Recently Aussie favourites Dappled Cities returned with news of a brand new single, a few live shows and a whole new album, and so we thought it would be a good time to suit down with Dave Rennick from the band to get a bit of any update on what’s been going on in Dappled Cities land.
You guys come across very relaxed and comfortable in ‘That Sound’, it’s really infectious actually. As you mentioned in your press release, the forthcoming album is unique in that it doesn’t have a strictly produced feel. How did you move away from that and settle into this new sound?
We’ve been through a lot of different iterations and processes towards making a record. We’ve done it through producers to doing it ourselves and being super indie, but I suppose with this one we wanted to take a fresh approach again and just return to our values of being a live band and recording live, and recording in a live recording studio for bands. I know it sounds weird but I often get carried away in the computer these days, so we wanted to take it back to what it is to be a live band. And to be relaxed and play your own instruments, make mistakes, just kind of groove along with whatever feels good.
I imagine you all felt as though this new record needed a sense of freeness and rawness since you chose Byron Bay as the location? Or did you end up their without any preconceptions?
That’s exactly why we chose Byron Bay, we were like ‘where is the most relaxed, sunniest place where we can just chill the fuck out…and that’s Byron Bay.
I guess to achieve the relaxed and loosely experimental sound of this new record, musical habits had to be broken, where there any exercises or new strategies you guys used in writing the record?
The big habit we had to break was being too precious, and layering things too much, layering recordings too much with new ideas. We had to hold back on just throwing every single idea we had onto the recording, because when there are five guys in the room we are all ready active, we’re always coming up with ideas, trying melodies and in the past we’d put it all on but this time round we just had to say like, you know, just because we have an idea doesn’t mean it has to be on there. And often you let the listener come up with their own feelings about what isn’t there, not just summing up everything, but giving the listener some space to be immersed with the song itself.
You’ve been in the game for pretty much a decade now, and I love how each album delves into new sounds and atmospheres, like sonically ‘Zounds’ was huge and quite electronic at times, your Keyboardist Ned really asserted himself there, and then ‘Lake Air’ was more reserved and within the indie-rock bounds again. What was the writing and recording process like for the forthcoming album? Did you feel as though you had a lot of musical muscle that you could flex, or was it again just another album where you were exploring and growing?
We approach every album with a new set of references and a new idea of what makes a good song and that’s why every record seems to come out completely different. It’s easiest to talk in references and for this one we were really listening to these late 70s, kind of pop, rock stylings; Steely Dan, Lindsay Buckingham and also seeing some modern acts taking that cue as well like Foxygen, and Ariel Pink, they ride the same crest that we were vibe-ing on. To take that style on board you really have to let go of being nervous about being cheesy, you have to give in to the cheese and if a certain chord progression feels good, then you just to it. And that results in a certain cheesiness or satisfactions of it into these songs.
We’ve discussed that this album will be much more relaxed and free flowing than previous records, are there any other major contrasts with this album?
I think lyrically we are being much more literal in this album, again it was just about being more relaxed and not trying to shroud everything in metaphor, or not be nervous about what people think, but really coming from this relaxed, personal messaging. There are also more guitars this time, more guitar effects, we rediscovered what its like to play guitars really loud though all these different pedals and be a bit whacky. As opposed to focusing on keyboards we tried to limit keyboards in this round.
Has the new record been christened yet?
It takes us a long time to name anything, we have lists so long I can’t even describe it. It’s really quite daunting to name it, and we’re so democratic, everyone has to like it. We haven’t quite named it yet…well pretty much we have but I can’t tell you. Can’t give you that scoop I’m sorry.
When recording previous material you worked in LA with songwriters and a producer, did you work with anyone in Byron Bay for the new record? Or was it a very independent process?
It was largely independent but we did work with our buddy Luke, who was effectively co-producing it and was engineering it. We sort of worked with him through our whole career, he’s recorded our demos and even did some retracing and remixing on Lake Air and he’s a really good friend. So it just made sense to keep that familiarity for that relaxed vibe. Apart from that, that was it.
You guys have returned to LA a few times to record your albums, what draws you there? Why did it work for you in the other albums and not the forthcoming?
I seriously love LA, it’s my town. It’s a funny town because when you first go there you feel really lost and anonymous and it’s quite visually ugly, it’s not the prettiest place to land in. But after we stayed there for several months, I fell in love with it. So I would have loved to go back there but it wasn’t very practical this time. We also just wanted to be playing with our own equipment, using our own guitars, spending our money in our own currency, just keeping it all familiar and kind of local even though we plan on going back to America soon. We just wanted this one to have that local essence to it.
You strive to be a live band and not record using a lot of programming and editing, how do you guys make sure you’re continually creating original sounds and keeping things dynamic?
I don’t think we actively ensure it, it kind of happens by accident because I think we are a strange bunch of people, but again we go deep on working out what we like in terms of references and styles, we try and figure out why a style makes you dance or why lyrics make you think about stuff. I guess it’s that drawn out process of writing that keeps us drawn to weird realms of life.
What would you like your fans to take away from the new album?
Honestly I think it’s out best record, and I think fans of Granddance will really vibe off this record because I think it returns to that band in a studio sound kicking about sweet tunes. I would like fans to obviously like it and feel good, realise that we’ve still got it.
You’ve won Australia over, and you’re gaining some great traction in the states, after these set of gigs is Dappled Cities heading overseas again? What are the plans post album release?
We will do a tour in 2017, these things tend to take a long time to work themselves through the world. We’d love to go OS again, we’ve never really been to Europe, so we’re hoping to get a release in Europe, it looks promising. It’d be cool to play some European towns. Apart from that, lots of touring in Australia so that will be fun.
This new Dappled Cities album is scheduled for release in October, but Sydney and Melbourne fans will get to hear more of its tracks this month when they play Northcote Social Club and Oxford Art Factory (click the artwork for more details)
author: Natalia Morawski