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Tomatrax

An independent online music magazine

Interview with Gemma Ray

Photograph - Alessandra Leimer
Photograph – Alessandra Leimer

Berlin-based, British-born Gemma Ray and her band will bring their unique torch song psychedelia to Australia this April in support of her latest album The Exodus Suite.

Tomatrax caught up with Gemma to talk about her latest release among other things.

 

You’ll be touring Australia in April, what can fans expect from your show?
Blood, sweat, beauty, bile, happy accidents and no backing tracks!

You received international acclaim for your last album, does this make you feel any pressure going forward?
Not at all, I’m not really driven by that kind of thing – my motivation for making music is more about personal gratification and relief, pursuing a curiosity which is never fully sated. I would still be recording with the same level of intensity if my only outlet was to fill a time capsule with cassettes and to bury it in the garden.

You recorded the album life over 7 days, what was the inspiration for this approach?
I always wanted to make a record where I sung and played guitar live with drum spill in the vocal mic and vice versa – it’s always seemed more natural and obvious to me, but it took a while to get the courage to commit to it 100%. It was important for this record to have a connective element, to keep it’s human flaws and for it to document a time and place with minimal options and trickery.

Was it hard to get the whole album done within a week?
It was intense, but I always feel an urgency when recording anyway. Andy Zammit and I worked very hard on the pre-production, so it was actually a real pleasure to release the songs to tape in such a direct and pure way.

What inspired you to record the album at the infamous Candy Bomber Studios?
When I first moved to Berlin, I wanted to make a soundtrack record with Thomas Wydler (of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds), and he immediately recommended Ingo Krauss and Candy bomber. I have since recorded and mixed many projects there – it was a big part of the inspiration for making ‘The Exodus Suite’ the way I did. I am so into working with Ingo and love his approach to sound and space – I trusted him 100% to capture the songs the way he did.

You have also contributed music to several films and television series around the world, how does writing soundtracks compare to writing your own albums?
I really love having a boss and to be part of a project that is someone else’s baby – so far I have found it very rewarding to contribute to someone else vision other than just serving my own – cathartic even! (being a solo artist is pretty self indulgent…) – but the very first phase of writing is not too dissimilar in a way – playing around with imagery and sounds and seeing what happens.

Had writing soundtracks changed the way you view TV shows and films?
A little bit, I do pay more attention to how music is used if something interesting pricks up my ears. I really liked the juxtaposition of The Knick score for example – but in general I am more in the habit of listening to soundtracks without the accompanying visual.

You have now released 7 albums as well as the various film and TV work, is it hard to keep coming up with new material?
No, I have the opposite problem, fear of running out of time before I can record everything I’ve written! That’s really what propels me through life and gets me leaping out of bed everyday. I have huge amounts of music catalogued which is either ready to record or to be developed…. I just don’t have enough time to get it all down.

When writing what comes first, the words or the music?
Ideally both at the same time, although I try to keep things fresh and have an open mind and so frequently write words without music and vice versa. It funny how once you let things loose how they can turn up and bump into each other at just the right time.

Do you ever listen to your own music?
No, only when I’m mixing and mastering, then I have no interest. I go from obsession to utter disinterested almost overnight…

What music do you listen to?
Vinyls currently out their sleeves here in my lounge are: – Max Roach ‘We Insist’, Can ‘Soundtracks’, Nina Simone ‘ Pastel Blues’, John Coltrane ‘Olé’, the ‘Fantastic Planet’ soundtrack, – plus a Motown Girl Group compilation which I am currently obsessed with. Generally I like listening to soundtracks, jazz or experimental records at home – or nothing at all.

What do you have planned after your upcoming tour?
First stop will be an adventure somewhere between Berlin and Melbourne… then a woozy summer in my little studio I hope.

 

Tour dates are below. Check out Gemma Ray’s website to find out more!

GEMMA RAY – APRIL 2017

Friday 21st April 2017
Four 5 Nine, PERTH WA
Tix http://coolperthnights.oztix.com.au/?Event=70316

Saturday 22nd April 2017
The Wheatsheaf Hotel, ADELAIDE SA
Tix https://tickets.oztix.com.au/?Event=70241

Monday 24th (Anzac Day Eve) April 2017
Newtown Leadbelly, SYDNEY NSW
Tix http://leadbelly.oztix.com.au/Default.aspx?Event=70346

Thursday 27th April 2017
Northcote Social Club, MELBOURNE VIC
Tix https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/gemma-ray-uk-tickets-30011694787

Saturday 29th April 2017
Caravan Music Club, OAKLEIGH VIC
Tix https://www.trybooking.com/255621

 

 

Interview with RESD

 

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Created over a period of time in which he relinquished playing in bands in Sydney as the live scene started dying a slow and painful death, Sydney based producer and songwriter Paul Carpenter, aka RESD set to work in a home studio programming beats and textures on an iPad.

He has just released his debut EP, a collection of songs that evokes the icy, baroque sounds of Radiohead circa Kid A, it even serves up a hint of the electronic dub palette and croon of James Blake. Tomatrax caught up with RESD to ask a few questions.

What inspired you to become a musician?

My Dad introduced me to music when I was very young. He was a drummer playing regular gigs while we were growing up. Both of my parents decided that the house should have a range of instruments should us kids ever decide to take up music. All three of has ended up learning Drums, piano and guitar. I started on piano but quickly gravitated to guitar once my dad got me listening to The Beatles and Pink Floyd.

When did you write your first song?

I wrote my first song when I was in year 8 in high school so I would have been about 12 or 13. I remember it had a harmonised guitar riff… It was pretty bad.

You’ve just released your debut EP, what’s it like to have it out?

I’m really happy that I’ve had the opportunity to release it. When I started recording these songs I had no intention of putting them out. It was more a kind of therapy for me at the time. A close friend of mine encouraged me to take it further so I sent the files down to Melbourne to get mixed. That’s where everything changed for me. The tracks I recorded in my little apartment instantly sounded like a record that I wanted to share with everyone.. I’m really proud of it.

https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/289429725%3Fsec
What made you name ‘No oxygen’ as the EP’s title track?

The songs on the EP are a snap shot of a short period of my life when I felt very isolated and alone, so as a result the lyrics and music describe what i was feeling at the time. I initially had another title in mind, but felt that it might sound too dark so I went with a track title. It’s probably my favourite track on the EP and it sums up the feeling of all five tracks.

Where did the name RESD come from?

While I was recording the tracks for the EP I would file them in 3 files: Original, RESD and Final. Original was the Acoustic demos, RESD (Which was short for reshaped/re-structured) is where I would add beats, synths and overdubs. Final for when they were ready to be mixed. I would send the RESD file to my friends for their input and they just assumed that was the “band name”, so I just went with it.

What made you choose an alias rather than your name?

Having the surname Carpenter, I had to go with an alias. Besides, I liked the idea of the music being a ‘thing’. I felt that it was a project that needed a title rather than being a ‘singer / songwriter’ record.

You’ve previously performed in bands, how does performing solo compare with being in a band?

It’s a lot more challenging. I have no one to bounce ideas off so I have to come up with everything. Honestly, I think really good music takes at least two people to write. It could be the beat or a chord change that changes the original direction of the song. Though I miss working with other musicians, it’s been great just being me and playing every part.
Do you ever listen to your own music?

Not until I’ve given it a bit of distance, but yeah it’s nice to go back and listen to how I was feeling at a particular time.

What other music do you listen to?

I’m a guitar player before a singer, so if it has guitar I’m into it. I’m also a big fan of David Bowie and Radiohead, especially the way they’ve used synths and beats. I haven’t really been listening to anything lately because i’m working on my own songs, but when i’m not i’d probably listen to Jeff Buckley or try to nail a Metallica riff.

Now that the EP is out what do you plan on doing next?

I’m currently working on another EP which I’m hoping to release later this year. This one will have more of a focus on guitar. It will still be driven by beats but it will sound a lot warmer.

Check out RESD’s Facebook page to find out more!

Interview with Trish Young from the Clouds

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The Clouds were among the leading lights of the Australian indie scene in the early to mid-nineties, fronted by the dual vocals of Jodi Phillis and Trish Young.

With three Top 50 Albums – including the classic “Penny Century” (going Gold) – The Clouds were well loved by critics and their huge fan base. They reformed briefly in 2014 to play a national tour.

The Clouds return in 2017 with a new single “Mabel’s Bookshop“ – featuring the first new material in 20 years from a forthcoming EP “Zaffre” out on February 14, 2017 as a digital download.

Tomatrax caught up with Trish Young to ask a few questions.

It’s been three years since your last headline tour, what have you been up to over this time?

Well – a lot can happen to four people in three years and you’re really testing our memories! Let’s take this alphabetically:

Dave has a job that he doesn’t talk about much, I suspect that’s because either it’s top secret; or he wants to cultivate an air of mystery; or because we couldn’t begin to understand it. A few years ago he studied sound engineering and he has put his eary skills to work as the producer for Zaffre. We’re very proud of him.

Jodi’s been busy with music. She’s in an aptly-named four-piece vocal group called the Glamma Rays.

If they’re ever playing somewhere near you – check them out, you’ll be glad you did. Jodi has also been studying composition for film and tv and has spearheaded the ambitious project Seven Stories, a collection of pieces by seven of Australia’s foremost composers, each illustrating in sound one of the seven archetypal narratives. They will be performed by the Ensemble Offspring. You wouldn’t think she’d have any extra time but she manages to fit in recording and producing other artists.

Raph has been working in theatre lighting, both on the eastern and western seaboards of our Great Southern land. He has designed and built groovy furniture, some of which was shown in an exhibition in Bellingen. He has also been studying massage therapy and can tell a metacarpal from a metatarsal at two hundred paces, not to mention a scapula from a fibula. Last year he stood in on drums for the legendary Bil Bilson of the Sunny Boys when they toured with the Violent Femmes and Hoodo Gurus. As well as all that, he’s an awesome juicer!

Trish (that’s me, talking about myself in the third person), has made a hobby of recording but hasn’t released any of the material. She also plays in a covers band, mostly performing at parties and community fundraisers. There have been a handful of solo shows too. Other than that she has been occupied with stencilling and paint-by-numbers Art.

The Clouds have just put out their first release in 20 years, what made you decide to make music together again?

We’ve missed each other over the years and I don’t think there was a particular trigger that got us playing again, it was more a case of things falling into place.

 

How does it feel to write new material together for the first time in two decades?

It feels great to write new songs again! We’re all inspired by each other and it’s really good to be bouncing ideas around again, even if it’s through cyberspace and we’re not physically in the same room. Actually, come to think of it, from the rare snippets Dave has dropped about his work, I think he may be part of the avatar program and soon we’ll be jamming in person, virtually, though we’re miles apart (we live in four different cities, in three different states).

What made you pick ‘Mabel’s Bookshop’ as your first single after your hiatus?

We picked Mabels’ because it has an infectious beat, a great melody, and interesting lyrics that tell a true story.

You have an EP coming out soon, how will the rest of the EP compare with Mabel’s Bookshop?

There’s another beat-driven song based around a guitar/bass riff, and there’s an ethereal, dream sequence song in waltz-time.

https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/298547277%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-UBDXP&auto _play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true

Your press release said that the upcoming EP launch “will be a very special night of classic songs plus new material and a few surprises.” Can you shed any light on what the surprises will be?

If we told you about the surprises we’d have to call them unsurprises, wouldn’t we?

Are there plans for follow up releases from the Clouds?

Yes, there certainly are plans for further releases. We’ve got the names and artwork ready to go! Jodi and I write new song ideas out on pieces of paper, then we seal them in bottles, address them to the others, and throw them into the ocean. That way everyone gets to choose three or four favourites and those will be what we work on next.

You will also be playing at Day on the Green in April, what can fans expect from your show?

At the Day on the Green shows fans can expect bitten fingernails, sweaty palms and sheer panic but we’ll do our best to appear as though we know what we’re doing and that we’ve earned our place amongst such exalted company.
Are there any acts you’re looking forward to seeing at Day on the Green?

We’re looking forward to seeing all the other acts!

What do you have planned once the EP is out?

Once the ep is out we’re planning to grow our fingernails back and get straight onto the next one!

Check out the Clouds’ Facebook page to find out more!

 

sleepmakeswaves tour supports

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Post-rock trailblazers sleepmakeswaves have announced a massive start to 2017 with the news that their third album “Made of Breath only” will be released Friday March 24th through Bird’s Robe Records, followed by a headline tour of Australia during March and April.

Known for the passionate energy they bring to live instrumental rock, the band will take their epic and climactic live show around the country, premiering new material from the album for the first time, as well as favourites from their previous ARIA-nominated albums ‘Love of Cartography’ and ‘…and so we destroyed everything.’

Joining the tour at all shows as special guests are Australian progressive rock heavyweights Caligula’s Horse, fresh off a mammoth tour of Australia & New Zealand alongside Opeth. The Brisbane five-piece have enjoyed a meteoric rise since the release of their second album. Touring Europe, sold out shows across Australia and shared stages with the likes of Opeth, Protest the Hero and The Dillinger Escape Plan. This tour will showcase the rare combination of Australia’s most exciting young progressive groups of recent years.

In addition, opening the Metro Theatre show will be post-rockers Solkyri (their first major show back since touring with Mew & Trail of Dead) and Stare at the Clouds; opening at Max Watt’s Melbourne are female-fronted hardcore juggernaut PAGAN, fresh from the Unify festival stage; and opening at Max Watt’s Brisbane are local rock stalwarts Aerials, following their support for Birds of Tokyo last year. Further supports for other dates will be announced in the coming weeks.

 

sleepmakeswaves have quickly evolved into one of Australia’s most exciting and innovative musical exports. Following tours with scene giants such as Karnivool, Cog, Underoath, 65daysofstatic, Opeth and a forthcoming run alongside prog legend Devin Townsend, the Sydney band’s unique instrumental epics and their energetic performances have seen them connect with a diverse and passionate audience of music fans.

‘Made of Breath only’ is the band’s most ambitious record to date. Following a period of intense touring, relationship challenges, illness and set against the scene of a world in upheaval, the record reflects the band’s experience of darker emotions, balanced by the unprecedented reception to and joy brought from their musical experiences around the world over the past four years – including 11 Australian tours, 4 European tours, 2 North American tours and sold out shows across Asia.

Recorded with renowned producer Nick DiDia (Pearl Jam, Powderfinger, Rage Against the Machine) in Byron Bay, the album features a progressive combination of sounds hinted at in lead single ‘Tundra’ which premiered on triple j. The record at once captures the band’s push to challenge and evolve, whilst retaining all the energy, melody and vibe they are known for.

On the cusp of their third album release, a world tour and with an epic new live show to boot, the ‘Made of Breath only’ tour promises to be one of sleepmakeswaves’ most memorable to date.

 

 

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