THEAUSSIEWORD.COM catches up with Maison Hall.
How and where did it all begin for you? What drew your interest to the music industry?
Hey Brian! I think it was definitely an interest in music, rather than industry, that got me here. To be honest, I don’t think Benny and I feel particularly ingratiated in any kind of corporatist structure.
Some of my first memories are my Dad playing home mixtapes to us on long drives, and my Mum singing to herself around the house. Neither of them played much music, but they encouraged my siblings and I to take it up. Then I guess it’s how anyone gets into anything – you get positive reinforcement, which you like, and over time you grow to love the thing more than the feedback.
What motivates or influences you in your quest to make great music?
I like that you describe it as a ‘quest’, because that’s definitely what it feels like for us. Making music has become habitual for me – we’ve done it for so long, that if I don’t write for a while a feel an absence.
‘Great’ is hard to quantify. I try as hard as I can to be honest. If I can do that, then it feels like our songs have a validity that lies outside of whether we’re the most accomplished technical musicians, or other considerations like that.
What are some of your biggest goals you hope to accomplish?
Jeez, what’s that Thom Yorke lyric – “ambition makes you look pretty ugly.” We’ll go as far as people are willing to carry us, in terms of commercial success. Otherwise, my ambitions are always centred around live performances, playing some big UK festival like Glastonbury or Reading would be unreal.
What can we expect from you in the coming months? Any plans to tour?
I’m writing this in Brisbane, where we’ve just finished the first stop on our single tour! We’ve got a show at the Retreat Hotel in Brunswick on Friday 11th of February (tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/maison-hall-tickets-242537585447 ) and another at Gang Gang Cafe in Canberra on Sunday the 13th of February (tickets here: https://tickets.oztix.com.au/outlet/event/fa77c4ac-b6c8-403c-9eb7-2b64731836eb )
Other than that – we’re looking to release another single in April, and then hopefully a larger tour midyear. Heaps more to come!
Tell us a bit about your latest release and how would you best describe your music?
Montreux was a demo that had sat on my metaphorical shelf for a while, before Ben heard it and encouraged me to track it properly. It’s a bit of a fun, raucous number – a nice bridge between our old and new stuff. It’s been six years since we last recorded together, so it feels celebratory to release anything at all!
I’d say we’re pretty eclectic in our tastes, but it’s all centred around indie-rock. It’s essentially guitar music, with a few fun flourishes and deviations along the way.
Give us an insight into your creative process. What gets you writing songs?
I don’t have a set formula for writing songs. Usually, how it happens is I’ll open a blank Logic session and start fucking around on whatever instrument is handy, usually either guitar or drums. If something really catches hold of my attention, I try and track some basic instrumentation around it. Vocals are almost always the last piece of the puzzle, and sometimes demos can marinate for years before I get around to tracking them.
As I said above, I’m pretty contrived with the way I go about it – I basically just force myself to sit down and write!
Is there a hidden meaning in any of your music?
Haha, well how could I possibly say no? Yes – all satanic.
Success, what is the secret to it?
Brian, if you know, please tell me.
What has been your biggest career highlight so far?
The moment when we first played together after such a long hiatus. I’d just come out of the lockdown in Melbourne, and we just jammed at Ben’s house in Canberra for hours. I couldn’t get the smile off my face.
Which stars of the music industry do you find inspiring?
I think Charli XCX is a wonderful example of pushing the envelope from within major label confines. 100 gecs have a similarly inspirational ethos.
Are there any new projects in the pipeline?
We’ve got a bunch of singles leading towards an album later in the year. We’ll be trying to gig as much as possible in the interim!
The music industry is constantly changing, where do you see yourself a few years?
The state of the industry has never been relevant to Benny and I. We’ve never had an infrastructure, we’ve never had a backing. We’re two guys who love playing music together, and we’re friends first. In a few years, we will be where we are now. How many people care about what we do, well, that’s up in the air.
What is your favourite and least favourite part about this line of work and why?
The people are the best – creatives (whilst an undoubtedly strange bunch) are such an emotionally invigorating bunch to hang around. The worst part is being away from home when on tour, and the ever-present threat of perfectionism.
Name a few of your favourite Australian artists.
I listen to quite a bit of Gotye, Tame Impala, The Presets. Exposing my Queensland heritage – I think that the Go-Betweens and the Middle East are two of the most consistently underrated Aussie acts, and I am massive fans of both.
The shape of the music industry has changed significantly over the years, including the use of social media, how do you feel about the industry as a whole and what does it mean to you in getting your records out into the public eye?
I think the push to be constantly visible online has been particularly difficult for us. I’m somewhat of a digital hermit – I don’t use personal social media, and I’m not an adept self-promoter. With the onus increasingly on musicians to be a one-stop shop of marketing, producing, creating, merchandising, etc., it can be difficult to figure out what to prioritise. Recently, my partner has been helping me out with using social media, which has been awesome, and I think we’re both slowly getting accustomed to documenting the minutiae of our musical activities as a tool of promotion.
How will you continue appealing to the international market?
I’d love to think we have any viability anywhere! We’ll do the same thing domestically that we do internationally. We’re not into contrivances – we’ll do what feels authentic, and if that is amenable to success overseas, great. If not, so be it.
Do you collaborate with others? Who is on your wish-list?
I’d love to do something with Jonsi, from Sigur Ros. I reckon Ben would love a Karnivool collab.
What advice do you give for other artists wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Haha, I hope you have a day job! Don’t follow us, we’re not sage masters of this. Do your own stuff, be authentic, enjoy it.
A message for your fans. How do you best interact and respond with your followers and fans?
Whatever works! Send us a message on our Instagram, Facebook, we’d love to hear from you!
Any last words?
Thanks for chatting to us Brian, all the best!