"I've always been somewhat solitary when it comes to music, because I feel like I'm the only one who will be able to bring my vision to life exactly how I want it to be"
We have the great pleasure of interviewing the artist Anzac Park, in full creative effervescence. Recently he has published: "Ice" [Spinnup Records], an single hard to describe in words, except maybe for how the compositions make you feel. It is an album that will give a lot to talk about. And if not, come in, read and dance.
Hey Where can we find you right now? How did you start off your day?
Hi! During COVID, I'm currently staying with family just outside Vienna, Austria, planning on returning to the UK for uni beginning - hopefully - next term. Started my day off late (I'm a chronic oversleeper), but had a nice read of Christiane F. (wonderful book on teenage drug addiction - can recommend!) out in the garden. Autumn's coming here, but I'm enjoying the chilly weather.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background? Where are you from / how did you get into music?
I grew up in a small town in New Zealand (the cliché type you might see in a teen Netflix show) and was encouraged by my parents to learn to play the piano at age 5. After 12 years of classical music education, I realised that I was having more fun composing my own melodies than I was having learning other peoples' - so I stopped taking lessons and started making my own stuff. At the time, I was adjusting to life as a teenager in a big city, as we'd moved to Europe a few years before. That clash of small-town innocence and urban adolescence sort of contributed to my
fascination with themes like loss of innocence and growing pains, I think.
With new release ‘ICE’ about to drop on the label. Give us a little background on the album and what’s the story behind that title?
Funnily enough, "ice" was a song I originally planned never to release. I wrote it because I needed a break from life and I was feeling a little down, sort of disillusioned with this entire situation of partying through my youth and never feeling really secure in my relationships to other people. I made a messy recording on GarageBand in, like, 2 days, then played it back to my sister. She was the one who was like "Okay, this is really catchy. This could be a hit.". So I decided to sit down and really flesh out the production, re-do the vocals, work on the atmosphere, and get it mastered. I ended up investing more into this than I've ever invested into any project in my life, and I feel like it's been worth it, because it's the first song I can say I'm 100% proud of.
The title is pulled from the chorus, which I feel really hits the nail on the head when it comes to the meaning of the song: "More ice than an ocean / And I feel so frozen / My god, I can't keep hoping / Or I'ma end up broken". It's meant to evoke this feeling of coldness after a long night out, the harshness of a comedown when you've had your hopes dashed all over again and you realise that actually, you have no idea what you're doing or how you feel about the people around you.
What roles do you each take in the production process?
I've always been somewhat solitary when it comes to music, because I feel like I'm the only one who will be able to bring my vision to life exactly how I want it to be. I do it all myself - vocal recording, vocal editing, production, visuals, etc. I love the DIY aspect of music and visual art and I'm actually really happy it's become more mainstream during the challenging conditions of 2020 with releases like Charli XCX's "how im feeling now" - it's something of a silver lining to me.
What does your studio look like right now? What type of hardware / software do you like to work with?
At the moment, I produce everything in my bedroom in my family home. It's how I started out, and it's how I love to create - nothing but a microphone, a MIDI piano and GarageBand. Some people are surprised or even a little condescending when I tell them that's all I use, but I'm proud that I can create what I create with such limited resources. It's like an artistic challenge to myself.
Who have been your main inspirations (Both musical and in ‘life’)? And how have they effected your sound?
Ugh, there's so many. From a musical point of view, Lorde is definitely the artist who has inspired me most. She's actually the reason I wrote my first song (after she announced the album tracklist for "Melodrama", I was so intrigued by the title "The Louvre" that I wrote my own version. It was terrible and an insult to her music, to be honest.). Her albums got me through middle & high school and are part of why I'm so unafraid to express heavy emotions, to be a little cynical of the world, to celebrate things not everyone celebrates. Charli XCX has also been a big part of my creative process; I feel like her music pushes boundaries, and she's motivated me to explore my own sound in weird and unexpected ways, and to stop feeling constricted by genre labels.
I've also been really lucky in that I have absolutely crazy best friends; if I'm honest, some of the shit we do together makes me feel like I'm living in a coming-of-age movie. They really inspire me, too. That's what I compose music for, I guess - a soundtrack for the movie that is life.
At the moment, I'm also really loving the show "Euphoria". I'm fascinated by the phenomenon of coming-of-age, of entering into adulthood, and I love reading, watching and listening to creative portrayals of that. Plus, the score is incredible.
How would you describe your own sound in 2020, and how do you see it developing in the future?
Tricky one. I call my music "pop for the overly sensitive"; my songs are always very heavy on atmosphere and emotion. At the moment, I'd place myself somewhere between brooding, pensive alternative and crazy, grinding hyperpop - always a little melancholic, but always a banger. I can't seem to make a song that stays calm and quiet throughout, I'm a sucker for big choruses. I can't predict the future, but I do feel my sound going in a new more snide, more minimal and glitchy, but also slightly chaotic direction - less of a lo-fi indie vibe and slightly more of a manic-club-kid-set-loose-in-the-studio vibe.
Can you clue us up on any acts you are loving right now, especially any that other people might not know?
Recently, I've been loving A.G. Cook's new album "Apple". But to me, the real breakout star of this year is Raissa, who I've had the privilege of knowing since she released her first single, and who's just released 2 insanely good first songs on Mark Ronson's label. Obsessed with her style and her creative universe, you really have to check her out!
It’s difficult for everyone in our industry during the crisis - what have you been doing to keep things going, both on the music and personal fronts?
Honestly, I'm lucky because I've never been bored. Keeping busy is really important for me at the moment ... I've been absolutely swamped in applications to several universities, creating my new EP, and working on a novel. I do miss going out and feeling free sometimes, but I've been able to spend a lot of time working on myself and doing a lot of very honest writing. And I'm hopeful that things will slowly return back to normal in the new year, so I feel I've got a lot to look forward to - the first time out at a club after all this is over will be absolutely epic.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
Music-wise, "ice" is the lead single off my upcoming EP, which is finished for the most part and should be out either late this year or early next - I feel the direction is something completely new for me. More modern, more engaging and more distinctly my style than anything I've ever created. And I'm also currently in the early stages of working on a novel, which is exciting ... we'll see where it goes.
Do you have any final words of wisdom?
Don't take life - or yourself - too seriously. At some point in time it'll be like none of us ever existed. That's something of a life motto to me. Oh, and please, everyone, do your best to support artists ... we're having a tough time out here.
Thanks for having me :)