Apr 22, 2019
Over the past two years, Vera Blue– real name Celia Pavey – has made a name for herself crafting intricate, elegant electronic pop with an emotive core. Her new single “All The Pretty Girls”, is a stunning change of pace, taking her deft lyricism and vocal prowess to a bold, new direction. While her stunning, acclaimed debut album Perennial wascharacterised by heartbreak, “All The Pretty Girls” is a summer jam defined by self-possession and empowerment.
“All The Pretty Girls” is built around a live band sound that recalls Fleetwood Mac, and places Celia’s powerful, otherworldly voice front and centre. The song, she says, is about “that feeling when you see someone walking down the street and you think to yourself, ‘Oh my god, that person is a heartbreaker’, so you’re kind of like, ‘I’m not gonna say hi to that person’”. The song came out of one of many studio sessions in LA with Chelsea Lena and Steve Solomon earlier this year.
“It’s basically just a little playful song that is also empowering. I feel really excited about it and I just can’t wait to play it live” she says. “I feel like a lot of people can probably connect to it because it’s kind of a self-protection song.”
While Celia’s rise has been meteoric, it’s not surprising. She grew up in a tight-knit, musical family in the small-town of Forbes, NSW. Her mother plays the organ at church and her eldest sister is also a singer. Celia herself grew up learning the violin.
In high school, Celia was teaching herself acoustic guitar after becoming obsessed with Joni Mitchell. It was during this period that she learnt her passion for folk music and songwriting. In 2016, she released promising EP Fingertips,and then last year she dropped her debut album
Perennial which combined her folk roots with electronic music, resulting in an album full of heart-wrenching pop. The album garnered nearly 100 million streams online, and two of her songs – “Regular Touch” and “Mended” – made the Triple J’s Hottest 100. Perennialalso received a triple j Album of the Year nomination, was voted as a Top 10 triple j Listeners Album of 2017 and nominated for an ARIA Award for Best Pop Release. Celia herself was also nominated for APRA’s 2018 Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year award. The past two years, Celia says, have been “crazy”.
But she’s been most thankful that her debut album – made in the midst of heartbreak – has left a mark on its listeners. “It’s been really nice to be able to create a body of work that captures something that I’ve been through, and that I know other people, either have been through, or they’re going through. It’s been really nice to connect with some people in the audience, who after shows have told me their stories, and said that my music has helped them” she says. “It has reminded me of why I make music”.
Vera Blue has proven herself to be an exciting, formidable live act, which has garnered her acclaim across the globe. Her Lady Powers headline tour saw Vera performing to fans across Australia, North America and Europe/UK, on the back of her Lady Powers I Power Ladies Remix EP release, which saw her collaborate with rising Atlantia hip-hop star Kodie Shane, TOKiMONSTA and Alice Ivy.
“All The Pretty Girls”is an an exciting taste of what’s to come from one of Australia’s most exciting pop acts, who in the midst of writing and recording new music across LA and Sydney is working alongside frequent collaborators Andy and Thom Mak. In the studio, Celia has been trying to push her music to the next level, experimenting with new sounds and different styles of music. “That’s the beauty of working in electronic music, you’re not boxed in to one particular sound. It’s so much fun” she says.
“At the moment I’m just writing and putting out what I love” says Celia. “I feel like I’m on to something good”.*
Apr 21, 2019
There are two of them. They are called Novak and John-Henry and are the loudest goddamn soul outfit you’ve ever heard. (And yes, they are both sort of Polish.)
John-Henry is the drummer. He’s very good at hitting three separate things at once with great gravity. Novak’s the singer. He also plays a beautifully brash blues guitar, but you won’t remember that after you hear his voice, so just make a mental note of it now.
Sydney’s Polish Club writes pop songs fifty years late and twice the speed. In any one of their numbers, which barely nip at the three minute mark, the full-bodied howl of Motown’s finest frontmen is parsed through the garage rock scuzz of Detroit.
Jul 4, 2018
Jul 4, 2017
May 31, 2013
To watch Dan Sultan hold an audience in the palm of his hand is to see a storyteller unafraid to lay it all out there: his troubles, desires and all those tales dragged from his life onto the stage. Ever since Sultan delivered his debut album, Homemade Biscuits, in 2006 at the age of 22, music lovers from all walks of life have found a home in his ability to bare his longings and his wounds, his rich and soulful voice spilling all sorts of guts and glory over memorable rock, roots and blues hooks.
Yet, there has also long been the sense that Sultan is the baton-holder of Australia’s greatest musical potential. Though swarms of festival crowds and a collection of NIMA (Album of the Year, Song of the Year) and ARIA (Best Rock Album) awards might suggest otherwise, there’s a lingering feeling that Sultan’s boundless talent and gift for storytelling have been building, striving to be truly realised by the man who contains them. Even as 2014’s Blackbird album cracked the top five of the ARIA Albums Chart and was certified gold, many were talking about what might come next.
On Killer, Sultan steps out as the songwriter he has always promised to become. From the erupting gospel chorus of first single ‘Hold It Together’ to the jazz-inflected lilt of ‘Should’ve Known’ and the classic FM pop nous of ‘Reaction’, Sultan’s fourth studio album makes itself known as the record on which Dan Sultan becomes that rarest of things: his own musician. By the time Killer reaches its closing track, ‘Easier Man’, Sultan delivering a painfully honest reflection on how his inner demons have played out, nothing short of a national treasure is unveiled.
Recorded with producer and long-time collaborator Jan Skubiszewski at his Way Of The Eagle studio in Melbourne, the album is also a sophisticated leap forward in production and instrumentation for Sultan. Where Blackbird, recorded in Nashville with rock producer Jacquire King, took an old-school-big-studio approach to soulful tunes, Killer pushes forward. The album introduces synthesisers and drum machines to lift powerful rhythms, and heightens emotions with gospel backing vocals that sound bigger than cathedral choirs.
“It’s been a long process to make this album, looking back on it all,” Sultan says. “I’ve spent a long time working on this record. With the writing, it was all about evolving. I wasn’t even necessarily thinking about the album as such, I was just writing for the sake of writing, and the album made itself known over time.”
Over the course of 2016, when he wasn’t touring and making appearances on tracks like A.B. Original’s ‘January 26’ (which was voted in at number 16 on triple j’s Hottest 100), Sultan was writing. When the year was out, he’d penned around 60 songs for Killer, many alone and a handful with his regular writing partners: Alex Burnett (of pop-rock group Sparkadia), Pip Norman and Ben Abraham. Even then the record wasn’t complete. As Sultan and Skubiszewski got to recording, Sultan continued to write – ‘Reaction’ and political missive ‘Kingdom’ were latecomers to the album’s track list.
Lyrically, Sultan is more reflective than on previous records, which have seemed to catch Sultan in the throes of growing up. There’s a broader weighing of life’s ups and downs present on Killer, an acknowledgement that troubles will find you, but that you are also never alone with them. It might be described as maturity. Certainly, along with a musical assuredness, the album is a portrait of a songwriter who knows himself better. “I’m not an easy man / I guess I’ll never be / But I was always yours,” Sultan sings on ‘Easier Man’.
“I think it comes from being a bit more grown up, personally,” Sultan says. “And that’s the idea, isn’t it? You get older and you get a bit wiser, and as a songwriter you’re always trying to get better and trying to push yourself.”
Songs like ‘Hold It Together’ and ‘Kingdom’ add a wider scope to Sultan’s lyrical oeuvre. While ‘Hold It Together’ takes a tale of a close friend and turns it into an affirming call for solidarity, ‘Kingdom’ is more politically cutting: “Tie my hands and break my bones / Take my children from my home,”the song starts before Sultan posits a sharp question: “Who’s coming with me to the kingdom?”
One of the record’s surprises is ‘Drover’, a song written from the perspective of an indigenous drover during the Wave Hill walk-off in 1966, a protest by pastoral workers in the Northern Territory over poor working conditions. The protest was immortalised in Paul Kelly’s classic ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’, and Sultan describes ‘Drover’ as a “prequel” to that song.
“It’s about the lead-up to the walk-off, about what it was like on the ground before the protest really kicked off,” he says. “The drover in the song has heard murmurs of a walk-off, murmurs of, ‘We’re going to protest and stand up for our land and stand up for our people’. I found it really interesting to write in that way. You know, as a writer, I think empathy is essential.”
To say that Killer is not only a portrait of a songwriter at a crucial moment in his craft and in his life, but also a portrait of a country at this moment in time, is not a bridge too far. Sultan’s fourth album is personal and far-reaching, a reflection on his life and a call for all our lives to pull closer together. It’s also an exciting and hook-filled journey of a record, one that urges us to look at who Dan Sultan is, right here, right now.