What is your name and role within The Northern Folk?
Paul Dyason, singer/songwriter
Where are you currently based and what is the music scene like there?
We are now based in Melbourne and love the music scene here. There’s always somewhere to play or a gig to go to any day of the week. We’ve made a great many friends as a result of the music community here.
The band has a total of 10 members, please tell us how the band formed and how you manage to organise so many people:
Nine of us grew up in Albury and many of us had played in bands together through high school or played on the same gig lineups. So it was just a matter of time (and a little member poaching) before we grew from a six piece to the current dectet.
Organising us and getting everyone in the same place at the same time is a bit of a battle but we are fortunate to have our trusty bus Big Don and the steady hand of our resident maestro/whipcracker Khayl to make sure no one gets left behind.
What have you been working on lately and what do you have planned for the remainder of 2018 going into 2019?
We have just released a new tune called ‘Cold’ which is on all the places you stream things. We are having a launch at Northcote Social Club on November 18.
Following that we are playing By The Banks Festival in Albury which has been largely organised by our guitarist James, then the lengthy hike up to Woodford Folk Festival to bring in the New Year. In the early months of 2019 we’re looking to release our third record, and we’ll be touring and playing a few more festivals, such as The Hills Are Alive and Blue Mountains Music Festival.
Who or what influences your sound and songwriting?
Our sound is an ever changing notion and is largely impacted by the process of developing the songs.
Most of the songs start out as pretty simple tunes, usually guitar ballads that get dissected and then layered by the band. Each member has different influences and brings their own flavour and usually overly heated opinion to the creative process.
My songwriting is generally influenced by what is around me. Be it situationally or by the music I listen to or something I read or watch. One of my favourite writers speaks about how a writer’s job is to notice the things others don’t and express the things others can’t. So surrounding yourself with the works of those you revere as writers is a damn good place to start in creating the vocabulary and the practices you wish to emulate. As wanky as it may sound, I think the craft of songwriting is more of an influence than the music itself at times.
What do you like to do outside of music?
Drink coffee, all of the coffee. Quaff wine, but only red wine. Wear novelty socks. Wear hats as I’m pasty AF. Read some good poetry or a flyer that the guy on the corner of Swanston and La Trobe gives me.
How did you first start playing music?
Poorly but with great vigour.
I started out as drummer but realised that being incredibly mediocre and having a single drum beat under your belt makes you less of a commodity than you’d think. So I capitalised on the harmonies that I learned from attending too much church and took to singing.
What instruments are played within the band and how many people sing within the band?
The band consists of drums, bass, keys, guitars, horns (alto and tenor saxophone, trombone and clarinet) with two lead vocals and four backing vocals. Renn insists he is proficient at egg shaker but it’s clearly just a chance to flex and pout.
How do you usually go about writing music?
Songwriting for me is almost exclusively lyrics first. More often than not, on the train.
Usually a phrase or idea becomes a big mess of verses with some sort of melody in mind, often a pretty direct plagiarism of the last song I heard.
That all gets rewritten monotonously until I get to a guitar and start pestering Goose, our keys lord/guitar sensei/love of my life, for ideas to add more than one chord to my fledgling tune.
Then it’s just a whole lot of corrections, a lot of input, wanted and unwanted, until it’s somewhat complete.
And at that point, the band takes over and it takes on a new life altogether.
Where and when will you be playing next?
Our single launch for ‘Cold’ at Northcote Social Club, Sunday 18th of November w/ dear pals Maja and Riley Catherall
What do you find most challenging and rewarding about playing in such a large band?
The greatest challenge, aside from the obvious logistical battles, is probably the length of time it takes to get a song ready to perform. It’s usually a great deal of arrangement and rehearsal before a new tune can be played live or recorded which can make the creative process begin to feel a tad drawn out and less spontaneous than one might like.
The most rewarding part is almost certainly the comradery. Most of the band have known each other for longer than the six years we’ve been playing together as The Northern Folk, so being able to play and travel around with nine souls you’re damn fond of is certainly a blessing.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
Jeffery Martin’s album ‘Dogs in the Daylight’ and Lior’s new album ‘Between You and Me’. And Jason Isbell. Always Jason Isbell.
Favourite food and place to hangout
All the food at Smith & Deli in Fitzroy.
Favourite place to hang out is probably bed. But if I’m not feeling absurdly reclusive then probably somewhere on a hill (by myself) or someplace a with a lot of books (where talking is frowned upon). Or in a bar. Like a very silent bar. Where I’m the only patron, just getting day drunk in pursuit of Hunter S Thompson cred.
Sunday 18 November
The Northcote Social Club, Melbourne
With Maja and Riley Catherall
Tickets via Eventbrite
Summer Festival Appearances
Thursday 8 November – Sunday 11 November
Bendigo Blues & Roots Festival, Bendigo VIC
Saturday 24 November
By The Banks Music Festival 2018, Albury NSW
Thursday 27 December – Tuesday 1 January
Woodford Folk Festival 2018, Woodford QLD
Friday 25 January – Monday 28 January
Newstead Live Music Festival 2019, Newstead VIC
Friday 15 March – Sunday 17 March
Blue Mountains Music Festival 2019, Katoomba NSW
Friday 29 March – Sunday 31 March