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Tomatrax

An independent online music magazine

Interview with Levi from WOAH!

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Emerging from the South East corner of Queensland comes Whoa! Meeting at Griffith University on the Gold Coast only last year, this quintet consists of a diverse mix of musicians, all who have incredible talent, energy and stage presence that has gained them a fierce reputation around their hometown.

Tomatrax aught up with Levi, the band’s guitarist to ask a few questions.

How did the band form?
Well we all became pretty good mates at university. The whole idea for this project was conceived last year when the opportunity to experiment and have some fun arose through a university assessment. We wanted to create something new and fresh that wasn’t all over the coast already, or Australia for that matter.

Where did the name Whoa! Come from?
Come to a show, you’ll see.

You’ve just released your debut single, how does it feel to have it out?
We’re all pretty stoked to have released Stay The Night! It feels great to finally be able to share something we’ve put a lotta love into.

What made you pick ‘Stay The Night’ as your debut single?
Honestly, it’s a killer track. We absolutely love the song and wanted to share it with the world.

What was the inspiration behind the single’s cover?
We approached Chelsea to create something that embodied the song, portraying sex and love. I don’t think she could have done a better job, it’s perfect.

Are there any plans for an EP or LP release?
We’re always writing new music, and we’re always going to want to share that music. Currently we’re working on our next single, but hold tight… we’ve got a few things up our selves 😉

When writing what comes first, the words or the music?
Honestly, all our music just comes from jamming it out on the spot. There’s no better way to express what we’re feeling than a bit of improvisation. Once we find something we reckon is pretty cool, we go from there.

Do you ever listen to your own music?
Hell yeah, why wouldn’t I? Whoa! Is one of my favorite bands.

What other music do you listen to?
Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of The Growlers, I’m excited to hear new music from them. Aside from them, I love some King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Gum, Anderson Paak, The Cat Empire and some of the classics like The Doors and Led Zeppelin.

Now that your single is out what do you plan on doing next?
Like I mentioned before, we’re always writing new music and currently working on our next single. But nothing gets the blood pumping like a good live show, so you can expect plenty more. Our next gig is at the Northern in Byron Bay on September 2nd with Ocean Alley. We’ve got a whole lot more shows planned too, so keep an eye out.

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

 

Interview with Laura Imbruglia

Laura Imbruglia has returned with season two of Amature Hour! There are seven 30 minute episodes featuring musician performances from a range of artists, as well as other musicians doing less musician things. Tomatrax caught up with Laura to talk about her latest series.

You’ve just completed your second season of Amateur Hour, how does it feel to have part two of your brainchild complete?
It feels great to finally finish the birthing process! It was a 1.5 yr labour! We worked really hard to make the show and I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved and of the platform and spotlight we’ve been able to offer to some of Australia’s best musicians, creatives and funny people.

Given the success of the first season did you feel any pressure working on the sequel?
I just wanted to build on our existing audience. I felt that we had established a strong brand and that Australian audiences agree that we need a home for locally produced music/art/comedy.
It’s hard to feel pressure when we have literally NO competition – we are filling such an obvious hole in Aussie tv programming. I felt personal pressure as a creative person – I just wanted to make a show that I would want to watch.

Was there anything you did differently compared to the first season?
We planned out our filming a little better – making sure we filmed multiple things in a day and got the most use out of our time and crew, rather than dragging the filming out over longer than necessary. In Season 1 I would get an idea for a skit and then film it, whereas this time, I’d save up my ideas til I had enough for a solid day of filming. This time we also got a microphone sponsorship from Rode which helped lift our audio quality and provide consistency in sound.
Our roll-out of the content was handled differently this time as well. Instead of filming, editing and sequencing over the course of a year and then releasing a half hour episode every 2 weeks and trying to convince people to press play on a 30 min youtube video of a show they’ve never heard of, this time we released small portions of the show weekly. A music performance one week, a comedy skit the next. We compiled them all into 7 x half hour episodes at the end. It was a way to get the word of the show out on a weekly basis and build our audience steadily whilst keeping the content fresh and relevant.

In the first season you had a collection of artists doing things they are less known for, what kind of segments do you have this time round?
We’re still rocking this format – I find that the audience really enjoy watching musicians act. This is how each episode starts – you’ll see people like me, Dan Kelly, Adalita, Jen Cloher, Kira Puru and more in comedic acting roles. We also have musicians writing cartoon concepts (Peter Black – The Hard-Ons) and scoring them as well (Red Ghost, Alex MacRae – Sons of Rico). We have Laura Jean performing the role of a lifestyle tv host this time, providing surprisingly useful and insightful thoughts and advice.

The show also has interviews and performances from some of your favourite bands, can you shed some light on who will be featured?
Sure can! You’ll see excellent performances and entertainingly awkward interviews with bands including Camp Cope, Mere Women, Witch Hats, The Laurels, GL, Pikelet and more. Check the list of guests here!

Was it hard to round all the guests up for the shows?
It wasn’t hard to find people willing to be on the show, people are really enthusiastic about the show. However, we did most of our music filming on Mondays and Tuesdays as that was when venues are closed during the day. Most musos have day jobs, so we ran into a few situations where bands were super keen to be on the show but just couldn’t make it work with the timing. My dream would be to have our own dedicated studio decked out with backline equipment so we could offer a bit more flexibility, consistency of sound and painlessness for bands.

Are there any plans to release a compilation album of the music featured on the show?
Nah, it’d probably be a nightmare to get all the bands to sign off on it and no doubt would be expensive as a few of them have publishing deals. Enjoy it online in visual form as it was intended to be seen/heard!

Will there be a third season of Amateur Hour?
This is to be determined. Unless we get picked up by a broadcaster, it’s unlikely. It’s a full-time job and is not sustainable at this point. I was paid a self-assigned producer wage of about $2,500 of a $50,000 budget for this season which is kind of insane even for someone as enthusiastic as myself.

Do you have any musical releases in the works at the moment?
Not yet but I have a songwriting residency lined up for September/October at Bundanon, NSW and some recording $$ waiting to be cashed in so hopefully next year I will release another album.

Now that the second season is complete, what do you plan on doing next?
Having a bit of a rest before I stage my next “You’re Lookin’ At Country” gender bender drag show (Sept 3 at The Gaso – more info to come) and then writing my next album 🙂

All seven episodes can be viewed at the Amature Hour website!

Interview with Paul English from Velvet Flare

Following the release of the singles ‘6th of June’ and ‘Animal’, Brisbane rock band Velvet Flare announce the release of their latest single ‘Ice Age’ from their forthcoming EP, Archetypes. Tomatrax caught up with the band’s frontman, Paul English, to ask a few questions.

How did the band form?
About 2014 I began writing songs and later started recording them with audio engineer Slade Gibson I knew as a guitar teacher. He played bass and programmed drums, and he mixed the tracks. He did a couple of guitar solos, but most of the guitars and keyboards and all the vocals are mine. Patrick Kennedy played piano on some of the songs. I continued to write and record and now have about 20 mastered tracks. In order to play live I knew I needed to recruit others to the band. Paul Shepherd joined to play guitar in late 2016. He was brought to my attention by an old friend of mine Graeme Smith, who then joined soon after to play bass. The band was completed by drummer Plato Aposporis in early 2017.

Where did the name Velvet Flare come from?
I was compiling a list of names for bands for a while, but none had really settled in my mind when I was reading the recent Elvis Costello autobiography ‘Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink’ and he mentioned something about velvet flares. For me it evoked a sense of the 1970’s, and being influenced primarily by 1970’s Bowie and Suede, who are also heavily influenced by 1970’s Bowie, the name seemed to complement our sound and image. I also like the word ‘Flare’ for its defined meanings such as ‘to blaze with bright unsteady flame’. Using the singular
‘flare’ rather than ‘flares’ allows for other interpretations beyond the
literal.

You’ve just put out your latest EP, how does it feel to have it out?
Fine, thank you. Thanks also to The A&R Department.

What made you pick ‘Ice age’ as the latest single?
It’s a great song. The rest of the band like it a lot. We’d previously released ‘6th of June’ and ‘Animal’ as singles and for us ‘Ice Age’ was the obvious 3rd single. It’s a little long for a single and I did get a radio edit it but it doesn’t really lend itself well to editing with its linear narrative, and that outro and end, so it was released uncut.

Ice age’ deals with some dark and confronting themes around drug abuse, where did you get the inspiration for the song?
Crystal meth amphetamine use has really permeated modern society rapidly with some very destructive results, and so too has the use of amphetamines generally, including ecstasy and other more recent synthetic drugs. Working as a doctor in ED in the past I’ve seen a lot the consequences. However the song ‘Ice Age’ is equally a song about relationships and youth. Nearly everyone must be aware of those things we encounter in the early weeks and months of a new relationship that we can choose to overlook or play down because one is in love and we want it to work out. Some we dismiss at our peril. In the Chorus the girl is so confident of her charms when she says ‘Just let me show you how’. But in the outro the sarcastic irony of ‘It looks like she showed him now!’ after he kills her, I couldn’t resist.

Are there any plans for an album release?
Yes, before then end of 2017.

When writing what comes first the words or the music?
The music. Mostly chord progressions first and then vocal and guitar melodies follow. McCartney has described the process of writing with Lennon and the process of singing any words to ‘bomb’ out the melody. Later the hard work of labouring over the lyrics and making them meet the meter can take some time, and most people find the same thing.

Do you ever listen to your own music?
Yes. I like it. I remember reading an interview where Brett Anderson was asked the same question about Suede, and I’m saying a similar thing to what he said. I actually really like what I’ve created, so why shouldn’t I like and want to listen to it? You should too (haha).

What other music do you listen to?
Mostly English/Irish rock from the 1960’s onward. Bands/performers that have been a major obsession for me include Suede, David Bowie, Paul Weller/The Jam/The Style Council, Elvis Costello, The Beatles, The Kinks, The Hollies, The Who, Small Faces, (early) Roxy Music, Echo and The Bunnymen, The Buzzcocks/Pete Shelley, Magazine, U2, The Boomtown Rats, Psychedelic Furs, Blondie, Pulp, Radiohead, The Smiths.
I also like a lot of classical music. My favourite composer is Ralph Vaughan Williams. Works like the Tallis Fantasia, In the Fen Country, and The Lark Ascending are brilliant. He wrote 9 symphonies and I love the 8th, the 5th, the 6th and 3rd.

Now that the EP is out what do you plan on doing next?
Continue to write and record, play live as much as possible, and release our 1st and 2nd albums.

Check out Velvet Flare’s Facebook page to find out more!

Interview with Tomina Vincent from Flynn Effect

Flynn Effect are giving their new dark and brooding filmclip to the world and releasing the details of their OBSIDIAN album tour. Second Album ‘Obsidian’ will be available for purchase on August 4 and can be pre-ordered now at Bandcamp.

Tomatrax caught up with lead singer Tomina Vincent to talk about the band’s music.

How did the band form?

Three members of Flynn Effect were in a band called Leadlight rose. I was asked to audition after they disbanded and that’s how it all started. Geoff Irish used to be our drummer for a couple of years and then we got James Laurie in, and that’s the current lineup.

Where did the name Flynn Effect come from?

We were entertaining many names for this, but this one stuck around. The Flynn Effect is basically the substantial and long-sustained increase in both fluid and crystallised intelligence test scores. We thought that was kind of nerdy and it fit us well.

Your second album is coming out in just over a month, how will it compare with your debut?

I’d say its a lot more varied and complex, and a little bit more calm. Its a very honest and forthright record as well. I think the atmosphere and the vibe are quite different, its a little more bold and mature.

Where did the title Obsidian come from?

Obsidian is essentially about love and loss in all their forms. Its a sort of a separation record, a lot of it is about finding and losing love and dealing with the aftermath. I remember reading about obsidian, and the phrase “volcanic glass” caught my attention. Its not so simple, but symbolically it represented something seemingly fragile, born in chaos and violence, and to me that represents the way we change in the wake of a separation or any major, disruptive event in our lives. The colour is a nod to the darker tones of the music and the brooding vibe of the record as a whole.

What made you pick ‘Fade’ as the albums single?

‘Fade’ was a very non-Flynn Effect song to us. We wanted to put out something that people didn’t expect to hear from us. Its also one of our favourites so we thought it wold be a good idea, especially because its 5 minutes and our old record had nothing that long or complex in it. We were excited to surprise people. We never know where the band is going or what will end up being the new direction or sound, we just do what feels right and ‘Fade’ was a good way to sum up the whole record, too.

You’ve said that the band members faced difficult situations in making your latest album, what did you do to get through and and finish the album?

We were with each other a lot, we are best friends, joined at the hip. We made sure to always be there for one another and I think that helped us the most. After a few months off, we slowly began working again and I remember the first show we played after that felt like a new beginning and it shook us to the core. the bond between band mates is a very specific one and we’re incredibly close, we speak every day. It has been a really tough couple of years for everyone, but eventually we moved forward smoothly and we were very focused. The actual recording process was very quick once all hands were on deck.

When writing what comes first the words or the music?

Definitely the music. I usually get a draft or a demo and I start working from that. When the song comes to the rehearsal room, I usually develop the vocals and lyrics further. The first thing I do is find words that fit the music thematically, thought I never really have an idea from the very beginning. I tend to sing gibberish until something sticks, It just appears out of the ether and eventually It reveals what the song is going to be about. I also make sure that the phrases are easy to sing, the vowels are open, just clinical stuff like that.

Do you ever listen to your own music?

Not too often no, if you’ve ever tried to mix your own album, you’d know you have to listen to it a million times and its a bit old after that. But i definitely put it on every once in a while.

What music do you listen to?

At the moment i’m back to old loves, like Depeche mode for example. Really digging Fleshgod Apocalypse and I listen to Andrew Haug Radio pretty much constantly, its my favourite place to discover stuff and also hear old favourites.

What do you have planned once the album is out?

We will be playing a few shows in support and then we’re actually back to writing new music. I’m very excited to start the next chapter. We’re working on more touring, and hopefully heading overseas with the next release.

Check out Flynn Effect’s website to find out more!

 

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