words by Vicki Winter

On the back of a banging self titled EP, the Slumberjack boys, Morgan and Fletcher have started a pretty hectic tour around Australia, New Zealand and Bali. Before they left, we had the pleasure of catching up with them to find out a little bit more about the duo. Turns out, not only are they wicked producers, and ludicrously cool, but they are also genuinely nice guys. That’s a pretty killer combo in this industry, and they sure have us Staggers in their court…

Hey guys, are you excited to go on tour, or a little bit apprehensive?
F – Excited! I haven’t done shows for ages since my surgery so I’ve been out of action for awhile, so i’m keen to get back on the road.

Has there been any complications from the surgery?
F – No, the recovery just took longer than it was supposed to.
M – Hopefully he’ll be not just ready for the show but but energetic too!

That would be the most ideal! So is your live set just DJ-ing at the moment, and do you have plans to incorporate anything else?
F – So at the moment we are doing DJ sets, keeping it high energy and mixing it up with all sorts of stuff. Which is kind of like what we are releasing. We play chilled out music like ‘Body Cry’ and then we have heavy bangers like ‘Felon’ for the trap crowd. People who come to our sets are often quite surprised at the range of things we play. As for live sets, we are currently working on building a live set.
M – We’re not ready to roll it out yet
F – Yeah we want to keep it as a draw card for when we do a big tour

So that might be more around an album?
M – Hopefully yeah
F – I don’t know if we are ready for an album just yet!
M – It’s definitely something we would like to do. Writing an album is like writing a story book. Fletch and I are still so critical of ourselves though. When the time comes we want to be really comfortable knowing that we can write this as a history or chapter in our lives. We don’t want to look back and go “Man I wish I could change that..”

I know you revised songs for the EP, is perfectionism something you both struggle with?
M – Of course!
F – By the time we write a song we have learnt so much more that it’s time to go back and rewrite it!
M – We will never finish it…
F – We have been shaking up our sound over the past 18 months that we have been doing ‘Slumberjack’, and I think we still are finding ourselves a little. Once we are really comfortable with where we are sitting then we will think about an album. It’s quite an idealistic thing. It’d be great to get a castle in Venice and live there for three months and write an album. That’s the dream.
M – Do you know the cartoon movie ‘Tangled’ where she is kept in the top of the castle? In between meadows and waterfalls… I want to find a place like that!

Do you want a prince to rescue you as well?
M – My saviour would be good music, and then i can release myself from the castle.

There is a lot of hype around you at the moment. Did you expect the EP to go so well or is it a little bit surreal?
F – It’s definitely surreal, I don’t think any artist expects success. They hope, but it’s not expected. We are so honoured an humbled that people listen to our music and come to our shows. It makes us want to keep going.

You are also collaborating with many different artists. Do you have a dream collaboration?
F – In terms of the electronic scene, there is allot of artists we would love to work with and have looked up to, but for a more interesting answer to that question, we would probably love to collaborate with someone outside of the electronic realm, just because it brings so much more to the music. We can cover the electronic side and would love to bring in some classical composers. There’s this artist we really like call Ludovico Einaudi, he’s a contemporary Italian pianist and we would love to work with him.
M – There’s also a Melbourne band Hiatus Kaiyote that I’m super in to at the moment. It would be sick to work with them as well. They are so amazing. We like blending the electronic with the more… organic – i hate that word organic – more like the sounds of funk and soul. And classical and soundtrack music is just a whole different ball game. When you write soundtrack music it’s almost very subconscious. You are trying to evoke an emotion without any lyrics. So i think guys like Ludovico Einaudi and Yann Tierson and Hans Zimmer have the skills to pull that off. Intense emotion with little to no words. It’s like when we play, we don’t tell you to put your hands in the air and dance on the drop…

But we all do it!
M – Exactly! It’s that concept, that kind of outlook.

So is that the direction you want to move in?
M – That’s one of the directions. Fletch and I like to venture in to different parts of music, we like to learn about intricate song writing, as well as how to write a club track, and also an obsession we have is cinematic movements where we evoke a feeling. For example if you play ‘Final Fantasy’ or any kind of games you see that. Or any epic movies like ‘The Hobbit’ or ‘Interstellar’ you get that feeling. One day Fletch and I will be able to be involved with a soundtrack project where we score for movies or do cool stuff like games, not just for the club scene or for record selling. We also have plans to work with other creatives as well, like Photography and Videography and Fashion.

I’d definitely be excited to see that happen and it sounds as though you are on the right track. It helps that you have different backgrounds too, I think there is Classical and World Music?
M – Yeah, Fletcher grew up with House I think?
F – Yeah my music was influenced by my parents. I used to complain that the music they were listening to didn’t have words in it. They were pretty much just listening to Ministry of Sound and a whole bunch of cool artist who i didn’t realise were cool at the time. So I kind of grew up on electronic music. I guess that really instilled those kind of sounds and vibes in me.
M – I never had electronic music at all! I grew up in Malaysia and electronic music never really caught on until really late. Everyone was listening to pop punk, and rock. But I was never a punk rock kid, i did occasionally say I listen to Green Day, just to blend in with the kids at school. But on my iPod I was actually listening to Beethoven or ‘Yo-Yo Ma’s Cello Concerto’ which is very different. When my friends walked past and asked what I’m listening to I’d be like “It’s nothing, it’s just a bit of Biggy Smalls” so i still seemed cool. I think World Music sort was actually what introduced me to electronics because the World Music bands that i was listening too started fusing ethnic instruments with electronic beats… and then I moved to Australia and Stereosonic got introduced to me and I kind of branched off from there.

You guys met two years ago at the Perth Music Awards, was it a chance meeting, or did you bond over something in particular?
M – We did the same DJ competition, and Fletch won in 2010 and I won in 2011, so I decided to speak to the previous winner to see what this competition does to a person in a years time. As with many competitions if you just win and then don’t do anything with it, than nothing will happen. So we thought, why not join forces and do something. *laughs* It was a pretty hacky encounter, it was like “Hey man, I don’t really make music, and you currently kind of make kind of shitty music, let’s jump in the studio and try to make good music???” We never knew it was going to be Slumberjack.

The name ‘Slumberjack’ did that come about because you were initially going to write soundscape, ambient style music? Is that still what the name is about?
M – We never planned for it, but with ‘Slumberjack’ we have kind have gone in a direction where we are constantly opposed to one another. We already have that on face value where i am the dark skinned Asian kid, and Fletch is the super white Australian kid. Then when you listen to our music we clash between Asian and Western sounds… combine that with classical music meshed with electronic beats… an you get the name ‘Slumberjack’ which is so opposite to the type of music we produced. We did think we were going to produce chill stuff, and it doesn’t mean we’re not going to do it ever, but at this stage we just want to do song writing for the clubs because that’s what we are in to at the moment.

I can’t wait to hear what comes next! For your current EP tour, you’re about to cross in to international waters with New Zealand and Bali. Have you been there before?
F – We have both been to both, but i think it will be very different to go and play shows there. I’m just looking forward to the experience of playing in another country!
M – I just want Asian food… There’s this one dish in Bali called Bakso, it’s similar to a Vietnamese Pho without the noodles…. I remember the first time having it I had just finished a 4 hour surfing session surfing and was having Bakso on the beach… watching a couple of topless Australian woman… I was like 12 so that was probably what solidified my enjoyment. This time might be a different experience, who knows!

You never know with Australians… Is there anyone at Forgotten Island Festival that you are excited to see?
F – Gorrilaz.
M – Gorrilaz!
F – And I’m going to say Pendulum playing live.
M – I’m going to be downloading the Gorrilaz discography and just soaking it in because I almost forgot how good they were! Hiatus Kaiyote helped reignite my love for them with their Triple J like a version cover. So good!

These are the dates if you want to catch the boys before their tour ends (and we recommend you do)
Slumberjack - tour - acid stag

Stream their Self-titled EP below or purchase your own copy from iTunes.