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Tomatrax

An independent online music magazine

Interview with Elli Schoen

Elli Schoen is a musician on the rise.

The Fremantle artist has recently launched her ‘Gold Mess’ EP, gained Triple J airplay, is touring nationally and is supporting the likes of Billy Bragg, Airling and Tash Sultana.

Elli Schoen has upcoming shows in Western Australia, New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.

What inspired you to become a musician?

I feel like music was always in my blood. My family have a history of musicians so from a very young age I had the desire to write songs. Once I taught myself how to play the guitar and sing I was creating a new song every week.


When did you write your first song?

I actually wrote my first song when I was six years old, pretty sure my mum has a tape recording of it.


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

It’s a great feeling to finally have the EP out there. My manager just told me it’s getting the most listens in Manhattan on spotify, that to me is amazing.

 


What made you pick ‘Gold Mess’ as the EP’s lead track?

‘Gold Mess’ was the last song I recorded on the EP and I feel like it’s more the direction I’m heading into my future musical projects.


The track is darker than your previous singles, is this a sign of things to come?

It’s not so much making music that is darker but more spacious and ambient. I want my new songs to breath.


You recently supported Billy Bragg, how did that go?

Billy Bragg was such an eye opening gig, he has such an amazing stage presence. I felt captivated by his live show and how he can hold so many people in the palm of his hand.


You’ve been touring round Australia, how has that been going?

I’m just about to go on my second Australian tour and I can’t wait. I have a great band right now that is like a mini little family so we should have some good times on the road.


Do you ever listen to your own music?

Once you have recorded them in the studio and listened over and over you almost can’t go back and put them on. However it’s pretty cool when you’re driving and it comes on the radio.


What music do you listen to?

I listen to a lot of new music. I’m loving Airling’s new album and can’t stop listening to Julia Jacklin. The ladies are really killing in music right now.


What do you have planned after your current tour?

I really need some time out after the tour to start thinking about my next project. It’s been such a crazy year, it’s time relax and get creative again.

Check out Elli Schoen’s Facebook page to find out more!

 

 

 

Interview with Radical Face

Florida-born multi-instrumentalist RADICAL FACE (a.k.a. Ben Cooper) has his sights set on Australia and New Zealand for the first time ever this coming May and June!

For more than a decade, in a shed behind his mother’s house, Ben Cooper embarked on an unprecedented musical journey. He created the intricate concept album trilogy, ‘The Family Tree’, which revolves around a fictitious otherworldly 19th century family. The trilogy came to a close with the 2016 critically acclaimed, ‘The Family Tree: The Leaves’. The final instalment is the most personal of all the ‘Family Tree’ albums, as Cooper’s personal stories meld into fictitious ones.

Tomatrax caught up with Radical Face to ask a few questions.

 

What made you decide to use an alias rather than your name?

It’s funny, but I never considered using my actual name. I didn’t even think of it as an option at the time. Radical Face is just a name I got from a torn advert for plastic surgery when I was 18. The full flier actually said “Radical Face Lifts”, but the one I saw just said “Radical Face” over the picture of a smiling woman in her 50s. And I adopted it.

Last year you put out the final part of your concept album trilogy, what inspired you to release a trilogy of albums?

I originally wanted to write the story as a novel. I love books like East of Eden and 100 Years Of Solitude, those multi-generation sagas that show the domino effect of our decisions. But after writing 2 books and losing them in a hard drive crash, I later picked the idea back up as music. It was originally gonna be much smaller, but I got carried away.

Your last album covered a lot of your personal stories, is it hard to have these on show for everyone to hear?

Yeah, it is. It’s part of why I don’t do long tours, or tour terribly often. There’s a catharsis in it, for sure, but it’s not always fun to revisit night after night. Definitely a double-edged sword there.

Are there any plans to release another album series?

Nope! Hahaha. I doubt I will ever take on such a large project again. I’m glad I did it, and proud I made it to the end, but there were lots of times where I felt overwhelmed. I’m interested in simpler ideas these days.

This year you are planning to release a series of EPs, what made you decide to take this approach rather than releasing an album?

It’s totally a reaction to putting out such a lengthy series. I wanted to go back to exploring, and not hemming myself in with lofty concepts. EPs are a great way to try out ideas without living inside of them for so long. They’re the short stories of the music world. I’m really enjoying the freedom.

Your latest EP is titled SunnMoonnEclippse, where did you get the idea to combine the three track titles as the EP title?

It was honestly just a working title that I got used to. I knew what the songs were called, so I labeled all the work that way. When I was done, I had gotten attached to seeing it that way, so I left it.

How will the follow up EPs planned for release this year compare with SunnMoonnEclippse?

Oh, they’re all quite different. One is based on patterns. Another is about Verse/Chorus writing, because I wanted to try writing songs with traditional structure again. They’re almost like little assignments for me.

Do you know what the next EPs will be titled?

Not yet, but I may just stick with this theme and keep all the working titles. So “Patterns” and “Verse/Chorus” might be it.

You’re about to tour Australia, what can fans expect from your show?

Well, we’re not the most serious bunch, despite my music. Or perhaps because of it. I like to laugh a lot at shows, and have them feel casual in between songs. I ramble a lot, too. And most of the live versions of songs are pretty different from the recordings. I don’t try to recreate the way I record. It never works. So I don’t even bother trying to match presentation anymore and rewrite songs all the time.

Do you ever listen to your own music?

Only while working on it and making decisions. Once I’m done, I’m done. I’ve never revisited old recordings, except to relearn them for shows. I have certainly never put them on to just listen.

What music do you listen to?

I listen to a lot of classical music, movie soundtracks, and instrumental electronic stuff like Jon hopkins and Amon Tobin when alone. I like lots of music with singers as well, but it’s not usually my go-to.

What do you have planned after your upcoming tour?

I’ve actually planned very little. I like just seeing where I end up, and kinda rolling with the punches. So outside of the songs we’re gonna play, I don’t really have anything particular in mind. Except to hunt down coffee and see some nature. But that’s always the case.

 

Tour dates below. Check out the SunnMoonnEclippse website to find out more!

 

Friday 26th May 2017
Corner Hotel, Melbourne VIC (18+)

Saturday 27th May 2017
Factory Theatre, Sydney NSW (18+)

Sunday 28th May 2017
The Zoo, Brisbane QLD (18+)

Wednesday 31st May 2017
Jive Bar, Adelaide SA (18+)

Thursday 1st June 2017
Badlands, Perth WA (18+)

Saturday 3rd June 2017
Tuning Fork, Auckland NZ (18+)

Gig Review: The Devin Townsend Project at the Triffid, Brisbane Australia w/ sleepmakeswaves

 

For over two decades Devin Townsend has been producing his unique “old man Canadian passive-aggressive core” (that is how he described it at the gig)! Through Strapping Young Lad, his solo work, and the current “Devin Townsend Project” he has produced music full of intercity, energy, and vibrant charisma. If this concert is anything to go by, he has lost none of these over the 20 odd years, and may even have more than before!

Sleepmakeswaves opened up the show amazingly with their special brand of instrumental prog metal. Exerting massive amounts of energy and bringing out vibrant sounds they showed once again that singers can be an optional extra. There was a certain stage presence to the four members as they each poured tons of emotion into their delivery. Seamlessly working their way around quite dark ambience and blasting heavy metal they drew the crowd in from the very beginning and kept them all engaged and banging for the whole set!

The Devin Townsend Project followed with Devin announcing things were going to be very “cheesy” and a bit “awkward” and then noting “if you listen to my music you’re probably a bit of a nerd so just roll with it!”

The set ranged from tracks from the 1997 Ocean Machine Album including the high speed and intense ‘Night’ and the slow and melancholic epic ‘Bastard’ all the way to tracks off the Project’s most recent album. There was also a range in styles from the stripped back acoustic piece ‘Ih-Ah’ to the full on metal sounds of Strapping Young Lads’ ‘Shitstorm’.

In each extreme and everything in between, Devon and his Project exerted electrifying life with a tight and intense set backed with epic atmosphere. On top of this the band we’re all clearly having a lot of fun which translated into a hugely entertaining show.

In addition to the music, Mr Townsend showed off his phenomenal stage presence. Adopting many “cheesy” elements of rock and roll while making fun of himself. Other times he broke from his metal persona to take on a Henry Rollins-esq spoken word segments, generally talking about peace and love and how he has grown from his angry 25-year old Strapping Young Lad days. The great charismatic act coupled with sharp Canadian wit allowed the gig to cut through the intense sounds and bring in some humour and even more fun to the show!

This was an exceptional show! Sleepmakeswaves put out one of the best support act sets ever, mesmorising the crowd from the word go with their vivid and atmospheric progressive metal. Meanwhile the Devin Townsend Project poured out an epic feast of entertainment with every facet of prog-rock/metal Mr Townsend’s ever dabbled in, held together with his charismatic stage presence and sharp tongued wit!

Remaining Devin Townsend/sleepmakeswaves dates below. Check out Devin Townsend’s website to find out more!
Monday 22nd May – Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Tuesday 23rd May – 170 Russell, Melbourne
Wednesday 24th May – 170 Russell, Melbourne – SOLD OUT
Friday 26th May – Capitol, Perth

 

Interview with Oh/Villain

 

Sydney quintet Oh/Villain have just released their second single ‘Preacher’ from their forth coming EP Pilots, due for release on 30 June. Tomatrax slided a page of questions under a door and got the following responses!

How did the band form?

Oh/Villain formed about halfway through 2012. It began as the result of an old band falling apart and a few of the members decided it was time for a fresh start. We spent quite a while changing and developing our sound as well as going through quite an extensive line-up change. However, that has led us to the Oh/Villain that everyone is about to get very familiar with.

Where did the name Oh/Villain come from?

Our old guitarist had a tumblr and we based it off that tumblr name.

You have a new EP coming out soon, how will it compare with your previous work?

Pretty much the same instrumentation, but we’ve grown up a little bit and the stories in the songs have a little more depth I guess.

Where did the title Pilot come from?

We all watch a lot of TV shows and the pilot is the first episode of a series. Pilot pretty much means that we’re still finding our footing and we wanna know how the audience will react to us as well

What made you pick ‘Heartless’ as the EP’s single?

Bangin’ chorus, sxc breakdown, healthy dose of post hardcore

You also have a cadre of new music that will see the light of day in the coming months, can you shed some light on this music?

I like to think it’s good music. Some juicy stories that we hope people can relate to and resonate with.

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

It all depends, but the end result is that of all our songs must have a good story

Do you ever listen to your own music?

Yeah sometimes

What other music do you listen to?

Elliott Smith, The Platters, George Harrison, Gorrilaz, Slint, Lewis Del Mar, Tom Misch, Lido

What do you have planned after your EP is released?

Give people an opportunity to hear our EP live and perform to the best of our ability. We’ll also be living life and write about living life.

Check out Oh/Villian’s Facebook page to find out more!

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