Where are you currently based?
Vancouver, Canada. On the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples–xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.
How did you first start playing music?
I started teaching myself guitar when I left home at 17. I stole a guitar from my brother. He found out and helped me buy my own.
Your new single Drive is out now, what influenced the sound and songwriting?
I wrote it with my friend Van Darien. We are from very different worlds but we have good writing chemistry. I’d been listening to a lot of Roy Orbison which I think shows, and Van has a really solid country background.. I think the combination brought us to this kinda throwback rhythm and blues vibe.
How did you go about writing Drive?
Van had the “dri-ive” hook already and she was playing it over and over while I stared into the coffee she had just made for me. I asked Van, “where is she driving?”, and it unfolded from there. I wrote about it recently on my own blog – it was a memorable write.
‘Drive’ is the 2nd of three singles that you are releasing for the moment, is there a relationship between your single ‘Sirens’ that was released in May and the final single ‘No Fun’ that’s coming out on July 30th?
I didn’t realize it when I was picking songs to release, but they’re each set in a different one of my three kinda hometowns: Murchison, Nashville, and Vancouver. Looking at it now, there’s a nice arc to that! Reflects how far I’ve come, both literally, and more figuratively. I think Sirens is very nostalgic, written when I was coming to terms with the idea of never going home again. And No Fun is pretty much a love letter to Vancouver.
Where did you record the 3 singles and who with?
My roommate in Nashville, John Little, had a small studio, and we pulled together the session there in less than a day. I was describing the kind of players I wanted to bring in and he came up with the Jons (Radford and Estes – drums and bass), Dan Knobler on guitar who also ended up mixing the songs, and Ryan Brewer on keys, who I had known back in Melbourne. Listening back to what we had recorded, Jon Estes and I were talking about tambourine which of course led to funk brother Jack Ashford, and Jon said he was in Memphis now, just down the road. I reached out to Jack and later that night he called me. The next morning I drove to Memphis and recorded Jack at Ardent Studios. Jody Stephen’s from Big Star runs Ardent now, and he set up the session for us. I recorded all the vocals and some guitars in my studio here in Vancouver.
What do you like to do away from music?
Um… being in nature. In Australia it was the ocean, but here it’s the mountains. Now I hike every morning at sunrise. And skiing. I never saw snow before I came to Canada, but my friend gave me their old skis last year, so I begged and borrowed the other stuff I needed, got a cheap pass to the local mountain, watched some youtube tutorials and taught myself to ski. I’m not good, but I’m good enough to enjoy it. I’ve pretty much spent the whole pandemic in the mountains in one way or another.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
A lot of audiobooks – right now it’s How to Change Your Mind. I’m also following the queer country explosion pretty close, it feels like a magical time. And lots of radio – WWOZ from New Orleans, WXNA in Nashville, and of course Triple R and PBS in Melbourne. Classic hits radio in Canada blows my mind all the time. I hear all these songs that never made it to Australia but were huge here.
I also use an app that lets you pick a country and decade, and it plays you a mix of hits from there and then – I’m stuck on 70s Eastern Europe. And my kid is really into 50s and 60s novelty songs (Lou Monte, Louis Prima, etc). So yeah, Pepino the Italian Mouse is on high rotation. I spend a lot of time searching for the best version of classic children’s songs.
What’s planned for the remainder of 2021?
Writing a song a week, and working on my next album. Pushing myself to write about unusual, very specific things, but make them relatable. Becoming a better bass player and producer.
Favourite food and place to hangout?
Potato cakes but they don’t exist in Canada. So probably coffee. Best coffee in Vancouver is at this little window on the east side, called Iktsuarpok. Favourite place to hang out is the North Shore Mountains.