom, synths and sax.

Cleptoclectics' electronic tinkering is as wistful, spaced-out and strangely beautiful as a constellation. His latest album is Poignancy Beats. When Jonathon Valenzuela and I used to do semi-neighbouring timeslots on FBI, we would fight over who would get to play Cleptoclectics. You can slink over to his MySpace to hear some tunes and check out Cleptoclectics' verbal stylings on his blog.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Catcall, Sydney

Current band rollcall? (Members and instruments/roles?)
I'm Catherine Kelleher, the vocalist and songwriter. I collaborate mainly with Crumbs, who is Melbourne-based producer Max Kohane. I've also recently collaborated with Sydney producer Mailer Daemon.
Live, I perform my set with Sleater Brockman and have recently acquired a male back up dancer, "Jack Ass".

Catcall has been around since... January 2007.

Let's play Six Degrees of Catcall - who are some note-worthy musicians you've worked with?
Kiosk (for three years, I played in this punk band).
The Crayon Fields/Sly Hats (my EP was recorded by Geoff O'Connor).
Agents of Abbhorence (my producer plays in this grind band).
Sleater Brockman/Ro Sham Bo (DJs and friends).
Mailer Daemon and Peach (we recently collaborated).

First song ever written? Bodies was the first song I put on my MySpace. It was a downbeat, slow jam with a sparse organ and bassline. I wrote the beat myself, and the vocal was quite soft and breathy.

Music-making for you began when... I first had piano lessons at the age of five. But really it started when I met Jack and Angie and started playing in Kiosk when I was 17, at the end of 2003. We kept pretty busy until mid 2006 when we toured the USA. And then from early 2007, I was drawn towards making pop.

Most unusual sound/instrument you've used in your music? Probably my harmonica.

Strangest gig you've ever played? More bad ones than strange ones, haha. Me and Sleater got heckled at an Annandale show once. By Mogans (Modular-bogans).

Do you pin up images when recording to help inspire your songs? (Or put up other things in the studio for the same effect?) Not really!!! I mainly just listen to the same kinda tracks that are inspiring me at the moment. Right now, it's Neneh Cherry and The Go-Go's.

Unlikeliest thing to influence your music? Party pix photographers.

Most unconventional topic you've covered in your lyrics... Baking!

If you had to offer any of your lyrics as love advice (or life advice), you would offer... Not the best person to give love advice, hahaha!!

Most useful lyrics you've heard in a song? "I don't want the world, I only want what I deserve" - The Gossip.

Do you think where you live in affects your music in any way? Yes. Sydney has made me who I am. I think Catcall is definitely a product of the scene which surrounds DJs and performers like Ro Sham Bo and Hoops.

You would love to record with.... Bangladeshi, Switch, Sinden

Favourite person you have performed with/recorded with... THE GOSSIP.

If record stores had to come up with a new genre name to file your music under, it would be called... Hip pop.

Outside of Catcall, you also... work in film, most recently in independent film distribution. Film is my other great passion, especially arthouse, independent cinema.

Next for you is... Writing my album with Crumbs and collaborating with several other amazing Australian producers. Then touring the country and then the USA with Sleater Brockman.

Five things you currently love

Musically? Kid Cudi, hip hop perfection.
In Print? Lexicon Devil. The bio of Darby Crash and The Germs, my favourite punk band. Really intense life story.
Locally? Cafe Zoe, my actual local!
Visually? Photographs by Sophie Calle, the French artist.
Cinematically? City Of God/The Constant Gardener by Fernando Meirelles. Intense stories told in an incredible way.

Catcall's beat-spiked, ultra-feisty, and slick-yet-DIY-spirited hip hop is sharply and sassily-showcased on her recent EP Anniversary. You can find out more about it, plus details about her gigs and blog by clicking on her home page.