Friday, 15 November 2013

It's My Kind Of Interview - Dear Plastic

Interview by Lou Endicott

First of all thank you for joining us!

Scarlette: Thanks so much for having me!

You have a unique sound that is reminiscent of 90s trip hop mixed with vocals that would sit comfortably in a 60s female driven power ballad. Can you tell us a little about how the outfit came together and who it includes?

Scarlette: Josh Moult and I started writing songs together a long time ago. It was just for fun, but then we were offered a gig supporting a band of 11-year-olds. We asked Josh’s guitarist pal Danny Cox to help us come up with a set, and after two mad weeks of writing, those kids wiped the floor with us. Then last year, Nathan Clark took over our terrible electric beats with his killer ones, and Cory Mollison joined us with drums, and we formed Dear Plastic.

Your songs embody beautiful lyrics and moody soundscapes that include electronic synths. You also use traditional sounds such as piano. How do you song write? Is it a collaboration or is an idea brought to the group to flesh out? Where do you draw ideas from?

Scarlette: Thanks! The writing usually begins with Josh or Danny, and I’ll write lyrics and vocal melodies around that. Then Josh and Nathan work their magic with the synths – I have no idea what goes on there, it all takes place in the terrifying mess-cave of Josh’s bedroom, where they build everything themselves between electric shocks. The rest, we flesh out together.

The ideas come from all different places – sometimes a whole song bubbles out of experiments with the synths. I studied science, and became obsessed with space and biology, so I like tying those themes into stories about human life and feelings.

You have recently done a few shows around Melbourne. What can audiences expect at a Dear Plastic gig?

Scarlette: You can expect us all to be eclipsed by Josh and Nathan’s huge racks of synths. Those beasts steal the spotlight at every show. I seem to be great at alienating audiences with terrible inter-song banter and bad puns, too.

Who are your own personal music heroes? Is there a band or artist whose career inspires you?

Scarlette: During my teen years I was mental about Bjork – I think that’s fairly apparent in my singing. She’s my main lady. Nowadays I have a very long list of heroes, including Betty Davis, Nina Simone, David Bowie, Stevie Wonder... and perhaps my maddest props at the moment go to Scott Walker.

Career-wise, I’d look to Radiohead - they seem like genuinely nice people, and they push themselves to make music that hasn’t been heard before. They trust their listeners to be up for the challenge. I hope I can be brave enough to emulate that. And I’m always inspired by singers who aren’t afraid to sing off-key.

Your single 'Everything’s Coming Up Roses' is a delightful and trippy track. And the film clip to match is a dreamy wave of organic looking imagery. Can you tell us a little about the process of recording this song and the making of the clip?

Scarlette: Cheers! ‘Roses’ was the very last song we wrote for the album, so it came at the end of a huge learning curve. I think we were all feeling more comfortable with writing and with each other – the song came together fairly effortlessly.

The clip was made by Chiral Media, who are dear friends of ours, and similarly science-minded people. ‘Roses’ was filmed in a fish tank filled with all sorts of delicious ingredients that turned to a foul sludge by the end of several takes. Then they did some funky things with projections – it took hardly any computer trickery, and I think it’s the organic nature of the textures that makes them so pleasant to watch.

Scarlette, you are an illustrator as well as a musician. You even have your own comic book “Zombolette”. How does this visual side of your creative self balance with the musical side?

Scarlette: Music and illustration both come down to storytelling for me, they’re two sides of the same coin. I tend to flip-flop between obsessions with each medium. Once mixing is done, I’m planning to make a comic that goes with our songs – hopefully in time for the release of the album. 

When you’re not making comics or making music tell us what occupies your time.

Scarlette: I try to keep up the science stuff where I can – I’m in the Daintree forest at the moment actually, helping out with a study of Ryparosa trees! I need to force myself to go on excursions so I don’t atrophy in my lounge-room, since my other hobbies are collecting game consoles and sitting on the couch. 


Best song to listen to after a heartbreak? 
Scarlette: Depends on the heartbreak! I always want the songs to make it worse. So maybe ‘Real Love’ (The Beatles). Salt in the wound.

Song to get your boogie on? 
Scarlette: Marvin Gaye – 'I Heard it Through the Grapevine'. Followed by everything else that Motown released.

An instrument you wish you could play? 
Scarlette: Piano - as well as Herbie Hancock, please.

Favourite album as a child? 
Scarlette: I was a great lover of Elvis and David Bowie as a kid... so of course the first album I bought for myself was Ren & Stimpy’s ‘You Eediot!’.

A visual artist whose work you love? 
Scarlette: Frida Kahlo.

Best advice given to you? 
Scarlette: "Just be the best you that you can be." Cheesy but choice words from my mother.

Massive thanks to Scarlette for taking the time to answer some questions! Dear Plastic's new single, 'Everything's Coming Up Roses' is available now over on Bandcamp - buy it now at 'name your price' rates.

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