An Interview with Guineafowl : Music Interviews
In the relatively short amount of time that Sydney’s Guineafowl has been around, he’s managed to establish himself as an artist of significant repute. In little over a year, he has gone from writing and recording thoughts and ideas in his apartment above an antiques shop, to winning best Sydney Song at the SMAC awards and releasing his debut EP ‘Hello Anxiety’, punctuated by his debut Australian East-Coast Tour.
It is here, on the cusp of his first headline tour [check out tour dates below] that Watch Out For were able to have a word with Guineafowl to see if the nerves and reality of this momentous occasion have settled in yet:
“Not yet. But ask me on Thursday and I’ll be freaking out! At the moment I’m a bit flat out so they haven’t really had time to settle in yet.”
Where does the name Guineafowl come from?
“It was a nickname I was given in school by a teacher. It was originally ‘Guineapig’ – I use to have really long, Beatles-like hair. So the teachers cruelly use to call me ‘Guineapig’, which changed to ‘Guineafowl’ for some bizarre reason, and then it just stuck with me through all of school.”
“I didn’t really like it back then. But when picking a psuedonymn, I remember thinking that the only name I was ever given that meant something to me, whether it was positive or negative was ‘Guineafowl’. So I chose it because it meant something to me.”
Is this the first time you’ve done a tour of this magnitude?
“This is our first headline tour. We launch in Sydney on Friday (18th), and that’s our third ever headline show. So we haven’t really had that headline experience just yet.” [Laughs]
What are you expecting from these shows, if anything?
“I’m not really sure what to expect. I suppose it’s more important that we play good shows. If they’re big, then great. If they’re small, then that’s cool too. As long as we play well, then that’s what is most important to me.”
Since finishing the Hello Anxiety EP, I imagine you’ve been quite busy?
“Well we recorded it towards the end of last year and sat on it for a little while just waiting for the right time to release it.”
“This EP is nearly a year in the making. We played 59 shows last year, which is a lot for a band in its first year. And I suppose we’ve been busy becoming a band that’s ready to tour – that’s what it was about.”
Are you at all surprised with the way your music is being embraced by audiences nationwide?
“You don’t know what other people are going to like; you only know what you like. If you’re satisfied with it, that’s an ahcievement in itself. If you think that you’ve made something good, then that’s awesome. It’s always a shock when someone says, ‘Hey, that’s a lovely painting’.”
“I always get a shock whenever I hear a song of mine on the radio, so I suppose I do get surprised and feel all kinds of emotion when my music is accepted.”
At what stage of creating your music by yourself in your apartment did you think, ‘Hey, I’ve really got something here’, and decide to take it to that next step?
“I didn’t really have a single moment. I put some stuff on ‘Uneathed’, and just online and some people were blogging about it. I won a little competition, and then my friends told me we should start a band and start playing these songs. We then got some gig offers at that time. So that was at the end of 2009 that we palyed our first show. It was never a moment of wanting to take it more seriously; it very natural and organic.”
You come from a family of artists, fashion designers and film producers – were you geared towards that area of creativity?
“Well I’ve never had any pressure on me to be creative or enter a creative field. I think they would still love me if I was an accountant. [Laughs] I never really felt the need to follow their paths at all.”
What did you think you were heading towards?
“I’ve always just made things, whether it was a song, or created something out of champagne bottle-tops – I’ve always just made random things and that’s the way I entertained myself. So I guess when I was younger I was figuring out different ways that I could do that. And now that I’m older, those skills have all converged in music.”
Musically, what are some of your influences?
“Well, there is some David Bowie in the vocals. Band that influence me musically are groups like The Cure, The Smiths – a lot of that very emotional rock and roll I guess. Expressive rock and roll where persona has a lot to say. There not so much influences that you can hear played back in the songs, more the spirit; sad topics and uplifting tunes.”
Is Guineafowl a moniker that you find easier to perform with and create ideas under?
“It definitely is becoming more of a character, but it’s still very young. So I can’t really seperate Guineafowl from me just yet. They’re both one and the same. Maybe one day I’ll be referring to Guineafowl in the third person. But at the moment, it’s still just me.”
You recently won an award from the Sydney Music and Arts Council. That must have been quite exciting?
“Yeah, we won a SMAC award; ‘Best Sydney Song of 2010′ which was pretty flattering.”
What are your plans at the conclusion of this tour?
“We don’t really know yet. We’re just going to tour the pants of this EP.”
Are you still creating music?
“Well I write nearly everyday, and I’m also demo-ing stuff too. But I’ll worry about that after we’ve presented this EP.”
Are you inclined to go for the conventional album release next, or would you perhaps go for a smaller project?
“I would like to release a bigger body of work. But if that doesn’t come together, then I’ll release whatever manifests itself. I have to wait until the songs are there to make that call I think.”
Do you produce any of your own visual art?
“I draw, but it’s just for me. The visual stuff and things I make are just for fun.”
Do you see it becoming public viewing, either in a gallery or CD booklet?
“I don’t think so. Not unless I become particularly inspired.”
“I just don’t think I would have the time to allow for the dedication required to produce something good. It takes a lot of time and thought, and if I’m giving all that time and thought to music then I can’t see it happening.”
While recording Hello Anxiety, did you find it a struggle to not lose your original demo sound?
“Not really; Botanist remained pretty much the same – it just had a few effects on it. The vocals on In Our Circles were done in my living room, as well as the guitars. The drums and bass were done in the studio. So I suppose it wasn’t that hard to keep it lo-fi because we used half of the lo-fi recordings. [Laughs]”
“I had done a lot of work and spent a lot of hours recording, so I didn’t want to lose any of it.”
Did you have to hold back at any point while you were in the process of adding parts onto these songs?
“I had them pretty mapped-out in my mind before we went into the studio so it wasn’t as much of a situation where we were creating lots of things or adding in lots of stuff. I didn’t actually ever have to say ‘No, that sounds like too much’.”
Was there any outside assistance with the recording of Hello Anxiety from those around you?
“My band really helped me out with a few ideas. Both my former and current drummer really helped me with beats and so forth. I’d give them the basics with bass and snare and they’d fill in the cymbals and pauses and rolls.”
So you’re quite open to other ideas?
“I think only a fool wouldn’t listen to other people’s ideas.”
You weren’t in the studio for terribly long; is that because you are efficient? Or did you just want too get out of there as soon as you could?
“I would have spend months in their if I had the money. But we didn’t have enough to stay in there. We worked really hard – I did four 14-hour days straight. But I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.”
Are you happy with the touring set-up? Do you see yourself experimenting with your band numbers after this tour?
“I suppose I’ll do whatever the music dictates, but I love my band and I don’t see my band going anywhere; I don’t want them to go anywhere. They’re the best band. They can do anything.”
What’s one song in history you wish you had written?
“Stars and Sons by Broken Social Scene. It’s that guitar riff is so freakin’ genius!”
Guineafowl – Hello Anxiety Tour
Feb 18 – Oxford Art Factory Sydney
NSW – 07:00 PM
Feb 19 – Northern Star Newcastle
NSW – 07:00 PM
Feb 24 – Lambda Lambda Lambda / Alhambra Brisbane
QLD – 07:00 PM
Mar 3 – Transit Bar Canberra
ACT – 07:00 PM
Mar 4 – Northcote Social Club Melbourne
VIC – 07:00 PM
Mar 5 – Plus 1 – Ed Castle Adelaide
SA – 07:00 PM
Mar 26 – Rics Big Backyard Festival Brisbane
Queensland – 03:00 PM