Interview - Timi Temple

2017 is an important year for musicians and mental health. Accompanied by an ongoing openness, endless support and positive outlook, I chatted with Timothy Lockwood about his own experiences, observations and the launch of his solo project Timi Temple, as well his recent single What Are We Waiting For.

Having grown up immersed in a world of jazz music, Lockwood toured internationally during his early 20s with a bunch of middle-aged men. It wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, however, leaving Lockwood a bit worse for wear.

“The other members brought their families on tour so as soon as we finished playing they’d go off with them, which is 100% fair, but made the weeks away super lonely.”

On reflection he wishes he had used this opportunity to explore, meet people, and make friends. “I think that’s kinda the biggest thing with the industry… we’re all too afraid of the failure so we don’t even start to attempt it and nothing ever happens.”

With his powerful connection to the jazz world, Lockwood expands on his views surrounding the genre. “Jazz allows you to explore the furthest reaches of your instrument… Jazz is introverted; playing for yourself to an audience. To be honest, I couldn’t notice if there were five or 5000 people in the crowd. Coming to view virtuosic talents, it’s not until someone claps and my eyes open that we interact.”

It’s never easy for humans to find their way. It can take time to get to where some of the most successful and happy people are. Going from this lifestyle, to playing with pop stars and feeling like his progress was halted, he adds, “When I’ve played for pop star-type people it’s a pretty basic gig; not as exhilarating or challenging.”

Touring with his mate Kilter, the two going way back to primary school days, the world of electronic music opened up for Lockwood. He muses “I wasn’t vibing the whole electronic scene at the time but when I joined the Listen Out tour with Kilter I thought, ‘Yeah, this is sweet’ and since then it’s been the most fun of a ride!”

Venturing out on his own, kick-starting Timi Temple back in April this year and combining what he grew up listening to with what he’s learnt, expect a fusion of psychedelia, electronica, and a hint of jazz.

What Are We Waiting For is a bright tune with a serious message, leaving an impression on the hearts and minds of listeners, including myself. The piece focuses on anxiety and depression with an aim to reach out to those dealing with mental health and show that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

“Anxiety can stop you from really doing anything,” he muses. “It pertains to this project especially; for so long I was too scared to share my own music. So this is literally about me not even wanting to get out of bed to attempt to do my own stuff because the fear of failure can halt you before you even get there.”

An incredible example of someone who has conquered his fears and using his own voice as a chance to support those who feel voiceless, he furthers “If I can write a song about making a mistake then hopefully someone else doesn’t have to!

“I’m not invincible,” Lockwood exclaims, “I’ve been crippled by the thought of ‘That can never happen to me, I’ll get through this easy-peasy’ but then is comes in like a train.”

Using writing as a way to escape from being stuck inside his head, he has turned this into a creative process for his music, delving into how his lyrics or thematic devices for songs always start out as a story. “I put my emotions onto paper but not all will develop into a song. For example, whenever I’m feeling angry or sad I find if I write down why I’m feeling that way, not just describing but going into a fantasy land – I could write a whole story about it. I will then go revisit these stories when looking for themes to fit with the instrumental, turning them into lyrics.”

Going into a flow state, Lockwood has been known to sit in front of his computer for 12 to 16 hours at a time, as he reflects, “My girlfriend came down and was like ‘Have you even left the house?’

“I was like ‘No…’

“‘Have you eaten?’

“I was like ‘No…’

“‘Have you had anything to drink?’

“and I was like ‘No, ha ha, but I’ve got a perfect song and then that’s that!’

“I love doing it. It’s kind of the same as when you’re playing an hour set but it feels like three minutes.”

Lockwood will continue to use this method into the future, as well as keeping a journal to assist the body and mind. For those struggling with stress, depression or anxiety, the release of feelings, emotions, fears and thoughts can help you understand them more clearly by gaining control and establishing an order when you feel your world is chaos.

An electronic music gig focuses on the audience and ensuring they have a sick time, one reason Timi has gone down this path. “You feed the energy off them, everything that’s planned is for the benefit and enjoyment of the crowd forming a connection with the entire room like one big family appreciating the sounds. It is super important to curate that experience, with the audience putting trust in the act to fulfil a great show and make sure it isn’t cooked by egotism.”

On the music scene becoming more supportive of positive mental health Lockwood confirms, “The electronic music scene is pretty supportive on looking after one another.”

However, in terms of gigs and socials, “It can feel like people aren’t really friends outside of the gigs… It would be cool if people actually made an effort to check up on each other outside of the industry. Especially as there is so much more going on behind the scenes that isn’t exposed online. For instance, instead of just liking a post, we should actually be calling up our friends.”

With heaps of goodies accumulating up his sleeves including his collaboration with Kilter, expect to hear and see some rad creations from Timi Temple.

 

Interview - WAAX

WAAX have entered the new year thriving; welcoming new band members, touring with Kingswood and with their new EP Wild & Weak soon to be released into the world you’re all in for a real tasty treat. The Brisbane-based indie-punks kindly lent us 1/5 of their band, drummer Tom Bloomfield, to delve into their life right now.

“Originally, we just played tiny rooms all over Brisbane to nobody,” he reminisces. “After a couple of years ridden with drama and a few line-up changes we found a couple of champions who decided to give us a shot at being a real band. The learning curve was extreme and we are still figuring it out, but it’s been an awesome experience to turn that shitty pub band into something exciting and ambitious.”

The end of last year was a turning point for WAAX, with major changes to the band’s line-up and to their sound. “Everything has changed, I don’t think you could even say it’s the same band, we just kept the name!” Bloomfield laughs. With some much needed decision making the musicians now feel like they’re on the right track. “The dynamic before didn’t work; now it feels like we are a unit, and we’re all best mates so the way we approach everything is nice and cohesive” he expresses.

Bloomfield describes their new sound as “something spicy, like a really hot burrito; we really like burritos,” which I couldn’t agree with more – please don’t deprive your eardrums from their finger-licking sounds. However, on a more serious note (pun intended) their new EP deals with much more personal matters, as Bloomfield shares with us “Marie [DeVita, vocals] was really getting into delving into her internal struggles and I think that’s what has inspired the record. Really emotive both lyrically and musically.”

With DeVita and Chris Antolak’s creative process down pack, the two work closely together to produce new material for the rest of the band, who then all collaborate further. “I think the real difference with this EP has been attention to detail. We spent literal months figuring out different parts and dynamics, it took a lot more time, and money, than anything we’ve worked on before,” Bloomfield states.

With the record being an outlet in itself, the emotive lyrics and raw energy of the songs mirroring DeVita’s emotional and mental stasis, as Bloomfield furthers “the phone image ties into the songs in that they both serve a purpose – to reach out and ask for help. The order of the songs is basically the order in which Maz went through a mental process, which she explored chronologically, so each song represents a stage of that process.”

Songs from the five-track EP have been in the works for over a year, and Bloomfield enthuses “after recording on and off, finishing the record was the best feeling in the world.” Wild & Weak has taken WAAX on one hell of a trip. The title track itself “Is about getting in a habit of masking problems with reckless pursuits” he adds. Working with Miro Mackie, a producer outside of Brisbane from Kelvin Grove’s Plutonium Studios (owned by The John Steele Singers) has been one of many rewarding experiences that definitely paid off. “Aside from his incredible work ethic and ability, we worked with Miro because he really, really wanted to work with us. That’s been a mantra of ours since the beginning; we are really passionate about what we do so it’s very important that the people on our team are as well,” he explains.

Heading on tour with Kingswood witnessed some true highlights in WAAX’s career, unfortunately Bloomfield missed out on one, as he reveals “The highlight would have to be the final show in Perth where everyone except me joined Maddy Jane and the Kingswood lads on stage for their last song of the tour. I was having a drunken philosophical conversation with a bartender and didn’t know it was happening,” he laughs.

But he says they got to build a strong relationship with the band while playing mini golf before soundcheck, drinking a load of beers and driving over seven thousand kilometres, or as he puts it: “an absolute fuck-tonne!”

With confirmation of their biggest national headline tour to date, more singing rather than screaming from DeVita and Bloomfield’s personal favourite track (which is yet to be released) –  the last song off the EP, as he clarifies “take my word for it, it’s a jam” be sure to not miss one of the biggest acts in Australia’s emerging music scene.

30 June, Rocket Bar, Adelaide
1 July, The Gasometer, Melbourne
7 July, Crowbar, Brisbane
12 July, Beach Road Hotel, Sydney
13 July, Proud Mary’s, Central Coast
14 July, Brighton Up Bar, Sydney
15 July, Rad Bar, Wollongong
29 July, Jack Rabbit Slim’s, Perth
19 August, Shakafest, Miami Tavern, Gold Coast

Interview - The Cactus Channel

The Cactus Channel are collectively the biggest band I’ve ever interviewed; with seven members as of 2017 I got to catch up with one of the insanely talented musicians, Lewis Coleman (guitars/synths). I cannot think of a better way to have spent my morning than delving into the history of the band, their first release of 2017 Do It For Nothing and how Coleman managed to get Sam Cromack from Ball Park Music (BPM) to sing for them on the EP – pretty cool, huh?!

Based in Melbourne, this alt-soul group initially formed in the good old days of high school when they had too much time on their hands. “Pretty much we were all just trying to figure out what to do with our lunch times,” remembers Coleman. “A few worked this out earlier than me, already playing music together, and I’d be walking past the corridor and see them. It was about a year or so after when I started hanging out with them.”

This seems like a great use of time and a logical step for the whole band, with no clear future in mind they were already onto something magical. Hudson Whitlock (drums/percussion) had a family property in the Victorian countryside where the group got to muck around and play music together. “This was the first time I’d gone away with them and officially joined the band.” As the years passed, members came and went from ten at one point to their current seven members, but never has it been too much to handle. “There’s been quite a lot of us from early on, it’s always been a huge amount” adds Coleman.

The release of the collaborative EP in April shows that The Cactus Channel have listened to fans and gone and treated us all to some introspective lyrics by the one and only Sam Cromack. Coleman shares: “We’ve done two instrumental albums but it’s always been in the back of our minds for a vocal edition. We keep getting nagged by people after gigs saying things like ‘See, you’re great but you know what you need? A singer,’ and we’re just like ‘Ohhh thanks… no one’s thought of that,'” he laughs.

You’ll never guess how this collaboration actually came about. Coleman, an original fan of Ball Park Music, was attending one of their shows thinking “‘Awh man they’re cool, such a tight show.'” Once he got home he still had an urge to message them. “I don’t know why I did, I think I had a few beers, but I just sat on my computer in bed and Googled our band name and BPM’s band name wondering if we’d ever been mentioned together,” he explains.

There was an interview for Spotify from a few years back where Cromack had listed The Cactus Channel as one band he’d been listening to; with no prior contact and no collaboration in mind, Coleman and Cromack started talking, eventually meeting up, and the rest is history. “It’s crazy that it’s possible to make music with someone that you really respect and like from just contacting them and doing it!”

The past couple of years has been one crazy ride for The Cactus Channel who have been working and playing hard alongside Sam Cromack in both their hometowns of Brisbane and Melbourne to release the record. “We gelled really well, the creative process being similar to us coming up with music when together.” Cromack’s involvement was not limited to just vocals – he was also a key melody maker. “He came up with probably the bulk of all the melodies for at least four of the songs off the EP” Coleman furthers.

Recorded at Sing Sing South, their new found friendship also brought in Matt Redlich on mixing dutires, who also did BPM’s last record; and recorded by Bob Knob of HopeStreet Recordings. Bandmate Jon DiNapoli (tenor saxophone) also brings his artistic skills to the EP, creating the artwork along with Daniel Sutton (trumpet) who recently left the group but came on board to do the layout of the record. “It’s nice that we can extend the relationship beyond the band,” extends Coleman.

With mutual appreciation for hip hop collaborators BADBADNOTGOOD, Alabama Shakes’ album Sound & Colour and Stax Records as their biggest influences and inspirations for their own buzzing sound, Coleman explains that “as a band our sound is changing a bit, with a conscious decision to wanting to be a band that makes music and what not without having to try please anyone in particular. The sound itself has a lot of funk and soul schoolings – what we’ve grown up on as a band playing music together – describing it recently as an alt-soul, alternative, pop, indie vibe.” Coleman is currently working on a unique word to describe The Cactus Channel because that one’s kind of a mouthful…

I will now leave you with this personal message from Coleman: “Come to the show if you want, have a good time, you know, it will be fun with special things and we’ll be rehearsed really well so it’s worth seeing us play if you want to see us play.”

Interview - Sheppard

Sheppard have just wrapped up a trot around Australia and New Zealand tour supporting Justin Bieber, with one sixth of the dream team, George Sheppard, finding time to hop on the horn to talk about their up-beat new single, upcoming album and UK tour.

Rewind the tape back to earlier days and you’ll find that this band wasn’t always a hexagonal three-sibling-three-friend existence. Their inception in 2009 consisted of George, his sister Amy Sheppard and Jason Bovino – “a trio-type deal that went on for almost two years,” Sheppard offers. Bringing Emma Sheppard, the third sibling, on board along with Dean Gordon and Michael Butler, they formed a bond like no other, as Sheppard furthers “It’s so valuable to have people you trust one hundred percent in this business, whilst also having that feeling of home where ever you are.”

Following on from 2014’s debut Bombs Away, Sheppard are hitting the streets and the charts with their electric new single Keep Me Crazy, debuting at #1 on the Independent Sales Charts in Australia and notching up Top Ten chart placements globally. “We have been out for about a good year and a half trying to write this album and I often think ‘Do people still know who we are?’” he laughs. “So when we receive something like this award it’s refreshing to know we’ve still got fans out there!

“It’s a catch 22; even if people get impatient and we lose fans, we want to make sure the next album we release is actually better in every way than the first album… It takes time and a lot of energy to get that done – you have to write 30 to 40 different songs to find the 12 that are going to fit perfectly in the album.”

Expect to hear and see dreamier, surrealist and imaginative video clips like the creative treatment of Keep Me Crazy. Sheppard drew inspiration from Bruce Springsteen to produce this indie-pop single: “It’s about finding wild, lasting love that keeps you youthful, enthusiastic, and passionate.”

Expressing his view on relationships in this day and age, he muses: “It seems everyone’s afraid of commitment. For example, Tinder, where people are connecting but not having that real connection, and with so many options often thinking ‘My life is going to be boring if I stay with one person’ – we want to promote the opposite effect.”

Embarking on three intimate shows in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, this is the first time in two years that Sheppard have done a headline tour, providing an opportunity to treat all of their fans to a sneak peek at the new album. “Playing live is so important to us, and before things get too crazy overseas we are looking forward to playing for our fans here.” Keeping busy, Sheppard just finished a five stadium tour with pop icon Justin Bieber, Sheppard saying that “this was one of the most surreal experiences we have been through,” including playing at their hometown’s Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

The seasoned travellers that they are, Sheppard are soon venturing back to the UK on tour with Little Mix. “Being on tour is a lifestyle you can’t really ever properly recreate or express… It’s like being on a camp except really intense, with 4am starts and 1am finishes,” Sheppard explains. “Imagine a shitload of promo work to be done, acoustic performances to be played in-between live shows and lonely nights in empty hotel rooms after playing in front of a thousand or so audience, along with numerous flights, and then repeat this everyday. It’s exhausting, but the best type.”

There’s definitely a light side to this lifestyle; before the show the band will have sound check and then hang out in the green room for an hour or two before they walk on stage: “I try and Zen out by listening to music, doing some stretches and vocal warm-ups,” he enlightens. After the show is a complete different vibe: “Everyone is buzzing, that moment in the last five minutes of a show where you know it’s all gone well is the moment that makes doing what we do worthwhile.”

Exciting times ahead for Sheppard as they embark their next journey to the other side of the world for a run of headline shows around the UK and then back home to serenade us in Oz. Be sure to catch the release of their second album mid to late this year!

27 May, Eaton’s Hill Hotel, Brisbane
10 June, The Croxton, Melbourne
11 June, Metro Theatre, Sydney