This week triple j Unearthed is shining a light on the adventurous artpop of Woodes & Elkkle. Take a listen to these impressive solo artists team up for some truly beautiful sounding tunes.
Tell us about your music. How did you develop your sound?
W: For this particular EP "Woodes X Elkkle" we went to Phillip Island for 5 days last summer and wrote 4 tracks together. Callum (Elkkle) has a big shipping container studio on his family property, so we went in there every day and wrote material from scratch. Our sound developed over those few days as we learnt about each other's processes for writing. I think we both pushed each other a little out of our comfort zones, drawing from what was around us. I remember the day we wrote 'Muddy' we went for a lunch break at this cliff near the property and there were all these stark white trees, which inspired the bridge.
My personal sound is evolving, carried by the constant of using my vocals in some way. I started writing songs in primary school after taking to piano, percussion and classical voice. After high school I got into studio engineering and then started producing and arranging the songs I was writing. It was a really liberating feeling to hear something in my head and write and record it in my home studio. I like to create music I can get lost in, building cavernous atmospheres and layering textures, crossing between organic and electronic sounds.
E: My music has come to be an expression of the grotesque yet beautiful. I want my music to be confronting yet inviting. Sort of like our morbid curiosity when you see something really foul online or whatever yet you can't look away. That's what I want to tap into, but I want to surprise people with how the sounds they're hearing make them feel.
What's your greatest source of inspiration for making music?
W: Often when I write I imagine a clear visual accompaniment, like a film or set of images. Each song has a colour or thing that to me seems really clear. But then my lyrics can be interpreted a range of ways, which is cool. I pull inspiration from a range of things: books, my collected images and concepts (that I usually put on my tumblr), dreams, seeing live performance or theatre, making things, processing things, or hearing a really refreshing body of work from an artist I look up to.
E: My music is never grounded in one place or idea; in fact it mostly just comes from being really excited by music all the time. I study composition at VCA and work with a lot of musicians, so I'm constantly surrounded by music every day. Like hearing the music my friends are making, jamming with them, sending demos back and forth - that's what really pushes me to create. I'm so lucky to be a part of such a vibrant music community and I just want to keep up and contribute.
What can punters expect from your live show?
E: Our roles are switched a little bit. In the recordings it is very much Elle's (Woodes) vocals sitting atop my production as a foundation, whereas when we perform, Elle is centre stage and providing most of the performance aspect, while I toy with samplers and effects that interact with that. We're total dorks on stage but it's easy to see we're having fun and I think people really appreciate that.
W: For live shows I like to play a whole bunch of things. I've never really been interested in being a singer with a mic. For my solo shows I like to keep my hands busy and be involved with the tech. It brings me into this comfortable place on stage. Plus it means that each time I perform live it will be a little bit of a different experience for me and the audience, as I move between things. I've been playing a bit with mallet percussion again and will have a vibraphone up on stage with me at BigSound. Looking forward to that. Then there's also layered vocals and vocal manipulation.
What's the best advice you've been given and who was it from?
E: I'm a huge fan of Arca, both of his music and his character/outlook on life. I've read a bunch of interviews but I think the most important thing I've taken from reading him is that it's important to always be entirely and unapologetically yourself in everything you do and your world will reach out to you. If people to listen to my music and think "he knows exactly what he's doing" then I'm doing it right. Maybe I do know, maybe I don't, but I'm the only one doing it so what does it matter?
W: My mother is the best at advice. One of the things she lives by is 'When the student is ready, the teacher appears". I feel grateful for how many teachers have impacted my life so far. Not only from places built for education but friends, collaborators and people you meet whilst travelling etc... I think always being as open minded as possible is a great asset to any person.
What Australian track would you play to cheer up someone who was crying?
E: 'Our Will' by Brothers Hand Mirror
. Everything about this track takes me somewhere beyond whatever there is to cry about. I remember seeing them a couple of years ago for the first time with friends and that song was one of those profound moments where I felt really appreciative of where I was and who I was with.
W: Vance Joy's 'Mess is Mine
' - I think I'm going with "you're crying it's cool, I got you". Maybe I'd incorporate listening to it with a road trip somewhere. One of my housemates was actually the polar bear in the film clip. Maybe I could bring the polar bear suit.
What Australian track would you play to someone to make them cry?
W: 'The Middle East' - 'The Darkest Side'
. Growing up in Townsville these guys were a really big influence on me. This song live usually ended with a stripped back acapella of everyone singing and it was so moving. They'd play giant festivals and come back and play regional shows; still so grounded.
E: 'Hologlyphs' by JaysWays
. I honestly haven't faintest clue what this song is about, specifically, but Jay's vocals really get under my skin and his production is so internal that every time I listen I sort of sink back into my own head and have a moment. Powerful stuff.
You're the DJ at a party. The dance floor is pumping. What Australian track do you put on next?
W: This question definitely lost me a few hours listening through so much music. So hard to pick one when it's so dependent on the atmosphere, but I think I'd play Wafia's cover of 'Let me Love You' (Prod. Jack Vanzet)
. I'll just keep playing that until her EP comes out.
What was the last local gig you went to? How was it?
E: Elle and I both saw Klo
last month with Felicity Yang and Martin King on support. Both Felicity and Martin played their best sets I'd seen tbh, which definitely set the perfect vibe for Klo to kill it. Can't recommend checking out Klo's set enough. Chloe has fantastic stage presence and an amazing live voice. Simon's control over their sound is so precise and perfectly executed that I found myself watching his hands more than anything else. They've found a seamless blend between live instruments/electronic processing/pre-programmed electronics that really set a new bar for me as to what a live show should be.
Tell us about the bands or people in the Melbourne music community that inspire you.
, Meg Mac
, Nearly Oratorio
, Jap Wall
, Andrei Eremin
, Ella Thompson
, The Cactus Channel
, Edward Vanzet
, Sui Zhen
, The Paper Kites
, Chet Faker
Whilst some of those artists are established I'm really excited about what's emerging out of Melbourne at the moment. Simon Lam from I'lls/Nearly Oratorio/KLO is a talented (and humble) friend of ours. He did all the mixing and mastering on 3 of our tracks on the EP and each of the projects he's part of just keep getting better and better. Go see any of those acts live. Do it. Man. Good.
E: Pretty much the whole reason I picked up Ableton and had a go at electronic music was from watching Thrupence/Jack Vanzet
sort of come into his own with his Voyages EP. I was probably 16 and only just hearing cats like Flying Lotus and Shlohmo for the first time. Jack grew up in the same area as me although I didn't really know him at the time, but something clicked and all of a sudden electronic music seemed much more human, and being an electronic music producer soon aligned with the exact kind of personal journey I wanted to take in life. Another huge influence for a long time was Electric Sea Spider
and I think some elements of his frantic sampling techniques still ring throughout my music.
I study it at university alongside electronic acts like Felicity Yang, Darcy Baylis, Nico Niquo, Caspian Joseph, OBA, Aiya - all of these are people who inspire me most days of the week, whether it be in class hearing something huge they've been working on, seeing them kicking goals online or just hanging out showing each other what we're listening to, I don't think anything has shaped my creativity more than the time I've spent with these people.
What are your plans for the rest of 2015?
E: I'm going to go back into hibernation, write as much music as possible, finish up my degree and go into 2016 with nothing but allegorical fire underneath my metaphorical urn!
W: I'm playing in Sydney for APRA Ignite at the end of the week, then BIGSOUND early September, then a few big things we're yet to announce and the time in between will be spent writing and producing more of my own music for my upcoming solo 'Woodes' release.