1) We’re loving the new album. I have to ask about the distinctive guitar sound. How do you craft that sound? Was that something you were shooting for or did it just happen?
Thanks so much! I wish I was better at doing two things at once – the guitar you hear on this record is Chris Parrello. He’s amazing. We work together a lot, I also play in his band Things I Wonder, so over time his sound has become a big part of the music I write. The songs on this record were fully formed heading into the studio, but Chris really gets to tear them to shreds.
2) The minor chromatics on “The Tulip” are a wonderful effect… can you tell us a little more about your vision for that sound and that song as a whole?
The Tulip was written about a recurring dream that I used to have, in which I stumble across a wooden boat that a friend is building for me on the sly. The song is definitely centred around that opening riff. Both the progression and the storyline of the tune open out a lot, one small change at a time. It’s subtle, but this one was always going to be very guitar driven and the most “live” sounding track on the record. It’s a bit of a rugged lullaby.
3) When did you get your start in music? How do you characterize your music career at this point?
I grew up dancing, playing instruments and singing from an early age, so I think I just got lucky – eventually that just spilled over into playing music for a living. I moved to NYC from Sydney, Australia in 2005, just to hang out and hear some new music. I’ve been very fortunate to play with so many incredible musicians over the years which I love – it’s always very eclectic and fun. My own music and band has always run parallel to these projects though, so I’m stoked to finally be releasing an album of my own into the world. It’s been a long time coming.
4) What does the songwriting process look like for you?
I’m constantly recording snippets of things so I can remember them later. Mostly they’re guitar and vocal riffs and chord progressions, textural things or feelings that I want to come back to. Some of them quickly become songs, while others hang in the back catalogue for quite some time. I write mostly on guitar – I just find the instrument really inspiring. Quite often for me, the song and how it sounds Is fully formed in my head first, so it’s just a matter of getting it out.
5) What are your most important musical influences? There are some classic rock vocal influences, I suspect. Have you styled yourself after anyone in particular?
People have definitely compared me to different artists over the years, but I’m not sure I’ve attentively copied anyone, I’ve just been lucky to be exposed to a lot of music. I’m obsessed with Jeff Buckley. There’s no one who has what he had. That being said, I pretty sure I couldn’t name all of his songs, and I don’t have every bootleg in existence. I’m a bit like that with things I really love. I tend to leave them alone because there’s just something bigger than I about it all that makes no sense to analyse.
Early on, I was influenced a lot by the radio, pop music and classic rock. I played piano and saxophone and studied a lot of jazz, so there was always lots of horn players. John Coltrane. Freddie Hubbard. Ella Fitzgerald basically taught me how to sing. I studied a classical degree at university, so things were always pretty open. These days, I’m often inspired by the music being made around me in Brooklyn.
6) What are you listening to right now?
Tramp’by Sharon Van Etten. That record is something else. Anything by Band Of Skulls or Joan As Policewoman. Chairlift’s Something. James Blake, Bon Iver’s Holocene and Gillian Welch’s The Harrow & The Harvest from last year are all incredible. Forget by Twin Shadow. Sky White Tiger. I also just got my hands on the new Mumford & Sons record and Neil Young & Crazy Horse’s Americana so I’m excited to get stuck into them.
7) What are your current projects? Are you on tour promoting your new release?
Right now, I’m aiming to finish some songs for the next record! I’m home in Australia at the moment, but fingers crossed the band will be doing some touring in the early part of next year.
8) I know artists hate genres (for the most part). Do you consider yourself a rocker? How do you describe your sound?
I’m not really sure. I feel like so much music today, and perhaps my own music also, falls in the cracks. It’s not straight up rock, but it’s not folk. It’s not jazz, but maybe it’s a little bit of all of these things. The guys and I have all grown up playing and listening to a lot of different stuff, but we come together and find a certain sound. I guess I’m some sort of folk-rocker.
Lastly… what would you like our readers to know about your music or about you? (you can be serious or silly with this one… it’s up to you)
In all honesty, I really just hope that people find something they love in the new record. That means the world.