theaussieword.com catches up with Spectoral for a special online chat.
Give us an introduction. How did it all begin? What had you first interested in music?
As a kid I had organ lessons… and although I never really liked what I was learning to play on the thing, I loved being able to control deep basslines with the pedals. Looking back I think I treated it as my first synth. More often than not I just ended up playing around with the arpeggiator and all the flip-buttons, making these never ending auto-chord programmed songs, recording them onto cassette and making my family listen to them all in the car. It drove my sister crazy.
What motivates or influences you in your quest to make great music?
A lot of my song ideas started their life as simple toplines or lyrical hooks years ago, some even a decade ago, and the great majority of them are super personal to me. I keep coming back to these core motifs and musical ideas from my childhood. I guess it’s all just in my mind or imagination right now and I feel like that’s a pretty fragile place to keep it all.
What are your biggest goals you hope to accomplish as an artist?
I’ve always adored the idea that someday, some random fans halfway across the world might write to me and tell me that they loved my music so much it defined a timeless experience in their lives and they’ll never disassociate my music with that feeling. That kind of fulfilment I get from so many other artists’ songs… I would love to be that to as many people as possible.
What can we expect from you in the coming months? Any plans to tour?
To start with we’re going to see how this EP release does, I’ve been humbled by all the love it’s received already! My last live shows were in June-July so besides planning a follow up run for the summer, I’m already deep into writing my next project. It’s a collaborative EP with a whole bunch of guests. I’ll drop some updates about that on my socials when the time comes.
Tell us a bit about your latestEPand how you’d best describe your music.
“An Incorruptible Dream” is the result of a year of learning curves, late nights and catharsis. The EP is six tracks all about reaching for that something you don’t have. Maybe it’s a person. Maybe it’s a career. Maybe it’s a deep feeling from your past. The cover shot was taken by acclaimed photographer Renee Stamatis, through the falling water of the National Gallery of Victoria’s iconic water wall. Those unsettling smears are water warping the expression on my face. it perfectly represents the mood and sound palette of the EP, and the irony behind the theme of an incorruptible dream corrupting its very dreamer.
Success, what is the secret to it?
Well, “success” means different things to different people. You can be successful as a music creator and have literally nobody else listen to the music but you. You don’t even have to ever release anything. But to me, success is in the traditional sense of the word, widespread recognition. It’s having a large fanbase that finds your music meaningful on a personal level and keep coming back to it. The stuff I said earlier when you asked me what motivates me. I think success comes in being honest and genuine in the music you make, taking risks and doing the things that only 1% of music artists do. Never being afraid to cross a developmental boundary, or shy away from new experiences, always keep learning and growing and welcoming new challenges that push you out of your comfort zone. I can only guess though. Ask me again in 3 more years and let’s see hey?
What has been your biggest career highlight?
The time we’re in right now. It’s very special to be here, to be answering questions for The Aussie Word and Inner FM, to be played on national radio, covered in press, end up on Spotify playlists, hear from fans about the music. I only plan for this trajectory to go in one direction and that’s forward. Anything before now is last month’s highlight.
Which stars of the music industry do you find inspiring?
I nerd out hard about the producers behind tracks as much as the artists themselves. I really like Jack Antonoff as a pop producer because when he works with a star, he mines them for what’s personally going on in their life, so they never ends up creating anything fake and disingenuous. Plus his studio is like his childhood bedroom, with like, toy cars and posters and random teenage shit that means the world to him up everywhere for inspiration, with the synths and monitors tucked all around them. I absolutely love that. I never want my studio to be this clean, symmetrical, clinical space. It has to be dripping with my personality because my music does too.
Major international acts I draw a tonne of inspiration from include Sampha, Astrid S, Frank Ocean, The Weeknd, PARTYNEXTDOOR, FKA Twigs, I could keep this list going for days… I also have a bunch of Australians I want to shout out but I know you’re going to ask me about that later so I’ll save it for then!
Any new projects in the pipeline?
Definitely. I’m actually in various stages of writing fourteen tracks, but I’m very slow to complete a track fully so don’t expect me to drop an album anytime soon. Some of these will make the next EP, others maybe singles or B-sides, maybe I won’t ever finish some of them. Every few weeks I get another idea for a track too, but I really want to mine my past, my back “catalogue” of ideas that are patiently waiting for their time. We’ll see how it goes.
The music industry is huge, where do you see yourself a few years from now?
I’ve never been good at predicting my future. Where I think I’ll be and where I end up are two entirely different things, it’s always been like this for me, in all areas of my life. But I can say, thankfully, I’m really happy with where I am. If you went back in time to interview me five years ago, you’d have to laugh at the naive answer I’d give to this question. So I guess all I can say for sure, is that it’ll be “forward” from where I am now, and that I’ll be even less naieve.
Name a few of your favourite Aussie artists.
Aussie bros SAFIA are a major favourite for me right now, I’d love to collab with them someday. That’d be a dream. Oscar Key Sung, too, Jack Grace, LANKS, Woodes, Owen Rabbit, George Maple, all extreme favourites of mine, so much love for their creations. I think Australia has developed this really unique love for indie electronic and crossover-genre singer-songwriters that a lot of other countries don’t really “get” yet. It’s quite a mature sound for such a young nation and we’re intoxicating the world with it in an awesome way.
The shape of the music industry has changed significantly over the years, includingthe use of social media, how do you feel about the industry as a whole and whatdoes it mean to you in getting your records out into the public eye?
Streaming has made it so easy to consume giant amounts of music. It’s real easy for me to release Spectoral absolutely everywhere so it’s instantly accessible from anyone’s device, but the attention span of a music fan to settle on one new release is shorter than it’s ever been. Myself included. I find myself jumping to so many albums each year now, I rarely find one I want to replay with the conscious decision to ignore all the other incoming awesome music that I see being released every week at my fingertips.
Even the biggest and most hyped albums of the year get like 3 weeks max before everyone’s talking about the hype for the next major. So it’s easier than ever for people to discover Spectoral, but it’s harder than ever for people to really connect on a deep level with Spectoral to the extent they become long-term fans. Ya get me?
Also, Spotify is so big and influential now that they can actually start calling the shots by cutting out the middle man. Look at what they just announced for example, they’re trialling a way to allow creators to upload directly to Spotify for inclusion on the platform. They did away with all the behind-the-scenes emailing and arse-kissing and just got artists (or their managers) to submit unreleased songs for curated playlist consideration. This has to have playlist PR and third-party distributors kinda worried.
There’s even talk that Spotify might eventually spin up its own label or publisher, removing the need to pay RIAA or IFPI royalties, just sign up artists directly and pay out grants or loans to those that have stream potential. Hopefully that leads to a bigger slice of stream revenue for artists too.
I think they have ambitions to be a one stop shop for artists and truly disrupt the industry. Is that good or bad? I think it’s hopefully good because it’ll force everyone to innovate and remain competitive in the way the industry works with artists.
Thanks for the interview! What final message do you have for us today?
You there, reading this right now… Just the fact you made it to the end of this decently sized interview and you’re still here, means I’m impressed. I guess I must’ve said something interesting enough to keep you. So there’s a fair chance you might really dig the EP.