The Australian Government isn’t the only entity that puts people through a rigorous cross-examination to prove their loyalty to a bunch of stars and a Union Jack. Each week at M+N, we make an Australian act kiss the flag by asking them questions about their favourite local acts: who they’ve been listening to recently, their underground heroes, or whether they prefer Kylie or Dannii Minogue.
Taking the test this week is Melbourne-via-Brisbane home-fi whiz Yeo, who melds funk, pop, electronics and heaps more in his gleeful tunes. He’s launching his fourth album, Sell Out, tomorrow night (Feb 9) at The Toff with Francolin and Dot.AY.
a. Who sings on the opening song, ‘Art of a Ghost’? Is there a story behind the duet?
Hannah Crofts is the lovely lady on guest vocals. I took a gamble with her voice and it totally worked. I wrote the song first before calling her in. It’s a story about sex, late-night summer adventures like trespassing for a good view and being a sports fan.
b. You obviously have a great love of funk music. Where did that begin?
Excellent question, as I’m not entirely sure. I think the seed was the Harry Connick Jr. record She that my mother used to play on repeat when I was a kid. This seed eventually bloomed during university, where I would dive backwards into all the classic artists like Stevie Wonder, The Commodores, Jackson 5 and The Meters. Oh, and Jaco Pastorius’ early days ... what a legend.
c. How do you usually assemble your songs, from start to finish?
It’s different every time. Say, for example, a song like ‘Blessing’ off the new record. I wrote the basic chords, lyrics and melody on guitar, so I can play it like a folk song. Then I programmed a beat on the computer and added all sorts of crazy synth parts, vocals, backing harmonies. No actual guitar ended up on there at all. There’s also songs like ‘Covered in Gold’, where the synths and drums were written, played and programmed on the computer, and the lyrics weren’t written until after the instrumental was complete.
Part 1. Geography
a. Tell us about your hometown.
Another strange hybrid answer, as I moved around a lot as a kid. I consider both Geelong and Brisbane as hometowns as I spent a significant amount of time growing up in both. Geelong is a small town with a couple of main drags and a beach. Surrounding inner suburbs like Newtown are quite nice, and there’s the yearly Pako Festa which I remember being fun as a kid. Brisbane, being a bigger city, has a lot more going on both culturally and in terms of an urban landscape. Much louder atmosphere, more people from different backgrounds – and it’s also darn hot. There’s a strange divide in personality between northsiders and southsiders that I could never put my finger on.
b. Name your favourite bands from your neck of the woods.
My favourite artists from Brisbane would be Regurgitator, Hunz, 7Bit Hero (same guy!), Scott Spark, Laneous & The Family Yah.
c. Where’s your local and what’s it like?
In Melbourne, the closest bar to where I live is probably LongPlay. They have a 24-seat cinema out the back that you can hire at no charge for movie screenings and intimate acoustic shows. They also have an awesome alcohol/record collection. We just did a screening of The Last Waltz there, and everybody had such a good time.
Part 2. History
a. Which Australian bands did you grow up listening to?
Daryl Braithwaite! Also, Silverchair, Regurgitator, The Avalanches, Something for Kate, The Living End, Icehouse and Custard.
b. What’s the first Australian record you bought?
Neon Ballroom, by Silverchair. That takes me back to my grunge days.
c. Who’s your favourite Australian band/artist of all time?
Crowded House, although they are part Kiwi. Such incredible songwriting.
d. What’s the most “Australian” record ever produced?
Gossip by Paul Kelly and The Coloured Girls.
Part 3. Current Affairs
a. Who are some of your favourite new Australian bands?
Francolin, Sleepy Tea and 7Bit Hero.
b. If you could collaborate with one current Australian artist, who would it be, and what would it sound like?
Iva Davies, and it would be a hybrid of yacht rock, New Wave and disco.
c. Last great local gig you saw.
Dorkus Malorkus at Bar Open. It was a fantastic night, and her first show ever – cannot wait to see what comes next from her.
d. Do you think an Australian artist needs to go overseas to succeed?
Depending on the style of the artist, they might find a bigger market overseas as some niches don’t have a lot of strength here. It also comes down to what you see as success. Many bands are perfectly happy to be local heroes, and I consider that success if they feel the same.
Part 4. Multiple Choice
a. The Voice or Australia’s Got Talent?
Australia’s Got Talent. Red Symons!
b. Hungry Jacks or Red Rooster?
Hungry Jacks. Mayo and ketchup, together as one.
c. Northcote or Brunswick?
Oh, so tough! Northcote – there’s a little more space and greenery, and a beautiful baseball diamond. If you had said Brunswick East, perhaps...
d. Potato cake or dim sim?
Potato cake, with lots of sauce. I like simple things.
e. Dan Sultan or Dan Kelly?
f. Kylie or Dannii Minogue?
Kylie. Her music is always well produced and situated at the frontier of style. She also made that amazing video with Michel Gondry.
g. Cate Blanchett or Nicole Kidman?
Cate Blanchett. My heart beats so fast for that lady, and her intelligence shines through all of her roles. It was her performance as a Hepburn in The Aviator that really got me.
h. Neighbours or Home & Away?
i. Cheezels or Twisties?
Cheezels. You can’t wear Twisties as jewelry, and I like the idea of eating snacks from a box.
j. Kimbra or Gotye?
Kimbra. She has great taste and bulletproof consistency with her songwriting. Timeless stuff.