Interview by Kara Zosha // Photography by Richmond Kobla Dido
Congratulations on the upcoming EP Loners Club, how are you feeling about it?
I’m stoked! It’s weird, for the longest time I was making all of this music and thinking about what it would be like to have people listen to it and roll it out, and now it’s actually happening. I’m excited and keen for everyone to listen to it in its entirety because I think it’s going to be cool and everything works together really well.
How long have you been working on this EP?
I started writing this mid-last year. That’s when I came up with some of these ideas and demos. The oldest song on the project is one called Loners Club. I had all these different phases as the project was happening; I wanted to do psychedelic music / psychedelic rock, then pop-punk, and then indie music. So there are a lot of shades and colors on the project and I think you can pick that up because it took me since then  and I’ve been liking so many different things. It’s just nice to put something out after so long.
You’ve mentioned that Loners Club “represents the irony of an artist with the world at his feet, yet still feels like he still doesn’t quite fit in.” Can you elaborate a bit more on that statement and is this based on yourself at all?
It’s definitely me. I’ve got a weird relationship with music, at least I think I do. For me I love making the music, but sometimes the artist part of it – like being extraordinary, or extra interesting, or having an angle – is what I struggle the most with. So in that aspect, I feel like I’m a loner. If I could do everything that I do and be anonymous and still be able to live my life, I would probably do it. The stardom/star power of everything is what’s hard for me to navigate because I feel like I’m a normal guy. In that aspect I feel like I’m a loner, I feel like I don’t like it as much as some of my friends.
What is it like juggling mental health with the work you do as a musician?
I think there’s a performative aspect of what we do and I struggle with that a lot because I’m a very honest person. So if I’m not feeling particularly great I’ll find it hard to be super active on social media, which is helpful to grow an artist’s career. Really recently I got some really good advice from someone close to me and it was to develop relationships that allow for what you do to not always be the center point of everything. Developing relationships where you get fulfillment, understanding, and all those good things from just those people – or activities. Like having things that are giving you that sense of fulfillment that an artist feels when they release a song or play a big show because all of that stuff feels really really good, but at the same time the crash is just the same. You go from big highs to big lows where if you can find activities or people that give you a sustainable sense of happiness or fulfillment, it’s a really good way to get out of your head. That’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been spending time with people I love and doing the stuff I love doing that has nothing to do with my ego or sense of worth.
What is it like to navigate the industry as someone from regional New South Wales and an African-Australian background?
It’s always been a tricky thing, but I think the way I chose to look at it was like I said before, I never really associated too much with the image. I was just like I’m going to make stuff and if people like it, they like it, and if people listen, they listen. So when it started getting momentum, then it became weirder for me because I was looking around and was like “Oh, there’s not a lot of dudes like me doing my genre or playing the type of shows and crowds I’m playing to.” It’s really cool that we are seeing a lot more voices and a lot more acts who are living in a similar sort of place as I am. Not from the same place though, I still think I have maybe the coolest angel coming from a regional town and I think there are a lot of exciting things that’s gonna happen with that. I don’t think I’ve tapped into it as much as I can and will in the future.
Do you consider music creation a therapeutic outlet?
Most definitely, that’s what I mean by at any level in my life I’m always going to be making music because it is an urge like how people get hungry, some people make music. It does so much for me and I love all the processes. I don’t think I’d produce if I didn’t because production is where you figure it out and there’s something in that where you’re communicating. It’s kinda like a conversation with yourself, but it’s acceptable haha.
What inspires your music lyrically, is it your personal life?
Yeah, I can’t help it. I feel like I’ve tried to be kind of “artistic” and just talk about all this stuff, but I always talk about myself and the relationships I’m having. For this EP I was just inspired by feeling like I wasn’t ever going for anything [specifically]. I don’t think I ever went in going “I’m gonna write a love song .. or I’m gonna write a song about anything [in specific].” I wanted to feel compelled to write something so I’d go in there and play the instruments or I’d start producing because I produce all of my music. Then the first thing to come to my mind would be the refrain of the song. The more I felt the more I continued the song. I did this thing where if I wasn’t feeling something I just gave up. That’s what’s been the main thing for me is that I’m chasing feeling; I want to feel something and hopefully people listen to it and they feel something. That’s the inspiration.
How does the perspective of producing compare with the writing perspective?
It’s super interesting because for me they go hand in hand. As in I hear music and then words start to form by themselves. Like you hear something sad, like a sad chord progression and then you feel sad. It’s a very weird relationship, I treat writing like it’s the icing on the cake for production. I do all the work that I need to do, I feel great about the music, and then I approach like “How crazy can I go.” I’ve been trying to push myself on this EP. I do so many different styles and I even use my voice in a very different way. I think if the production is strong enough you can really say anything as long as you mean it and people will feel it.
Is there a prominent music scene where you’re from in Wollongong, NSW?
Maybe for surf rock or something like that. Not for the type of stuff I’m doing and definitely not when I was younger. We have some big names from there like Hockey Dad and a few more. We’ve got a young population there, I think it could be a big place for music.
What can we expect in the future other than the EP, any touring or live shows?
For sure, there’s some stuff in the works. I can’t say too much, but more than anything I’m super excited to play shows. How I haven’t released a body of work, I haven’t toured a body of work in nearly the same amount of time – it’s crazy. It’s gonna be so much fun, I can’t wait to do it! And Melbourne, the last show I played in Melbourne was the support with Omar Apollo and I haven’t played in Melbourne since.
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