Aussie indie-rock outfit DMA’s more than set the scene in their support slot for The Kooks in Leeds recently. The three-piece – comprising Johnny Took, Tommy O’Dell and Matt Mason – made quite the impression on this high-profile set of dates and look set to make plenty of waves during 2018.
Photos: Dani Blakeley
Midway through a huge month-long European tour, Australian group Tora came to London’s Lexington for a sold-out show full of sublime tunes from start to finish.
The quartet from Byron Bay – Jo Loewenthal, Jai Piccone, Thorne Davis, Shaun Johnston – are entirely DIY in their approach, seamlessly blending electronic production with organic instrumentation to create an immersive and wholly engaging sound.
There’s a soulful groove to what they do – something that comes through loud and clear on listening to their debut album Take A Rest. But the live proposition elevates things further still, enabling you to feel as much as hear the music. Continue reading
We can’t get enough of the laidback vibe of Tora and latest tune Entity is one of their slickest yet. It’s taken from the Aussie band’s debut album Take A Rest which is out now and should be of great interest to any fans of the likes of SOHN or James Blake.
Catch them live in the UK next month at Neighbourhood Festival in Manchester (7 October), or their headline shows in London (9) and Brighton (10).
Tora – Entity (ft. Merryn Jeann)
We’ve been huge fans of the blissfully laid-back sound of Australian indie-dance outfit Tora for a while now, and this latest release is nicely seeing us through that always-difficult middle part of the week.
Blame is taken from the band’s debut album Take A Rest which is out now. Watch out for them live too as they’re embarking on an extensive European tour in the autumn, including stops in Manchester (7 October), London (9) and Brighton (10).
Tora – Blame
It’s been a good long while since a song as beautiful as this floated into our ears. The Feeling is the work of Australian singer-songwriter Eilish Gilligan.
Although pop in essence, it’s hard to find the descriptive words to do the song justice, so take a listen, and welcome this unique track into your life.
This track appears on The Sync List 11 – listen to the full playlist on Soundcloud here.
Eilish Gilligan – The Feeling
Although relatively little known in the UK, Australian DJ and producer Ok Sure has been making waves throughout Australasia recently. A creator of sublime downtempo electronica masterpieces, Ok Sure – a moniker that is derived from her real name Akaysha – has been honing her considerable skills for years.
A winner of multiple DJ competitions in her homeland, she is in big demand for remixes, whilst her own original material also gets plenty of airplay on many of the major Aussie radio stations.
Ok Sure also delivers big live performances consisting of downtempo, industrial, dark melodic electronica and DJ sets pulsing with techno, deep house, electronica and whatever else takes the mood. As she launches new EP Anamnesis, we caught up with her to find out more about what makes this Melbourne livewire talent tick…
SYNC: Please tell us a bit of the background, how you first started out as a DJ?
Ok Sure: I actually developed an interest in music production before i started DJ’ing. DJ’ing was a natural progression for the sound I was taking an interest in at that time. I think I was about 14 or 15 years old and I was really getting into Wet Musik, which was a Melbourne techno collective putting on parties and releasing music. One of the guys from it – Will E Tell – was running DJ’ing lessons and I signed up for a four-week course, started buying vinyl, eventually got my own decks and the rest is history!
SYNC: DJ competitions were a big part of your early development – how did those experiences shape your work now and what opportunities did they present?
Ok Sure: I was about 20 years old when I won the Pioneer Pro DJ Search. That feels like such a long time ago! It was a nice confirmation at that age, to feel like I was on the right track. I was probably a bit lost at that stage wondering what to do with my life; Should I study more? Should I travel? Should I focus on music? I ended up doing all three.
SYNC: Who and what have influenced or shaped your sound up to now?
Ok Sure: Unrequited love, relationships, boredom, friends, other artist, procrastination (when I’m meant to be doing other things is always the best time to make music), frustration, life…
SYNC: Tell us a little about the new EP Anamnesis – how have these tracks developed and how long has the EP been in the making?
Ok Sure: I have been making music for a long time under the alias ‘Ok Sure’ with no real direction as to what I was going to do with it or how I was going to release it. It really started as a side project. I was always holding off on doing official releases as I felt I made a lot of mistakes releasing stuff in the past that I ended up hating. I wanted to sit on tracks for a really long time and if I still liked them in 2-3 years then I assumed I might like them in 10…I hoped. I was approached by a label (Upside Music) who where interested in working on a release and I thought it was time I put something out. So, I had A LOT of music sitting there and basically we just went through it all and picked out what we thought was most appropriate for the first EP. I then spent ages polishing off those tracks and trying to get them to all sound coherent – I did all the mixing and mastering on the EP – as some were from four years ago and some were from last year. Obviously my production skills have gotten better so I just had to re-work a few and get them up to scratch.
SYNC: The technical construction of a track like Xylo seems really complex and yet at the same time, it has a simple atmospheric quality. What’s the typical starting point of your production process and how does the sound evolve?
Ok Sure: Oh man, Xylo is probably about three years old, I can’t even remember how that track started. I’m literally working on like ten things at a time, bag most of the ideas then start another ten. Some tracks stick and I end up going back to continue working on them. Xylo was one of those. Honestly I don’t even know how my tracks happen, it’s hours and hours of being on auto pilot at my computer, tweaking this, going through synth sounds, samples, messing around on my keyboard until something just clicks and I roll with it. Sometimes I even listen back to my stuff and I think, how did that happen?!
SYNC: Where does your creative heart lie – creating your own originals or remixing?
Ok Sure: Remixing is fun but I would say originals I’m more passionate about. I think I was doing so many remixes to get stuff out in the world while I was trying to figure out what to do with all my original material. It was a way to release something and get your name out there without having the stress of releasing your own tracks.
SYNC: Which artists have you most enjoyed working with on remixes – and is there anyone who you would particularly like to collaborate with in the future?
Ok Sure: I think my favourite remix I’ve done is the Habits one (Gerger). I was a bit nervous with that one as I’m such a fan of their music and I thought, can I do it justice? But it came out really well and they were happy with it so that was great. Right now I’ve been listening to a lot of Arca – imagine collaborating with him… a girl can dream.
SYNC: What’s in the pipeline for the rest of 2017? Are there live shows in the diary – or any plans for UK/Europe?
Ok Sure: I have a few live shows this month in Melbourne, working on the next EP which will be a bit different to Anamnesis as I’m collaborating with other vocalists. Unfortunately, there are no plans just yet for UK or Europe but I would love to organise something!
Ok Sure / oksurewhatever.com
We’re finding ourselves still listening to this beauty from Melbourne duo Two People (Phoebe Lou and Joey Clough) having first heard it a couple of months back. If We Have Time has so many wonderful qualities, not least Lou’s understated yet wonderful vocals.
Two People – If We Have Time
Australian singer-songwriter Matt Gresham, has been making a big impression during his recent support slot on James Arthur‘s Back From The Edge tour. Gresham made his UK debut last summer with superb single Small Voices – and we spoke to him back then about his plans for making progress in the UK and Europe.
Gresham’s first break came on Australia’s X Factor, when in 2013 he quit the show citing the talent show’s artistic restrictions. Since striking out to pursue a more independent route, he has built himself a loyal following, winning over fans and critics alike in becoming one of the country’s hottest emerging talents. His song Whiskey, released in 2014, won Western Australian Music Awards ‘Song of the Year’. Last year, he played a string of showcases at SXSW and a sell-out Australian tour.
The past month though has been all about touring the UK with 2012 UK X-Factor winner Arthur. It’s been a different experience for him no doubt, performing solo to some sizeable venues when his live shows would usually involve a full band. But he rose to that challenge impressively well, grabbing the attention of all the early attendees during this Manchester show – strangely, a second night in the city for the tour having also visited earlier in the month.
Gresham will be releasing his debut album in August, and this tour was very much a preview of some of that material, although there were some familiar songs in there, including Survive On Love, Ghost, and Sync favourite Small Voices.
Now back in Oz for a couple of live shows in early April, he has described the past month or so touring with James Arthur as “the best time of my life”. But there’s little doubt he has plenty of good times ahead as more and more people discover the music of this talented singer.
Photos: Becca Arnold
Our new favourite song (although our barber is not quite so keen), this beauty from Aussie band Methyl Ethel has such a great bassline, neat guitar hooks and a superb chorus, all melding together in a frenzy at the end.
Taken from the forthcoming album Everything Is Forgotten, it’s an eccentric sound that reminds us in some ways of Metronomy, with just the right balance between bonkers and brilliance that you might also find from Joseph Mount and his crew. The video too is pure performance art.
Catch them live with upcoming dates in London (1 March), Leeds (2), Glasgow (3), Manchester (4), Nottingham (5) and Brighton (7).
The Perth-based band will be hitting the UK again in June as European tour support for POND, doing shows in Brighton (15 June), London (16), Leeds (17), Glasgow (19), Manchester (20), and Bristol (21).
Methyl Ethel – Ubu
This song from Australian singer-songwriter Woodes gets well and truly inside your head.
As well as great vocals from this talented Melbourne-based artist (real name Elle Graham), the key to it lies to a large extent in the song’s simplicity – Bonfire has a pared-back beauty that shows wonderful production restraint and stands up very well to repeat listening over and over. Love it.
Woodes – Bonfire
Here’s one from our most recent Sync List. Weights is the second single from Australian band Osaka and we’ve been loving this for a while now.
There’s something about it that reminds us of the sadly-no-more Klaxons. The track is taken from the band’s debut EP Manoeuvres.
Osaka – Weights
From Australia’s Gold Coast, singer-songwriter Noella Nix has released her new tune Bye Bye. It’s a cool slice of pop that builds on a strong set of songs that Nix put out during 2015.
It’s also one of the new singles included on the very latest Sync List.
Noella Nix – Bye Bye
Here’s a splash of summer that will have you yearning for a chilled out afternoon on the beach. Saltwater is a new track from London-based Aussie duo Geowulf (Star Kendrick
and Toma Banjanin).
It’s a cracking debut that we had to add to the Sync List 5, and we’re already looking forward to more.
Geowulf – Saltwater
Australian singer-songwriter, Matt Gresham, makes his UK debut this summer with the release of new single Small Voices, out now on his own label, Trigger Records.
Gresham’s first break came on Australia’s X Factor, when in 2013 he quit the show citing the talent show’s artistic restrictions. Since striking out to pursue a more independent route, he has built himself a loyal following, winning over fans and critics alike in becoming one of the country’s hottest emerging talents. His song Whiskey, released in 2014, won Western Australian Music Awards ‘Song of the Year’. In May he played a string of showcases at SXSW and he is just coming to the end of a sell-out Australian tour.
Sync caught up with him as he embarks on the next chapter – relocating to Berlin after signing a deal with Warner Germany and looking to make a big impression in the UK and Europe.
SYNC: So what’s the background? How did your musical career get underway and how have things panned out so far?
MATT GRESHAM: I was brought up listening to brilliant story telling that always had acoustic guitar at the core. Cat Stevens to Ben Harper were some of the artists always playing in my childhood home. Some of my strongest memories are of listening to my mum’s poetry with my brother and sister. Most nights it was the way she would calm us for the evening. Naturally, both my brother and I picked up guitars and start experimenting with music at an early age. I really looked up to my brother, so anything he was able to do on the guitar I wanted to learn!
I feel very fortunate that I get to spend every day doing what I love and I truly could not see my life any other way. I’ve been able to travel the world making music and meet some of the most amazing people and appreciating some of the most beautiful cultures. Life has been good to me and I feel blessed. Thank you!
SYNC: We’ve been covering quite a few Australian artists lately. What’s your take on the music scene in the country right now?
GRESHAM: There’s a lot of amazing singer songwriters getting global recognition from Australia and it just makes me extremely proud. Music is such a large part of our culture and if you look at the history of Australian music, there are some incredible bands that have paved the way for the rest of us. With music being more accessible than ever, I am certain there will be more Australian artists the rest of the world will discover.
SYNC: What brings you to Europe?
GRESHAM: For many years I have had a love for Germany. During my schooling, I did an exchange and lived there for a year. Ever since, I have been trying to find a way to get back and it is pretty amazing that it was Warner Germany that I signed with post-SXSW. Something things are meant to be and I can’t wait to speak German again and reconnect when I move there this month.
SYNC: How does your songwriting process work – is it generally a solitary or collaborative process?
GRESHAM: I’ve grown up writing 100% by myself but there was a rare occurrence one night where I met Jaymes Young and we decided to write together. Small Voices came from that session and several other songs that will make the record. I found it an amazing experience writing with someone else as it was incredible sharing with someone such hectic subjects.
SYNC: What current artists are you most interested in/inspired by? Who would you most like to work with in the future?
GRESHAM: I’m in love with Gregory Alan Isacov as a storyteller – he’s the greatest at the moment in my eyes. I had the chance to work with Talib Kweli this year that was a huge dream of mine. I would say the ultimate collaboration would be with Ben Harper.
SYNC: Finally, what are the plans for future releases and/or touring?
GRESHAM: I’m half way through my Australian tour at the moment and will be touring Germany with an amazing band Jupiter Jones. More music to come!
Matt Gresham – Small Voices
What better way to soundtrack an imminent weekend than this sublime piece of beauty from Aussie band Tora.
The track Poly Amor has been going down a storm during Tora’s live sets on a recent tour supporting Rüfüs and we just adore its laid back yet uplifting vibe.
Tora – Poly Amor