Grunge pop three piece Girl York put out their debut EP Perception is reality last year. After a hiatus the band are back and working on their debut album. Tomatrax caught up with Shaun Martin, the band’s frontman, to ask a few questions.
How did the band form?
i guess you could say the band formed when Dan started to play drums to songs that I had written – Its a bit hard to remember but i think we used to jam back in 2007. I’d need Dan to help me out with specific time and reason we started. I remember jamming in a share house we were both staying in and calling ourselves The Snails. That was our first name. We were both in other bands at the time so we didn’t have time to really commit to The Snails but we had a lot of fun partying and jamming and loving life (I was at uni studying Civil Engineering and Dan was working installing audio systems). Our first show in Perth though i remember was in April 2011 when i finished working in Papua New Guinea. We played at Mojo’s with a band called The Spitfires for their EP launch and we had changed our name to Fieltrip at that stage – we were also just a two piece playing only Piano and Drums…. we had a long extended period of only piano and drums.
Where did the name Girl York come from?
I quit my job on the 23rd January 2012 just before the Australia Day long weekend and went on a tour down south. We had met a band called Minute 36 when they were on the WAMI Regional tour in May 2011 through the Wheatbelt. We were the local support for the Northam show and we all got along really well and they ended up inviting us to go on a short tour down south for their single The Secret release. I decided to go traveling after that tour with a one way ticket and no end date and traveling through South East Asia, China and Europe. I was going to head West through Tibet, Nepal and India on the way to Europe but i got a bit homesick and came home to my family farm in May 2012 to help out my Dad seeding. After seeding I headed straight to Europe on the cheapest flight (Air China i think) which went through China to get to Europe and sat next to this awesome Canadian Girl. We got along really well and ended up talking the whole trip. She had just been in Perth for the previous 6 months and was heading back to Canada for Uni. She lived in Toronto…. and being a bit geographically inept, i didn’t realise how close Toronto is to New York – which she found entertaining. We parted ways in China as i was headed to Europe and she was off to Canada and didn’t exchange contact details. About 6 months later i got a Facebook message for me that went something like ” is this the Shaun Martin that I hung out with on a flight to China?”. Turns out she googled my full name and a youtube vid with some of my really early songs came up and she found me from there. Before we released the first single of Perception is Reality, We wanted to change the name of the band (we were sill called Fieltrip) and the name name Girl York is a about this Canadian girl from Toronto that lived near New York that i met on a plan to Europe. Long answer i know.
You’ve just released your debut EP, what’s it like to have it out?
It feels good. It feels good to have those songs off our chest and behind us…. because it was such a journey to get them out there really – they would be still nowhere without the efforts of Dan Byfield, Brian Mitra and Mark Neal. So we feel good about it – mainly because we can say its out, we were really happy with what we came up with in the studio and best of all we can move inform it.
Where did the title Perception is reality come from?
I think it is a summation of the advise i have had from my band-mates and family. We can not control other peoples perception of us….and perception is reality. My opinion for pro Euthanasia is my opinion and my reality but so is that of someone who opposes it. Its a concession made to the things we cannot control. Its a white flag, a middle ground.
Who is on the front cover of the EP?
Thats a good question….. and i don’t know! i need to look at the credits on the EP. Basically it was crunch time to get the artwork and songs mastered to meet the launch date and Brian and i had a 30 minute google session in his studio Fremantle Records and came up with the artwork ‘basis of design’ – images from the internet for each panel of the EP and sent it to our mate Vaughan Davies at Stage Left design. Vaughan tracked the author of the front cover photo down in America and we paid for the rights to use it. I’d love to meet her.
What was the inspiration behind the video for drunk sex?
We had a brainstorming session with some Brian’s mates Miguel de Nobrega and Alex McArthur, who managed and directed the clip, and we just wanted to make a clip that was on the edge… as close as we could get anyway. It was a free license to the directors which is something i live doing… and see what they do. We are pretty pumped with the results.
What is the music scene in Perth like?
Its good – we have been on the outside as a band for a while, or at least its taken us a while to make the move from playing in cover bands in the country to playing in the Perth scene and getting to meet other musos. We are getting there now though. Its smaller than you think and very tight nit. You also need to be a shit hot band to get people who are not your mates to come to shows. The talent Perth is producing at the moment is really incredible though….The Love Junkies, Dream Rimmy, Tired Lion, Tame Impala, Abby May, Pond, The Growl, Late Night Histerics…. so many great bands.
You played a 10 minute song as part of a 15 minute set, have you considered playing just one really long song for a set?
Dan and I definitely have played a lot of really really long songs…. Pre Perception is Reality we were a two peice Piano and Drums with no set list, no lyrics, no structure…. The songs were always different and if we were having fun they kept on going. The first time we played The Prince of Wales in Bunbury, we added a Hammond organ to our set and played for 1.5 hrs instead of 45mins…. we were pretty lazy about timing sets. We also ordered bourbon and coke rider for all the bands on the bill because we got to the venue first… turns out none of them drank bourbon. Made friends real fast haha!
You’ve announced your debut album will be released in 2016, how has working on the album been going?
Its been very quick but for short periods – we had 9 days in the studio over 3 months as i was only in the country for a week a month for work reasons. We got about6 of 7 songs down and then things got a bit hectic. Dan left the band to focus on his young family and i quite the job i had in Chile. We put everything on hold and i thought the band might not make it through. We had a show booked for the WAM festival after Dan left and i really wanted to play it so we went on a drummer search and found a Gem of a bloke in James Knox. Super talented and most importantly fit in straight away. So we have just played our first few shows of 2016 and have time booked time with Fremantle Record Studio to finish the Album. Dan is going to finish with us – but not play live. We are hoping to get it tracked by the end of March 2016.
How will the album compare to your EP?
Hmmm i think it will compare, we are not going to run sideways with it – Maybe less dream pop songs like Body Lies and Racing Dolphins from Perception is Reality…. I think it will also tell an overall story a bit better being a full length album. But to be honest at this stage i cant be certain. I really don’t know.
Do you know what the album will be titled?
Im pretty bad with simple decisions so whatever i say could be completed different to what we finally choose. Bit of a hard question to answer. But I have been thinking of “Be My Heroine” or ” Alien Factory”…. Those names have been swirling around my brain for a while. But time will tell!
Do you ever listen to your own music?
Yeah we listen to it a lot really – but for the sake of writing it, rehearsing, recording and just the whole production phase. It can be draining and you think of new ways to criticise your own work and fuck around wasting time trying to appease your doubts. But do I listen to now that its done – no not really. Maybe once a year or so for nostalgia’s sake.
What other music do you listen to?
Im pretty lazy with finding new music, but i listen to Triple J or RTR FM when I’m driving… and i go to a lot of live local shows in Perth. I tend to listen to Albums i love over and over again from Bands like Silvers Pickups, Jose Gonzalez, The Doors, Kings of Leon, Jeff Buckley, Tame Impala, Nirvana, Daft Punk, MGMT…. I have my favourites and then just hammer them. But at the minute I’m listing to Lorde’s Album Pure Heroine on Spotify as I’m writing this
Now that the EP is out, what do you plan on doing next?
Finish this new Album and get that out into the world, play some shows and get going with the next effort. I’l Flat out being full time unemployed so I’m trying to soak it up and get as many of the things i love squeezed in while i can before the man comes knocking for my soul again.
Check out Girl York’s Faebook page to find out more!