Lowtide are pretty awesome. Whenever I listen to the Lowtide LP, I enter this sleepy trance, a stupor filled with multi-coloured dreamscapes. The static register of their roogazey sound has got me hypnotised. The band has carefully layered broad, metallic chord progressions with the slinky pop and slide of the bass with amazing results. Vocally, each song is a beautiful entwining of two smooth-soothing voices. Nowhere is this made clearer than in Julia/Spring, and its accompanying short-film (directed by Jamieson Moore). After perusing through their body of work, it becomes clear that Lowtide are an important element in the revival of the shoegaze scene in Australia.
We talk to Lowtide’s drummer Anton Jakovljevic, and voalist/bassist Lucy Buckeridge about their most recent release 7″, the accompanying short-film, the shoegaze genre and their plans for 2015.
I understand that Julia was originally written and recorded by French band Asylum Party in 1988. I really appreciate Lowtide‘s shoe-gazey, almost-somniferous interpretation of the song. How did you go about putting your own touch on the song?
Anton: Friend and local legend Alan Solly brought the song to our attention last year. On a road trip to Adelaide as part of the Album Launch tour, it was on high rotation. We decided to give it a go at our next rehearsal to see how the song would sound with the guitars playing the synth parts, a bass playing the guitar parts and with live drums over a drum machine. We really enjoyed playing it and felt our take on it brought enough of a point of difference to the original that it quickly became part of our live set.
The short-film, follows a somnambulating young man, who gazes, heavy-lidded, at the blinking fluorescence of the city. Mannequins watch on in nonchalant regard, their plastic bodies stuck in a timeless vogue. How does the film relate specifically to the two songs on the single?
Lucy: We decided to pair ‘Julia’ and ‘Spring’ together on the 7” as they share a lot of similarities in the way they are structured and how each song moves around. So when it came time to making the clip, the idea was there from the start to tie the songs together in the one video. There is no literal relationship between the songs and the clip, it’s about the mood, feeling and interpretation. I feel like our music is best heard on the move, walking around, driving.. Jamieson shares that same instinct which is great, because the visuals she creates always seem to work so well.
The short was filmed on location in Iran as well as your hometown of Melbourne. Why was part of the filming done in such a distant and seemingly isolated (at least from ‘The West’) country like Iran?
Lucy: Jamieson was already travelling to Iran, so we thought it would be interesting for her to shoot some footage there and see if there was anything we could use. As soon as she came across the mannequins, we really fell in love with them and the whole visual component for the 7” was based around them. Their hands, our hands, their eyes, our eyes, all tied together by our wandering protagonist.
Jamieson Moore directed Blue Movie for you. Since then she has worked with the likes of Dan Sultan and Pearls. What was it like this time around working on Julia/Spring with her?
Lucy: Well Jamieson is a close friend, so working with her is always a dream. She’s calm, considered and a complete genius, so we got lucky.
What were her artistic contributions from both a directorial and a conceptual perspective?
Lucy: Very very significant! We all really trust her aesthetic and ideas so once we decided on the mannequins and the general timeline for the clip, we really left it up to her. She also taught me to enunciate my words better when singing in double time – she really does think of everything.
The psych-dream-pop, shoe-gaze community is located mostly overseas in UK and Europe. What has it been like being forerunners of the still-growing, nascent shoe-gaze scene in Melbourne?
Anton: There’s a history of these kinds of sounds in Australia that go back to the late eighties. It may not have got the attention that the overseas bands did at the time, but it did exist. We just see ourselves as an extension of that but it has unquestionably swell up again over the last few years. The internet has changed the way people find music. It’s easier to find yourself featured on a Brazilian or Swiss blog than ever before!
Lowtide had a hand in gathering the bill for Roogaze 2015 which included yourselves, Day Ravies, Miniatures, Blush Response and Hideous Towns to name a few. What was it like having a constitutive role in this festival?
Anton: Our guitarist Gabe and Jack Crook of Contrast were the ones to put it together. The feeling was that there were quite a few bands coming up at the same time that were different but with common threads running through it all that it would be great to pull it all off on the one day. It was just a big party really that ended up being really well received. In the end, we couldn’t fit all the bands that should have been on the bill on one day so don’t be surprised if Roogaze pops up again next year.
I understand that to produce higher attendance local shows tend to be genre-blended. Along with Roogaze 2015, how else has the shoe-gaze scene, and Lowtide, helped create a more narrowed field of focus (so that all the talent is given its deserved attention)?
Anton: Not quite sure to be honest. I think genre-blending at gigs is a good thing and as a punter, I get a bit tired if I’m seeing a third band that pretty much sounds the same. Even with something like Roogaze, there is a big difference between bands like Kigo, Day Ravies and ourselves. Maybe it comes done to the fact that there is a feel of a community about it which is very supportive which extends well beyond Melbourne too.
So you guys are starting a short east-coast tour on 29 August at the Northcote Social Club in Melbourne. With the release of Julia/Spring 7 and your continued maturation as a band, how is your live set feeling, from a performance viewpoint?
Anton: We’ve had a little bit of a break as Giles has been overseas so we’re feeling fresh and excited to play. Now if only Gabe can shake off the flu he has…
Do you guys have any other big plans for 2015?
Lucy: The main plan is to write, write, write. We’re also working on a film score at the moment, more news on that soon..
Saturday 29 August – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne (Supported by Parading and The Shifters)
Sunday 30 August – Newtown Social Club, Sydney (Supported by Terza Madre and Raindrop)
Saturday 5 September – Trainspotters, Brisbane (Supported by BARGE with an antenna on it and Forevr)
Head to Lowtide’s socials for more info!