Two Melbourne boys have gone from making some songs for a university project to a national tour in just a few short years. Slum Sociable describe their sound as Lo-Fo washed out jazz hop, which somehow couldn’t be a more perfect description. Miller Upchurch and Edward Quinn are quickly becoming a well-known name in the Australian music scene with their bewitching experimental sound. Their self-titled debut album is set to be released on the 24th of November just before they commence their massive national tour on December 1st. The album has been three years in the making and has been a huge journey for both boys. Forte had the chance to chat to Miller about the creative process behind the album and what they have planned for when they embark on their much-anticipated tour next month.
Hey Miller! How’s your day been? Thanks for talking to Forte!
Hey! Yeah, it’s been pretty good, had a pretty good breakfast, got up bright and early, feelin’ pretty fresh.
What’s the story behind the song ‘Moby Bryant’?
It’s kind of about thinking that you don’t really have a chance at accomplishing what you want to, it’s got a sort of negative mindset about it but at the same time with bringing up that negative aspect, I like to weave in a little positive silver lining as well.
What inspires you and your music?
I’m inspired by other artists. I’ve loved Jeff Buckley for about as long as I can remember. My dad brought me up on Tom Waits and Elvis Presley.
Pretty good influences there!
Yeah, thanks dad. He used to actually rock me to sleep to ‘Earth died screaming’ by Tom Waits, if you’ve heard that, it’s a terrifying song. But you know that kind of opened me up to being a bit more open minded I guess, since a young age. But yeah influences, musically would be Jeff Buckley, he’s a big one for me vocally. I guess Grizzly Bear currently. Otherwise, you know you can find inspiration in anything. I find inspiration and get influenced from the people in my life, writing stories about personal relationships, not necessarily romantic, but that’s delving into those issues and trying to open up different aspects to those and therefore the people in my life are what would influence me. Paintings as well. I like Monet, Claude Monet is probably one of my favourite artists. When you look at his paintings you kind of end up in a little, in the world that he made for you and it’s a story itself.
So, what does your writing process look like? Coming from someone who wouldn’t know the first thing about writing an album, do you sit down with the intention to write a song or does it just come to you when you’re doing something else?
Really we like to impose some discipline in just keeping up with it constantly, we have been writing for the past three years, we’ve written, I don’t know how many songs, a lot of songs. This album’s songs span across those three years. One of our songs ‘A hearing’ on the album was written and recorded maybe an actual three years ago. So they’ve all come from different places and different times. So in regards to sitting down to write the album it was more about culling songs that didn’t fit the criteria that we needed for this album and maybe re-working songs that did. Yeah so it’s just a whole bunch of songs that we really liked and really didn’t want to let go of and had to make work as a cohesive piece all together, you want that in an album.
Is it hard to cut songs?
Yeah. It’s hard to even cut certain parts of songs that you really like and grow attached to, but that’s i guess where you need to be open minded when you get in the studio with a producer. Russell Fawcus was our producer for the album, he definitely helped us learn to let go. I don’t know you just get attached to those shitty recordings that you did on your phone that you put into an old demo that you think is unique and special but you know, Russ would just tell us you can just make a better version of that. You’re just like a baby with it’s toy, you don’t want to let go of it, but yeah that was a lesson for us.
What’s your favourite song from the album or do you have one, and why?
That’s pretty tough, they’re all different enough i think that they all have a special place in my heart but I think the song ‘A Hearing’ that i mentioned before might be one of my favourites because we worked really really hard on that one, we had to re-work it maybe more than any of the other songs and it just feels like a triumphant little victory to actually have finished it and it be included in the album, especially since it’s such an old song, so finally, finally making it work is like a breath of fresh air. And the sentiment in it as well is one of my favourite from the album, we have a lot of songs that are upbeat but ‘A Hearing’ is also upbeat but it has this softer side to it that i just really like.
Is it hard to write about such personal topics, like in Moby there were some quite personal themes, is it hard to write about that and then release it to the world?
It’s a little bit daunting definitely, it’s kind of like showing everyone what you’d write in your diary, you know ‘dear diary felt like shit, this person hurt my feelings’. But for me it’s worthwhile because I would prefer people to know it’s okay to talk about such personal things and be accepted, like you know we’ve got fans that like our music and stuff, it’s a good thing to share and it shouldn’t be so frowned upon or not talked about. Also like i said before I like to weave in a little silver lining something like that to all of these issues to show that even if you’re having a shit time that you’ll be okay in the end, if you put your mind to it.
What are you most excited about for your upcoming tour?
I think I’m most excited for the Hobart show to be honest, just because I’ve never played there before and my dad is from Tasmania and I have about 86 relatives down there.
Wow 86, are they all going to come see you?
Yeah they’ll probably sell out, we might have to do two shows. He’s been begging us to come down to Tasmania ever since i started making music.
Did you ever have a moment that you remember when you were like ‘wow I can actually make a career out of this’?
Well I guess I’ve always wanted to do music and I’ve always tried to get my foot in the door one way or another. I think maybe when we had this interest from the label I was like holy shit we must be like alright you know, cause these people want to get behind us and turn this into a career for us then that kind of validates you so yeah I felt pretty good about myself that day.
Well I’m going to end on a bit of a cliché question, but where do you see yourself and the band in five years?
Well I would love to say maybe playing at festivals alongside some of our favourite artists, maybe co-writing with some of our favourite artists. I think the goal in 5 years is just to be doing music full time and have a happy healthy career out of music and taking up any opportunity that pops up along the way just to be able to do what you love as your job is as simple as my five year plan needs to be. If it goes well I’ll be very happy.
When & Where: The Corner Hotel, Melbourne – December 2
Tickets available here.
Written by Jasmine Turner