The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - KATHY MCCABE

Skin is such a wild trip to lis­ten to.

It’s a lit­tle wild. It’s not prob­a­bly some­thing you want to put on at a din­ner party.

I’m guess­ing you didn’t make it to sound­track din­ner par­ties. What did you make this mu­sic for?

I guess over the past three years I’ve been writ­ing all kinds of stuff. I wanted stuff that was ac­ces­si­ble and poppy; I wanted stuff that was re­ally weird and un­com­fort­able to lis­ten to. There’s an am­bi­ent sound on there too. I like the un­ex­pected in mu­sic so it’s quite fun for me to run lit­tle ex­per­i­ments on peo­ple.

What comes first when you are mak­ing mu­sic?

I am like a sci­en­tist ex­per­i­ment­ing un­til I find some­thing that clicks and then the song comes with the melodies. I think ini­tially it was just I was ex­cited about writ­ing mu­sic and hav­ing con­trol over the chords and the melody. I played sax­o­phone for years and years and it was frus­trat­ing to me to only be able to play one note at a time. When I found mu­sic pro­duc­tion it was su­per­lib­er­at­ing. I was amazed you could see mu­sic in lay­ers, it blew my mind. It was a fun hobby at first.

You have writ­ten a lot of this on the fly while tour­ing the world.

I have learnt to write on the road on my lap­top. I do a lot of mu­sic in cafes and ho­tels, in a car wash. I find it dif­fi­cult to write in a stu­dio some­times be­cause I find rou­tine sucks my creativ­ity away. The track Numb & Get­ting Colder, I was driv­ing around in a taxi in LA a year ago try­ing to play the melody on the com­puter key­board and I couldn’t play it well be­cause we were go­ing around cor­ners. That be­came the in­tro for the song.

How do you leave the con­trol freak­ness at the door when you are col­lab­o­rat­ing?

I don’t re­ally. It’s OK, usu­ally when it comes to the mu­si­cal side of things, I take the lead. When it comes to vo­cal melodies, we bounce back and forth. I work with peo­ple I re­ally like and re­spect and want to work with so usu­ally there’s no real ten­sion, we’re both into the same stuff. I want them to feel like they have tonnes of cre­ative con­trol.

You don’t do the lyrics yet the album does seem to have a pre­vail­ing theme. There’s a lot of ‘I messed up’ on Skin. A lot of sad love songs.

I’m no good at lyrics. When I lis­ten to mu­sic, lyrics are the last thing I lis­ten to. I think the mu­sic I do has a lot of emo­tive chords and yeah, a lot of it is quite sad, un­in­ten­tion­ally. For me, it was less about the lyri­cal vi­sion and more about what the other artists I was work­ing with brought to the ta­ble.

Are there se­cret sounds on Skin?

High hats that are blips or some­one drop­ping a coin. There’s drop­ping keys, clos­ing a door. I have a lot of Hol­ly­wood Fo­ley packs; that’s how I can carve out my own sound some­times by us­ing un­con­ven­tional things like us­ing Hol­ly­wood sound ef­fects in­stead of drums. The best one I found was from these kids and it was throw­ing rocks down a metal pipe.

My favourite song is Tiny Ci­ties with Beck ...

It’s awe­some and a nice way to end the record.

Is that a bit of a Beach Boys homage?

I know the clas­sics but I ac­tu­ally don’t lis­ten to a lot of old mu­sic, only re­ally stuff from the past cou­ple of years. Not that I don’t think it’s good and there have been amaz­ing songs writ­ten but what ex­cites me in mu­sic is stuff I haven’t heard be­fore and crazy ways to do it.

What has been the most sur­real mo­ment of your past few years on the road?

Just the other week when I played Coachella, my man­ager was watch­ing from the lighting con­sole from the mid­dle and there were these two girls who came in and were danc­ing around and he was say­ing ‘We have to get them out of here’ and goes to kick them out and it was Tay­lor Swift and her friend. He was like ‘OK, don’t worry about it’.

You have five months of tour­ing in front of you. Is there a huge pres­sure to come up with some­thing vis­ually spec­tac­u­lar be­cause it’s just you up there?

At the end of the day, I don’t know what is go­ing to beat a band. We put a lot of money into mak­ing it a spec­ta­cle, al­most a Cirque du Soleil thing.

Flume, Splen­dour in the Grass, North By­ron Park­lands, Sun­day night

Pic­ture: Jonathan Ng

Elec­tronic mu­sic pro­ducer Flume will head­line Splen­dour in the Grass this week­end.

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