â€œHaving a few major oceans in the way of your music isn’ easy,â€ says one half of Solo Andata, Kane Ikin. We are talking about the months immediately following the group’ other member, Paul Fiacco, moving to Sweden.
â€œThe first few months after Paul left we spent ages trying to figure out a way to keep our creative process going.â€ After finally settling on email and MP3s, â€œIt was frustrating and super slow, but due to the time difference we were able to wake up each morning to an inbox full of fresh sounds to play with.â€
Let’s rewind for a moment. The pair first met at a gig in Perth around six years ago and became fast friends – discovering new music together and jamming together over the intervening years. It wasn’ until Paul’ move, though, that their “sound’ started to take shape.
â€œA few months after Paul left he sent me some really basic arrangements of a few tracks from Fyris. They blew me away. Prior to his departure we’d been doing stuff closer to instrumental hip-hop, so when he sent me these beautiful ambient soundscapes that was it!â€
â€œWe just stopped caring about beats or structures or hooks, or anything like that, and became completely drunk on really making music without ever thinking about it too much. Just doing what felt right.â€
I was astounded when I heard their debut record, Fyris Swan, last year. It drifts from the jazz world to leftfield electronics and adds a sprinkle of field recording ambience along the way, just for good measure. There is melody but it doesn’ slap you in the face – this is a record full of subtle nuance and soft, soothing harmonies.
â€œNothing on Fyris was made in the same room, so it was a total solo collaboration. We had been doing music together for so long that I think we both had complete trust in what we each brought to the table; if either of us recorded some sounds or some instrumentation and we thought it sucked or didn’ fit, we’d say so straight up and move on. I think the strongest part of our collaboration is that we’re both pretty ego-less and modest when it comes to our music. We don’ claim any part of the songs, like a particular sound or anything because, honestly we sent these sounds back and forth so many times that we don’ even know who did them first.â€
â€œWe made Fyris on a super limited setup. Paul pretty much only had a cheap minidisc mic, his laptop and whatever sounds he took with him, and all I had was my laptop, a few instruments and a decent mic. I think we just managed to squeeze the most out of what we had to work with, limitation can be a great inspirer. We didn’ use any special software or anything either, I think we could have made the same album with tape recorders, It just would have taken a lot longer.â€
â€œI kind of think of it as a really long jam. It’s the same way that, when your jamming or playing live, you sometimes become a bit indulgent in what is happening. Maybe you play a loop or something way longer than you normally would because it just feels so damn good at the time. Listening back to Fyris it feels that way a lot – nothing is rushed or sudden and it’s all very natural in its progression. When I listen to it now, if I’m not doing something like working or reading, it’ll put me to sleep so easily. I love that.â€
Fyris Swan was released by Chicago label Hefty Records who are well known as a home to leftfield hip-hop by Scott Herron (Prefuse 73) and post rock flavours. It is a fitting home for Solo Andata. So how does an Australian group from Perth get signed to Hefty?
â€œWe were lucky. We just sent our record, pretty much as is to Hefty. A couple of weeks later we got a reply from John Hughes saying something like he was only two tracks into listening to it and he wanted to know if we’d signed already with any other label. A few emails later we were signed to release Fyris on Hefty.â€
I ask Kane whether there is an advantage to being on Hefty. â€œI’m not really sure, I’d say we’ve been at a disadvantage being (at the time) based in Perth – it made touring very expensive. But being with Hefty, Solo Andata has definitely been taken more seriously. I don’ know if Chicago did anything for us, we haven’ been there yet and I think we’re more like “post post post rock’!â€ Either way, the label’ profile has earned instant exposure for the group.
Since then they have released a couple of digital-only releases – an EP for Hefty, IAtunes, and a track for Ryuichii Sakamoto’ Stop Rokasho project. â€œWe haven’ stopped writing – we both have a ridiculous amount of songs on our computers all in various stages that we need to sort out. We gig separately for now around the place. I think we’re both already ready to release a new record, we just need to find the time, the motivation and I personally really want to spend a solid couple of months together in some log cabin to finally properly work together. I think that will be awesome, we did our whole IAtunes EP together and that turned out amazing.â€
â€œI don’ want to say too much, but we helped out Populous on his next record, who now owes us a favour for our next record. We got a few people like that up our sleeves! I’m really excited to hear what happens with a track we’re getting “Bear in Heaven’ to help out with. It’s all very exciting who you meet once you have a nice record under your belt, heck Paul even went to a party with Vince Noir from the Mighty Boosh last week!â€
â€œFor now touring is an impossibility. We’ve had too many awesome opportunities come up that we missed out on due to finances – like touring Europe with Tape, supporting Grizzly Bear and even going to SXSW. So for now it’s just music, music, music.â€
â€œDistance has always been a factor for us. But we have an FTP server now and the internet is getting better and better for sending large files, so thankfully we don’ need to convert all our sounds to MP3 anymore. If nothing else at least our next album will sound better!â€
Solo Andata’s Fyris Swan is available from Hefty/Inertia.