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SOUNDS OF THEN. AND NOW?: WIND BACK WEDNESDAY TAKES ANOTHER LOOK AT THE NEXT BIG THINGS OF 2015


Five years ago – a blip in time, and yet a leap that takes us back to an almost unimaginable utopia when it was still possible to believe that the world would not be run by various shades of flim-flam men of the right – the Friday entertainment supplement in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age took a punt on who might be on the cusp of becoming something major in Australian music.


They didn’t have much in common except having shown more than promise. But of course, potential alone is not worth anything in the long run.


Three of the candidates are here. What do you think? Can you see artists they’ve become in their answers? Did the predictions hold up?

OLYMPIA


Where are you from?


South and Mid-north Coasts of NSW



Have you performed, in a group or under another name, before? Why do you think this incarnation was worth pursuing?


I cut my teeth performing under my own name - that was an age ago. The music is much different now, so is my approach. Ironically, I think it was studying design that had the greatest influence on my approach to music. Looking at the concept-rich works of fashion designers Hussein Chalayan, Rei Kawakubo, or even the 90s United Colours of Bennetton ads, I started to look for ideas in everything. If something as ubiquitous as fashion can be idea-driven, why can’t music?


The move to a moniker was a natural progression. I wanted the music to be more about ideas - both theoretic and sonic, not just representative at what I thought, but a more collaborOative space.



Did you have a plan/idea of the kind and direction of music you wanted to make when you started?


I had an idea of how I wanted the music to sound, but primarily I wanted the audience to feel something.


When I first started playing music I had no idea what I was doing and it was absolute bliss. I took to the electric guitar as another tool to try and articulate the music I could hear in my head. I had no knowledge of chords, and I wasn’t really interested in playing others peoples music. Ideas have always been paramount. The theory came, but my sound was born in this early Garden Of Eden ignorance.


I used to get all these young boys standing at the lip of the stage making notes of my guitar rig, or playing style, narrating what they thought I was doing wrong. If we all followed the same manual, everything would sound the same. You have to go out there and play, sometimes you’re going to make mistakes.



What unexpected instruments are there on the album that you discovered in your country studio?


We had the privilege of working in a Melbourne studio that was set up and run by a music lover who’d collected instruments from every era. Vintage drum kits (including a bass drum from the early 1900’s that was wired with light globes to heat the calf skin), and an incredible range of vintage electronics, including a very special Jupiter 8. He even had the MPC used by Massive Attack on of their album Blue Lines, replete with samples from the recording sessions (possibly a remnant of a messy divorce).


It’s a rare privilege to meet someone who is so excited about instruments both analogue and electronic - and who is genuinely excited about strangers coming in to the studio and exploring them. The recordings are imprinted with this experience.

Please talk us through your influences.


I admire artists who can illuminate an idea/concept using everyday things as their vehicle. Writers Dorothy Porter and Peter Carey are masters at this.

I’m also really interested in that space between an artists experiences/ their lives and their art. How, for instance, Ian Fairweather tied bits of Japanese WW2 wreckage together to build a raft, and essentially floated to PNG, almost missing it. He was saved by locals - having only taken along a bag of bread, had no sun protection, and subsequently was temporarily blinded by the time he snagged the tip of a reef and was found.


The work that ensued (mind you, he had been thought dead in the interim, and obituaries were published around the world) was imbued with this experience.


I watch a lot of documentaries, and I love a well written/spoken story. The documentary All This Mayhem, had a particularly strong effect on me last year. Perhaps it was its setting, or the lack of redemptive coda, something about this story was so moving I spent months looking into the story myself. It seems like such an Australian tale - so tragic.


These may seem more like inspirations than influence, however something about all of these examples has cut through whatever I was doing and made me take notice. A reminder not to settle for the easiest option.


Finally, I did hang out with George Benson a fair bit on youtube in my early guitar days, so he deserves a mention too.



When will we hear the album and what can we expect?


It’s lyrically quite a dense and personal recording. I went into the sessions with only a few musicians on my iPod: Hungry Ghosts, Suicide, Stina Nordenstam, Sagan’s Golden Record, and a lot of old hip hop. I’m not sure if you’ll hear any of these come through the sessions. You definitely won’t hear any Massive Attack samples.


Going back to your question earlier, I had a vision for what I wanted this new recording to sound like, however I think we exceeded my ideas with credit to producer Burke Reid, musicians Pete Luscombe and Pat Bourke.


L-FRESH The LION

How old are you?


I’m 26 years young.



Where are you from?


I was born and raised in Liverpool, South West Sydney.



Have you performed, in a group or under another name, before? Why do you think this incarnation was worth pursuing?


I was birthed as The LION, and I have been living that incarnation since.



Did you have a plan/idea of the kind and direction of music you wanted to make when you started?


I’ve always wanted to make music that was powerful and music that would resonate with people on a meaningful level. For me, it's about making people move physically, spiritually and mentally. I enjoy making the kind of music that inspires me. In terms of sound, that doesn’t always mean I know what I want everything to sound like. But, I knew what I needed to be about and what the music needed to be.

KRS One said you are hip hop? Is that extra pressure or inspiration?


That is a blessing. As an artist you try to resonate a particular vibe or energy. It’s a blessing when people recognise that – whether that be a person at a show or someone who is culturally significant, like KRS-One. For them to recognise that energy in me is a blessing, and I take each of those moments and each of those comments as they are and appreciate them, and am grateful for them.



Please talk us through your influences.


I’m influenced by failure. I’m influenced by disappointment. I’m influenced by hardship and struggle. I’m influenced by beauty; and I’m influenced by love, hope, courage, passion and fire. I’m influenced by the shine present in the eyes that gaze at me in the mirror. As well as the reflection I see in the eyes of a stranger. And I’m influenced by good music.



Are there any key moments in your history we should know about?


In 2009, I toured as the national support for Nas on his first national tour of Australia. I released my debut album One independently in May last year.



When will we hear the album and what can we expect?


I’m in the process of working on the new project. I’m meditating on it



MEG MAC

How old are you?


I'm 24.



Where are you from?


I'm from Sydney.



Have you performed, in a group or under another name, before? Why do you think this incarnation was worth pursuing?


I shortened my name and started putting out my music for the first time at the end of 2012. It was worth pursuing because it is hard, scary and amazing all at the same time. And I can feel myself changing everyday.



Did you have a plan/idea of the kind and direction of music you wanted to make when you started?


I just started writing without really thinking about what it was for. It was just fun and hours would go by and I hadn't moved from the piano, there was no pressure back then. It all came from something I wasn't forcing myself to do and the direction just lead on from those songs. If I plan music, I get stuck and nothing comes out.

What did Sam Cooke teach you about singing?


I don't know if I can do this but I try, Sam Cooke sings with so much energy and emotion - he can get intense and angry but make people want to listen to it. I try to let it all out, while singing good so people will listen.



Please talk us through your influences.


Growing up it was the music my Dad listened to, soul music. Then as a girl, I liked what my friends liked - it was pop. When I was in high school I got obsessed with the French singers Camille and Edith Piaf. And then when I started writing my own music I found I kept going back to older music, like Sam Cooke and Motown.


But lately it is the artists that have that good singing thing still happening that makes me feel something. I love Bon Iver, Frank Ocean, James Blake and Amy Winehouse. Sometimes you can find just the vocal takes online of some singers, I love to listen to them without the music in the back.



Are there any key moments in history we should know about?


My older sister was good at playing piano and being creative using chords, she used to sing and write songs. I had just had piano lessons and never considered the possibility of making up my own music. I don't know why but if someone can do something that I can't - I need prove that I can. I have never been more grateful for that jealousy.



When will we hear the album and what can we expect?


I am hoping to have it all finished soon, but no set date yet because I am still working out exactly how I am going to do it! I feel a lot more confident than I did recording my EP, I believe in my songs more and I am not scared of what I write. So hopefully I sound more free.

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