Single Twin interview
Six years is a long time to spend recording an album alone on GarageBand. Was it always going to emerge as an album, or was it something that happened once you had a few of the songs?
I had it in my head that it was always going to be an album. I mean, I knew then that I was always going to keep writing and recording songs whether or not anyone was going to hear them. So you pull a bunch together and see which ones best fit into 30-40 minutes. Either you have to keep revisiting ideas or versions or recording new songs to get it right. At some point it sounds balanced over repeated listenings and that’s when you decide it’s an album.
You write on Mess+Noise about the ‘happy accidents’ that make their way into the music when you record on GarageBand. What were they? What do you think these add to the album?
Stuff like field recordings I recorded on a mini-disc for a few years. Wind in the staircase of an apartment block; recordings from the Frankston library; birds in a park in Sydney; an opera singer practicing up the street from my house. Crickets. The other ones are mistakes or moments in the recording that aren’t intended—a bum note; a finger-picking mistake; something falling over in the room maybe. None of it is overt but it helps bring some of the musical sentiments to life when weaved amongst the recordings. It also brings a life to it that is separate from yourself maybe, so you get to be an observer of your own music for a moment, perhaps.
Single Twin emerged while you were still the front man of Deloris, and all but one song on your album Marcus Teague was recorded alone. Do you prefer working alone after collaborating with other musicians for so many years?
Yep. Even in Deloris I wrote most things alone. And actually, that one song (Splinters and Seeds) I made up and recorded alone, leaving my friend Matt Blackman to make up his part alone also. It’s just how I work best. I’ve always done it like that and I don’t really know to do it any other way. I used to play drums and can play a bit of keys, so when I think of a part of a song I immediately start thinking about what could be a counterpoint to it, or where the arrangement could go.
The songs on Marcus Teague reference place a lot and listening to them you get a real sense of story. Is there a method to your song-writing that makes this happen? Do you have a place or story in mind when you set out to write a song?
I don’t specifically, but I guess there’s always a world or mood of sorts that I have running through my head when writing songs. Like a blurry film-strip or something. And particular sorts of characters. I don’t know why but I suppose that’s how I know when a song’s working or not, when it sustains that world running through my head. If there’s a line or character that seems incorrect in that mental landscape, then I know it’s a bum line or isn’t working the way it’s supposed to.
I’ll be reviewing your performance at The Toff Sunday night- what can we expect from a live Single Twin show?
Well, at the moment I’m playing with a band of four other guys, who use a bunch of different instruments to add a lot of the details that are present on the album. So it’s them and then me making things up in between songs.
And will it be another six years of recording before we get to hear more from Single Twin?
God I hope not. I have about four or five songs approaching being ready to record, a couple of which we’ll do at The Toff, so I’m thinking of recording those soon. And I have some other music coming out before too long that’s different and separate from Single Twin, so I will probably actively return to Single Twin World in the second half of this year. I’ll release some more Single Twin stuff this year I’d say, but realistically, probably not another album until late 2012 or early 2013. I do have fantasies of setting mics up in my kitchen, pressing record and playing a whole new album from start to finish, without stopping, and releasing that…but… we’ll see. I’m not sure if that’s a good idea yet.
Interview by Jess O’Callaghan.