Joining the Future Classic lineup in 2011, Perth four-piece Scenic quickly made heads turn with the shimmering dream-pop of their debut single on the label, Another Sky. The band recently released their Shockwaves EP, which marks a progression in the sound of this singular young outfit.
Armed with an eclectic array of influences and a forward-thinking attitude towards making music — the most recent EP seeing the addition of live instrumentation into Scenic’s predominantly ambient electronica sound — Scenic are cementing their status as rising stars of the Australian indie scene.
Ahead of the band’s appearances at Laneway Festival 2014, band members Adam and Eric took the time to chat to Music Feeds about the recording of the band’s latest EP, what they have planned for the Laneway dates and what influence Perth has on the band’s music.
Music Feeds: If we could turn back the clock a bit, how did you guys first get together?
Scenic: The project started with just Adam and I back in 2010. We met in high-school and have been working together on various projects ever since. Our first release was through Joakim’s Tigersushi label in 2010 and since have incorporated two more members, Doug and Nick.
MF: What role does Perth play in the band’s music? Do the band’s surrounds influence the sound of Scenic?
Scenic: There is a great community of local bands in Perth, but it is so isolated that we often find ourselves looking elsewhere for inspiration. It’s a particularly hard place to tour bands and for bands to break out East, so I suppose that provides us motivation to keep improving and developing our sound. We spend a lot of time in the summer recording in a coastal town five hours south of Perth, which greatly influences the sounds we make as Scenic.
MF: What are some of the other influences behind the band? What does Scenic take away from each?
Scenic: When we wrote the EP we were mainly influenced by acts such as Sebastien Tellier, Air and soundtracks by Piero Umiliani. With an artist such as Piero Umiliani we were inspired by his use of tribal percussion, ambience and use of loop base production. Currently we are influenced by an array of different genres ranging from British shoegazing to 90s acid house. Lately we’ve been listening to a lot of dance and electronic-oriented music such as Daniel Avery, Nile Delta, Hypnotone, but also inspired by artists such as Spacemen 3, Chapterhouse, Happy Mondays, Underworld.
MF: With music as multilayered as Scenic’s, how do songs normally develop? Do they begin with a particular instrument?
Scenic: It usually starts with a chord progression and surrounding melodies/bass. Then there is a lot of experimenting with these chords and various instruments and effects. For example, we were obsessed with the warped sounds of tape-flange, spring reverb and delay from a Roland space echo and they all feature heavily throughout the recent EP. The vocals in the past have been the final step in the process; they are layered on an almost complete instrumental track.
MF: How did becoming part of the Future Classic roster come about and what has it been like working with them? Have you had opportunities to work with the other artists on the label?
Scenic: We recorded a whole bunch of demos after our release with Tigersushi and approached them via email. Fortunately for us, they really liked a couple of them and we put out the Another Sky single package within a few weeks of signing. It’s been great working with them and they’ve allowed us to explore paths we never before could have imagined. It was a particularly long process recording this EP and their patience and support has been incredible. We haven’t yet collaborated with anyone but would definitely be open to it in the future.
MF: Can you describe how the process behind Shockwaves was different to your first EP? What inspired the more textured sound of the new EP?
Scenic: We spent a lot of time in the Southwest of WA. This is where the majority of writing and recording occurred. The Shockwaves EP has a more prominent ‘band’ feel, mainly due to our experimentation with a greater array of live instruments. Previously it was an electronic-based process, so learning new recording techniques was time consuming and a challenge we had to overcome. The more textured sound was derived from our influences at the time, layering pads and noises became a bit of a forte.
MF: Earlier in the year Scenic played the Perth International Arts Festival, how does Scenic work in a live format? What’s different to the records?
Scenic: We are a four-piece band, with guitars, bass, synths and drums. Usually it starts with a loose arrangement of the recorded versions with a lot of experimentation to give the songs a new dimension. Often you find that things not suitable for the record, like huge builds and crazy noise, can be great in a live setting. There are also heaps of transition jams we are working on to link elements of songs and keep the set seamless.
MF: What do Scenic have up their sleeves for the upcoming Laneway Festival shows?
Scenic: Laneway will be a lot more dance-orientated than any of our previous shows. The demos we’ve currently been working on have a real 90s dance feel, so we wanted to get this great positive vibe translating into the live show.
MF: What’s in store for Scenic in 2014?
Scenic: We are currently working on a new single to be out hopefully early next year, followed by the Laneway shows. After that, another EP or album is undecided but much more music for sure!