This week I will be interviewing the amazing Soren, who has just released his first single in a long while, titled The Glare.
I have been listening to the latest version of the Glare about 5 - 6 times a day since it came out last Friday. It is simply the best. It sounds so beautiful. It's hard for me to go into intricate detail because I wouldn't know where to start. I just really love it. So, yeah! Enjoy the interview :)
This has really bugged me… is your main instrument the drums? What do you consider your main instrument is?
I would say that I feel most at-home on the drums.
But you do play a host of instruments?
Yeah I would say so. I would play a lot of stuff that would be used to make songs. Singer/songwriter-y songs, like guitar, keys, bass, singing, stuff like that.
Okay. I was kinda expecting drums, but you never know.
Yeah… I really like singing too. I don’t really have much stamina for singing yet because it’s not something that I’ve done for the longest amount of time compared to playing kit, but I would like to be just as confident singing. So yeah.
I always got the impression you were a drummer and a singer because you have a MAD falsetto, I just wanna say. I like Celestial and you sound really great on that and you sound really mature on that.
Thank you! That’s very kind. Which is hilarious because it was such a long time ago.
Yeah I know! Which is why it’s even more astounding to me because it was so long ago!
Yeah! Hopefully I can release more music.
I know that you’ve been doing music for like… I wanna say the majority of your life now.
Oh yeah, absolutely.
So… list every music group you’ve been a part of! I’m always interested by an artist’s history.
Yeah… I don’t know about musical group but the first thing that I did was jam with my dad every night after school for two years straight when I was seven. We’d play Jimi Hendrix songs mainly, all the time, it was great. So I’d play drums and he’d-
Like me and my dad.
Yeah, exactly! It was nice. So there was that… and then in primary school I was very frustrated, I desperately wanted to start a band. I was in some school pop-rock bands, and It was cool, but it was… yeah. And then in high school I instantly made a band, called Selling Time.
Selling Time, yeah. For all of high school.
I gotta say that’s one of my favourite names for a band. “It’s Selling Time! We’re selling time!”
I came up with the name, I must confess. I also had a few other things, like I had a project with some people in that band as well where we played some covers and other stuff too.
What was it like playing in high school, were you playing like at school or were you doing gigs like around your area?
Well, I played gigs mainly on drums with rock bands across Melbourne, and then later on I moved to another school where I did more ensemble, like jazzy, classical stuff which was helpful. But I felt really grateful to be able to actually play gigs in real life before doing that because I feel like it was a mildly oppressive environment to learn how to play music, as opposed to figuring out the technical stuff.
Not to say that the school was oppressive but “school” is not always the funnest place to learn to enjoy music.
Yes, very true.
So you had Selling Time, and you had some other group from that era. Then you’ve moved schools…
Yeah, I started putting a little bit of solo-music out and then really playing with more projects post-High School, like friends like Stella Farnan, Earnest Jackson, Stella Bridie.
Yeah you had a fair few!
So you said you did a few solo things in high school, was that Celestial?
Did you have a band for your solo work, at that stage?
It was all just like me recording stuff in a studio. But I was very lucky because I met Sam Tesky and they had a really lovely recording studio. I did a bit of recording up there and I found that really great, it was very satisfying. I learnt a lot about just enjoying the creation of a recording and how it can be an amazing thing because… recordings can be hit or miss. It’s like drawing a… I dunno, like…
It’s a bit like photography, I think. Like capturing a space in time-
Yeah, there’s a difference between a photo taken during the day or night, and like realising that thing when you’re in an actual recording studio, because it’s like “oh my god, it’s a whole different experience to like just doing it on your phone or getting a voice memo, it’s actually this whole THING”. I’d love to do it more when I can afford it.
Yeah, oh definitely. For me I always found there was… because I recorded songs with my dad growing up and we didn’t have a lot of stuff, so we just used a Zoom recorder and just recorded the band in the band room. Did working in that studio help you see the gap between making your music on like Audacity at home and like how Tame Impala can record all their stuff at home? Could you see that the gap wasn’t too far apart and that level could be attainable?
Oh it was attainable for sure. It was just the knowledge… like sometimes we would record stuff and it would sound great, and then other times it would sound terrible and I didn’t really know why, yet, just because I didn’t have the experiences of being around people who knew what they were doing. But it was like the experience of going to uni or school or whatever, and having good recording experiences, you’d pick up on things you wouldn’t otherwise.
Right, yeah. I agree with that.
So we’re in 2017, right?
That was like a July release, if I remember…?
Hah, yeah. You really looked into this.
Yeah, I did my research! How did that song come to be? Did you write it that year, was it around for a while?
I actually wrote it a couple of years before that.
Wow, really? You were so young!
Yeah I know! It’s weird isn’t it? I basically recorded the drums in like, early 2016, and tried to record a whole EP of stuff. That was definitely the best song of all of it, and when you’re really into a thing and it sticks around it’s like “oh cool, alright this is still working and I’m into it” and I just did it and… yeah…!
I guess you worked with Sam on that one.
Yeah! He engineered it. I did a bunch of acoustic guitar guide tracks and then went in and recorded a bunch of drums with Sam.
They sound great. I gotta say, like maybe it’s changing now with the whole Unearthed movement but like putting music out in your last year of high school, Celestial sounds like so full and round. It’s super impressive.
Thank you! Yeah well it’s kind of weird how things happened like that. I think the thing is that I’ve always been a nerd about drums and I think that’s a big part of why that sounds alright. Because it’s like the recording element was really helpful, but at that point in time I was real nerd about getting the right drums sounds and playing it right and playing it dynamically, and when you have a good drum track then it becomes so much easier to make a sound that feels satisfying and build everything around that.
Yeah that’s so true.
So I definitely wanna do more of that. I think most of the things that have worked for me have been when I’ve recorded a drum track through and especially if I can keep the whole take.
You’re saying like as the first element of a track? And then you can build on the styling and the energy of that, possibly?
Yeah, I mean having said that a lot of stuff I’ve done recently has totally not been that and it’s worked well too, so… but I think I’ve had consistent results doing it with a drum track. I just… I need a bit more mics and preamps so I can set it up at home.
So we’ve got Celestial, which... that’s crazy, that like you wrote that when you were so young, and just committed to it because you knew it was great. You even had a music video put together for it! Was the video a spontaneous thing?
I was very happy with the song, and I just had the image in my head of a dancer. I had a friend from school who was onboard and there were some people I met who helped with the video. Yeah, it was great!
Now… let’s talk about… The Glare!!
Just wanna say, love the Glare. You already know that, I’ve messaged you like four times already and said it to your face.
Haha, thank you.
How did you go about writing it?
Yeah, um, like, 2020.
Right, is it an iso song?
It’s definitely an iso song. My friend James Heaney, he’s an amazing keyboard player and he has this beautiful little studio in eastern Melbourne, and we’ve been catching up a little bit and we made this little loop playing around with a drum thing together. He was playing some keys on this beautiful warm synth sound and I was playing some bass and different things, and stuff that ended up being guitar. We kind of created this initial chord progression…
Like three, and then it repeats.
Yeah I love that! I love the whole rhythm of the piece, like the literal beat and the way each measure like ebb and flows, and it just feels like everything is... purposely and significantly sequenced. I dunno take that for what it is but I really admire it.
Thank you! I really appreciate it. I think James made some really excellent keyboard parts and it was really fun doing that initial production because it gave a lot of structure to the other production elements.
Was this between the lockdowns?
It was! It was in May that we started. So we had this loop but that was just this chord progression thing… but I just started hearing this whole song in my head and the second lockdown I really ironed it out. I was playing a lot of piano… this was the point where I was feeling pretty shit in the year and I spent like, straight up, two or three weeks playing piano. I don’t really play piano much but I got a lot better in those three weeks at playing chord progressions, and… uh… yeah, that’s how it came. So basically when I wrote the song I had laid it all out in a production sense and then recorded a full drum take at home with the setup I put together over lockdown and then it all came together from there.
Damn… wow! That’s like a very successful lockdown song, I gotta say. I know those lockdown periods affected a lot of artists very differently. I know we had two of them here in Victoria but how did you go with it?
Oh it was a struggle. I felt like overall it was pretty unproductive, but now I look back and I was like “well, despite the virtue of being at home I actually ended up with a bunch of stuff”. Because it’s sort of what I do, a lot of the stuff that ended up being made was not a work thing, it was like “I don’t know what’s going on, I’m just gonna make the music that feels good to me”, and like worked therapeutically, y’know, which often ends up being the stuff that connects more anyway, so I’m grateful for the time to just re-figure out my sound and kind of thing.
Was that generally both lockdowns?
Yeah, I would just say across the year.
Did that second lockdown… as a songwriter that first lockdown was very productive for me and it felt right because everything was coming out and I could work on these songs with people when everything opened up, and then we went back into the second lockdown and I felt very flat…
I think a lot of the creative stuff happened earlier in the year, but then I made it my goal for the second lockdown was to, let’s say, record an album. Not saying that that’s what happened, but as a technical goal it helped me get through lockdown 2 and it ended up with a similar amount of stuff in the first lockdown. But yeah... the second lockdown sucked, and so did the first. 2020 was bad. We lost people, and family was going through tough times across the board.
Yeah totally. I’m very grateful to be here with low case numbers.
We’ll come back to The Glare. What are you singing about? I got this holy connotation to it because… light, the sun, the glare.
I think, broadly, it encompasses a lot of things I was feeling last year. In general, it’s about losing people you love, it’s about holding onto the things that are there, and realising that you cannot afford to take it for granted, because anything can be taken away at any moment, you know. But it’s also about fighting through losing sight of that, like when your vision and ideas of the future or the present kind of disintegrating, which I assume is a common theme for a lot of people recently.
I definitely got a strong sense of self-reflection from the second verse where it felt like you telling lessons and giving advice.
Yeah I think so, and it’s also about fostering and nurturing spirit. Like being present for the things that are important as well as creating a place to feel together again, in a way. I don’t know how to say it other than that, but yeah. I feel like it’s a lot of different things but I’m sure a lot of people have been feeling similar things.
I think definitely people have been feeling that hopelessness. Do you have a favourite lyric?
Favourite lyric? Aw, I don’t know, what’s your favourite lyric?
Well, I don’t know the lyrics. But, there’s one about a “rhythm in my head”, I dunno that line made me think that it could be like music in my head to drown out noise in a situation, or like a migraine? I don’t know! It’s very open, like I’ll listen to it again and be thinking something else about it, and I think that’s very powerful for a piece of music.
Thank you, that’s very kind.
Um, now I think this is Sydney’s favourite bit. We’re gonna do QuickFireSongTime.
What would be the first song you’d put on for your best friend in your car.
Cha-ching by Chairlift.
[Sydney goes YES!]
What about heading home in a rideshare service? What would you listen to?
Um, heading home? I guess if you’re in a rideshare service…
You don’t have to play it out loud, it can just be in your earphones.
I would say… heading home, god that’s hard… maybe something happy-ish but not too upbeat. Maybe… ooooooh god. Something off Melodrama or something.
What about a song for letting out anger?
Oh, letting out anger?! Hive Mind by Orange Orange.
No, um, maybe… let me just check my phone... maybe like some Nine Inch Nails. Something off The Fragile.
You’ll enjoy this one, what song would play if you had to babysit a three-year old?
Um… ugh I don’t know. What’s something funny? Maybe the big band song by Bjork? [starts murmuring It’s Oh So Quiet by Bjork].
That’s It’s Oh So Quiet, it goes like [sings It’s Oh So Quiet by Bjork].
Yeah, that one because it’s so funny, when she sings at the start of that chorus it’s hilarious and I feel like maybe, that would be funny. Maybe it would be scary, I don’t know.
What about as a pre-date meditation?
I would listen to Aldous Harding, the whole Designer record. Just because I find that it makes me feel calm, not because it has much to do with the date, just because it makes me feel chilled out.
Note: At the time of editing this blog post I am obsessed with Fixture Picture. Thanks Soren!
What would you play at the start of the exercise routine?
Probably “What you waiting for?” by Gwen Stefani.
How does that one go again?
*Sydney and Soren stare in surprise*
“Whatcha waiting, whatcha waiting, whatcha waiting, whatcha waiting, whatcha waiting,whatcha waiting, whatcha waiting fooOOooor!”
You don’t know it Ryan?
Okay well this is great because I’m gonna listen back to this and be like “I don’t know what this one is, I’ll listen to it now.” so I’m keen.
Okay this is my personal favourite one, what song would you play at the end of a party so that everyone leaves?
So that everyone leaves? Oh… Uh… I mean, like 100 Gecs? I love Money Machine but everyone seems to walk off the dancefloor whenever I put it on.
I’ve been meaning to listen to that. So what was the last song you listened to voluntarily? I saw what you were listening to on your phone before and I was very pleasantly surprised.
What was it… oh! Well, it’s borderline embarrassing because it's on the playlist for The Glare, but it was the Total Life Forever record by Foals, which I had never listened to until someone said it sounded like my music a couple of weeks ago.
So that’s a good note to end on!
I guess so! Thank you Soren, what can we expect in the future?
Amazing! Thank you Soren!
Soren will be playing a show to launch The Glare at the Gasometer on Wednesday April 7th. I'm actually supporting with the band! You can get a ticket here:
It's gonna be great. I hope to see you there!
Until next week,