Brisbane's music scene gets better and better each day, with artists young and old(er) releasing some incredible tunes that have blown us away. While the garage sound has dominate the sounds of the Sunshine State capital for decades, Brisbane is emerging as a new hub for fascinating electronic acts and producers. Uploading his first track to Soundcloud this week is Allistere, who we were excited to get in for a chat while he takes his first steps into the industry. Check out his remix of Jesse Callan's 'The Ocean' and have a read of his interview below.
Interview by Matt Bond
Hey Allistere! Welcome to It's My Kind of Scene. How are you on this fine day and what have you been getting up to?
Allistere: Thanks for having me! Today’s been a pretty chilled day, had uni this morning then spent the rest of the day doing assignments. I’m off to go see WAFIA at The Foundry tonight though so that’s kept me motivated all day, I’m super pumped for that.
Who is Allistere? For those that are stepping into your musical world for the first time, how would you describe the music you make?
Allistere: My real name is Xavier, I'm an 18 year old living in Brisbane. I was born in Wellington, New Zealand and moved to Australia when I was 7. My music is all electronic, I make it on my computer using Ableton Live. I don’t really know exactly how to explain my sound, it varies depending on the project or who i’m working with at the time. It’s probably fairly safe to say that it falls under a stripped down version of the Future Bass genre, but then again I take inspiration from so many different artists that sometimes its honestly hard to tell what I even make anymore, it’s definitely electronic I’ll tell you that, haha.
What attracted you to making music in the first place and what kind of music did you listen to growing up?
Allistere: Strangely enough, I was right into acting as kid. I did drama classes for 4 or 5 years and appeared in a low budget horror film as a child zombie and also in an anti bullying commercial from memory, Super random! One day I decided I didn’t want to do acting anymore, so my parents took me to guitar lessons instead and I loved it. I practiced a lot and got pretty good after a few years. Playing guitar as a teenager led me to listen to a lot of heavy metal bands like Metallica, Children of Bodom, Dream Theater and Periphery and I spent a lot of my high school years writing songs in my friend’s shed. He played the drums and we’d just go all day, it was great fun. I never really started transitioning to making the music I do now until I first heard Lorde in my last year of high school. The fact that she was the same age as me as well as being from New Zealand and having an incredible back story just wrapped me right up. From there I spent ages trying to write alternative and pop songs, which took a lot of my friends by surprise since I was always the metal kid, hahaha. I made this huge list of CDs I wanted to buy and just built my music library from there. A lot of the artists I know I discovered just by scouting festival lineups online. I went to Auckland for my schoolies week in 2014 and checked out heaps of different music stores all over the place, came home with a heavy suit case, haha. My heaviest influence right now is Flume for sure, especially all his recent stuff. Apart from that I probably get a bit of Charles Murdoch’s musical style leak through into my own and maybe some SAFIA and Chrome Sparks. A producer from Auckland called Eli Grand and a local Dubstep artist called SHVRDZ have also helped me a lot with refining my sound/ They’re both super talented and know a lot about good production so I trust and look up to them a lot.
You've been honing your skills studying a Music Technology course at Griffith's Conservatorium in Brisbane. How have you found the learning experience and what are some of the most important things you've learned that you feel will make you a better artist?
Allistere: The course is really really good! I’m loving it. At the moment I’m a first year in my first semester so I haven’t had as much time as I’d like in the learning space, but what I’ve learned so far has has already shown effects in improving my overall musicianship. One element that Ive always needed to improve on is my life performance, and we’ve pretty much been doing it straight out of orientation, so I’m really stoked that I’m learning so much already, can’t imagine where the rest of the course will take me. The good thing about studying at an all music school is that you meet so many like minded students. You walk around the campus and it’s just music everywhere, which is so amazing. I’ve been talking to a few of the classical vocal students about performing on a few tracks that I have been working on lately, but that's super secret so don’t tell anyone ;)
A remix of Jesse Callan's song 'The Ocean' marks Allistere's first release, with the track building to an explosive finish. What was it about 'The Ocean' that made you go, this is the song that I want to remix and put out first?
Allistere: I guess I decided to release the remix first above anything else because its a really good representation of my style, its the sound I want people to connect with then they hear the name Allistere. There's a bit more backstory behind this though, haha. Ive known Jesse for a while now, anyone who knows him will say he’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. He’s super chill, he’s the type of guy I can’t even imagine being capable of getting angry, haha. His music really reflects his cruisy personality. He makes this really great acoustic folk music which I listen to a lot on the bus and when I’m studying. He actually gave me the vocal stems for The Ocean back in early February from his soon to be released EP. I knew his music usually has a great up-beat feel-good tone, so I decided not to listen to his original at all and just create what I assumed would be the direct opposite of the song based off of the vocal stem. If you’ve heard my remix, you’ll know it turned out being this half-time sort of dark hollow atmosphere with a big hook that grips you in between. I got to listen to Jesse’s original for the first time last week actually and was blown away by how different the two are. I can’t wait for people to hear his original and compare it with the remix for themselves. I think they’ll be surprised. This also has to be the first time I've ever heard of a remix coming out before the original, so that's pretty cool! haha.
Looking ahead, what's on your agenda after getting 'The Ocean' remix out there? Are you working on some original tracks? What about plans for some live Allistere performances?
Allistere: As for live performances there wont be any strictly Allistere shows for a while, I’ll be doing a lot of public shows this year performing in group tasks for uni, but I’m predicting that will be all for at least the next 6 months or so. As far as Allistere goes i’m hoping to start doing shows towards the end of the year once I’ve got a bit more finished material under my belt. I’ll likely start out opening for a few local artists or just playing pubs and clubs if I can get a booking. I've always wanted to play Woodford Folk Festival though so I’ll definitely push that dream one day!
Regarding original material, I have no idea what you’re talking about ;) haha. Let's just say I have 4 or 5 songs that are about half way there. Time frame wise I’ll probably get maybe one or two out between now and July, just depends how how busy I get with study. But I will say original material is inevitable and in the works.
There's a lot of great music coming out of Brisbane at the moment. Where's your favourite place to see some gigs in the Sunshine State's capital and who are some of your favourite local artists?
Allistere: I’m a big Tea Society fan! I met all the guys after an incredible gig they did a few years ago and have been listening to them ever since. They’re a lot like Sticky Fingers but cooler. I can see them playing Splendour in the next few years for sure. Their lead singer is a second year at the Conservatorium so I pass him in the hallway occasionally. I was chatting to a local artist called Yoste the other day, he’s a really cool guy! Had a lot of really interesting things to say about Brisbane music culture and what not, so that was awesome. I’ve been listening to Allthingslost’s magictime EP which I really like. I downloaded a song from PlazaLive the other day called Pools which I really like, that's been eating up the play counts on last.fm. Yucca I’m really liking! Had them going a few times on SoundCloud. Then of course there's the likes of Kite String Tangle (who also studied music at Griffith), WAFIA, Charles Murdoch and Violent Soho who have all been killing it for ages.
As an emerging musician, you'd likely be well aware of the changes to the lockout laws that are due to be introduced in Brisbane soon. What do you think about them and do you think they'll have an effect on live music in Brisbane?
Allistere: To be totally honest I’m still doing my research on this. I’m only new to Brisbane and there really isn't much of a late night music scene back on the Sunshine Coast so I've never really been exposed enough to be effected. I understand that the new laws, on implementation, are expected to relieve 6,000 people of a job, which is terrible. I’m just praying that the hole it leaves in the music industry isn’t big enough to end the possibility of electronic artists having a sustainable music career in Australia in the future. It would be such a shame to lose the artist culture we’ve built, especially in a nation where we’re lucky enough to be able to embrace an artistic lifestyle without the restrictions of poverty or war. All the talent in the Australian music will eventually move overseas, especially with the rate of all the music festivals that are also pulling the plug on Australian soil on top of all these lockout laws. Not happy Jan!
Do you watch The Walking Dead? I know, it has nothing to do with music, but I'm kinda obsessed at the moment, so I'm going to bust out one of our oldest, best and most convoluted questions. Most of civilisation has been destroyed and where you're going there'll be no records of the world that was. iPod's and all that fancy stuff don't work in the new world - I don't know why, but they just don't, so stop questioning it. Anyway, you've been placed in charge of securing music's legacy for future generations. Arriving at a desolate JB Hi-Fi, you've got about enough time to run around and pick SEVEN albums. What are the seven albums you feel the world will need to hear in this post-apocalyptic world and why? Yes... iPods aren't around, but CD's can still be played somehow. Logic isn't my strong point, but just go with it...
Allistere: I don’t watch the Walking Dead :( I never really got into TV, movies are more my thing. But I love the question! haha. I’d probably get pretty selfish to be honest and grab all my favs instead of what the world needs, oops. I guess the “right thing” to do would be to grab like Mozart or the Beatles and what not since they’re some of the most influential artists of all time. But If I had to choose I’d probably go with Skin by Flume (Even though it's not out yet, it sounds kick ass and I can’t not hear that shit before I die), The Love Club EP by Lorde, Tremors by Sohn, Lanterns by Son Lux, Periphery II by Periphery, Built on Glass by Chet Faker and One By One from The Foo Fighters. I’ll probably cry myself to sleep every night knowing there's certain songs I’ll never hear again, but these should keep me sane for the longest.
When they air the Allistere 'Behind The Music' special fifty-two years from now, what will they say about you?
Allistere: That's super specific! hahaha. Hopefully they’ll be asking me rather than talking about it in retrospect. I hope to still be lurking around somewhere when I’m 70, probably sneaking out of the retirement village to watch the midnight screening of Star Wars Episode 27, hahahaha. To answer the question honestly though I really wouldn’t have a clue, and I really like that. Not knowing where music is going to take me is so enthralling, it definitely keeps me going. I wouldn’t watch a movie if I knew how it was going to end. So there's no way of really knowing the answer to this until I work hard enough to give them something to talk about.
Big thanks to Allistere for stopping by for a chat. We'll be keeping an ear out for any new music from him that could be coming our way. You can too by giving him a like on the Allistere Facebook page!