Interview by Danielle Boise
Melinda Kirwin, of Australian duo The Falls, sat down with Target Audience Magazine to talk about the process of making of The Falls debut EP Hollywood (which was released today) with Tony Buchen, the autobiographical content of their writing style and advice to other fellow artists.
With a folk bent, Hollywood pretty thoroughly documents the evolution of your relationship: from friends to lovers to becoming exs. It must have been extremely cathartic to not only write, but also record this EP. Now that Hollywood has come to life, how do you feel about performing these very autobiographical songs for a live audience? Is there any hesitation or is there more of an empowerment in these songs for you live verses recording them in the studio?
When we are writing we don’t really talk about the deeper content of the lyrics, but we have, somewhat unconsciously, documented our whole relationship in these songs. Sometimes, it is not until we are in the recording studio that the meaning behind a lyric becomes clear, as one listens to the other record the vocal.
Performing our songs live can be extremely hard, having been so unashamedly honest in writing them. It’s like laying yourself bare onstage for all to see. It can be a little overwhelming, but I think that it also means there’s a rawness to what we do that intensifies and supports the sincerity of the lyrics. It seems that the content of our songs often hits us when we least expect it, so both recording and performing can be challenging.
What was the best part of creating Hollywood for you?
We really wanted to capture a little bit of the magic of the Hotel Hollywood on the EP, so we recorded the reverbs down in the bowels of the hotel in the men’s toilets. We played the vocals back through a guitar amp set up in the bathroom and recorded the sound. It was quite eerie hearing the isolated vocals echo through the empty hotel. Now there is a little bit of porcelain reverb, or pee-verb as we’ve been calling it, on every track!
How was it working with famed producer, Tony Buchen on Hollywood?
Man, Tony Buchan is such a talented musician and producer. We were playing each week down at the Hotel Hollywood; just two voices, a guitar and a stomp box, when we went into the studio to record and it was really important to us that our debut release reflected that sound. We didn’t want to lose the two of us in a band.
Tony really ‘got’ that, and helped us produce an EP that we truly feel sounds like ‘us.’ We are so grateful to him for helping us craft something we are so proud of. Playing with our band is transformative and our Hollywood recordings are how we hear the songs in our heads, but it’s nice to know that duo or band, the songs retain the same strength.
Are you creating new material, and if so, will you further draw upon your relationship or will you work on other topics?
We have been writing a lot the past few months and I think that there will always be an element to our songs that is autobiographical. However, besides our personal relationship, we draw a lot of inspiration from our friends and other characters in our lives, and from stories we’ve heard (real or invented). The music we are listening to also has a huge influence on the way we write.
When we were writing the songs for Hollywood, we were listening to a lot of music from the mid to late 60s and early 70s like Simon & Garfunkel, The Byrds, and Neil Young, and I think this is reflected in the way we harmonize together.
Where do you see and hope your style and sound develops into as you move forward?
Musically we are inspired by so many different artists, so I guess ultimately we want our sound to be constantly developing, growing and changing. I think we’d like our debut album to reflect that – we’d like The Falls sound to be diverse, like bands like Fleetwood Mac. We’d like to have our ‘Landslide’ tracks but also our ‘Rhiannon.’
You’ve toured with some amazing talent, like Of Monsters and Men to Passenger, what were some of your favorite moments?
I think some of my favorite moments on the road were when we were touring with Passenger. We were playing huge rooms in Australia, whose stages where ordinarily graced by rock acts and full bands. The greenrooms would usually be trashed and packed for of people, but on our tour Passenger was performing solo, as was Stu Larsen who opened and we performed as duo.
I always found it quite amusing how un-rock’n’roll we folkies were before a show. The four of us siting round backstage, drinking tea and maybe having a sandwich. We always felt like we should knock some chairs over or leave an empty chip packet on the floor – just to be a little more rock’n’roll!
What do you find has been the best tools for you to use in order to get music out there for the public to consume?
Before we hit the studio, we played live as much as we could to really grow our fan base and get our music to new ears. Once we finished recording, we took our single to radio and that, combined with continued touring, really took things to the next level for us.
Do you have any advice for other artists trying to make their way through the music industry?
Work hard, trust your gut and don’t give up.
With a sound similar to The Civil Wars and a lyrical content in the vein of artists like Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, does it feel weighted to be compared to such acts and talent who has a raw and honest intensity and vitality for their craft or do you feel it’s an honor of achievement?
It is definitely a huge honor to be compared to artists that we respect, admire and are inspired by. We feel very humble to be included in such company!