Can you share the inspiration behind your upcoming single, “Funhouse,” set to be released on January 26, 2024? How did the creative process differ from your debut album in 2022?
The inspiration for this came to me while I was lining up for a kebab at a fair that my daughter’s school was running. There were a lot of kids and children’s entertainment. The atmosphere just had a really upbeat positive energy. It was while lining up for a kebab (chicken in case you were wondering), that the idea for the sing came into my head. I don’t think I’ve ever had an idea develop so quickly. I grabbed my phone and started recording the idea in my phone, careful not to look like a complete weirdo singing into my phone, I held the phone like I was speaking to someone. I think this is something all musicians can relate to lol. By time we got home I pretty much had the bones of the song down. I recorded it that night and woke up early and recorded the vocals. The song has a very strong 80’s influence so I naturally tried to d my impression of one of my favourite 70s/80s artist Michael McDonald (Doobie Brothers). A lot of these demo vocals made the final cut.
The creative process of this compared to my first album is chalk and cheese. The ideas for the first album all came to me while I was playing around on guitar/keyboard or just on FL studio. This just popped into my head out of the universe. As I mentioned I don’t think I’ve had a song come together so quickly and naturally.
“Funhouse” is entirely self-produced from your house in Perth, Western Australia. Can you elaborate on the challenges and advantages of self-producing a single, and how it contributed to the unique sound of the track?
Number one would be the money side of things. Studio time with a producer isn’t cheap, so having the equipment and ability to do it yourself really helps with being able to sit with ideas and experiment. It allows you to take your time with ideas and enjoy the process more. If I have a day booked for tracking vocals and my voice isn’t the best, there is pressure to still push through. If this happens at home, I just come back the next day. I absolutely believe there is still a place for studio’s especially for someone that doesn’t have the space or know how to record themselves, but today’s technological age has a lot of benefits.
As a follow-up to your debut album, how does “Funhouse” fit into the evolution of your musical style? Are there specific elements or influences that played a significant role in shaping this new sound?
I suppose it is different in a lot of ways. I wrote my first album as a way of dealing with the loss of my father so naturally a lot of the songs had a darker feel to them. Some of the music I have written for my previous band (The Arsonist) was very upbeat and poppy and probably more in line with Funhouse. I think where Funhouse differs is it definitely follows more of a pop/mainstream formula as far as song writing goes for example there are 3 choruses, and it comes in at just over 3 minutes. With the first album I made a point of writing whatever came out and let the song go where it felt it needed to go naturally regardless of time/pop sensitivities. I have certainly done that this time around but because Funhouse feels more poppy and upbeat, naturally I wanted it to be straight to the point and not mess around. Maybe I’m just a little more impatient this time around, who knows lol.
I feel like the energy of Funhouse was something that needed to be expressed in my song writing. I felt like I needed to leaver the theme of the first album behind and turn a page. Maybe that’s why it came out so naturally.
What can listeners expect from “Funhouse” in terms of musical elements, themes, or emotions? How does it reflect your growth as an artist since your debut album?
Dance, 80s nostalgia and happy. Honestly when I hear this song I want to dance like they use to in the 80s. I know the reason for this is because I have used a lot of classic sounds that were huge in the 80s like the CS-80 synth and LinnDrum. If you’ve heard Phil Collins music, then you’ve heard these sounds.
I think most of all it reflects the current space I’m in as my music always does. I think that’s the beautiful thing about music. It is such a strong tool to express oneself. I’m in a happier place than I was after my father passed away, so naturally the music sounds happier.
Could you share some insights into the writing process of “Funhouse”? Were there any specific experiences or events that inspired the lyrics or overall vibe of the single?
As I mentioned above it was largely written in line for a kebab at a fair. The lyrics were largely inspired by the music itself. A lot of the time when writing lyrics or vocal melody’s, I will just say random words that come to my head and if they fit then will write around those. Funhouse made me feel happy, so I wanted to sing about having a good time or “having a ten outa ten”. I try not to complicate things too much and get in my own way.
Given that “Funhouse” is your first single since the debut album, did you intentionally set out to explore new musical territory, or was it a natural progression in your artistic journey?
I am always trying to tap into different genres in my writing. I think what has always been a strength of mine as a song writer is my ability to write across different genres. I grew up playing in nu-metal bands so there was a lot of distortion, but I also always had a love for ballads so would also try and write in that style. I think the less you get in your own way as a song writer and try and control what’s coming out the better the song ends up being. So often I will try and write a certain type of song and in my experience, it always ends not being very good. When I just go with the idea that’s come out regardless of it’s feel or genre, that is when I write my best. I really feel that songwriting is magical in that these ideas seemingly come out of thin air like they are floating around and the more you practice channelling the ideas and getting the idea to sound as close as to what you hear in your head, the better you get at writing. So to answer your question, I usually try and just write what comes to me and not resist, so it will always be a natural progression for me.
How does the music scene in Perth influence your sound and creativity, especially when working on a project like “Funhouse” from your home studio?
Great question. I don’t get to go to gigs as much as I use to just based on time and other commitments (family etc.). Speaking form my younger days, There were so many bands that had a great influence on me as a song writer especially in my early 20s when I was super focussed on being the best songwriter possible. Obviously Karnivool had a big impact. I lived with the drummer at the time so my friends and I would always go to the shows to hang out. Before Karnivool I don’t think I really understood how good a band could sound like. They are a band that I would recommend everyone to see live at least once as it’s really a world class product (quick shout out to their sound guy Luke Willott who doesn’t get enough kudos).
Can you discuss the role of experimentation in the production of “Funhouse”? Were there any unconventional techniques or instruments used that added a unique flavor to the single?
One thing that springs to mind is my vocals. As I mentioned I tried to do my best impersonation of Michael McDonal. Some of the vocals from the original demo would eventually make the final cut however someone of it just felt a little over the top. I still wanted that Michael McDonald vibe but wanted to make it more modern. What I did was sing the song like I usually would, then Dave (Dave Parkin @ Blackbird Studios) applied a Soundtoys plugin called Little Alter Boy. This makes my voice sound a little deeper and gives it that 80s flavour but with more of a modern twist. Highly recommend this plugin.
Since the single is set to release in January 2024, what are your expectations and hopes for its reception? Are there specific messages or feelings you aim to convey to your audience with this release?
Honestly, just want people to be able to listen to it and enjoy what their listening to. Hopefully it puts a smile on people’s faces and they feel like singing and dancing.
“Funhouse” is your first self-produced single. How did the experience of being the sole producer impact your creative freedom and decision-making throughout the production process?
It is my first release where I’ve recorded everything however, I still had a lot of help from my friend Dave Parkin. He did the mix and made the song what it is today. He has a wealth of experience and a super ear for things. I recorded keys, guitar, bass and some backing vocals for my album at home and learned a lot. The main thing I learned was the idea and the execution is the most important thing. As long as you have a clear signal, there is so much you can do in the box after the fact to make something sound good. I learned this with the chorus of a track called ‘Falling’ from my debut album. When I recorded it in the studio, I wasn’t quite getting the same vibe I did in the demo. I recorded the versus on Dave’s $11k studio mic, then he did an EQ match on my demo chorus where his EQ listened to the verse vocal then applied the differences to my demo vocal. My demo vocal was recorded on a $100 mic at home in nan untreated room with no pop filter and the final product sounds great. So, I was a lot more relaxed around this.
Are there any collaborations or featured artists on “Funhouse,” or is it a solo venture? How did the absence or inclusion of collaborations shape the overall sonic landscape of the single?
The only person I collaborated with was Dave which was in the mixing phase. Otherwise, it’s completely solo. I am used to writing stuff solo so is a space I’m familiar with.
Looking ahead, what are your plans for the future? Do you have a roadmap for upcoming releases, and can you provide any hints about the direction your music might take in subsequent projects after “Funhouse”?
I am looking to release a series of singles throughout the year and follow up with another album but no date one that yet. Quite like the idea of taking my time with things as this is something I didn’t do on my debut album. I can say that the new stuff is much more upbeat and easier to digest which I’m excited about.
Bandcamp – https://nocturnal6.bandcamp.com/follow_me