RENDEZVOUS: A Quick Catch Up With Skydeck
“At home we’d been listening to post-punk and electronic a bit more than jangle or dolewave or whatever you’d like to call the other stuff we’d been playing and listening to, so we ended up making this album which maybe falls somewhere between all those genres.”
Melbourne’s Skydeck offer a unique, lo-fi pop sound built on calming synth-led subtleties, honest lyricism and a whole lot of groove. There’s a rawness to their well-layered arrangements that not only helps to harness their DIY approach, but to convey this anxious feeling that much of their music is built on. We caught up with one half of the duo, Mitch Clemens to chat about their recording process, music as a tool for sparking conversations around fear, and their brilliant debut LP Eureka Moment which is due out later this month.
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Can you tell us a bit about how Skydeck came to be?
Dom and I have lived together for three years or so, and had played music together before we started recording Eureka Moment. At home we’d been listening to post-punk and electronic a bit more than jangle or dolewave or whatever you’d like to call the other stuff we’d been playing and listening to, so we ended up making this album which maybe falls somewhere between all those genres.
You recently released your excellent second single ‘Tourniquet Too’. What is that track about?
Tourniquet Too is a stream of consciousness discussing the anxieties of life—It’s a fine on top of an unpaid fine, it’s hiding the fact that you really tried. With the aim to constrict and compress, stemming the flow of invasive thoughts, the tourniquet provides a sense of restraint and control, whereas the noose promises quick and conclusive deliverance.
What does the general Skydeck creative process look like? Who writes the songs?
Most of the songs on the album were very collaborative—one of us would have a melody or a bass line or a synth tone that we’d play around with and then get the other to listen to it and add some parts. We didn’t do anything with the songs for like two years, and then decided to record vocals so we both picked five songs to sing on.
You’re releasing your music via the wonderful Dinosaur City Records in Australia. You’re also releasing your music via Burger Records in the USA. Do you think releasing music both locally and internationally helps Australian artists bridge the gap a bit faster?
Yeah I guess it depends on what gap you’re trying to bridge. For us it’s been great to have two labels working with us that are on the same page with regard to what we’re trying to achieve creatively.
Can you tell us a bit about the recording process for your forthcoming debut album ‘Eureka Moment’?
It was recorded in my bedroom in Northcote, and then in our studio in Coburg. Some of the drums I played live, but they’re mostly emulators of Roland drum machines. The bass was recorded directly into the interface. The guitars were occasionally recorded directly into the interface, or using a mic’d up Leem guitar amp, which is a very divisive amp. The synths are mostly my friend’s Korg Poly800, some are my Casio CZ-1000, either way they were recorded directly into the interface.
What was one of the weirdest instruments or recording techniques you used on the new album?
I played the erhu on one of the songs, I don’t have it any more though. I went on holiday for a few months and when I came home it was in pieces, no one has admitted to breaking it.
You’ve mentioned this idea of ‘fearing the future’ being a central theme on the new album. Would you say that music acts as a means to help you process any of those anxieties?
It definitely acts as a vehicle for discussing it, in both listening and writing, but in terms of fully processing it I generally need a bit more help.
If you could make music anywhere else in the world where would it be?
Guadalajara, because I have a flight booked there in a couple of months, and Dom and I want to make an inter-continental album.
I’m pretty new to Melbourne but I caught your first show at The Tote the other week and the energy in the room was so warm and inviting. What do you think it is about the Melbourne music scene/community that makes it so unique?
It was our first show and it was free so lots of our friends came. I guess in terms of warmth and invitation it’s just about who you’re with–like DCR are Sydney-based and any time we’ve hung out with Jordanne or Cody or any of the DCR bands it’s been the same vibe. And I only really ended up playing music in the city I grew up in because a bunch of people from Wagga Wagga became my close friends. But yeah, Melbourne’s great and it’s easy to ride your bike to all the shows you want to see.
What do you want people to feel when they walk away from a Skydeck show?
Ideally they would have enjoyed the music and began to feel a strange numbing sensation, starting from the toes and eventually enveloping the whole body.
Who are some local musicians that you’re loving at the moment?
Our friends Liam and Ambrin play our shows with us and they play with some other great people: Good Morning, Cool Sounds, Gordon Koang, Lachlan Denton et al; we also really like Dianas, MOD CON, Champion Racehorse, Mio, Time for Dreams.
Finally, you obviously have an ear for music. How do you go on the dance floor?
Eureka Moment is set for release 20th March via Dinosaur City Records (AUS) and Burger Records (USA).