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Straalen may be relatively new to the scene, but he’s been honing his skills since he was 12 years old. Now 18 with a new single and EP on the way, we had a chat with the talented muso (he recently was a finalist for his songwriting) about evolving in the industry, his music and sharing a birthday with Woody Allen.

Hi Straalen, I hope you’re doing well. What are you up to at the moment?

I’m really doing well and thank you for asking! I’ve been very busy lately doing a lot of gigs and interviews and such for my latest single, and squeezing-in time when I can for more song writing and surfing.

Just over three months ago you released your first independent single, ‘Be Mine Tonight’, and received coverage nationwide, what’s on the cards for the next six months?

Well, ‘Be Mine Tonight’ is the first single from an EP I’m releasing later this year, so I’m busy promoting that at the moment. Then I’m heading over to Nashville next month for a bit doing some gigs and songwriting with a few legendary songwriters. After that I’ll be coming back for the EP release and promoting that, so it’s pretty full-on for the next 6 to 8 months!

I noticed that you’re listed on Famous, and you actually share a birthday with Woody Allen and Vance Joy, were you aware of this?

Wow! I wasn’t aware of Woody Allen sharing the same birthday, but I knew of Vance Joy… and also Pablo Escobar! Who would have thought a comedic genius, a musical genius and a drug lord all born on the same day as me! Imagine us getting together and writing a great song about something funny. We could call it ‘Excuse Me While I Powder My Nose!’

You were a finalist in the teen category section at the International Songwriting Competition with your original track ‘Help’, which is an awesome achievement, how did that go for you in the end?

Thank you! Four different songs that I wrote made it through to the semi finals in five different categories of the competition, including Adult Contemporary and Americana. I’m only 18 so I was pretty impressed with that! I was just stoked to get a mention at all! And it gave me some comfort to know that I must be on the right track when it comes to songwriting. I feel very comfortable writing songs, and I really love ‘Help’. I think it’s a cracker! I’m glad it made it to the finals.

We’re definitely sensing a surf vibe to your image, do you like to get out and ride a few waves when you’re not writing and recording?

Absolutely! I’m a Kirra local (Kirra Beach on the Gold Coast). It’s an amazing area, and I’m very lucky to be based there. I always seem to have sand on me!

Down in Forte territory we’ve actually got some great surf (mainly Bells Beach) have you ever been down the Vic coast?

Yes, we travelled the Great Ocean Road when I first toured around the country with my debut album when I was 13 years old. It was amazing! The scenery is incredible, and the people are really chilled. I loved just watching the waves wrapping around the Apostles, and the incredible sense of creation and timelessness. It was awesome. Unfortunately I just didn’t have the opportunity to bring my surfboard with me back then, but I will be better equipped next time.

You toured around Australia when you were 13, now that you’ve had a few years to build your career and steady the ship, so to speak, are you hoping to get out and tour again? Are there some things that you’d maybe do differently now as opposed to then?

Yes, I’m actually constantly touring at the moment with this first single, and as you know I have a pretty full-on schedule with touring and songwriting for the rest of the year. When I toured in the past I was kind of just doing what I was told – I was only 13. So definitely things change now that I can have a say in the design and strategy of the tours going forward. I certainly like to create opportunity where I can get out with the locals in coming tours. I like to learn about the people, and I can’t wait to tour Victoria again! Victorians seem to have a wonderful musicality about them. I felt very in-tune with them last time I was there. They seem to ‘get it’.

Thanks for having a chat with us, is there anything else you’d like to add?

I just want to thank YOU very much for the talk. I appreciate the genuine interest and support you give to artists and the music industry in general. Your magazine is well researched, not gushy, predictable or trite, and you help reveal the ‘real’ people behind the music to your readers, which I think is really cool! Thank you!

Release: Straalen’s single ‘Be Mine Tonight’ is out now with the EP soon to follow