Tornado Club is a new duo comprising Elle Graham from Woodes and Danny Harley from The Kite String Tangle. The collaborative project came about when the two artists decided to join forces to explore a different side of their songwriting. Their single ‘Intuition’ was written on the pair’s first studio day, which happened to be the day after Harley’s long-term relationship came to an end. “It worked similar to therapy in a way,” he explains. “It was kind of like processing it in real-time. It forces you to think and makes you more clear about how you’re feeling.”
The two-piece released their debut EP Reset on July 30, which features a handful of dreamy electro-pop tracks, including debut single ‘Something Was Missing’. We caught up with Graham and Harley to chat about how the joint project came together, their combined influences, and their (hopeful) plans for the rest of the year.
Music Feeds: What inspired you to embark on this project together?
Danny Harley: I think Elle and I have been aware of each other’s projects for ages and being solo artists, we’ve had many conversations about how cool it would be to be in a band or a duo even. A duo preferably because you get all the perks of being in a band but with fewer people [laughs], without the politics. So, we often dreamt about that and then eventually it kinda like, snowballed into this thing. We just really enjoyed writing together, when we have done in the past, and then all of a sudden it started becoming a real thing. There was probably one or two writing sessions where we were like, “yes!”
Elle Graham: Yeah, it was very organic, and I think because we’ve both been in bands before, or like, kind of understood that you really have to have that kind of, ease of collaboration and be on a very similar side of how you want to release things even, and how you want to present them. And because we had a lot of influences that really matched up, I think it became quite evident that we could do it. I think because of the lockdown as well, it just was something really nice to be able to do remotely, because we both have little home studios and regardless of what was happening outside, we could keep going with this and also just check in with someone else and be excited about something. And for a long time, this music wasn’t actually gonna be shared. Like, we didn’t show any teams or even that many friends; it was really just something that we were excited about as this little project to get through something. And as we kept going, we were like, “nah, I think this is… let’s start showing people.”
MF: I saw in the mini-documentary you mentioned that you had mutual influences and that kinda helped. Who were those influences?
DH: We keep discovering them, actually. They range. They range from Sufjan Stevens, Sigur Rós, Jónsi, Coldplay, Enya… Yeah, I think we kinda just keep discovering ones that we’re like, “oh, you listen to Death Cab For Cutie?” It’s like, “every album, a lot.” So yeah, we keep discovering them. But what’s good about them is it’s not like… often I’ll find you’ll be like, “oh, you listen to the new Glass Animals” or whatever and everyone’s kind of listening [to that]. I mean, everyone listens to so many different genres but everyone’s sort of listening to what’s current. So, it feels like not as often you come across sort of, older stuff, or the fact that we grew up listening to the same music. Even what we’re currently listening to, it’s like our whole musical journey up to this day has seemed to mirror each other.
EG: Which is really weird. It’s cool, like, I remember being a teenager and when you first find that group of friends that also likes Death Cab or you’re just like, sharing… I remember doing like these little gatherings where we’d just share hard drives with each other and just be like, “Oh my god, you have to check out Apex Twin!” And be like, “what, this is incredible, this is so different!” I dunno, I grew up in a regional area and whenever you find people that really like what you like, it’s just exciting. So yeah, it is interesting that you could like, completely mirror the same sort of listening trajectory and then meet up at a point where you’ve both decided to be solo artists and you kinda just happen to be creating at the same time. It’s all just quite cool.
MF: Yeah, that’s so cool! I totally relate to that regional area thing where you find someone who likes the music you do and you’re like, “Oh my god, what?!”
EG: “Oh my god!” Yeah, I found that a lot through TV and watching shows, [that] was the way that I found all the indie music, which is kind of interesting. There’s like a whole hub of people I think… it was just an exciting process. Danny and I also link each other shows and TV and films and like, soundtracks. So, it’s like, it’s not just these musical influences, it’s also loving the same kind of colour palettes… it’s just cool.
MF: Do you have any TV or movie recommendations that you’re loving at the moment?
EG: Ooh! I just watched Mare of Easttown and I think it was on Binge. I got Binge for Gossip Girl but it’s been… interesting. But yeah, Mare of Easttown is so good! It’s like a small-town kind of thriller, murder-mystery with Kate Winslet, but she’s like this really rough, country lady and you don’t really see her do those roles. It’s really good, the writing is so good. That’d be my one. What about you Danny?
DH: I just watched Dr Death, that was pretty intense though. It was pretty good. I feel like there’s been something really, really good that I’ve watched recently… it’s on the tip of my tongue.
MF: What songs on the EP came together the quickest? Were there any that came together really fast?
EG: Potentially ‘Intuition’.
DH: Yeah, I reckon that was… yeah.
EG: That one was like, one day.
DH: Yeah, that was really good. That was the one that we did in the first session and [it was] the day after a big breakup for me, So, it was a lot of working through stuff and therapy whilst writing, so it’s like… I think it leant itself well to just getting stuff out and then whatever we sort of wrote down tended to stick pretty instantly because it was pretty raw. That one came together really quickly.
And it wasn’t like we tinkered with the song for ages, but the bones of that song were really nice and it was pretty difficult to do anything to, we were just like, “let’s just leave it.”
EG: Even the vocals, did we redo the vocals? I think you just spent ages fixing those vocals but I feel like those vocals maybe stayed. Which I always find a really special thing. Like, you wanna try and do the vocals the best you can on the day but then sometimes you just can’t touch the emotion of them and it sucks when you don’t do them well enough on the day and you’re attached to them and you just have this really rough thing. But I think we managed to salvage them and so that’s an extra element of like, it’s untouchable. It just was this one day, this one moment feeling.
MF: Do you have any plans for a tour in the works?
EG: … yes [laughs]. We think.
DH: We would like to. And we’re like, sort of trying to organise it, but it’s very, very difficult given all the closures of borders and we’re in different states. We were looking to do listening parties for the EP release date and that included travelling, and they’re just… I think they’re done now.
EG: We do have dates for some special shows, it’s just like… we’re kind of playing it by ear to a degree. They will be some really nice, intimate shows where we kind of, get to bring the visual side – which we’re both very excited about. Sort of, the lighting and creating this two-person show that’s just kind of the stream show that we’ve conjured in our heads. So, we do really wanna do it, it’s just an interesting time. We’re back to being locked out of each other’s states.
MF: Yeah, that’d be really tough at the moment – to be planning things where you don’t really know what’s going on.
DH: Yeah, everyone’s in that same boat though.
MF: Very true. I’ve started doing this thing with rapid-fire questions. I haven’t actually done it for two separate people being interviewed, but we can give it a go if you’re keen?
MF: Okay, pineapple on pizza, yes, or no?
EG: Yes. Big yes. I actually think it’s delicious.
DH: Yeah. Could be the tropical Queensland coming out, I guess.
MF: Would you rather live in a high-rise in the city or a cabin in the woods?
DH: Ooh, timeshare in each!
EG: Yeah [laughs].
DH: Probably ever-so-slightly on the city. Just ‘cause I love being able to walk to stuff and there’s nothing much in the woods.
EG: Yeah, definitely timeshare, that’s a good call.
MF: Would you rather be able to speak with animals or speak all human languages?
DH: I suppose animals, I reckon because we can already get by human to human with Google Translate [laughs].
EG: That’s a good call. I would have thought that I would be like animals 100%, but, it would be quite remarkable to travel the world and be able to talk to everyone. Like, I’ve often thought if I had multiple lifetimes to live that that would be… I’d stop what I’m doing and just learn every language. It’s just one of those… same with every instrument; I’d wanna do that if I had multiple lifetimes. But talking to animals would be quite cool. Like, talking to my dog… I feel like I know her voice but like…
DH: It could be really uninteresting though. They’re just like, “food… what’re you doing? Feed me, feed me.”
EG: “Food, hungry.” Yeah, totally.
MF: Final question, what do you have planned for the rest of 2021?
DH: Well, yeah, the EP gets released in a week and then we’ll hopefully do some shows and we’ll have a couple more releases as well throughout the rest of the year, just some little tidbits. But yeah, mostly just sort of, trying to get people to listen to Tornado Club [laughs].
EG: [laughs]. Yeah, I dunno. It’s really hard to plan at the moment, but hopefully, get vaccinated and be able to travel and play this music for people because that’s kind of the best bit: getting to get into a room and share the experience with our community. So, fingers crossed we can do these shows!