Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Manuel Sharrad, Infusion

Manuel Sharrad is one-third of Melbourne dance trio Infusion, famous for their loose and unstructured live shows.

MANUEL SHARRAD: I certainly did. My mum was a primary school music teacher at the time and my dad, you know, he was just musical as well. He doesn’t really work in the music industry at all, he’s just an English professor [laughs], but he could play the guitar and liked to sing around a bit. They definitely had a bit of a record collection on them, so it is a quite musical family. I was thrown into the deep end to learn piano and various other stuff as a young kid so definitely a lot of musical theory and general knowledge of it was put in me at a very young age.

So that big record collection of your parents’, what kind of music were they into?

MS: Well, they were old folkies so there was a lot of early ’70s, very embarrasing early ’70s bands, but y’know a lot of good stuff as well. Everyone I’m sure had Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel and things like that to feed off. They also had some random Abba singles and some very strange electronic albums as well, which were quite influential for me. Like Everything You Always Wanted To Hear On The Moog But Were Afraid To Ask, which was one of those very late ’60s attempts to do classical music on a synth, like purely on synth, and it’s fascinating. And I don’t think it’s ever been released on CD so it’s very hard to find.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

E, Eels

Mark Everett, a.k.a. E, is the man behind the Eels. If you know his music you know that his family has influenced him strongly by their absence, with albums like Electro-Shock Blues dealing frankly with his sister's suicide and his mother's death from cancer. Here's a song from that album with a cheerful video.

E: It wasn’t that musical a family. My mom sang in church and there was always music being played in the house, but the biggest musical influence on me was just the records that my sister was playing. My older sister used to play a lot of records and that’s what had an effect on me.

Did her tastes have a big influence on you? Do you listen to similar stuff?

E: Yeah, she was listening to really great stuff. Neil Young, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, all that. A lot of good influences.

One more quick question. I love it whenever you howl in a song; where does that come from?

E: I’ve always been a bit of a screamer. It pops up occasionally over the years. It’s something I’ve always been interested in. I remember being a teenager and listening to Sly Stone records in my car and I would roll up the windows, ‘I’ve got to learn how to scream like that,’ and I would roll up the windows while I was in a traffic jam and start screaming along. If you do that long enough you start get better apparently.

Tom Waits is a great howler too.

E: He is a fantastic howler. He recently complimented me on my howling, which was the greatest compliment ever because he is the master howler.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Purple Duck

Purple Duck is hard to describe. He raps and he sings singularly filthy songs and he produces skits about the Sex Falcon. Then he records a touching number called When A Woman Cries. He is a mystery wrapped in a mallard.

PURPLE DUCK: My dad and his friends used to gather around and sing filthy songs on the piano. Mum would send me upstairs, but I’d still be able to listen.

Was your dad a professional piano player?

PD: Dad was an opera singer, but he’s not any more. He still sings opera, but only on the toilet now. He can do the whole of La Traviata, it’s pretty good.

He must spend a long time on the toilet.

PD: You can tell because he’ll be, ‘Figaro figaro ... urrr!’

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Suffa, Hilltop Hoods

Suffa provides half of the MCing and most of the production for Adelaide's Hilltop Hoods. His mum's only musical advice has apparently been, "You should not swear."

SUFFA: My brother’s a bass player and he was in a punk band called Capo F. Other brother’s a guitarist, the one that plays on the album. He was in a couple of bands, one of ’em was called the Undecided. My mum’s a music teacher, she teaches eurhythmics to little kids, which is music and movement. And my dad’s a massive record collector. He’s got a couple of thousand blues and jazz CDs and vinyl. So yeah, really musical family.

Has that been helpful then having especially your dad’s collection to dig through?

S: Yeah, that was super helpful. I mean The Calling, our third record, was made nearly solely off my dad’s record collection ’cause I couldn’t afford breaks. I mean it’s also helpful when you’re a kid and you’re growing up and from one room one of your brothers is listening to Bad Brains and Bob Marley and whatever and another brother’s listening to Cure and Siouxsie & The Banshees and your dad’s upstairs listening to, I dunno, blues, jazz, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and that sort of thing and your mum’s teaching music and movement. You get everything and you sort of mish-mosh it into your taste, I guess. Especially from a producer’s point of view, who samples, I think that’s a really good place to come from.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Urthboy is both a solo MC and a member of The Herd. I spoke to him today, but asked THE QUESTION the previous time I interviewed him two years ago. This song is new, though.

URTHBOY: My dad was a big jazz fan, but I always used to think that was pretty daggy. He’d walk around the house scatting and stuff. My brother was a big influence, we shared a room and he was bigger than me so he was boss of the stereo. Whatever he wanted to listen to I had to listen to. He played Leonard Cohen till I liked it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Lucy Hearn, The Understudy / Chris Frank, New Neighbors

Australian Lucy Hearn is a singer-songwriter who plays wry pop songs as The Understudy. Chris Frank is lead singer of New York indie rock band New Neighbors. They're old friends and touring together, so I spoke to them together.

LUCY HEARN: My dad plays a little bit of guitar, but not really. None of my other siblings are interested and some of them aren’t good at it either, but no, I don’t have a dad or a mum who is a musician. Dad played in a band when he was in university but never really took it seriously, so it’s just me really.

CHRIS FRANK: I come from a musical family. Halfway musical anyway. My dad as far as I know doesn’t play anything, but my mom is a piano player and has been since she was really very young, and about age five I remember sitting in the back of the car and announcing that I wanted to learn to play the violin. So I did. I started taking violin lessons that year and then I think five years after that my little brother announced that he wanted to play the guitar and I thought that sounded way cooler, so I started learning the guitar too. That, it quickly became clear, was my instrument and I started practising a lot less violin and a lot more guitar.

Does your little brother still play the guitar or did you steal it from him?

CHRIS FRANK: Well, I guess I kind of stole it from him. But he picked up the bass and has become a very good bass player so I think he and I are very happy where we ended up.

Lucy, You mentioned that your siblings aren’t interested in music. Do they listen to your music?

LUCY HEARN: Oh, they listen to music I just think they’re not interested in playing it particularly. My brother is actually really musically talented, but he only practises drums because he’s forced to. But the answer to that question is yes. In fact if there’s a person whose opinion I trust almost as much as Chris’s it’s my sister’s. Both of them are exceptionally honest. They’ll say, ‘Hmm, this isn’t very good. This isn’t as good as your other songs and this is why,’ and they have really good reasons for it. My sister is another sounding board I suppose for me. I call her and I’m like, ‘I just emailed you this new song. You have to listen to it right now and tell me what you think.’ She’s like, ‘I’m at uni and I’m busy.’ I’m like, ‘I don’t care, this is important!’