Mansion's music tastes like Lychee Jam with Blueberry Bubbles. Our first ever interview with guitarist Sam Killick. Hear how a rehearsal turned into a recording session and EP release. How an improvised band plays, performs and records music! How we can and will make the Sydney music scene great. (And listen out for a small disaster in the middle of the interview).
[JAMs THEME MUSIC] 0:00
Sam Latto 0:07
Hello and welcome to the first EVER interview episode of JAMs! I’m your host Sam from JAMs, Sydney’s new music family, aiming to build a thriving music scene and community.
How this podcast will work is there is a theme for each month - so for January 2021 it’s ‘Firsts’. First month of the year, first time launching JAMs, first podcast episode, first interview I’ve ever done...and I have a delicious interview lineup of four artists who have released or about to release their first ever music out into the world.
For this very special, very first episode I would like to introduce the other Sam...Samuel Killick. Sam is a talented guitarist that has just finished studying jazz at the Conservatorium of Music and is a wonderful accompanist, band member, soloist and overall good dude.
Sam is a good friend of mine and is the perfect first interview for JAMs. He embodies so much of the collaborative, community spirit that we want to encourage in Sydney artists.
He’s in many bands, but today we’re focusing on the band Mansion and their upcoming EP, out on the [5th] February.
So let’s get to it…
Hi Sam, I’m Sam and I’m interviewing you and your project Mansion.
Samuel Killick 1:13
Hi Sam the interviewer, thanks for interviewing me, Sam from Mansion.
Okay, so for my first bunch of interviews I’m going to be doing a theme and it’s ‘Firsts’. So it’s a whole bunch of people who are releasing their first music.
You’re releasing your first music with Mansion!
That’s me man, that’s me.
So why don’t you give me a bit of description of your lineup and your sound.
[clip from Mansion’s EP plays in the background]
Yeah sure. It’s an improvising quartet. We’ve got trumpet, vocals, piano and guitar. Respectively, Euan Chaffey on the trumpet, Emma Holley on the vocals, Lauren Tsamouras on the piano and myself on the guitar. And yeah, we just do fully improvised tracks and make some...kind of ended up at more ambient-y...ambient music with a real melodic sort of drive to it. It’s how I usually describe it, or something along those lines anyway.
I recommend just listening to it, if you really want to get the accurate vibe.
Where did the name Mansion come from?
Ah, that’s a somewhat interesting story. So we had a...our first gig was through CONverge, which is this cool thing that is organised every year. I don’t know a heap about it but it was fantastic. And this year Jacques and Charlie, Jacques Emery and Charlie Sundborn, were helping organise that. They, you know...I think that was the point where I submitted Mansion to be requested as one of the people. ‘Cause we wanted to play with Ben Hauptman, which was really cool. So yeah, for those who don’t know, Ben’s an improvising guitarist from...he was living in Maroubra, I think he lives up in the Central Coast now, I think...and he’s fantastic, he’s super cool. And so we got to play with him. That was the first gig, it was doing that in the Sydney uni in the quad at Sydney uni.
I forgot where that question came from, where that answer came from rather.
Oh yeah, where did the name Mansion come from?
Oh that’s right!
You didn’t get there haha
So, we didn’t have a name at this point because this was our first gig. And so it got to the point where we were having a rehearsal on the day. And it was like, damn, we really need a name, like this is getting dire now. We’ve got a gig tonight and we don’t have a name yet. And so we just ‘okay, we gotta decide, we gotta make a decision in the next 15 minutes’ or whatever we said, you know, ‘til the end of rehearsal. And so the two options we ended up narrowing it down to was between Mansion and Pier 97.
And then we were like, look we just cannot decide whether we go Mansion or Pier 97. No one had particularly strong opinions, sort of thing.
We were kind of vibing both of them. So what we just decided to do was, when I announced the, you know, the talking bits at the gig that night, whatever name came out at that time was the name we were going to be.
And so it ended up being Mansion.
I reckon Mansion is better. I think Pier 97 sounds like a disco band and that would be a bit confusing.
I mean that’s kind of vibe but it definitely, yeah, maybe Mansion reflects the aesthetic a little bit better than Pier 97.
4:07 [sound of jam splatting]
For every interview I’m doing, I’m trying to come up with, like, people’s music but in flavours of jam.
Love that. Okay.
So the one I came up for Mansion is lychee jam with blueberry bubbles.
Lychee jam with blueberry bubbles, I can’t say that I’m intimately familiar with the taste of lychee.
Oh really? You gotta get on it now!
That’s right! I like the, like aesthetically thinking about the words. What did you say?
Lychee jam with blueberry bubbles.
I like the, particularly, the blueberry bubbles.
Bubbles was actually a, like a grip that we used to use.
As to improvise with as well, so that’s kinda nice. That still comes out a fair bit.
Yeah, so, the brain behind it is...I feel like when I listen to your music it’s very, I guess, pure feeling, ‘cause it’s improvised. And then the blueberry bubbles is meant to be nice little surprises in there for you.
When you say pure feeling, do you mean, like, it’s very emotional sort of music?
Yeah I guess so, I don’t know...I think maybe it is because it’s improvised and there’s not really lyrics or anything. It’s just like it feels very calm and serene.
Oh I love that. I’m glad to hear that.
Yeah. Which leads to my next point about your....
Oh what a segue.
Fuck yeah! Um, of how you said that you do improvised, it’s all improvised, so it’s very different to how other people would record their music. And I feel like this is a really good thing for people to hear, ‘cause it’s, I feel like it will be a very different interview to everyone else’s.
Yeah, for sure.
What is your process of improvising? And like you said you had those words.
Oh the grips and stuff?
Yeah, yeah I can definitely talk about that for a bit.
So all of us are obviously doing, well not obviously, but all of us are doing the jazz course. So we’re all kind of used to improvising and that’s great but this is music that’s just a bit separated from that. And, you know, jazz improvisation is organised inherently in a certain way which results in it sounding like, you know, sort of jazz in a broad sense between a lot of people’s different interpretations of those structures. And so what we’re kind of doing I suppose is just, like, abstracting the idea of improvisation out and analysing it from a place of, kind of a removed sort of place. When you’re learning jazz, it’s quite ingrained into you, the structures at play to organise your improvisation. And so what we’re trying to do is just zoom out from that and then choose our own structure, build our own structure of improvisation so we can operate in our own way but still be free.
So what are the ‘grips’ you were talking about?
Yeah, so the grips are a way that, especially early on, we used to start to explore different ways of organising music. So, for example the bubbles one came from a piece of advice that Carl Dewhurst gave me about the band. He said at that time a lot of the sounds were really long and it was for the whole time it was always long. So he said, you know, he just said something really simple. He was like, just experiment with some more, like, shorter note durations.
And it’s like, oh cool, okay that’s very practical advice that I can apply, you know, very easily.
Not ambiguous at all.
That’s right, that’s right. And I can tell the band that without too much effort. And so yeah, from that one came bubbles. Because I was like okay let’s all just try, you know, doing really short sounds. And that kind of came out in this weird, usually kind of lydian-y floating bubble thing...that’s kind of where that came from. So that’s one example of a grip. And we had a couple of those, and still, you know, definitely delve into them and reference them and stuff like that. Just areas that we can delve into, kind of collectively reference sort of thing.
And how long have you been together? Like, before you recorded this first EP?
Christ, I’m not too sure. ‘Cause we were definitely doing a fair bit around CONverge and stuff…and then we did a couple more...
Euan’s signalling two years.
Euan’s saying two years? Yeah, I think that would be about right. There was definitely a pretty strong hiatus in the middle there...and you can hear Euan giggling about that one in the back. But, yeah, I think that hiatus definitely came from a lack of my understanding of where to take it. What direction to do, like, what to do next?
Yeah, for sure.
Like, you play a couple of gigs and I was like, cool this is fine I suppose. And the music was cool. It was just more the experience of the gig I was like yeah sure, didn’t phase me. And then it slowly grew into ‘oh maybe I want to do an album.’ Who would I do an album with? It’s gotta be Mansion. It’s already a pretty solidified sound.
That’s kinda of where that, kind of where I reached to.
How long was your hiatus?
Oh goodness, I don’t know? Maybe nine months? Six or seven months he says, Euan, yeah.
Okay, well then you haven’t actually been playing together for that long?
Yes, I mean and then doing other projects with the same members and stuff throughout that as well. It’s a bit of a, you know, it’s a very cyclic sort of band I suppose.
Yeah. Do you think it’s important for your style of music that you guys do that? Like, you’ve known each other and that plays into the music and how you can improvise well together?
Yeah, totally. And yeah the more we play with each other the more we understand. Like, I kind of know what Emma’s gonna do and I kinda know what Lauren and Euan are gonna do. And they all kinda know what each other are gonna do.
That’s cool. I think that would freak me out. If I wrote my own album it would be, like, ‘everything needs to be exactly…’, I would do, like, ten million takes of everything and it has to be, like, specifically perfect.
See, I mean that’s part of the freedom of it as well. You know, it’s like, we just did that and then that was just that moment captured. We can’t do anything about it now. Like, especially releasing an album of this improvised music there’s a certain amount of, like the acceptance hurdle that you’ve gotta jump. And it’s kind like ‘okay, like, this is it...oh right’. The word that keeps coming to mind with this is ‘vulnerable’ album. Because it really is that. This is us in a really vulnerable situation trying to do exactly what we want to do, exactly what we think sounds good, you know, where our intuition’s leading us. And putting that on show for everyone else to hear is yeah, a pretty big deal.
What was the recording process? Like you had one mic in the room or?
Yeah, so I mean, it started out that I was just gonna record the rehearsal and the room ended up sounding really good and everyone really switched on that day or something like that because the music ended up sounding, you know, quite good in my opinion. And so yeah, so I just recorded it with stereo pair mics in one of the rooms on the wing of the Verbrugghen at the Con. Yeah, and it ended up sounding really cool and then we took it to Ross Ahearn who mastered it. Yeah, then slowly going to be released.
Scary. Like you said very vulnerable. You’re not individually mic’d so this is like literally nothing you can do to really change what happened.
Yeah totally. Yeah there’s definitely a part, with the two mics thing, it’s like it’s micing the room as well. It really gets the nice collective sound. Which is an important part of our dynamic anyway, so it’s cool to be able to somewhat capture that.
Yeah, I think that’s nice. Even when I used to sing in a duo, we would adjust to each other and change the harmony. It always felt really weird singing, like recording anything separately, feels really bizarre.
Yeah right, ‘cause you’re used to having that part in your ear filled up sort of thing.
Yeah, and like you play off each other and you don’t want, for example, a trumpet being way too loud and that tone colour or whatever doesn’t mesh with the rest of the sound.
Which would be easy to do if you record individually I suppose. Yeah, that’s a really good point.
And now I’m segueing, I’ve planned a segue everybody.
Ah segue, play some music here or something like that.
Your sound is very raw. And I feel like it’s very you. ‘We’ve recorded it, it’s happened, now this it! We’re done!’
I’ll take that as a compliment.
Well, you’re a very ‘go-out-and-do-it’ kinda guy.
I definitely am. And I encourage anyone and everyone listening to this to go out and do it, absolutely.
11:46 [sound of jar lid popping off]
So I’m gonna go into my pre-planned segment of you…
Please do, please do.
...of you giving us a one minute kind of spiel of your life from when you started music to up to now, where you’re gonna release Mansion.
You want the one minute rundown? The one minute rundown.
I mean I have no timing so it doesn’t matter.
No, I think it’s fun, let’s do it all in one take and then it can be improvised just like the album. The podcast can reflect the album.
Okay, so I started playing bass, I think, in church. And then ended up going on holidays and I couldn’t play the bass but there was a guitar at the house that we went on holidays to. So I started playing guitar. And then I just played guitar a bunch. Until I had a teacher at some point. He started teaching me chords, I just really liked the chords. So, I just learnt all the chords. And he was like “ah, this is great. You learnt all the chords’’. I couldn't really play any songs but I knew all the chords, which has been a continuing issue for me. And then I kind of got into some blues guitar, Steve Ray Vaughan. And then found jazz through the way. Went to jazz school. Have a love-hate relationship with jazz. A love-hate relationship and a complicated political relationship with jazz. And then making this, kind of, fresh music. I think that was about a minute.
So I was gonna ask you about...you said that you started playing bass in church? How did that come about?
Well, like I think mum played flute at the time in one of the bands at church. I don’t really know how it came about but I just remember being really nervous about going to band practice with my bass. ‘Cause mum was like “yeah it’ll be fine, just come” and I was like damn really? Will it be fine?
And then I just remember really liking playing the bass. I just played bass heaps.
Did any church music specifically...well playing in church influence you do you think?
Definitely playing in church. And even more so as I got older, ended up running a lot of bands at church and helping run…
OH NO! Hahaha
We had a minor collision in the back there.
The mattress is falling!
Yeah, I could play the chords and that was pretty much the main thing that needed to happen you know. And you’re very audience focused at church. Audience...congregation focused, I suppose. So you’ve always got like a third eye in your mind, third perspective in your mind to look on the music at. Which has definitely stuck around.
And do you like playing ensembles? Because I know you like playing in ensembles, and I guess this, Mansion, is very collaborative and it’s not like you’re the head person of the band and it’s ‘yours’.
Totally. Yeah, that’s definitely part of what I like most about, is the people. And how each of our personalities is, to me anyway, totally audible. Totally, totally audible and magnified by the music.
That’s really interesting.
Which, you know, I dunno if it comes across in the music but I can really hear everyone’s personalities.
Well, people have to go and listen to your EP and let you know.
Yeah, that’s right.
What made you pursue music? And what makes it more than just a hobby or something that you appreciate but something that you’re really passionate about and want to create music and add to music that’s out there?
In a lot of senses music still is, um...comes from a place of hobby for me. But I mean that in the way, like...at the moment it really comes from a place of just really wanting to do it. Which you can’t really say is work, because I mean work is defined by something that people are so unwilling to do that you’re willing to get compensated for right?
And so, I can’t really slot myself into that same sort of...I suppose that’s some sort of capitalistic hierarchy and structure sort of thing. But, yeah, apart from the semantic…
Little rant that just happened.
Haha little semantic rant. Yeah, I think that music for me acts as a really strong community binding agent. And that can be in micro or macro communities. Micro communities definitely like, with me in the band. I’ve just really, I really like hanging out with those guys and sharing music is a really important way that we can communicate from being...you know, we all come from different places, and being able to communicate through that is really cool.
And that kind of expands into then the whole music community and then the people who are coming to gigs and stuff...and the people who are inspired by that music and just that community keeps expanding and expanding and things knock on from one another.
That’s really what I’m all about, I really like that.
I think that improvised music has the potential to be a really great...because it’s such a great projector of your personality and magnifier of your personality, it’s a really cool way to get to know people, by playing with them.
So you talk a lot about community and band but what about your personal music? Personally for you what does it do?
For one it’s not, it shouldn’t be ignored, you know, my place in the world revolves mostly around musicians. So it’s like, I should engage with that part of my culture and my community. ‘Cause if I didn’t, if I wasn’t really engaging with music in some way, then it’s like you’re always going to be a second class citizen of that community.
Yeah, for sure.
So there’s definitely a slightly more cynical, analytical part of me that’s like oh, you just engage in music because all your friends are musicians and engaged in music and you want to be part of the group. As just like a basic human need, you know. Something that’s deep in my unconscious that I haven’t discovered and I’m just living out through, you know, I’m projecting through my life.
I mean, I’m sure you also enjoy it. You’re not like ‘become really good at guitar and study music at the con just because I want my friends.’
That’s right, that’s right! That’s the much less cynical and probably much more truthful version of the matter is that music’s just super cool. Like, it’s super cool and it’s super fun to do.
I’m gonna quote that, “music’s just super cool”.
Music’s rad dude. Music’s so rad. And all the theory’s so fun and you can feel clever at parties by telling people “that was a lydian dominant chord that just happened in that Beyoncé song” or something.
Do you think that helps with your / Mansion’s music? That all of you are quite proficient at music theory?
Yeah, I suppose so. You know, I mean I can’t speak for the trumpet player hahaha. Sorry, he’s in the room, I’m not just being mean to him behind his back.
Yeah, I think it’s definitely a good reference point.
But once we’re playing it’s pretty, you know…
It’s pretty loose.
Yeah, it’s pretty loose. There’s a lot that goes out the...there’s a lot that stays in the window but there’s a lot that goes out the window. You know, if you were gonna throw the baby out with the bathwater, the baby’s getting dangerously close to the window.
And then, on the flip side of that. What do you find are the biggest challenges of being a musician? ‘Cause I want to talk about that side of it too. JAMs is meant to be just connecting with other musicians and stuff. And I guess there are very specific struggles that musicians go through that I feel like sometimes people feel they’re going through it alone. What do you find particularly hard I guess?
Yeah right. I mean, it’s hard, I’m only just finishing up studying now. So you’re a little bit sheltered from the real realities of it, or just the realities of it in fact, by being a student. So I don’t know if I can speak to that effect of what the main struggles are for musicians more broadly.
Well, just for yourself.
I mean for myself, I think it’s just things that come along with the temperament of someone that wants to create art and create music. It does make it hard to integrate into the world completely. So it’s like, you’re always a little bit kind of skirting around things...and that can get tiring.
Speaking of things that are difficult.
Another great segue from Sam.
How did you find COVID affected you? Or your view of music and the music industry, within the world?
Personally, I definitely embraced that shelter of the institution through COVID. In a lot of ways it was cool because you could focus on yourself and just be in a different state of mind. Which is great, and that’s not to make light of something that a lot of people struggle with. Honestly, there was a lot that was good about it. So, for me personally it was cool. I think in general, I think it’s definitely twigged people to just consider how much they actually do like live music.
Yeah, I think people sort of took it for granted and then when you weren’t allowed to go, they’re like ‘damn, I wish I could go to this gig or have a gig on!’ or have something on.
Has it changed your attitude towards your own music and other people’s music? Like I think, even though I did like going to gigs and stuff before. I think it helped me realise how much I actually enjoyed it. And how many times I...like someone said they had a gig on and I was too tired and I couldn’t be bothered to go and now I’m like man I should’ve gone to all of them!
Yeah, yeah I’m in just the same boat man.
21:22 [sound of jar lid turning]
Now we’re getting into the themed part of the interview about ‘Firsts’. So, with your recording of your EP, what have you learnt from it so far? Cause you haven’t released it yet, but just through the process of recording your first release for Mansion, is there anything surprising that you didn’t think would be there or?
Because we’re releasing it through the zine thing, which I suppose I should talk about, that’s been the main struggle. To expand on the zine real quick, I’m going to release the album, rather than releasing physical CDs, I‘m making a zine of six local artists now. We’ve got, ah now I’ve got to remember everyone off the top of my head. And it’s: Jacqui Ann, I’ve got Mark Hall, Amelia Van der Laan, Ilana Chaffey, Paige Gullifer and Mia Eklund. And they’re all submitting some really fantastic art, and in Paige’s case poetry. So we’re making that into a little zine, we’re gonna release that with a QR code on the front.
So people can scan that and then you get the music. And that’s gonna be the method to release it by.
So did these artists listen to the music when they made the artwork or is just something they’ve been working on?
Some of them did and some of them chose stuff that they already had that they vibed with, it just depended on who it was.
That’s cool. I like that integration of different types of art. ‘Cause I think that also is also very weirdly separated.
Totally, I totally agree.
Which is something I’m working on!
I love that.
Yeah, ‘cause I’m really into watching theatre and stuff and I feel like it’s just so separate even though it’s...I feel like it’s not that different of a world performing on the stage, it’s just like music.
Totally, I know like one theatre person.
That’s so true. But there must be hundreds of them I assume. There’s hundreds of music people. Thousands! Goodness me! There’s thousands of theatre people running around and I don’t know any of them man.
So for more ‘first’ things, I have a few classic questions for you!
What was your first CD?
Oh, first CD...first CD I remember putting on with any sort of frequency was Directions in Groove. Which is a Sydney funk band from maybe the 90s of something.
Nice, I gotta look that up.
Yeah, Directions in Groove, they got pretty big! I don’t know a whole lot about them to be honest, but they got pretty big.
Am I allowed to play music on the interview? Should we just have a segue to the music?
At least a little bit of Directions in Groove man, they’re killer.
23:49 [snippet of ‘Heaven on Earth’ by DIG (Directions in Groove) fades in]
I really don’t need to be shouting out Directions in Groove, but, you know, they’re great. That’s probably the first CD that I really remember.
Are they Australian?
Yeah yeah yeah!
Yeah! Mine was Australian too! I got Rogue Traders ‘Here Come the Drums’...
Oh yeah, I remember that! I remember that one ‘I see you watching me watching you’
...for my ninth birthday from my best friend, Annie shoutout!
What was your first favourite artist?
Oh goodness, first favourite artist. Ah man I was into some weird stuff, what was I into? I remember listening to ‘Back in Black’ A LOT and ‘Stairway to Heaven’ A LOT.
But do you remember having that first where you were like I am obsessed with this artist? I can give you mine.
Yeah, what was yours?
When I was ten, elevent, Mika.
Mika? I don’t even know Mika.
You don’t know Mika?!
And Corinne Bailey Rae. I enjoy my ten year old taste.
Ah, I know Corinne Bailey Rae. She holds up man! Yeah, that’s kinda killer. The first real, like very particular artist I remember is The Beatles. And just remember listening to them. I saw how many albums they had and I was like damn that’s kind of overwhelming. So I was just like, okay I’ve got to make my way through systematically. So, I listened in order to them...
...on the way to school and back each day. ‘Cause I had about a, I dunno what it was, an hour and a bits ride each way. So I had enough time to listen to a whole album on the way usually. So I’d do that for about an album a week sort of thing and made my way through The Beatles catalogue. And then got all the anthologies and stuff as well, and listened to all of those. I was really obsessed with it in a weird documentarian sort of sense as well.
Like, ‘I have to do it in order’.
Yeah, it was uncharacteristically ordered of me in fact. But, yeah, The Beatles definitely. I just love all of them and love all the personalities.
I was gonna ask about, that reminded me, was there any music that your parents listened to heaps that you think influenced you?
Definitely music my dad listened to...might crack a beer *crack*
Get that sweet sound in the mic.
Wait, let me get some ASMR for you fine people. *beer opens*
Uh yeah, definitely the music my dad listened to which was The Beatles and Steve Ray Vaughan and Mal Eastick and Directions in Groove and stuff.
Haha Directions in Groove??
They’re cool man, they’re super cool.
They’re coming back!
I hope so, I can do the rap from Heaven on Earth. So if anyone from Directions in Groove needs the rap part for the reunion tour, hit me up. Because I’ve got the ‘Heaven on Earth’ part nailed.
Do you remember the first concert you went to?
I do, and it’s such a flex ‘cause it’s U2.
And it was my first concert on their 360° tour. Because, something like a friend of my dad’s, her brother was the janitor at ANZ stadium or something wack like that and got us these tickets.
And they couldn’t go and then they were like, yeah do you want to go?
I was like ‘cool’. I went to go and see…
...this was just as I started playing guitar as well. And seeing the Edge play.
That would’ve been such a good time.
With the delay pedal and the explorer and all those voxs and stuff. Ah, it was fantastic. It was super cool actually. It was so loud I will never forget that, how loud it was.
First instrument? Was that the bass?
My mum made me learn piano and I hated it. Classic. I think I just hated it because I wasn’t that good at it.
That’s a classic.
And what was the first moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?
I dunno, it sort of just happened. There definitely wasn’t a particular moment, it was kind of like a, the more… In fact, it was probably like the want to be a musician is definitely strongly correlated to being in a band.
So, the more bands I’ve been involved with, the more I’ve enjoyed being a musician. And that’s definitely reflected in my life now. Because it’s just so fun doing things with people.
Yeah, for sure.
And I love doing the solo thing as well. And hopefully I have a solo EP out sometime soon. But, yeah, it’s doing things with people is just so fun. I think that’s definitely, as I started doing more stuff with more people, I wanted to be a musician more until I suppose you get to peak density of that at the con and kind of just riding that now. I can’t really speak to the future.
And then my last thing I was gonna ask for this section...something you did for the first time this year? Doesn’t have to be music related.
Oh I did karaoke for the first time like two nights ago.
What did you sing?
I sang ‘Help’ by The Beatles actually.
That’s a good choice.
It was kinda high though.
Oh yeah I can hear it in my head.
I don’t know whether I nailed that one to be honest.
No that’s the point. That’s the struggle that I have. If I sing, like properly sing everyone’s like ‘ugh you’re trying to hard’ but if you sing badly everyone’s like ‘aren’t you a musician?’ and it’s too much!
That’s the thing! But like the woman after me sang ‘At Last’ by Etta James and sang it really pretty well.
Ah that’s good!
And I was like damn, you really had to show me up like that!
So I’m going to steer...this is coming to the end...talking about, I guess, what JAMs is more focused on, the Sydney music scene specifically. And what you love about music is community and building that community. So, what have been your experiences in the Sydney music scene? Like, what kind of gigs do you play and how do you feel about “the greatest city in the world?”
The greatest city in the world! For those who don’t know Sydney, the greatest city in the world.
I’m not sure how to answer that really well. I’ve had, you know, fairly your typical sort of experience doing little things around the place. Haven’t done any huge stuff or anything. It’s mostly been a process of trial and error in Sydney. And there’s so many great venues, and been to a lot of gigs and as the years have gone on, like we’re doing a couple of gigs round with The Checkup, you know you do a couple of gigs around with this and that.
And then on the flip side of that, I guess, what are the negatives? What changes do you want to see in the Sydney music scene?
Yeah totally. I mean it’s more...I think the Sydney music scene is doing a...has got it really tough.
But we’ve got some of the strongest people around doing those jobs. So it’s tough but there’s really steely people who are able to withstand that. And those are, you know, a lot of the venue owners and musicians. Venue owners who really prioritise live music as a thing, like down at the Gaso (Gasoline Pony) or something like that. And so it’s like, yeah there’s definitely hurdles to overcome. But I think it’s mostly an effort in changing the culture around live music and around music in general.
That is what we’re aiming to try and do. Well, we as in me plus other people… just to see Sydney change from that. I feel like everyone’s quite in their own little circles or focusing on their own music and we want to try and let people know about different venues and encourage collaboration because I think that’s what builds a really good music scene.
Yeah, I think that’s fantastic. I really think that’s cool. And being able to integrate different parts of the music scene with other parts of it is the biggest thing, to me it sounds like.
That’s just one step closer to creating a little, a larger micro community within Sydney. Because the larger we make that micro community the more economic power we have as well. I think it’s important to consider these large scale things. ‘Cause we can sit here and complain all day that people don’t like music as much as they used to or whatever, or they don’t value music...but that’s what’s going on.
Everyone’s got just a spotify account. That’s what music is now. If we actually engage with people at where they’re at, rather than just moralising at them about why they need to like art more. Then I think that is probably going to be more successful. I don’t really know what that looks like yet. But approach-wise I think that’s the way to go about working to expand that community.
Yeah, you have to sort of think about, that’s a good point that you’ve made. That you need to think about where people are at and how to engage them, instead of just doing things the way you think it should be and being like ‘why aren’t you responding to me?’.
And hopefully hopefully we do that and get that going.
Well, I think we totally can. William Wordsworth said something to the effect of, and that is to say this is not a direct quote, that he taught his readers how to read him.
Yeah, I was actually going to say that. People don’t know what they want! That’s what I’ve always thought.
Yeah, so there’s always that as well. If we can show people what they want then...and how to appreciate some of this music.
Yeah, sometimes people don’t know what they’re looking for or also they might not have the musical knowledge to understand what they’re listening to. Like my mum, shoutout to my mum, always says that her favourite performances of mine to go watch was my string performances. ‘Cause our conductor would, she would always find a really interesting part of the piece or something that anyone could engage with. She always explained it before we played and was like ‘this is what’s happening, here are things to listen out for’...
Yeah, and I think that’s really important and that’s also why I want to do these. So people can have more knowledge of where you’re coming from and Mansion is coming from and listen to it and understand what they’re hearing.
Yeah, I love that. I suppose it’s that kind of idea of being a music communicator. We’ve got a lot of science communicators around. Especially with the advent of corona and everything and global warming. Mostly global warming I suppose triggered that response. But having people like you doing this music communicator sort of role is fantastic! I think that’s really gonna push us a lot forward. Because people, my mum doesn’t really understand Mansion’s music, you know.
And even just having that little thing engage with or understand, you’re like, oh now there’s a whole other way I can listen to it instead of just being confused or ‘this isn’t the four chords I’m used to listening to’.
On the converse side of that point I suppose. There’s that idea of just ignoring broader success.
And kind of creating movement within Sydney music and within Sydney musicians. Sort of like...I’ve been checking out 70s New York Avant Garde sort of stuff. And they had such a community that was really cross-discipline. They just made so much cool stuff back then, like so much cool stuff in such a short period of time. A bit of a product of its time but also the product of that merging of disciplines and so much crossover between people and places that really culminated in this huge creative outpouring.
And I think Sydney’s ripe for something like that.
Yeah I think it is. It’s about creating community and the collaboration, all that kind of stuff, and I feel like everything falls into place, like something interesting will come out of it. But you’re not aiming for ‘I want this success or for this to happen’.
And I think that’s the only way of actually being successful.
Yeah, I mean I wouldn’t know.
Neither would I.
I’ll let you know.
Okay, we’re coming to our end. So, I mean I know the answer to this question but do you have any other projects and other bands that you’re working with or on?
Ah yes, so things that actually have stuff coming up soon...Ultramega, @ultramegabois on instagram, has got a little EP coming out hopefully in the next couple of months. We’re recording this in November.
This is November.
The start of November. The Checkup has hopefully got an EP coming out at the start of next year, if all things go to plan, and a lot of gigs coming up in the meantime. So, whenever you hear this, come to a gig. There’s probably one a week near you.
Those are the main things that really have stuff coming out with any sort of urgency. And then, I suppose, I’ll say this one too. Who knows when it’ll be coming out. So me and Eitan Muir have got a duo project coming out too. So we’re only up to about demos and we’re doing some recording next week. So, hopefully that’ll come out around the end of this year or start of next year depending on how things unfold.
So when do you plan on releasing your Mansion EP?
At the moment we have...so we’re releasing it with People Sound which is Jacque Emery’s label. And we’re saying it will be around, the zine and everything will come out around the start of February.
This should be out before then, how exciting.
And what do you see in the future for Mansion or where do you want to go?
Yeah sure, well we’ve actually got a second album halfway through recorded. And we’re getting Pete Longhurst to do some great production and stuff like that which is going to be great!
Pete Longhurst of Ultramega fame and Hot Robert and Honey Nothings and Keen as Mustard.
And The Checkup. So yeah, give everyone a follow.
Yeah, he’s gonna do some cool production stuff and you know, put our recordings through tape machines and mangle them in all sorts of ways which should be fun. And then who knows when that will come out. It will definitely be some time 2021. Pretty vague.
Yeah, I mean no rush you’ve got February happening.
Yeah that’s right.
And just for the end. Give me two local artist recommendations.
Local artist recommendations.
That’s not yourself.
Oh no what am I gonna do. Well I mean there’s so many people to choose from.
I mean you can say more than two, I just chose a number.
You mean specifically musicians?
Yeah musicians, like music to listen to.
Music to listen to around. I mean Honey Nothings has got stuff coming out super soon. And I’m always chucking them on. Especially in situations where people don’t know who any of them are. And I put them on and then they’re like “oh damn who’s this?” every time. You put ‘Edinburgh’ on...
And you’re like HONEY NOTHINGS! Follow them on instagram.
Yeah that’s right, ‘oh I know the drummer dude’, you know. So definitely Honey Nothings and then I’d have to say...I’m thinking who I’ve listened to recently and what I’ve been rotating a fair bit is Microfiche at the Phoenix Central Park, that new space in Chippendale. That was such a good recording man. So I’ve been bumping that a bit. So, I mean, like, I’d definitely say those two bands. Which are some pretty disparate...that really reflects my taste in music and Sydney music as well to a certain degree, so yeah, I stand by them. Honey Nothings and Microfiche.
Awesome. Well thank you for having me in your room at whatever time is now...
Thank you for having me on your interview.
...it’s 11:30pm. And yep! First interview done! Woo!
What a time! Cheers!
Thanks for listening right to the end of the FIRST JAMs episode!
Hope you had a fun time with me and Sam!
Don’t forget to keep your ears peeled for Mansion’s new EP out on the 8th February. Follow their instagram @mansiontheband to keep up to date.
And if you haven’t already keep up to date with new Sydney releases, interviews and gigs by following us on instagram - @jams_fam_ , liking our facebook page and joining our facebook group.
If you want to explore some Sydney artists, check out our spotify playlist - JAMs’ Jams
And for more information visit our website www.jamsfam.com
Please message and comment with artists you want to hear interviews from, any feedback - always looking to improve the listening experience!
The next episode will be out extremely soon because I released this one 2 weeks late!
Special thanks to Euan Chaffey for making this groovy theme music that, FUN FACT, was created with only the sound of a jam jar and the homemade jam inside it. Real question - can you hear what flavour of jam it is? Comment or shoot us a message with your guesses!