Ahead of her spot at Jaben Audio’s Silent Gig, we caught up with the R’n’B electronica music maker to talk songwriting, getting personal and her favourite tech.
Congratulations on the release of your EP Alt! You recently released a video for single ‘Up To You.’ How did your collab with director Emma Rose Sullivan come about?
Well, Emma is a friend of mine – we also work together at a café – and I loved her short film she made for uni, and also she worked on the RKDA video! It’s great having very talented friends.
The line from ‘Afloat’ “My brain always says I’ve got to be perfect a lot” stuck out to me. Do you find yourself a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to music?
Not so much to do with music – maybe sometimes, but usually music is more freeing for me than anything. That line was written about a point in my life where I went through some mental difficulties a few years back to do with my body image and quite literally wished I was ‘perfect’. I think a lot of people may mistake this song as a break up song – but in reality it’s about my past struggle with perfectionism and mental health, and thus, trying to look after myself more so I don’t fall back into that.
Both of these tracks (well, all of your tracks!) are really personal and reflect on things that have been going on in your life. Do you find it difficult to present these songs to people in your life?
Haha. Yes. Very much so. I am lucky to have such an understanding and loving boyfriend who likes to hear what I’ve written about him. But other songs, I’ve tried to go as far as to not let them see any of my posts on Facebook. But it’s kind of inevitable that they would have heard it, in this circumstance anyway. But at the end of the day, if someone is in my life, then they’re going to influence what I write about – especially when it affects me. I wouldn’t just write something about someone whom I had nothing to do with – as I have done in the past, and it did not go down well at all and I regretted that a lot haha.
You worked with Owen Rabbit and Guy Louis Faletolu on the EP. Have you taken any lessons away from your experiences with them that you continue to use when writing new music?
Yeah, I learned quite a few production techniques from both of them. Owen helped me see a different side to arrangement and production as he does so many different and quirky things that I would never think of. It was cool to see that happen. And Guy has such an excellent ear for music and sound. He can hear everything and know when something needs to be changed or added etc. From both of them, I guess I’ve learned to be a bit more experimental with my writing. I used to just write ‘verse chorus verse chorus bridge chorus’ because I guess it’s just what you hear most of the time in pop music. But now you can do anything, and that’s really cool.
I know country was the genre that inspired you to sing but I’m curious about which artists initially got you tinkering with electronic music?
James Blake, Lorde, The Weeknd, and BANKS are the big ones. I remember when I heard Lorde’s music and I was like ‘hey I could do that’.
It will be really interesting to see how people engage with performers at the Jaben Audio Silent Gig. How do think that will go down?
WELL, I’m hoping everyone keeps their headphones on or else all they will hear are my dry vocals with no instrumental haha. But I think it’ll be cool – it might open up that experience for people to stop and see what it sounds like acapella. I know from a listener’s point of view, I’d love to hear that. It’s going to be a one-off experience, I think. There won’t be any problems with speakers and we all know how amazing it is to hear music through good headphones.
Is there anything you do to prepare for a live show, mentally?
I make sure I don’t go through lyrics in my head. I try to keep my mind as distracted as possible, as I tend to psych myself out. I just like to chill out and talk to people. It gets me in a fun mood.
There will be some pretty nifty technology at work during the show, I assume. Has there been a piece of gear or equipment that shifted the way you approached making music?
There sure will be. Generally my music begins with vocal melodies and I guess I don’t really have a piece of gear that I start with. I kind of just have my laptop and use the mic on that to come up with different melodies and lyrics. I love having my midi keyboard on me so I can write in some chords underneath the vocals, some beats and other things. If you had asked me about two years ago, I would have told you my guitar was my number one, but I hardly use my guitar to write anymore.
You’re studying and doing music at the moment which seems pretty time consuming. Is there anything you like to do outside of these things in your down time?
I love my doggies Nala and Nambi, and so they consume my life a fair bit (when I can visit them/have them for sleepovers as I live in an apartment building now and apparently people in apartments don’t need backyards). I watch a lot of Netflix – a lot of new shows, and animal documentaries. But mostly what I consider my ‘downtime’ is usually music. I work on writing/editing tracks pretty much everyday.
Finally, do you have any advice for young people making music?
Hmm. I’d say if you haven’t found your own thing yet, just keep experimenting and listening to a lot of different music. Keep learning and try not to get stuck in one thing. Learn it all, because it’ll be worth it to know how to do different things. This is all pretty broad advice, but for me, I guess it’s important for myself to know how to do more things (production, mixing, composing etc). If you can learn how to do it all, you can have a better understanding of what kind of music you want to make.