In the heady world of Australian dance music, friendships are forged on the road and back stage at festivals more than you might imagine. It’s really a very bromantic scene.
Such is the case with Bag Raiders and Cleopold, two high octane dance acts who have such a hard on for each other they decided they wanted to interview each other. And hey, when someone offers to do your job for you, you don’t say no. You smile and nod and pick up your Pina Colada and leave.
Especially when the people doing the interviewing are such legends. Bag Raiders we all know as one of the stalwarts of Bang Gang Records in the early days, while Cleopold is the young upstart whose debut release Altitude & Oxygen has been setting critics and music fans the world over raving.
With Cleopold crashing into Sydney this Saturday for a headline show at the Oxford Art Factory, the Bag Raisders were only too happy to bend the young LA based Australian producers ear about life between the US and Oz, the challenge of putting a live show together from scratch and, most importantly, who is better at tennis.
Bag Raiders VS Cleopold
Bag Radiers: You’ve spent a lot of time between LA and Melbourne in the last few years. You were born in the US too, some people might not know that. What do you miss about each city when you leave? And name one annoying thing in each you’re happy to get away from.
Cleopold: I am happy to get away from the hustle of LA now and then. It’s an intense city to be in if you’re an aspiring artist, as there are all kinds of opportunities and surprises lurking around every corner. That being said, I do miss it when I’m away. LA has taught me to have the right balance of work and pleasure, as well as a healthy comfort zone. It’s for sure one of the best cities to live in the world! The weather, people, communities and culture … if you can make it work, it’s a really special place.
I have a tightly spun rolodex of friends and family in Melbourne and love coming back to the city where I grew up as a teenager. I definitely feel at home here and love hanging out north of the city. Lots of familiar faces and although It can be hard to avoid anyone you might not want to see, it’s refreshing to cross paths, hear their latest, and think about how we change over time.
BR: Cleopold live shows are a fairly new thing. What’s been the biggest challenge in putting them together? And how does your body hold up to life on the road?
CP: It’s been totally awesome bringing the songs to life with instruments and volume. Putting myself in front of a crowd builds my confidence and reminds me how lucky I am to be doing this. Settling my nerves and preparing for a performance is the biggest challenge at the moment but I learn something new from every show and these experiences help me grow as a performer and person. At the first show I played, supporting Chet Faker in Melbourne last year, I walked onstage and vomited in my mouth while addressing the crowd …. since then its gotten slightly easier.
Travelling on the back of music, seeing new cities and meeting new people is where it’s at. Lack of sleep is my main concern when ‘on the road’ because everything suffers when energy levels are low. Making bad decisions is easy when you’re sleepy, running late and eating poorly. It’s a recipe for failure.
BR: What sort of bands did you go watch when you were a kid growing up in Melbourne? What scene were you into? And how do you think that helped shape your music today?
CP: All I wanted to do when I was a teenager was play guitar and mess around in the music department at school with friends. We use to set up the school drum set with an extra kick drum and try to play as loud as possible, because it felt awesome. The teachers used to confiscate the drum sticks and lock up the kick pedals and cymbals because most of us didn’t really know how to play and we’d end up breaking everything by accident. I listened to bands like Metallica and Pantera. I remember experiencing Midnight Juggernauts for the first time when I was 17. Hearing their song ’45 and Rising’ opened my eyes to a whole new scene of dance music and parties.
BR: A lot of people who meet you think you should have your own TV show. You’re a very unique character. Have you taken this idea seriously? Is there any type of documentary series in the works?
CP: Haha, no. Maybe I should make a Snapchat account for the two of you.
BR: Last, and most important, which of us is better at tennis?
CP: Jack’s enthusiasm to return every ball makes him a powerful competitor, but Chris’ sense of style and on-court fashion makes him the true champion in my eyes.
Cleopold Vs Bag Raiders
CP: The two of you have been working together for a long time. What’s the secret to maintaining a healthy working relationship?
BR: We’re both pretty relaxed, easy going guys. We don’t fight a lot. We’re lucky in that respect because between the studio and the road we’ve definitely spent a lot of time together. Been all over the world too. Oh and separate hotel rooms doesn’t hurt.
CP: If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?
BR: Chic. We were lucky enough to be on tour with Nile (Rodgers – Chic frontman and producer extraordinaire) earlier this year and he is the KING! And to have seen Bernard Edwards lay down a bass line in the flesh would have been something truly special.
CP: Who played the tambourine on ‘Shooting Stars’?
BR: Haha, good question! At the time, neither of us was too good on the tambourine or shaker. I remember it took a lot of takes and that in the end we just cut a 1 bar loop out of a 2 minute recording and used that. But which one of us was it? I can’t remember! We both play a lot of instruments, so we’ll often double up. For example, I’ll play bass in the verse and Chris in the chorus or vice versa. It’s usually whoever’s closer. That happens a lot in our songs.
CP: What has been the most embarrassing moment on stage while performing together (if any), and how did you overcome it?
BR: We’ve been relatively lucky, a few botched balloon drops aside. I think the worst was during a live show in Chile when our whole stage lost power. It was right near the beginning of the set (a good thing, I think) and our drummer just kept on playing while we tried to figure it out. We finally got it going and then it cut out again!! Turns out something wasn’t plugged in correctly on the side of stage. But it’s a pretty lonely feeling up there when nothing’s working and it’s out of your control. Of course there’s plenty of wrong notes, the occasional wrong lyrics when we play live. But to me that’s not embarrassing. Just lets people know we’re doing it for real up there!
CP: If you were to raid my bag, what do you think you’d find?
BR: Hmm… Probably half a sandwich and an extra phone battery (catching Pokémon really chews up the juice).
Cleopold is playing LTR ON at Oxford Art Factory this Saturday 6th August with tickets available via Moshtix.