Courtesy of another musical polymath in the Flightless Records family, Traffik Island is the off-kilter project from ORB’s Zak Olsen, and boy is it good. We sit down with Zak for a chat about music, music and more music.
Hey Zak, thanks heaps for taking the time to answer some questions! You must be pretty flat out with Orb currently touring America alongside Gizzard and Stonefield; how has the tour been so far?
I’m literally flat out laying in my bed bunk right now. It’s 10:30am and we’re about to arrive in Milwaukee for a show tonight at the Riverside Theatre.
With 2019 having a new album from Traffik Island, another one from Hierophants and new music from Orb in the works; how are you managing such a hectic workload?
A lot of the time these things are finished months before release. I think you’ve just got to be working on something all the time. I like to change around projects to keep my self interested.
Traffik Island’s album from 2019, ‘Nature Strip’ bears a much closer resemblance (than your other current projects) to your early work in The Frowning Clouds, was the 60’s psychedelic-pop vibe something you were wanting to revisit for a while now?
Nature Strip is just the album I’ve always wanted to do. I feel like it’s always been there since I was 16 or something. It just represents my personality the most and takes influence from the stuff the really informed my taste.
Where was ‘Nature Strip’ recorded and who were some of the behind the scenes credits who worked on this album with you?
It was mainly recorded at home with the drums and some of the full band stuff being done by Jesse who I can’t thank enough. He plays in the live band too. It was recorded across my last 2 houses and a bunch of friends and housemates contributed, all of which are listed on the insert.
One song that really struck a chord with me was ‘17.’ So I wanted to know why that’s the age you seem to reflect on and how has your mentality as a musician and person developed since you were 17?
Well, I had planned to make sort of pastiche of the kind of songs I was really into around that age. It begun as a kind of “boy meets girl” theme which most of those songs do but I thought it’d be interesting to write from the perspective of someone in their mid-20s talking to their younger selves. I was genuinely worried about playing music and not being a teenager anymore, 20+ year-olds weren’t allowed to play garage.
I love some of the sounds you experiment with on this release, what was the most experimental thing that you toyed with that found its way onto the album?
There was a song that I cut which was perhaps the weirdest. I usually spend lots of time trying all kinds of things, it’s the funnest part and sometimes ya dunno what will happen. Fun fact, the double bass on Sunday Painter is a sample of the double bass in Lazy Cat
Traffik Island will be playing this year’s Loch Hart Music Festival alongside label mates ‘Baked Beans.’ How are you feeling for that show? I know Orb played Loch Hart’s inaugural year last year so what are your thoughts on it as an up and coming festival?
A fun festival with fond memories. I’m looking forward to the pie shop nearby plus a beautiful drive.
Written by Alex Callan