After a momentous year of releasing new music and playing live shows, the Sunshine Coast's infectious indie-rockers, High Tropics have returned with a nostalgic new banger, ‘Feel The Same’. Produced by Elliot Heinrich (Future Jr) and mastered by Brian Lucey (Cage the Elephant, Liam Gallagher), the track sees songwriter Josh Stewart expand on his ever-growing catalogue of indie-rock sing-alongs.
We had a quick chat with Josh about the new single and his favourite Aussie albums at the moment.
Can you tell us a little about how High Tropics came about?
High Tropics was a couple of years in the making for me before I put together the band. Originally it was just a folder for me to house the demo’s I was recording, and when things eventually fell apart with my old band, I decided it was time to take control of my own destiny. I guess it’s not too dissimilar to the inner-workings of Tame Impala or BJM, the project kind of exists in two parts; the recording and writing – which is more of a solo endeavor, and then the live show, which much like my social life, is very much dependent on my band.
How did you guys meet?
I’ve known everyone in the band for many, many years now. There have been a couple of line-up changes, but any time someone leaves they’re usually replaced by another friend. I’ve never really had to advertise a position on a notice board or anything like that.
For those who haven’t listened to your music before - how would you describe your sound?
A lot of my favourite albums are from the 2000’s, The Strokes, The Killers, The Vines etc. Those bands had such a lasting impression on me it was inevitable that they’d shape the sound of my own music, especially in regard to tonal references. Ultimately, I don’t ever set out to make a song sound like something else, it’s more just shaped by my musical taste. I like my guitars to have a certain amount of fuzz on them.
Congrats on the release of ‘Feel The Same’. What’s the story or inspiration behind this song?
Thanks! Musically the inspiration kind of just came over me, I sat down with the guitar one morning and that verse and melody just came flowing out of me. I ended up tracking the skeleton of the song over the next day or two. Lyrically, there are various references, but overall the song explores the idea of putting too much emphasis on the destination and not enough on the journey. I think a lot of us set goals expecting some kind of self-transformation to occur once we reach them, only to find we feel exactly the same, or maybe even slightly empty.
Who or what would you say are your biggest musical influences?
My favourite bands would be Oasis, The Killers, The Strokes, The Vines etc, but if I’m talking outside of this project, I really love songs more than I do artists. For example, The Mama’s and the Papa’s would never pop up in my top 10 favourite artists, but California Dreaming would probably make my top 10 favourite songs.
You guys represented Australia in the Project Aloft Star Asia competition in Seoul, last September. What was that experience like?
It literally still feels like a dream, Universal and Aloft took such good care of us, we got to live it up like rock stars for a week, met so many rad people and got to visit a part of the world that we might’ve never gone to otherwise. I’ll forever be grateful!
‘You Never Made It Easy’ was featured in Spotify’s ‘Best of The Indie List 2018’ at the end of last year. How did it feel having one of your songs mixed in with the likes of The Wombats, The Kooks and Liam Gallagher?
Getting on any official editorial playlist is amazing, but to be in the company of some of my icons is obviously tremendously validating and encouraging.
Are you working any new material? An EP perhaps?
I’m constantly writing so the EP has actually been ready for a while, it’s just a matter of getting it out now. It costs money and takes time to break through the multiple thousands of songs that get released each day, but new music is always on the way!
Do you have any plans to hit the road and play some headline shows this year?
Most certainly do, we’ll be playing some shows along the East Coast from March – May. Still finalising some dates but we’ll announce something soon!
There are so many great Australian bands/artists releasing music at the moment. Do you have any favourites?
Recent favourtie Aussie albums would be Bloody Lovely by DZ Deathrays, Sugar Mountain by Jack River and For Now by the DMA's. Funnily enough all on I Oh You. Bloody Johann has a good ear on him.
Finally, do you have any advice for emerging musicians like yourselves that are trying to break into the industry?
I don’t really know if I’m qualified to be giving advice, but if I can share some guidance that was once given to me, it would be to focus on creation as opposed to attention. The music business is a fickle industry largely based off trends, so make art that’s true to you. And finally, as coach Vinny once said, “winners never quit and quitters never win”.
Have a listen to 'Feel The Same' below and let us know what you think!
At the fresh age of nineteen, Auckland singer-songwriter BENE, has already made a lasting impression on the New Zealand and Australian music scenes with her infectious indie-RnB style bangers, 'Tough Guy' and 'Soaked'.
We caught up with BENE ahead of her debut Australian headline shows next week, to chat about dropping out of uni to make music (and pizza) and what she has planned for the rest of 2019.
K: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into music?
B: Yeah of course! So this is my second year coming out of high school. I was at university for two weeks doing a Communications degree, which is pretty pathetic, um but I had released ‘Tough Guy’ and I’d been working with a guy called Josh Fountain, who I got in touch with after releasing a couple of Soundcloud covers on the internet. So basically that year, I dropped out of uni and was just basically working - I made pizzas, washed dishes for a year and made music. The lifestyle was amazing! [laughs] But yeah I’ve just been working with Josh at Golden Age studios which is in Auckland, and also with this guy called Djeisan Suskov. They’re both in the band LEISURE, which is a really cool band. But yeah that’s what I’ve been up too!
K: Why did you decide to drop out of your Communications course and uni?
I mean, there was so much pressure in my last year of high school to go to uni. I had just released my song ‘Tough Guy’ and that was kinda like when we had all enrolled and we were all set and everyone was like ‘this is what I’m doing with my life’ and I was like "oh god, is this what I want to do?" I knew I wanted to do something in the creative industry so I was like "okay this sounds good to me". But I guess at that point, music was kinda like the fantasy and probably wouldn’t happen, but if it did, that’d be flipping amazing. And I guess just the response from that (Tough Guy) was pretty encouraging and second week into uni, I just felt like the whole time was just kind of a distraction from what I knew what I actually wanted to do so I was like "I’m just gonna quit this, give music a solid crack and just work hard". Best decision ever!
K: What’s your favourite thing about making music?
B: I just like the ability to do anything and take elements from different kind of genres that you like and kind of, make your own sound. I feel like that’s a really important thing. I like different elements from RnB tracks and pop tracks and coming up with something that sounds fresh.
K: Who would you say are your biggest influences? Are there any particular musicians or artists that you draw inspiration from?
B: I would say, Travis Scott… his new album is crazy town! And James Blake! He’s just released a new album. I feel like those guys are like pretty out there. I mean I listen quite widely, I’m really into the ‘discover’ thing on Spotify. Like just being able to listen to music and it’ll automatically link you up with stuff that you’d like. It’s always pretty accurate and I find that quite cool.
K: Yes, I love that about Spotify! So you mentioned you’re barely two years out of school, and you’ve already supported acts like Winston Surfshirt and Lily Allen. Do you ever have moments where you’re like “whoa, how did this happen?”
B: Dude, totally! I just did Laneway Festival as well and it was flipping crazy! We were at the hotel and Rex Orange County was sitting beside us eating lunch and I was just like "what the heck am I doing here?" and Yellow Days too! And for Lily Allen it was like my fourteen-year-old self, flipping screaming and yeah, I don’t know - it’s just crazy!
K: If you could collaborate with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
B: Whoa. Such a hard question! I mean, there are so many people but I’m so obsessed with James Blake at the moment so I think it would be him.. or KAYTRANADA... or The Internets Steve Lacy! OK, there are so many! But those are the top ones.
K: Congratulations on cracking the triple j Hottest 100, with Soaked coming in at #58. That must feel pretty damn good.
B: Thank you! I was listening to it live and yeah it was just crazy.
K: Soaked has also racked up over 6 million streams on Spotify, which is also pretty impressive. Can you tell me a little bit about the song and what inspired you to write it?
B: Yeah totally! It was recorded at Golden Age again with Josh and Djeisan. And it was like, you know, your classic kind of breakup scenario but I kind of had enough of listening to the sad stuff and I thought how can I turn it and make it relatable and kinda fun. But also, you know, stay true to what I was feeling. But it’s basically like you’re having this conversation with someone that you love and you want to say something and you know what you want to say but for some reason, there’s just this weird lump and you can’t get it out.
Following the recent success of his single ‘All or Nothing’, London-based singer-songwriter, Nathan Ball, returns with another stirring single, ‘Call It Love’. Produced by fellow band member and long-time collaborator Max Radford, ‘Call It Love’ is a beautifully crafted indie-folk piece, led by compelling vocal melodies and earnest lyricism.
The single release coincides with Nathan's second visit to Australia, where he is currently supporting Ziggy Alberts on his mammoth 24 sold-out date tour of Australia. We had a chat to Nathan about his new single and how the tour is shaping up so far!
Hi Nathan! Congratulations on the release of ‘Call It Love’. For those who haven’t listened to it yet, how would you describe this track?
Thank you very much guys, it’s a treat to have it out in the world. I’d say it’s an emotive but euphoric song; quite introverted in the verses but a euphoric sing-along chorus.
Was there anything in particular that inspired or influenced you whilst writing this track?
We’d been on the road a while playing the festival circuit and were just looking forward to getting back to writing. We spend a lot of time driving in the van and getting stuck into albums. We’d been hooked on the National and War on Drugs records and I think there’s a bit of influence from there in the track. As you can tell from the title it’s a love song, but it’s about a relationship breaking down.
Aside from releasing new music, you are also on the road supporting Ziggy Alberts on his sold-out album tour - how is that going so far?
It’s been unbelievable, a total dream! I’m feeling very fortunate to be on the road with the team, travelling around Australia which has a special place in my heart and playing to so many people every night. I can’t wait for the Festival Hall show in Melbourne, that’s going to be a mad one.
What is your favourite thing about touring in Australia? Do you find the crowds any different to the UK?
My favourite thing is the weather and the landscape for sure. It’s not often on European tours that we’re living in board shorts all day, hopping in for surfs between sound checks, that’s something I could certainly get used to! The crowds have been super friendly out here, the Aussie crew seem up for a laugh and coming to have a chat and a few beers after the show. It’s been great fun!
Before becoming a full-time musician, you were a snowboard instructor. What path led you to song-writing and to where you are now?
I spent a while up in the mountains snowboarding all day, it was a pretty special time in my life. I’d always been writing music and when the winter season ended I found myself in London and decided to record a few of the songs I’d written. I released them and fortunately, they went down pretty well, so I wrote and released some more and it just snowballed from there really. I’ve always been very keen to grow it organically and keep touring to get more and more people on board, rather than forcing it on people, and we’ve been rewarded with amazing fans coming to see us across the world.
Who or what would you say are your biggest musical influences?
I’m a huge fan of the War on Drugs and they’ve certainly had a huge impact on the writing, I think you can hear that in a lot of Max’s guitar riffs on the tracks. I’m actually a massive house music fan and draw a lot of inspiration from deep house tracks, particularly the emotion they bring across in their songs. That’s always something I look to bring into my songs and am continuing to cross genre boundaries there a lot at the moment.
Which part of the music making process do you enjoy the most?
I really enjoy the recording process. I’m very fortunate I get to work with Max Radford, who is our best friend, guitarist and producer, so we often just tuck away by the sea and get stuck into the recording together. He’s incredible at catching an emotion and an atmosphere in his recording so it’s always a special time working with him.
Are you working on any new material at the moment? A debut album perhaps?
I am… there’s a lot of music to come out and I’m always writing. We’ve certainly got our eyes on a debut album at some point so stay tuned!
What’s something most people don’t know about you?
Umm, I speak fluent French!
Favourite band or musician at the moment?
The War on Drugs for sure, and always will be!
Finally, do you have any advice for other emerging musicians, that are trying to break into the industry?
I think just stay true to who you are and believe in the music you’re making. I’ve always made the music I’ve wanted to create and truly believed in and if people are into it, then great news, if not don’t worry about it. If you get to play the songs that mean a lot to you to a crowd of people singing the words back, that’s the best feeling in the world.
'Call It Love' is available now on all major music streaming services. Have a listen below and let us know what you think!
With just over a month left before our favourite UK indie-rockers (and adopted Australians), The Wombats, arrive on our shores for their headline tour and a bunch of festival appearances, we caught up with drummer Dan Haggis to chat about the bands latest album, why they love Australia so much and his mums first time on stage in a wombat costume!
Kristie: Hey Dan, how are you going?
Dan: Yeah good thanks, just enjoying my morning chatting away to people. It’s a great way to start the day!
Kristie: You guys dropped your new single ‘Bee-Sting’ a few weeks ago. What has the reaction been like so far?
Dan: Yeah, it’s been great. We haven’t actually played the song live yet, so we haven’t physically seen a reaction. But obviously nowadays with social media and stuff -- we troll some of the comments on our posts and see what people’s vibes are and so far, it’s all been really positive. My mum likes it as well, so that’s a good time!
Kristie: Speaking of your mum... I saw a video on twitter of her dancing on stage at one of our shows, in a wombat costume. Is that something she does often?
Dan: [laughs] no it was the first time! She’d never actually been on tour before. Like she’d been to gigs but never spent time on tour, so I was like “Mum you’ve gotta come and have a few days on tour” and she was like “ooh I dunno if I’ll get sleep” and I was like “you’ll be fine!” Anyway, eventually I managed to persuade her, so her and her husband came to a few shows in Europe and one of the nights I was like “Right, mum, you and your fella are getting dressed up in wombat costumes” and she was like “Oooh yes!” and like she’s nuts, she absolutely loved it! And her husband is actually one of the most eccentric dancers. One of the best. One of my favourite dancers of all time, to be honest! Well better than Michael Jackson. [laughs] He’s unbelievable. Yeah and honestly, we were playing ‘Let’s Dance to Joy Division’ and when mum came on stage — obviously I could see by the size who was who — she was just going for it! Oh man, I was laughing so hard I couldn’t play.
Kristie: [laughs] That’s so good! Do you get fans in the crowd come up on stage as well?
Dan: Yeah, a couple of times we’ve done competitions and the winners would get on stage in the costumes. Often, if we’ve got a friend or family in a city, then they wanna do it. They always text us like “can we do the wombat costumes!?” and also for a lot of people to actually see what it’s like to be on stage, that’s the main thing people love. It’s like “fuck I’ve never really been on stage in front of that many people” you know, they always get such a buzz from it. Often when there’s not anyone there to do it, I just say to our tour manager “can we just go out and get some people?” and he’s all like “health and safety! I’m gonna have to brief them!” So sometimes it depends on the venue, you know they’re not as open to it if you don’t know the people, but I always just lie and say that we know who they are! [laughs]
Kristie: You released your fourth studio album, ‘Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life’, earlier this year – What was the inspiration behind this album?
Dan: Yeah so as the title suggests I guess, especially for Murph as he often has drama in his love life, I think he tried to get to the bottom of what was going on with it all. Song writing is obviously a kind of therapy and a way to get some understanding of what’s going on. I think it’s just really about how hurt you can be by the people that are closest to you, whether that’s your mother, father, brother, boyfriend or girlfriend.