Turning heads with Augustus Welby
Rebel Yell (Grace Stevenson)

Rebel Yell (Grace Stevenson)

July 13, 2020

Turning heads episode 10 features a conversation with Sydney-based electro punk musician Grace Stevenson who makes music as Rebel Yell. The new Rebel Yell album, Fall From Grace, came out on July 10.

Stevenson launched the project four or five years ago while based in Brisbane. The first couple of Rebel Yell releases were the 2016 EP Mother of Millions and the 2017 single 'High Authority'. The latter was the first taste of the project’s debut album, Hired Muscle, which came out mid-2018 via Sydney's Rice is Nice.

Stevenson's been based in Sydney for the last couple of years, which is where she developed Fall From Grace. It's a striking body of work. You could loosely describe it as industrial techno or electronic body music. It’s furious in tone, but also really energising. There are a lot of distorted, brawny sounds, it's very percussive, very bassy, and generally high BPM. Stevenson's vocals are a disorienting, but compelling presence. She speaks as much as she sings and often sounds coldly detached, but the effect is strangely gripping.

We spoke about the music scene in Sydney, the nastiness of tall poppy syndrome, the development of Fall From Grace and the inclusion of a number of guest performers on the album. We also made some sweeping generalisations about the differences between Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. Good fun.

Turning heads is recorded on the stolen land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation; the traditional custodians of the land. I pay my respects to their elders past and present, and acknowledge that sovereignty has never been ceded.

Allara

Allara

July 6, 2020

Turning heads episode nine features Melbourne-based, Yorta Yorta musician, composer and filmmaker, Allara. The conversation focuses on Allara’s latest single, ‘Murnong Farm’, which like all of her work draws on and explores First Nations identity, and the various struggles that come with being an Indigenous person in modern-day Australia, including the struggle for sovereignty and the feeling of displacement.

Allara’s music centres on her double bass playing and spoken word vocals. It’s a unique sound – it’s spoken word, very rhythmical and musical, but not quite rapping. It’s difficult to know where to categorise it. It’s somewhat adjacent to hip hop, neo soul, contemporary jazz and indie rock.

Allara spoke about two texts that had a big influence on the lyrics of ‘Murnong Farm’. The primary impetus for the song was Bruce Pascoe’s book Dark Emu, which looks at the advanced nature of pre-colonial indigenous farming. And the other was Behrouz Boochani's No Friend But The Mountains, which was written during the Kurdish Iranian journalist's six years in the Manus Island immigration detention centre.

Allara speaks very thoughtfully and passionately on the topics of displacement and sovereignty and freedom, and her songwriting follows suit.

Turning heads is recorded on the stolen land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation; the traditional custodians of the land. I pay my respects to their elders past and present, and acknowledge that sovereignty has never been ceded. 

Westerman

Westerman

June 29, 2020

Episode eight of Turning heads features London musician Will Westerman aka Westerman. Wetserman’s debut album Your Hero Is Not Dead came out in June 2020.

Will was born, raised and continues to be based in West London. He started releasing music under the Westerman name in 2016. His first few singles were acoustic folk numbers in the vein of Nick Drake.

Working with producer Bullion (aka Nathan Jenkins), Westerman’s sound expanded on his next few singles, ‘Edison’, 'Easy Money' and ‘Confirmation’. The evolution continued right up until the album, which recalls avant-pop songwriters like Talk Talk, Arthur Russell and the Blue Nile.

Will and I spoke about his stylistic growth over the four year period leading up to the album and what his working relationship is like with Bullion. We also looked at Will’s principles when it comes to writing lyrics and melodies and how to use his voice.

Turning heads is recorded on the stolen land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation; the traditional custodians of the land. I pay my respects to their elders past and present, and acknowledge that sovereignty has never been ceded. 

Simona Castricum

Simona Castricum

June 22, 2020

Turning heads episode seven features Melbourne icon and dance music extraordinaire Simona Castricum, whose new album Panic/Desire is out now. It's the third full-length release from the musician, designer and architecture academic based in Melbourne.

Simona has been involved in music for many years, but the current project has taken shape over the past six or seven years and become one of the most distinct and significant voices in Melbourne electronic and dance music. Simona's first album Exotic Ladies Of Birobidzhan came out in 2014. Her next full length release, #TriggerWarning40, arrived in early 2016.

Over the past couple of years, there’s been a drip feed of singles leading up Panic/Desire, which is Simona’s strongest work to date. The album covers synth pop, dark wave and queer electronic disco, as well as some more abstract, dreamy soundscaping. As ever, Simona’s lyrics dig well beneath the surface, with Simona calling the album “an allegory about gender nonconformity lived in the spaces between urban and digital realms.”

We spoke about about Simona’s aims for this record and how she wanted to be more philosophical or political in her approach, moving away from the more explicitly angry and vulnerable nature of Trigger Warning. We also looked at some of her biggest influences, including Depeche Mode and Sylvester.

Turning heads is recorded on the stolen land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation; the traditional custodians of the land. I pay my respects to their elders past, present and future, and acknowledge that sovereignty has never been ceded. 

Dianas (Nathalie Pavlovic)

Dianas (Nathalie Pavlovic)

June 14, 2020

Episode six of Turning heads features a conversation with Melbourne-based musician Nathalie Pavlovic, who is one third of the band Dianas. Dianas released their second full-length album in early May. It’s called Baby Baby and arrives five years after their debut self-titled effort.

Nat and guitarist Caitlin Moloney started the band in Perth nearly ten years ago. They're now joined by drummer Anetta Nevin. Dianas' music sits somewhere on the post-punk spectrum. It doesn’t really adhere to the markers of post-punk as a stylistic movement, but it carries a spirit of fearless expression, which is true of a lot of the great post-punk releases.

Nathalie recorded and mixed the album and put it out through her label, Blossom Rot Records. Nat also plays in Snowy Band, who were the subject of Turning heads episode five, and forms part of the Elizabeth live band. We spoke about how she’s been dealing with the crazy events of 2020, how it feels to put out the first Dianas album in five years and how the band’s confidence has grown over the years.

Turning heads is recorded on the stolen land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation; the traditional custodians of the land. I pay my respects to their elders past, present and future, and acknowledge that sovereignty has never been ceded. 

Snowy Band (Liam Halliwell)

Snowy Band (Liam Halliwell)

June 7, 2020

Episode five of Turning heads features a chat with Melbourne musician Liam “Snowy” Halliwell. Liam's band, Snowy Band, released its first album, Audio Commentary, in March 2020. 

Liam's originally from Wagga Wagga in rural NSW, which is where he met all of his band mates from The Ocean Party. Together with the members of The Ocean Party – a six-piece indie pop band – Liam relocated to Melbourne in the early 2010s and embarked on an incredibly fruitful period of songwriting, recording, releasing and performing.

The Ocean Party put out a minimum of one album per year dating back to at least 2012. On the sidelines, Liam was making music as Snowy and playing in bands like Ciggie Witch, No Local, Jade Imagine and the Emma Russack band.

The Ocean Party came to a really sad, tragic end when in 2018 co-songwriter, drummer, engineer and multi-instrumentalist Zac Denton suddenly passed away at the age of 24. The band decided not to carry on without Zac and Liam took a moment to retreat and come to terms with the death of his close friend.

The retreat eventually gave rise to the songs on Audio Commentary. The Snowy Band lineup also includes Emma Russack (guitar/BVs), Dylan Young (Way Dynamic; drums/BVs) and Nathalie Pavlovic (Dianas; bass/BVs).

We spoke about Liam’s history of prolific music-making, his reflections on The Ocean Party, what it was like growing up in Wagga Wagga and the validity of savage music criticism.

Turning heads is recorded on the stolen land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation; the traditional custodians of the land. I pay my respects to their elders past, present and future, and acknowledge that sovereignty has never been ceded. 

Rackett (Rebecca Callander)

Rackett (Rebecca Callander)

May 31, 2020

This episode features a chat with Sydney artist Rackett aka Rebecca Callander. Rackett's latest single, 'ILY Alley', came out in May 2020. It's the third song released since Bec relaunched Rackett as a solo project in 2019. Rackett had previously been a four-piece band. They started out playing garage punk and slowly morphed into more of a glam rock band.

But after parting with her band mates, Bec was keen to shake things up. She’d become a big fan of artists like Charli XCX, Tyler the Creator, Dorian Electra and A$AP Rocky, and wanted to cast off the rock-oriented sound of the former Rackett.

Rackett 2.0 emerged in October 2019 with the single ‘Machinations’ and Bec followed up with ‘Oxytoxic’ and ‘ILY Alley’. The former two align with artists like Charli XCX, Sophie and the PC music crowd – artists who're unafraid to inhabit a highly computerised world.

We spoke about Bec’s stylistic transformation, confidence goals and how our lives are increasingly being conducted online.

Turning heads is recorded on the stolen land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation; the traditional custodians of the land. I pay my respects to their elders past, present and future, and acknowledge that sovereignty has never been ceded. 

Steve Smyth

Steve Smyth

May 24, 2020

This episode features a conversation with Barcelona-based, Australian songwriter Steve Smyth. Steve released two successful LPs in the early part of the 2010s – Release (2011) and Exits (2014) – before relocating to Barcelona, which is where he still lives. There was a long wait for the follow-up to Exits, but Steve returned with the single ‘Stages’ in early 2020 and delivered the Blood EP in May.

Compared to the noisy, junkyard blues rock of his earlier releases, Blood is a sparse affair that carries the influence of Steve's new surroundings. For example, ‘Stages’ is built around nylon string guitar and punctuated by swaying, plaintive horn refrains. This aesthetic permeates the release, which entirely eschews drums and electric guitar.

We spoke about Steve's long absence from the release radar and the sorts of personal hurdles he had to jump over in order to feel comfortable releasing new material. He also spoke about the universal desire to be accepted, and how this shapes his aspirations as a musician.

Turning heads is recorded on the stolen land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation; the traditional custodians of the land. I pay my respects to their elders past, present and future, and acknowledge that sovereignty has never been ceded. 

Ferla (Giuliano Ferla)

Ferla (Giuliano Ferla)

May 17, 2020

This episode features Melbourne musician Giuliano Ferla who fronts the band Ferla. Giuliano launched the Ferla project in 2015, self-releasing his debut EP Guilt Pop. Ferla evolved into a band in 2016 and the project's second EP Stay Posi came out in 2017. It's Personal, Ferla's debut album, came out in April 2019. Beat magazine named it Album of the Week in a 9/10 review. 

Giuliano likes to describe his music as pop music, but while his songs contain memorable melodies and the sorts of crests and troughs you’d associate with the pop song format, it’s definitely a bit off-centre. It's somewhat reminiscent of '80s bands like Prefab Sprout or even Rowland S Howard’s solo work.

We spoke about Giuls' philosophies on creativity, which are broadly applicable no matter what your project is. He also offered some controversial views on a classic Bob Dylan song and reflected on poor teen fashion choices. Look out for Turning heads trivia, too.

Turning heads is recorded on the stolen land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation; the traditional custodians of the land. I pay my respects to their elders past, present and future, and acknowledge that sovereignty has never been ceded. 

Sonny (Xavier Bacash)

Sonny (Xavier Bacash)

May 7, 2020

This episode features a chat with Melbourne expat Xavier Bacash, aka Sonny, who's based in Copenhagen, Denmark. Xavier started the Sonny project in 2016 just after his old band, Gypsy & the Cat, split-up. He moved to Copenhagen in 2017 and got deeply involved in the local underground electronic scene, which has had a pretty big influence on his music.

We talked about the debut Sonny record 'Union: Integration of the Shadow' and how Danish life, language and music influenced the project.

Turning heads is recorded on the stolen land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation; the traditional custodians of the land. I pay my respects to their elders past, present and future, and acknowledge that sovereignty has never been ceded.