Write because you want to, not because you have to.
Published May 26th 2019
After performing regularly at the Crown and Sceptre and Hotel Metro and being synonymous with the Futuresounds Festival, Adelaide-based electro-rock band Only Objects comprises of four very talented band members, who have come together to create something that will excite anyone's and everyone's earbuds with their versatile sense of music.
In anticipation of their newest single "In the Quiet", I was fortunate enough to have an e-interview with Only Objectslead singer Patrick Lang - have a read of our exchange below:
Hey Patrick! So, tell us WHO is Only Objects? Patrick: Only Objects started when I was a solo producer, but after a few years of working that way, I decided I wanted the dynamism and energy of a full live band; which is where what I would call 'Only Objects 2.0' was born.
Our bass player Jazzcat was the first to join - I had met him years prior in a friend's backyard, where we bonded over our favourite jazz guitarists. Later, I organised a gig for his experimental duo 'Secant', and that began a dialogue that quickly led to wanting to work together.
I met our keyboard player, Cam, through a friend of mine, who knew I was looking to put a band together. I rocked up at a gig one day, my friend introduced me to Cam and said 'here's your new keyboard player'.
Our drummer Gerard was the final piece of the puzzle. He had arrived back in Adelaide after living overseas for a few years. Jazzcat knew him from their time together at the Con and messaged him randomly. Thankfully for all of us, he responded, we jammed, gelled and the rest is history!
Tema: So, you've been playing together for 4 years - how has your sound progressed during this time? Patrick: We spent the first year or so trying lots of different ideas, exploring our shared and different musical interests. Our first release 'Dress for the End' demonstrates this pretty well, with the track being a dark groover, heavily influenced by acid house and late-60s Miles Davis atmospheres.
A big interest of mine is taking ideas and structural considerations from dance music and working out ways to play them live, so we've had songs with trance drops, drum and bass rhythms - super experimental. Between 2016 and 2018 we've put out songs that are electro-pop, moody spoken word, electro house and a tune designed to be the theme for an imaginary spy thriller. In the last year or so we've really refocused again and, I think, we've really found our sound - one that still has nods to those structural ideas, but combines them with big conceptual themes, impassioned performances and unusual arrangements. We've put a lot of focus back onto hooks, vocal harmonies and keeping things interesting for audiences.
Tema: I remember you being heavily involved with Futuresounds Adelaide - would you like us to tell a bit about that period of your time? Patrick: Futuresounds is many things - but primarily it's all about running events in the Adelaide electronic music scene; providing opportunities for established artists to try new ideas and for emerging artists to get valuable performance experience. Overall, it's about building community and networks.
Futuresounds is still very much around, it's just on the backburner for the moment. I ran a fortnightly showcase called Sidechain with a couple of friends for four years, and last year I made the decision to wrap that up, mostly so I could focus on my own music. Futuresounds will absolutely return with more shows, I'm just waiting for the right opportunity to present itself. What's been lovely about that period of my life is that I made so many wonderful connections with the absolute plethora of talented artists that Adelaide has to offer, and many of those friendships are now resulting in collaborations.
Tema: You have a range of musical influences - tell us a few and why they matter to you. Patrick: A complex one to discuss! I've always loved pretty much all music, but I remember identifying several direct influences for this project when we started jamming together. These were, largely, Depeche Mode, Muse and Nine Inch Nails - so fairly dark, synthy alternative pop. For me, what resonates most strongly about these artists are their abilities to utilise drama, theatre and the bombastic. That's always the performer I've wanted to be.
That said, the band has shifted and changed in sound too, as my influences have seeped in - I'm a big fan of confessional indie rock/folk like Frightened Rabbit and We Were Promised Jetpacks, for example, and recently I've really gotten into… musical spoken word, I guess you'd call it? Hobo Johnson et al.
Thinking about the other guys too, we all love jazz (Cam and I talk Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis a lot). Jazzcat's found a real affinity for modern wonky hip hop and electro, and Gerard… well, Gerard loves a bit of everything. More than anything though, we bond over a communal love and respect for great pop music. Which, at the end of the day, is what we're all about.
Photo credit: Only Objects
Tema: What does the creative process look like, when it comes to deciding on the lyrics, the music, the choice of instruments, and the feel of your songs? Patrick: It depends on the song, but usually I'll work up a demo, either by myself or in collaboration with one of the other guys (for example, we have a new song we're working on where Jazzcat helped me make the chorus chords, as he says, 'spicy') and then I'll take it into rehearsal, where we'll learn the form, workshop it and generally fiddle around with it until we're happy. There's often a bit of a research period as well, if we're trying to recreate certain sounds or ideas - this is one of the challenges of being a band that plays synth pop live! Jazzcat spends a lot of time coming up with tones for his bass, for example, and I'll often try to recreate particular synth patches.
We also try to work on the arrangements a lot - putting interesting ideas in for the audiences, working on small details. It's the final layer of polish that makes the difference at the end of the day.
We also really enjoy collaborating with other people - last year we were lucky enough to receive a grant from Arts SA for the Jon Lemon Songwriting Residency, where we worked with a number of co-writers in sculpting some brand new tunes. The whole process was an absolute pleasure, especially working with Adelaide producer extraordinaire, Mario Späte.
Tema: You've just released a new single - congratulations! Tell me all about it and how it became the catchy, dance-inducing tune that it is. Patrick: Thank you! It's called 'In the Quiet' and it's been a big part of our setlists for the last year or so. It came from a period where I was really obsessed with the structure and language of dance music; in this particular instance, the epic trance drop, which I then sort of smooshed together with the dark electro-pop tune I was working on. The whole thing is *tough* in a way that I think we haven't really showcased before on a release.
The single was produced by Tevlo, a local producer who I met through various Futuresounds events. We asked him to produce last year's 'The Ones Who Really Matter' and we were absolutely gobsmacked at the outcome. So it seemed an excellent decision to have him back for the next tune!
Tema: You've mentioned you wrote the song after a heartbreak - how does writing help you through things? Patrick: I mean, there are a lot of reasons why we make art, I guess for me part of it has always been about catharsis; about trying to make sense of things that you're going through, emotions that you're dealing with, or not dealing with as the case may be. That said, I've always been really interested in high concepts as well, which is why a lot of my songs are full of rather oddball metaphors.
Tema: What kind of person do you think will love this new track? Patrick: There's a lot of crossover with this one, actually! It's got a dancefloor heart, but a tough, electro-rock exterior. The trance drop is surprising, electrifying and unusual in this particular style, so it's a bit alternative too. At the end of the day though, this is all about being a big, catchy, arms-up-in-the-air pop song.
So if you're into a dark-alternative-club-banger-trance-electro-rock-heavy-dance-pop, well, we've gotcha covered.
Tema: How would you describe your musical style to someone who is new to your music? What can they expect from your singles / album? Patrick: I usually describe us broadly as 'dark synth pop' as that gives an impression of what to expect, but I always do like to stress that we're pretty eclectic. We're interested in lots of ideas and sounds, and our songs support that. I always tell the others 'this is the band for musical ideas that would get you kicked out of other bands'. The singles we have out in the wild right now are all pretty different, which was actually part of the brief - 'In the Quiet' is one of a batch of songs that we recorded and then handed over to different producers for unique and unusual takes. We're hoping to make a longer form work in the near future, but in the short term - expect the unexpected!
Tema: If there is an artist or a band that you'd love to collaborate with in the future, who would that be and why? Patrick: Wow, where to even begin? In Adelaide *alone* we have so many talented types. In terms of 'all-time wishlist' though, I think I'd really like to collaborate with producers - I'm always most interested in the role record producers have in collaborating with and shaping your sound. So probably someone like Brian Eno, or Flood. Nigel Godrich would be a fascinating collaboration, too.
Tema: How long have you been in the Adelaide music scene? Patrick: I've been active in the scene, in one way or another, since I was a teenager. I've written for street press, ran events and played in all sorts of bands, from alternative folk, to indie pop, to experimental and everything in between. It's really been in the past 7 or 8 years, where I've been involved heavily in the electronic music scene that I've really come to appreciate the incredible depth and breadth of talent we have in this town.
Tema: What have you found rewarding and/or challenging about being a part of a tight-knit music scene in a city like Adelaide? Patrick: We have such a lovely sense of community here - it doesn't feely cliquey. You have that wonderful thing where small communities thrive, so you can go to a gig in a particular genre and run into all kinds of people you know. The other side of that coin is that, by sheer order of mathematics, potential crowds can be smaller, which can make gigging tough. Also, the major of the infrastructure of the Australian music industry seems to be Eastern states-focused, so it can be hard to get noticed if you're not heading off to play interstate every other weekend.
Tema: Is there anything else that you'd like our readers / your listeners to know about you and Only Objects? Patrick: Just a big 'ol thank you to you and all your readers for taking the time to get to know us! I hope you enjoy 'In the Quiet' and keep on coming back for new and exciting releases!