Fresh from a run of shows in New Zealand and at SXSW earlier this year, Slum Sociable ( long-term friends Edward Quinn and Miller Upchurch) have made their mark with their two new standalone tracks, ‘Do Something About It’ and ‘Can’t Figure It Out’. With no interest in repetition, Slum Sociable’s sound evolves with every release – and we’re loving it. These tracks follow on from Slum Sociable’s ambitious self-titled debut LP, which was crowned locally as the feature album on triple j and FBi Radio, and coincide with a run of east coast shows in July will visit both regional and metropolitan cities. Now, we chat to Quinn following their new tunes and ahead of the upcoming tour.
You’ve just released two new singles quite recently; can you tell us a little about those tracks and what story you wanted to tell through them?
Well I think the lyrics speak for themselves; I’m not the vocalist so I don’t really tap into that but I guess they were both written around a similar time. I think one was before we went to South by Southwest and ‘Can’t Figure It Out’ was written in New York when we were doing that trip. We didn’t want to wait another 18 months to release a track off a record, so these are just stand alone singles, and the message; we just felt it was pertinent at the time and good ones to have out.
You said the lyrics speak for themselves, but do you guys try to incorporate a lot of personal aspects and experiences into your music?
Nearly everything Miller writes about is very personal. It’s weird because Miller and I are really good friends; and for what he’s gone through himself; it wouldn’t be appropriate to not write from personal experience. And Miller as vocalist, is kind of like Tom Waits or Thom Yorke; the way that they write. I think he really draws inspiration from that. He puts himself on the line a lot with his lyrics and especially considering all the mental health stuff that’s come out; it’s pretty impressive to be in the studio when he’s putting himself on the line like that.
It’s definitely difficult to define your music into one particular genre, mixing jazz, electronic hip hop and all sorts, and you just mentioned Tom Waits and Thom Yorke, but where else do you draw your influences from?
We listen to a lot of hip-hop, especially that Pusha T record and the Nas record, they came out really quickly after each other production wise; I think that stuff is so great the way they incorporate soul samples and that’s something that I always look to do. Melodically, that new Arctic Monkeys record – even though it copped a lot of shit – I think that’s some of their best work. The story telling in that is definitely different to the way Miller tells his stories, but I think a lot of the melodies and guitar lines are so impressive; so that’s what inspires us. It’s kind of like when you hear a song and think, ‘how the hell do they do that?’ And the way Arctic Monkeys songs are arranged… that title track, ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’… It blew my mind! I guess a lot of different stuff influences us. So it makes sense that the sound of our stuff doesn’t fit into one category, and different sounds and songs evoke different emotions from Miller.
You’ve been working in between New York and Melbourne a lot; what’s the music scene like over there and what influence did this have on your new songs?
We were in New York for a time just before South by Southwest. I think the Internet has almost smashed down the barrier of certain genres being pertinent in certain cities. In Melbourne you can find so many sorts of music, it’s crazy – like insane electronica and then you’ve got bands like Hiatus Kaiyote who’ve created their own genre – and then the really heavy stuff down here too. I feel like New York is that times 100. Whenever we’re in New York, it reminds us of bands like The Strokes, but we didn’t really associate it with anything. It probably rubbed off on the songs we wrote there and the hustle and bustle and how frantic it is.
So you’ve done a fair bit of touring in your time; when you’re not up on stage, what do you guys like getting up to on your travels?
Travelling takes it out of you – checking in gear at an airport – it takes a long time. I personally like to go out and experience the nightlife with Dylan [plays in their live band] – we like to party on nights off but just experiencing the culture too, especially if we have a cool tour manager who knows the spots. We still have that youthful excitement when we tour; maybe to the point where it might piss off some of the people we tour with.
You’ll be coming to Geelong and Ballarat in July, what can listeners expect and what’s on the horizon for Slum Sociable?
We have a fair few new songs to play live and we have a tasty cover in store. We’ve re-done some of the other tracks – we’ve worked with a music director to kind of get the most out of them. I think they’ll be really fun shows; we’ve been rehearsing heaps and we’re really excited for it.
When & Where: The Barwon Club, Geelong – July 27 & Karova Lounge, Ballarat – July 28.
Written by Aine Keogh
Photo by Lisa Businovski.jpg