Every day of my life I go down to Everyday Coffee and get a coffee. I’m pretty sure this is the reason I will never buy a house but Nescafe Gold just doesn’t tick the box for me anymore. There’s a guy who works at Everyday called Chris Deburrg, he’s one of the reasons I go down because he’s a really nice guy and always has a smile on his face. We’d been chatting to and fro about Shaky Hands and music etc etc and he casually mentioned he plays with Jess Locke, an artist we’d been wanting to shoot for a long while. It was an exciting time.
Jess and Chris live in a rambling Footscray home on a quiet street that faces a park, so it feels like they live on 10 acres that they kindly share with rollerbladers and horrific basketball players. It’s always nice to go to Footscray and channel some Good Boy Bontempelli Energies, gives you a little pep in your step. When I arrived the two of them were cooking up something good in the kitchen, throwing spices around like Ainsley Harriott and generally having a good time. It came as no surprise that Jess is a legend, she’s personable and funny and has a unique perception on the world. You can hear it in her music, tongue-in-cheek lyrics that at first listen sound dark but somehow bring a wry smile to your face (“I feel better when I’m watching other people suffer”).
We had lunch out in the park and talked shop, a bloke spent too long trying to ollie on a penny board which was our free lunchtime entertainment. Post lunch I got a tour of the house that Jess and Chris share with Smith Street Band’s Michael Fitzgerald, who recorded Jess’ upcoming album. The studio is a tiny little room on the second floor where all the magic happens: writing, playing and fixing guitar pedals. We spent a little while hanging out before I sadly had to hit the old frog and toad.
A huge thanks to Jess for having me, and of course for the delicious lunch, I had a ball!
Ps Jess’ new album ‘Universe’ comes out October 20 so keep your ears to the ground!
Mick Thomas is one of those Australian artists that are etched into your memory more than you think. Soundtracks that have hovered through family rooms, overseen summer barbeques and filled the silence of long car trips seem to always include Mick Thomas’ familiar voice. As a young idiot I was too focussed on whatever Channel V was pushing to realise that the ‘background music’ was actually the backbone of Australia’s music scene. And what a music scene it is.
Mick is perhaps best known for being the front man and chief songwriter of iconic Australian folk-rock band Weddings Parties Anything. Responsible for tracks such as Father’s Day, Monday’s Experts and Away, Away, along with my personal favourite For A Short Time. But Mick’s career spans far wider than Weddings, forming a successful solo-career as well as several outfits from Mick Thomas and the Sure Things to Mick Thomas and the Roving Commission, as well as countless song writing credits.
We swung by Mick’s place one brisk Thursday morn and were welcomed into a home. I say home because it was littered with books, instruments, nice rugs and more books. Coffee was brewing away on the stove, it had a lot of character which matched the man himself, so it worked. We met him out the back chatting to the builder who was working on the studio renovations. He was down to earth, funny and clearly good at his trade. Think his named was Paul but I can’t be sure. Mick showed us around before settling into a few yarns about the music industry and explaining the history (through stories) of some of the instruments that adorned his walls. His tales were entertaining, tongue in cheek and offered an insight to the years of touring and music life he’s experienced. It was refreshing to hear an honest perspective on the highs and lows of what it’s like to live a life of music. We stuck around for an hour or so before allowing Mick to return to the renos.
A special thanks to Mick for letting us come around!
NYCK is a duo with two people. Nick Acquroff and Dominique Garrard. You may think that their name is pronounced "Nick" but with a 'Y', however it's actually pronounced "n-y-c-k". Don't make the same mistake as Ben did. Especially if you're guests in their home wanting to take photos of everything there.
NYCK are a pretty new band with their first single "Decision" having only just come out in the middle of 2016 (instantly making Triple J and their listeners crazy emotional). So it was quite fitting to find that Nick (from NYCK) lives in a pretty new house too. Tucked away in Clifton Hill, NYCK's studio occupies the bottom floor of Nick's flashy 3-story share house. It is definitely the nicest share house I've ever been to. Fully functioning toilets, some legit healthy looking house plants and a classy selection of tea. However, I did spot hidden away a framed portrait of Kramer from Seinfeld which seems to be a staple for every inner city share house that has ever existed. I guess Kramer did have some mad steeze and was always up to all sorts of high jinks. But wasn't Michael Richards pretty damn racist in the end?
We spent about an hour in NYCK's Nick's living room drinking tea and talking about how they write music. NYCK's first EP Alive was written by Nick over the space of 12 weeks, coming off a transitional time of his life the music became his therapy and as a result listening to it is quite heartbreaking. Ben said he felt like Nick was speaking straight to his soul and he felt like the only girl in the world (that's not exactly verbatim but I'm pretty sure that's what Ben meant).
When we hung out in the studio, it was a very spacious yet small but bare place. If I was any sort of music writer or writer in general, I'd probably be able to really nicely (and articulately) draw some parallels between their writing space and their music. Because just like their music, the studio has a lot of empty space and darkness and in the middle of it all is just Nick and Dom sitting behind a keyboard and you've got nothing to distract yourself from their delicate voices. It's like floating around in space where there's just infinite darkness and you feel super alone but as a result it makes you focus and really appreciate every little sound and movement around you.*
Thanks again to NYCK for having us.
*Please note: I've never actually been to space just making most of these assumptions based off the movie Gravity with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.
The first time I heard Sam Teskey play guitar was the summer of 2004 at the Melbourne Rudolph Steiner Schools annual festival. I was in year 7 and he was in year 9. I remember being so confused by how a kid two years older than me could shred a guitar that well. While I was struggling to master Jack Johnson’s ‘Flake’ on a nylon string, Sammy was effortlessly channelling Stevie Ray and Muddy Waters with a band called The Shades.
Most Saturday morning’s you could find Josh and Sam busking at a market out near Warrandyte, mixing originals with classic blues tracks most kids their age wouldn’t even have heard of. As the years went by and school wrapped up, I saw less and less of the two brothers, but seemed to hear more and more about them. You’d say g’day at a party and enjoy a quick “howz-it-goin’?” before sidling off to snatch a free beer. About a year ago I caught wind that the Teskey Brothers were working on an album and my ears pricked up. When I heard revered bassist Brendon Love was on board my ears pricked up more and by the time Liam Gough’s named was dropped as the drummer the deal was done: it was gonna be pretty special!
Fast forward to present day and we have ‘Half-mile Harvest’, an album that dances through influences stretching from Leon Bridges to Howlin’ Wolf, The Meltdown to Taj Mahal yet maintaining an incredibly unique Teskey sound. We hit the road to Warrandyte bright and early one Wednesday morning to check out their space, hear some jams and have a few coffees. Have a look.
If you live in Melbourne, you've probably heard of The Cactus Channel before. They're a hardworking bunch of guys who have done their rounds playing relentlessly around town for years now, most notably cutting their teeth as regulars at Cherry Bar's notorious 'Soul Night'. However, 2017 sees the The Cactus Channel move in a slightly new direction as they have tied down a core band line up which has allowed them to further explore new sounds and experiment more freely.
Having just dropped their latest release in April, a collaborative EP with Ball Park Music's Sam Cromack, the guys have seemingly found their new sound and groove. Their EP hints at a more chilled Cactus Channel in the future who still flex the ability to explode into sonic detours at any point. We at Shaky Hands thought this would be the perfect time to pop in and see what was going down during a jam/recording session at Cactus Channel HQ.
After finally arriving at their warehouse space hidden away in Collingwood, we were lead into a tiny attic room where 7 guys were crammed together with makeshift venting systems and sound baffling boards surrounding stacks of recording gear. It was really hot in there. And smelly. Thanks guys.
It was pretty cool seeing the guys power through though and when they started playing together they really hit their stride and you could see the years of the live gigging experience has really pushed them. For those have or haven't heard of The Cactus Channel, make sure you listen to their latest EP. It's sick.
Thanks again for having us boys!
Many moons ago Julien and I caught wind of a duo called Oh Pep!
We’d heard rumours about them, that they were from Finland, that they were never not touring, that they were hard to pin down. All we really cared about was that their music was infectious, dark, funny and poetic. A mixed bag of folk, Americana and world music. We liked it and were stoked when we got a time with them to stick our heads in a say hello!
Oh Pep! Live in an area of Abbotsford that is difficult to find parking in, so we were a little late (sorry!). We found ourselves in the carpark surrounded by warehouses, and were welcomed by the ever delightful Olivia Hally who lead us into their ‘warehome’, an enormous space dedicated to pottery, painting, music and neighbours memorabilia. Pepita Emmerichs met us in the kitchen and whipped us up a quick coffee while we chatted about everything from US’ tours with Nathaniel Ratecliff, to hand painted guitars and the bands hand-made tour merch.
We took our cuppas upstairs to the loft, where we were shown a massive selection of hand painted Oh Pep! cups, plates and bowls, before the two had a little jam for the camera. After a few tunes we took our dirty cups to the kitchen and bid them farewell. I returned to find a parking fine gently waving at me in the soft breeze. It was like American beauty. Jules also informed me that Oh Pep! is a play on words, ‘O’ being Olivia, and ‘Pep’ being Pepita. It blew my mind. He then told me Flo Rida is just Florida with a gap in the middle. I forgot about my parking fine. I was done.
Hey, hi, hello, how you doing? Good.
A few weeks ago, we visited the home of Elspeth Scrine, who along with Charlie Teitelbaum and Andrew McEwan perform under the name, Huntly. The trio have only been together since 2013 (when Elly moved down to Melbourne from Brisbane) however they have already managed to quickly establish themselves a very solid cult following. Their unique brand of emotional dance music which constantly shifts across a wide range of electronic styles has seen them play some notable festival slots at Gaytimes and one of our personal favourites, Paradise Music Festival.
Having just released their Songs In Your Name EP through Japanese Wallpaper's recently established record label Neat Lawn, we thought it was about time we paid Huntly a visit to see what they were up to.
It was an early (by our standards) start for a Shaky visit, with our invite being scheduled for 10am. After a few awkward minutes of waiting outside the wrong house, Elspeth spotted us down the street and led us into her beautiful beach-house-in-the-city home.
While coffee and muesli was being prepared for Jules we had a wander around the vibrant pad with Huntly’s drummer Andrew, taking in the brightly coloured walls and considerably large paintings of Elvis and Dolly Parton.
Soaking in the relaxed share house vibes, we headed out into the backyard for some good chats and coffee. Charles rocked up a little late with a tummy ache but just in time for a little house tour as we all headed up to Elspeth’s room to check out her songwriting setup before Jules and I were serenaded with a spontaneous living room piano jam.
Before Jules could ask for a third coffee, we wrapped things up so Huntly could get their last minute preparation in before they got on the road to Canberra (everyone’s favourite drive).
Big thanks to Huntly for the muesli, coffee and hangs!
Last week, we headed out of town for another Shaky Hands road trip. We drove an hour or so out to South Gippsland to the home of legendary producer Greg J Walker, where Jen Cloher was in the middle of recording her latest album.
It was a lazy Sunday morning and the long drive from Northcote to South Gippsland demanded that we make numerous stops at the servo to top-up our $1 coffee cups and indulge in several mystery meat pies. It’s not the most exciting of roads in Victoria to drive along to be honest- Bones, who plays bass in both Jen and Courtney Barnett’s respective bands, did in fact describe the drive as “fucking boring as shit”. Though to be fair, the drive does allow you to go past a surprisingly high amount of cafes and takeaway shops that have different cartoon animals in chef’s hats as their shop mascot (a shark wearing speed-dealers and a chef’s hat cooking pizza in front of a tiki-hut was my personal favourite).
As we approached the destination I popped on Jen’s last album, the beautiful In Blood Memory, which was actually released four years ago now in 2013 through her self-run record label Milk Records. Having followed Jen and her musical evolution throughout each album since her debut in 2006, I was more than excited to check-in on the studio session to grab a sneak peek at what the new record had in store.
We rolled up at the house around midday and after 5 minutes of knocking on several windows and doors; we followed a random cat around the back of the house to find a huge granny-flat where inside was Jen and a mini choir in the middle of tracking some vocals. The property is home to renowned Australian music producer and musician Greg J Walker and the granny flat out the back acts as the studio. The space is split into several tracking rooms, which saw Courtney Barnett sitting up in the attic of the studio tracking her guitar crouched over old eskies and cardboard boxes while Jen tracked in a room which seemed like it ordinarily operated as a massage studio.
The studio sometimes seemed enormous but at times incredibly small. With knick-knacks sprawled across the room, the obscurity of the space seemed to inspire a feeling of slight chaos with a touch of unusual. Either way, Jen and her band appeared to be comfortably at ease and there was always a sense of cool as they showed us around the place that they’ve called home for the last few weeks.
Thanks again to Jen for having us.
We're back again for 2017 and continuing our coverage for the upcoming Riverboats Music Festival!
Joining the likes of Paul Kelly, Charlie Owen, Hoodoo Gurus, James Reyne and Cash Savage at this years festival will be calypso party champions Mighty Duke & The Lords.
On what was probably one of Melbourne's greyest days in recent times, we went to visit the guys at their legendary “Bamboo HQ”. After doing the whole “Hi I’m Julien, this is Ben, how you doing?” and receiving the old “I’m well thanks, why are you in my house?” (classic scene) we were given a tour of the space. Bamboo HQ is best described as a labyrinth: it’s a warehouse space that in the past has been home to theatre productions, movie screenings, house parties, gigs and rehearsals. We were super jealous.
I can't really describe Bamboo HQ, so it’s probably good that we took a whole lot of photos for you to look at, but I will say that Bamboo HQ is a very colourful and surprising place. Every corner of the warehouse seems to be taken from somewhere else – like an enormous collage. There was a succulent plant garden next to a cinema room leading to a performance area with full lighting rig. There was a kitchen/laundry next to a woodworking studio next to a tiny closet door where apparently someone lived. It was organised chaos, and thus fitting for a band like Mighty Duke and the Lords to call home.
The beautiful chaos of it all sums up Mighty Duke & The Lords. They burst onto every stage they play whether it's Meredith or Falls with boundless energy and confidence only a crisp white suit can give you, not overly concerned with where the party will take them because they're already having too much fun along the way.
Huge thanks to Wally, Glen and Cayn for having us over. A special thanks to Glen, who really stepped up the coffee game with a quality pour-over. Looking forward to hanging at Riverboats!