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Tomatrax

An independent online music magazine

Interview with Will Tremain of Inklines

For Sydney 3-piece ‘Inklines’, the last 18 months have kept them busy recording with Lachlan West of The Vines and releasing two singles in November 2017 and May 2018. The band have recently released their debut EP, Willing & Able. Tomatrax caught up with Will Tremain from the band to ask a few questions.

 

You’ve just released your debut EP, how does it feel to have it out?

Feels great! It’s been a long time coming and we’ve been holding on to these tracks for a while, so it’s a bit surreal but really exciting to finally have them out.
What made you pick ‘Willing and able’  as the title track?
It was a real standout track for us the whole way along, from pre-production until even now, so that plan was sort of in the back of our minds the whole time. I think it was just a nicer set of words to have on the cover than anything else we could think of anyway, so that definitely contributed.
Was it hard to pick what made it onto the EP?
Not really, no. We had already culled the songs down to what we decided we were going to record and ordered them as an album. We decided more recently to release it as two EP’s instead, so the only thing was picking where to end the first one and start the second – other than that, we kept the original order.
You previously said that you had recorded around 13 songs, do you have any plans for the ones that didn’t make the EP?
Semi-unintentionally, the 13 tracks ended up laid out with primarily softer, more poppy songs in the first half and heavier songs in the second half – this worked out pretty perfectly in choosing where to separate the bunch into two EP’s. The remaining 6 songs will be released at some point, although we are moving away from the heavy stuff more than towards it, so I think we’ll just release it as a special B-sides type thing to make sure we don’t give people the wrong idea about which direction we’re heading.
What was the inspiration behind the video for ‘Back to me’?
Funnily enough, the inspiration was kind of that we didn’t have any inspiration. We were trying to think of some kind of story line to match the song so that we didn’t end up with just another performance video, but we were struggling with it a bit. So we decided that just filming random things that we do with our time could make for a fun little video that suits the vibe of the song – we’re pretty stoked with the result! Our friend Matty Paxton made made this one and we think he did a great job.
What was it like working with Lachlan West?
It’s the best. It was awesome meeting him for the first time – The Vines are one of my all-time favourites and “Metal Zone” had just been released, so meeting the new drummer while that was all happening was a pretty crazy experience. As soon as we started working together it all clicked really quickly and it was obvious that he fully understood what we were going for – our songs were nowhere near as good before he got his hands of them! Haha. He’s a wizard. Can’t say too much yet, but we’ve signed him back on to do more work together next year, so we’re looking forward to that!
What was the inspiration behind the EP’s front cover?
I felt like the robot was a good symbol for what the EP was about. It’s actually a direct reference to the line “a robot in queue” from ‘One Day’, but I always see robots as lonely, sort of depressing things.. Incapable of emotion, stuck doing the one or few things they’re programmed or designed to do forever. So yeah, it just seemed like the right sort of character to use as a representation of what the music is about. I told our friend Ryan McLean this is what we were thinking and he went and got our little mascot from a vintage shop and took some photos for us. 
This particular photo really grabbed me because the way he’s looking back towards himself in the mirror just really said something to me – highlighted the loneliness of the robot somehow. I hope that doesn’t make me sound like a freak.
You’ve entered a few songs on Triple J’s Unearhed page, has this had any impact on your music’s exposure?
In all honestly, not really. We got small amounts of feedback about our music from a couple of the presenters and the 3 singles are there for anyone who might land on the page or go looking for it, but we don’t do much with it outside of that. 
Now that the EP is out what do you plan on doing next?
We’re doing a little NSW tour with British India this December to close the year and we’ll be heading interstate again early next year. The remaining 6 tracks from this batch will be out some time in the not too distant future as well, so keep your eyes peeled for that.
Check out Inklines’ Facebook page to find out more!
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Interview with Sylvaine

Norwegian multi-instrumentalist Sylvaine is back with album number three. Still serving as the sole composer of both music and lyrics, producer and musician of most instruments herself, Sylvaine takes the sound of her sophomore album Wistful (2016) and develops it into a more mature and contrasted form on Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone.

Tomatrax caught up with Sylvaine to talk about her latest work.

It’s been over two years since you were last featured on Tomatrax, what have you been up to over this time?

The short answer to that question would be writing “Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone”, as well as trying to get Sylvaine up and running as a live band. So much time and energy has gone into starting the live journey of the band, without even having played more than a few handful shows! But we’re getting there, slowly but surely.

You’ve just finished album number three, how does it feel to have it ready to go?

Considering we started the recording of it as early as in summer 2017, I am beyond ready to have this baby released, haha! It’s a bit surreal to know the album will be out in less than a month now…. I’m so anxious to see if people will feel something while listening to it. I poured every inch of my heart and soul into this record, I truly hope the listeners will be able to feel that.

What inspired you to make ‘Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone’ as the title track?

‘Atoms aligned, Coming Undone’ represents the feeling of decline when something unravels before your eyes. Little by little, something is worn down or broken, until it finally disintegrates completely, both internally and externally. Since this became one of the central themes on this record, it felt like the right title and since the song ‘Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone’ was the first track to really embody this feeling for me, it became the natural choice for the title track. It holds this feeling of being held in Abeyance, yet the frustration runs deep. It functions as a pattern, repeating over and over, without change, even if things keep getting darker by the  minute.

What was the inspiration behind the video for Abeyance?

Making the video for “Abeyance” was a new and exciting process for me, being the first music video ever made for Sylvaine, but it was also a challenge to find the right ideas for a song that was over 5 min long. To hold the interest of the audience for that long, as well as making a cohesive and fitting story for the music, was interesting. The whole concept developed from an idea I had, of finding this creature trapped in some sort of cocoon, this being a metaphor for so many things, amongst others being trapped in a place, without being able to escape. I wanted the video to consist of 2 different worlds; the serene, beautiful and comforting forest and a dark, more hostile world, symbolized by crystals being grown and a more chaotic landscape within the nature. Once again, I wanted to draw inspiration form this dualism that my project seems to be so heavily influenced by.

You sang the song ‘Mørklagt’ in Norwegian, what made you decide to take on this approach?

I always wondered how it would feel to sing/scream in Norwegian, as it’s a language I have  been speaking all of my life, but somehow, English has always seemed more natural to me. For ‘Mørklagt’ though, I had already drawn inspiration from my home country Norway for the music, so it just felt right to keep the lyrics in Norwegian as well. It felt totally different to sing in Norwegian. It brought a new dimension and timbre to my voice, both clean and harsh, so that’s very interesting. Might be using this again in the future, if the musical fit is right.

Does your approach to writing change depending on the language you use?

I don’t think it changes my usual process too much, no. I always felt like words written in Norwegian were to be taken more seriously somehow, without knowing exactly why, so perhaps it does make me a little more critical to what I put into the lyrics.

Once again you are the sole composer of both music and lyrics, producer and musician of most instruments, what made you decide to do almost all of the work on the album yourself?

Same reason as for my two previous albums; being able to express myself and my creative visions completely freely, without having to compromise anything to please others. Makes me sound like a control freak, but I guess that could be an accurate description anyway, haha…. To keep Sylvaine as personal as possible, I try to care for as many elements of the project as possible. This way, I really have an outlet for my most personal ponderings and issues, only challenged by myself.

The album pushes the duality between beautiful and extreme is it hard to mix the two extremes together into your music?

Since that’s been a duality I’ve been attracted to in music since I was a teenager, it comes quite naturally together, blending these two types of worlds. Pushing the boundaries between two opposites makes for an exciting journey to me.

You said that the music captures the feeling of being trapped and restraint by the human form. Do you feel like you are trapped?

I think we’re all sort of trapped when we are here in this human world. Don’t get me wrong; it’s a complete gift to be alive and make all these experiences we do during our lifetime, but I think it also limits us in terms of senses and emotions. It temporarily severs the ties we have with whatever came before and whatever comes after this life, making us lose touch with our origins. The human society and the mind sets we’re all more or less programmed to follow, seem to taint this innocence we naturally hold within ourselves when we’re born into this world.

There is a fair bit of emotion and feeling expressed across the album, is it hard to put something that personal on show for everyone to see/hear?

It is quite nerve-wracking to wear your heart on your sleeve to such an extent, yes, but that’s the only way I can make music. As many other artist, I use the creation process as a way to express profound wonders and issues that I’m not good at dealing with in any other way, as a sort of catharsis, so it amounts to very personal themes being explored in my melodies. Doing so leaves you open to be wounded easily by the words of others, but that’s just how it goes.

You’ve received a lot of critical acclaim for your past work, did this make you feel any pressure in putting this record together?

Of course it affects you when the outside world is kind of cheering you on. It’s such a treasure to receive all of these beautiful words from all of the world, so you don’t want to disappoint people with your next works. I’m always putting a ton of pressure on myself anyway, even without the outside feedback, so the creation process is never an easy adventure to take. I have a feeling it will just get harder as time passes by, being even more and more critical to my own work.

You toured around Russia and Ukraine last year, how did that go?

That was an amazing experience, really. I must admit that I didn’t even know we had fans over there and then we sell out our show in Moscow and have a couple of hundred people coming to our shows in both St. Petersburg and Kiev….. That was slightly unreal. I have this strong memory of playing my last song of the set, “Silent Chamber, Noisy Heart”, which I usually do alone on stage, and hearing people sing along to the chorus….

Wow, I was so close to losing it right there and then. It was a dream come true.

Are there any plans to tour Australia?

That would be an absolute honor! I truly hope to be able to play in your beautiful country one day – I always wanted to visit both Australia and New Zealand, so hopefully it will be possible in the not too far off future.

Now that the album is done, what do you plan on doing next?

Next up is preparing everything for the release on the 2nd of November and then there’ll be some touring for Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone. After, work on the 4th record. At the moment, I’m working on a small EP actually, with more simplified material, that I might want to release at the end of next year or beginning of 2020. I had the urge to do something a bit more “acoustic” friendly, based more on guitars and vocal work, which is why I decided to make this EP. The songs are more or less ready, just need some finishing touches, before I figure out what I want to do with all of this. Time will show what awaits for us!

Check out Sylvaine’s website to find out more!

Interview with Ilias from Once Upon a Winter

 

Once Upon a Winter is a progressive post rock project from Thessaloniki, Greece. It began as an idea back in 2012, in Xanthi. In 2017, almost immediately after the release of the debut album, Selective Depression of the Big Bang, Ilias went back to the studio for the recording of the second album .existence, which came out this year.

Tomatrax caught up with Ilias to ask a few questions.

You’ve just release your second album, how does it feel to have it finished and ready to go?

Actually, the album has been released digitally on the 21st of February. Right now, we are in a stage of releasing it on vinyl and on CD with Snow Wave Records. It is a great feeling knowing that your music will be available on different formats, especially on vinyl, and I’m really grateful that I get to do this with the guys from Snow Wave. They are truly passionate about what they do, and really care about the music.

You received a fair amount of acclaim for your fist release, did this make you feel any pressure when making album number two?

No, not at all. There were moments that I caught myself thinking that the second album came out a little bit darker and heavier than the first one, but that’s about it. I really enjoyed recording it and taking care of every aspect. I was excited to share it with the world, and it felt right.

You started working on this album almost immediately after the release of your debut, what prompted this quick return to writing?

I really didn’t plan for this to happen. I just found myself in a very intense situation with unexpected moments, which prompted the creative process. Every song on the album came out unforced. Instinctively, as a mean to describe different moments of that particular story. Sometimes things just happen, and I’m glad that .existence came to life like that, out of the blue.

What made you pick ‘.existence’ as the album’s title track?

Well, at that time, during that intense situation, I found myself reconsidering a lot of my beliefs regarding what it means for a person to truly be alive, to truly exist and co-exist. Is it just a matter of personal choice? Are we just prey to the will of unspecified conditions, or are we the ones who define those conditions? So somehow I revisited the work of Arthur Schopenhauer “In the vanity of existence”. It may seem a little pessimistic, but I found comfort and strength within those lines. Also, the title of the first album was “Selective depression in chase of the Big Bang, describing a completely different set of stories. I found it fitting, as true existence came after the Big Bang, just like the story described on the secondalbum came after the stories described on the debut album. Maybe it’s a little bit silly, but I thought it was suitable and funny, in an ironic way.

What was the inspiration behind the album’s front cover?

That cover is a moment of brilliance from my friend Phren. We were having numerous conversations at that period, regarding everything. My story, the music itself. And I asked her if she could come up with an image for an album cover. And she created this beautiful artwork. Her creative process, behind the creation of the artwork, is described on her site.

This album explores various prog rock, metal, and classical elements, did you have an idea of the musical direction you wanted to take when you began work on the album?

The first song that was composed for this album was .existence. At that moment I knew that it was going to be a heavier album. I ended up incorporating more metal and blackgaze influences, but I don’t think that I did it on purpose. It just came out like this. I never hide the fact that besides post rock, I really enjoy metal music. I grew up listening black and gothic metal, so it is only natural to have these influences. Plus, just like on the first album, I do enjoy the use of classical elements with strings and piano melodies, in order to enrich the orchestration. I feel that these elements, combined with heavier guitars, can elevate the sound to a whole new emotional level.

What is the music scene like in Thessaloniki?

To be completely honest with you, most of my musician friends are in Athens. I know a whole lot more about the scene there, than the scene in my own city. I can talk in general about the music scene in Greece, that I do believe is thriving at the moment. We have a great post rock scene that is constantly evolving, with bands like Madebygrey, One hour before the trip, Message in A Cloud, Emi Path, Afformance etc. The main attraction, in my opinion, is theamazing prog scene with band like Mother of Millions, Need, Poem, Playgrounded, Sleeping Pillow etc. I honestly believe that the prog scene in Greece has elevated its game to a whole new level. Plus, we do have a great stoner rock scene with universal acclaims. Even though, stoner rock is not my cup of tea, I can’t diminish the popularity and impact that this particular genre has here.

Where did the name Once Upon A Winter come from?

Everything related to this project started after a strange winter. It was kind of a difficult period, but I think, overall, that period helped me a lot to find myself, both musically and in general. So, Once Upon A Winter is a tribute and a reminder of that specific period of time, as the start of a beautiful journey.

Given you’re from Greece, why are the song titles in English?

I’ve never given this much thought. Probably, because of the fact that I most of the music that I listen to is in English. Moreover, English is somewhat of a universal language, so I guess it’s a way to appeal to a broader audience.

Do you ever listen to your own music?

In both albums, I did the whole mixing and mastering process myself. So, I got to listen to every song countless times. That makes me grow tired and  forget the emotional level of each song, so after the completion of each album I find it hard to listen to the music for a long period of time. After the period is over, and I can relate to the music once again, I sometimes do return and have a listen, and I remember my thoughts, my feelings, everything that made this music come to life, but from a different perspective.

What music do you listen to?

Basically, it depends on the situation.  If I’m out with friends, I do enjoy listening to 70’s-80s Disco and Funk music, or in other cases hard rock and earlier heavy metal. If I’m in my place, which I guess this is where you truly listen to music carefully, I tend to focus more on post and metal subgenres. Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of atmospheric/post black metal and blackgaze. Bands like Alcest, Lantlos, Les Discrets, Unreqvited, Falls of Rauros, Fen, Mesarthim, None, An autumn for crippled children etc.

Now that the album is finished, what do you have planned next?

Well, there are a lot of things going on. I’ve always wanted to perform all this music live, and finally I found a group of great people and musicians, that share the same passion with me. We performed on the 5th of October at my hometown in Thessaloniki as the support act for God is an astronaut, and it was truly an amazing moment. We are planning on a small Greek tour, playing alongside with bands from the Greek post rock scene. Moreover, I’m working on the third album, which seems to be a great successor to .existence, sharing the same intensity, in a deep emotional level.

 

Check out Once Upon a Winter’s Facebook page to find out more!

Interview with Jodi Phillis

 

After leaving her mark on the Australian cultural landscape with The Clouds, Jodi Phillis has returned to her default mode of acoustic singer songwriter, mining the deep seem of neo-romantic folk pop. Tomatrax caught up with Jodi to talk about her latest music!

Your latest album is just about to be released, how does it feel to have it finished and ready to go?

It feels very very good. It’s a relief, let me tell you!

What made you choose ‘Becoming’ as the album’s title track?

It is the name of the first single from the album. It struck me as being a great word to describe the process of constantly changing and growing and creating. Even now at 53, I feel like a babe in the woods, discovering what it is that I want to say and how to say it, whether it’s through music or art or even within relationships. We are constantly ‘becoming’ something. We can’t actually become the thing that we are becoming, because we already are it. It’s a cosmic mystery….a riddle…a dance.

The album was crowdfunded, what made you take that approach to funding?

It is very expensive to manufacture cds, vinyl, books of illustrations, pay for publicity etc, etc. It would have been very difficult without the help of all the people who pledged to the campaign and I am deeply grateful.

I’m a totally independent artist so it is really the only way. It was a truly humbling experience and overwhelmingly positive.

I read Amanda Palmer’s book ‘The Art of Asking’ and kind of felt like it didn’t apply to me, because I am a reserved, introverted kind of person, unlike Amanda Palmer who seems to have a huge energy pulsing out of her.  However, after going through the whole process in my own way, I started to see that all you have to do is to be real and people will respond to that. That’s what we all need and want…for people to be real and show their true colours.

Do you think crowdfunding is the future way for artists to put out music?

Yes I do. It is great for independent artists who need complete freedom to be able to create. It can be in many different forms, whether it is in the form of monthly subscriptions or project based funding, it all helps and it is all appreciated.  Artists bring so much joy and connection to the world. We work so hard to bring a finished piece of work into the world. Artists also have to eat and raise families and live a good life, just like anybody else. A world without art and music and stories and creative expression would not be a world worth living in.

The album consists of acoustic music, what inspired you to take in the unplugged approach?

It is something that has been brewing inside me since I was about 14 years old. I used to listen to records all the time. I had many favourite singer, songwriters and I remember saying to myself back then, “I want to be a singer, songwriter and make people feel deep things. I want to sing and have people really listen and have their hearts and minds opened up”. Among my favourite songwriters are George Harrison, Cat Stevens, Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell. I chose these four artists as references for this album because of the spiritual content in their music. I have always felt like a hippy inside and folk music is probably my default mode. So acoustic instruments just made sense.

You’ve also said the the album is an account of grief and it’s fallout, is it hard to put such issues for public display?

I began to write songs for the album five years ago. Shortly after, my mother was diagnosed with cancer and died 11 months later….and then my Dad died from cancer as well. They were both still young and I was very close to them. My mother was my best friend. As anyone who has lost people close to them will know, grief is very personal, very unpredictable and very, very fuckin’ hard to go through. I went insane. But after the grief, there are moments of what feels like a transformation. It was such a profound experience for me that I felt like I had to share it through music. I was compelled. There was no choice. I enjoy expressing myself in a naked way. I always question my lyrics to make sure they are true. If I can’t argue with the essence of what I’m saying, I will sing it, no matter how embarrassing or revealing. If it doesn’t ring true after singing it for a while, I will change it or chuck it.

Your bio says that your constantly exploring new musical realms, is it hard to keep coming up with new music ideas?

It’s not really about ideas for me. The ideas just come up from inside me. It isn’t an intellectual thing, it is a spiritual thing. So once an idea comes that I really love, I will just explore it until I can see that it is something I can follow through with.

When writing what comes first, the words or the music?

It totally depends on the kind of music it is. I find these days that words and melodies often come together. I write songs now without a guitar. I just get a melody in my head and start playing around with it and some words usually come too. Then I pick up a guitar and start trying to figure out what the chords are. There really is no set pattern though.

How does performing solo compare with playing with the Clouds?

The Clouds are a four headed beast. I have to sing louder and fall in step with three other strong minded individuals. We have a lot of fun when we play. We make a great sound that is unique and exciting. My solo work is very cocooned and sacred. It feels very different to the Clouds. It is quiet and introspective and very personal.

You’ll be touring the country next month, what can fans expect from your show?

I will play the songs on acoustic guitar. The interstate shows will just be me and a guitar. I love performing this way. I think it is my favourite way to perform. I wrote all of the songs on Becoming with a view to being able to play them solo, so I made sure that they were enjoyable to sing, rather than being too challenging. I am finding that people are really resonating with the lyrics which is great. At the Sydney and Port Kembla shows I will have my band with me…Tim Oxley on bass, Damien Lane on guitar and Phil Lally on drums. I sometimes play with one other musician too which is a really special way to perform. Sometimes Damien will join me on guitar or Tim will join me on bass. I like to keep it flexible.

Given your vast back catalogue, is it hard to chose what songs to play on stage?

Yes it is difficult to choose. I have chosen a set that consists of all the new songs plus some of my favourites from The Dearhunters and a few from my other solo albums.

Do you ever listen to your own music?

Once I have finished making an album, I play it to death. Once it is mixed and mastered and you can turn it up loud it is so much fun. Eventually though, I will have had enough of it and I will hardly ever listen to it again

What other music do you listen to?

When I draw I love to listen to quiet, dreamy, dark, sad and intimate music. My favourite artists for that kind of thing are Bonnie Prince Billy, Aimee Mann, Joanna Newsom, Josephine Foster, Lana Del Ray. I love all kinds of music though. Tim and I listen to lots of jazz and classical music from my Dad’s old record collection. I love psychedelic pop, Tame Impala, Daft Punk, Boston, Beatles, Stones….bloody hell the list is endless.

What do you have planned after your upcoming shows?

I am composing music for a dance performance which is really exciting. It’s a dream come true because I have always wanted to write for an orchestra and now it’s happening! I am working with Amanda Brown on that one.

The Clouds also have a tour planned for early next year and some more recording. Then I will have some kind of a holiday because it is way overdue. I look forward to writing my next solo album too.

JODI PHILLIS ALBUM LAUNCH / SOLO TOUR
Saturday 3rd November – Junk Bar, Brisbane QLD
Friday 9th November – Servo, Port Kembla NSW
Saturday 10th November – Gasoline pony, Marrickville NSW
Thursday 15th November – Grace Emily, Adelaide SA
Friday 16th November – Kastoria Club, Nth Coburg VIC
Saturday 17th November – Major Tom’s, Kyneton VIC
Sunday 2nd December – Mona, Berriedale TAS

Check out Jodi Phillis’s Facebook page to find out more!

 

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