Perth indie-pop band Death by Denim put a lot of work into their new EP, My House is a Club. The five-song collection arrives one year after Moonbow, the quartet’s second album, and includes the singles ‘Draped in Vapour’, ‘Magic Daisy’ and ‘My House is a Club’; the latter named for the party house shared by lead vocalist Nik Iliadis and lead guitarist Palle Mazzulla.
The EP was a DIY construction from beginning to end, with the band members taking responsibility for pre-production, cover artwork, music videos and the social media rollout. Here, Iliadis, Mazzulla, bass player George Gunson and drummer Hamish Macarthur tell us about the work that went into My House is a Club and the benefits of operating in such an independent manner.
Death by Denim – ‘Magic Daisy’
Death By Denim: We decided to take a little extra time in figuring out exactly what the songs needed before recording the EP at Debaser Studios. George and Palle both have a fair bit of experience working on music production software like Pro Tools and Ableton. This comes in handy in the pre-production stages of new music – before the band has even attempted to play a tune together in a room, we have a reasonably polished demo for everyone to get a vibe.
We set up a makeshift rehearsal room at Palle’s house to really nut out the songs. We hit record on a Zoom Handy and recorded each song multiple times with different sections, trying to refine it with each rehearsal. From there, we recorded songs section-by-section into software and put each instrument under the microscope.
We did this knowing that what we thought we knew about a new song could be turned on its head once we entered Debaser. So, the more prepared, the better.
Listen to the ‘My House is a Club’ demo recording
2. Artwork for the Singles
Death By Denim: George – our bass and synth player – has done some of our graphics in the past using Photoshop, but this time he took it upon himself to create all the artwork for the EP. We’ve always struggled to find a consistent vibe when it comes to artwork, so that was our main goal for the project. And by producing the artwork ourselves, we could start having that conversation at the early stages of recording the music.
Over the last couple of years, George’s design skills have developed to the point where he is our preferred source of artwork and promo material. It’s not just a simple JPEG for a single either. There are all these different mediums for single artwork to go through (Spotify Canvas, Facebook artwork, Instagram story, Instagram square crop, etc.) and it helps to have a vision from the outset.
We gravitate towards real pictures for artwork. So, we tend to start with a photo shoot and see how George can adapt it on Photoshop with layers and titles. But he’ll also produce something whacky from scratch.
3. Music Videos
Death By Denim: We have dabbled in the past with making DIY music videos. Our first one was for ‘Tattoo’ a handful of years ago. It didn’t turn out the way we intended, but it showed us that if we got together with a couple of DSLRs and camcorders, filmed a bunch of scenes and chucked it all into Adobe Premiere, we would get a result.
We haven’t strayed too far from this mentality, but once again George has really taken the reins on video production and editing. Our stock of cameras and other film equipment has also grown. All three of our videos were filmed and edited by George with the rest of us helping out with lighting, smoke machines, secondary cameras and other bits and pieces.
For ‘Magic Daisy’, we got the main shots in this little forest near Mundaring about an hour out of Perth. “This is what bands do,” we’d say as we found ourselves dancing around some large tree after dark filming the chorus to a song. We also completely covered a room at Palle’s house in green screen material and shot of bunch of live scenes.
Stylistically, George has managed to bring consistency to each video with effects and lens flare, while also giving each video its own unique flavour. This is great when one video is shot in a forest and another in a rented photography studio – the difference in location doesn’t necessarily lead to a vastly different vibe in the final product.
4. Creating a Character
Death By Denim: There are so many liberties you can take when you’re doing it yourself. Often before a gig, photoshoot or video, we are discussing our respective kits and whether we want to match. Usually everyone just does their own thing. For the My House is a Club artwork, we wanted it to be a bit more out there.
A friend of ours bought these green masks that became a regular joke whenever our crew had a gathering. We decided last minute that Nik would wear one for the EP art as well as the video for ‘My House is a Club’ to capture some of this insanity. There was definitely a lot of inspo derived from Jim Carrey’s The Mask.
The song itself was inspired by Nik and Palle’s share house, which had hosted one too many parties over the summer, but we wanted the visuals to be more related to our own brand of weirdness. We liked the idea of a character who would find himself descending into party madness whenever he put on the mask, which is not too far off the reality.
5. Social Media
Death By Denim: We have tried to be on the front foot when it comes to social media. When a single is on the horizon, we think about all the content we’re going to roll out months before the release date so we can build a bit of hype and engagement with our listeners. No idea is off limits and we encourage everyone to come forward with fresh ways of reaching the fans.
For ‘Magic Daisy’, we invented a game called “Whose chorus is it anyway?” where we asked several bands to sing the chorus of the song based purely on the lyrics, without having heard the original. We were stoked with the entries and it was a very entertaining couple of weeks on Instagram.
It can be a bit of a pain to organise everything strategically, but it’s par for the course these days for bands to have an abundance of social media promo clips leading up to a release. The more, the better, and our beautiful management team are always helping us stick to a schedule for our posts.
At the end of the day, it really comes down to us to show our authentic character and personality on each platform.
Death by Denim – ‘505’ (Arctic Monkeys cover)
Death By Denim My House is a Club Tour 2023
w/Majak Door (except Perth)
- Friday, 5th May – Howler, Melbourne VIC
- Saturday, 6th May – Waywards, Sydney NSW
- Sunday, 7th May – La La La’s, Wollongong NSW
- Friday, 12th May – The Brightside, Brisbane QLD
- Saturday, 13th May – Solbar, Sunshine Coast QLD
- Friday, 16th June – The Rechabite, Perth WA
Tickets on sale now