If you haven’t already read those words enough.. the “unprecedented”, “unparalleled” and “unusual” rhythm of 2020/21 has seen creatives across all industries approach their work differently in an effort to understand - process – cope – or maybe even fully adapt in the face of such constraints and flourish.
For Sydney band GAUCI, the last 12 months have seen them work harder, both as a band and in their respective solo careers. The March lockdown last year saw each member adding layers to canvases of songs in isolation before being able to enter the studio together as a three piece to perfect the veneer and intricacies of their debut E.P GAUCI, out now and streamable via Bandcamp and Spotify.
The single for their latest video Anxious, below, was finished when they entered the studio after having spent much time alone, with the band using this time to further finesse their craft. Lead vocalist Antonia Gauci’s recent focus on improving her technique and vocal ability shines through brightly as such. Antonia is no stranger to either side of the vocal booth - having mixed, engineered and produced for the likes of Troye Sivan, Kesha, Lil’ Yachty, What So Not, DMAs, amongst others.
GAUCI’s other two members keep busy in other projects respectively too – David Gauci as guitarist for Brisbane dream pop group Hatchie, and Felix Lush in his solo career. Ahead of playing Yours and Owls Festival, and with the release of their latest video, we spoke to the band about the creative process behind their E.P, using Covid as an opportunity to learn more, and why pop has become their genre of choice and reason.
What sparked the inspiration and meaning behind Anxious?
Anxious is a song that really captures the seesawing feeling of being completely enveloped by your own thoughts and feelings, causing a certain feeling of anxiety. It’s the consumption of your entire being, the sinking, the struggling and the complete helplessness that can wash over you in times of struggle.
It was a hard one for us to get finished to a point where we thought it was ready, with multiple re-recordings and production changes until we were finally happy with what we’d achieved. This was an important turning point for us, as we realised that sometimes things don’t come easy or fast before finding their way in the end.
You have worked with Passive Kneeling on live projections in the past, and now with the video release of Anxious. Can you tell me about the creative process, were these visuals filmed live? Have you got any other projects in the works with Passive Kneeling, for live shows or otherwise?
Working with Passive Kneeling (Tom) has always been such an amazing and awesome experience! He’s an exceptional creative force in the visual world, and we've been time and time again so impressed with what he can create from nothing.
For this clip for ‘Anxious’, all of the footage was filmed in one day, not in a live show setting. We set up in a room with a few cameras and shot a whole bunch of stuff, but Tom taking the footage away and working with it on his own really turned it into an incredible piece of art.
For the live visuals, they were all filmed live through a few different cameras and projected back onto us, while Tom manipulated the footage right there and then in real time. We had one dress rehearsal with him before the shows, and from that we were so excited to see it in a bigger room and were excited to see what everyone would think!
How have your influences changed over the last few years musically?
Felix: It’s more influenced by the hyper pop scene now – like Charlie XCX, AG Cook... I think pop music is good in the way that the only definition of it technically, is that it’s popular – so it’s kind of genreless. You know what I mean – it doesn’t have to be electronic, you can still have organic instruments like piano and guitar. We have used piano quite a bit on this E.P. It’s that mix of organic and electronic, that I think is maybe what pop music does so well, that we like. It’s like, David can have a good guitar part, but then, we don’t have to be a guitar band because we can blend it with 808’s and that kind of more modern sound.
Antonia: I think we have all latched onto pop music way more than before. 99% of the music that I listen to these days is pop music. Before it was way more diverse and alternative. We still love alternative bands and music and I don’t think we will ever get over that. I think pop music has changed with the personas of people present in pop music these days. I feel way more relatable to what people are talking about – they’re way more vocal about everything that they believe in and shit that they’re going through in life. So I want to hear what they’re saying..
Has the gear you use to produce your music really evolved over time as well?
DG: I feel like we have probably downsized, especially from when we were playing live.
Felix: I feel like we used to be more complicated, I think when you start doing anything you always try and do so much. But now it’s more simplified, we use our computers more.
If you could collaborate with any producer in the future who would it be?
AG: I think it would be a bunch of people- AG Cook, Mark Ronson. We would have to get Max Martin involved if money was no constraint – he did Britney Spears, NSYNC, Spice Girls – everyone ever, from the 90’s up until now..
FL: He also did Ariana Grande and 1989 by Taylor Swift.
You recorded your latest E.P GAUCI both isolated, working on parts of it on your own and together as a band after the lockdown lifted in March last year. Did creating this E.P in such a time impact the outcome as a result? Did the process feel really different creatively, isolating in more ways than one?
AG: I think it’s more so a result of the current climate, but we are really lucky that we’re all really capable in our abilities, so if one of us isn’t around, we can still continue working on stuff. I think overall, as you listen to it, you can see where we started and where we ended up. Which is a good thing to capture, moving forward it’s just going to keep evolving. It’s a snapshot in time to see where we have been and where we are going. On so many different levels, song writing wise, the sounds that we use, our production techniques, even the mixing is completely different to before. We mixed it altogether. I learnt to sing better in the process of it. It’s us growing up in a way.
FL: I feel like it was simultaneously good, but also difficult. We have always worked in a way where we can write on our own and then send little things on to each other – but the difference was, we could send things to one another and then we could work on them independently and then send it on to build upon. I think sometimes that ends in a different result versus being in the same room and all working on the same thing at the same time, it’s like you add your own flavour individually and it builds rather than a true collaborative process at once. And I think this E.P is a combination of both. The older songs are more of a collaboration, and the newer ones, which we wrote during isolation are that of the latter where we sent them to each other to work on alone. I don’t know how much that came out in the sound.
It sounds like during this whole Covid thing, you have been inspired to work harder and create more, which hasn’t been the case for some musicians in Australia or around the world past this year. Did you feel creatively stifled as a result of the pandemic?
FL: I was kinda the opposite – I had $750 a week to sit at home and do nothing, and literally – I wasn’t allowed to do anything, so I’d just sit at home and make music. I think during that period, it was the most productive I’ve ever been. It’s also weird writing music that you know you probably won’t perform for a long time. It puts a different spin on it.
DG: Yeah, I wrote an album for myself in that time and it was super rewarding. But now I’m only just starting to look at that again..
If you could work with any visual artist on the audio-visual side of things, who would it be?
DG: We will likely end up working with Tom Vanderzeil again (Passive Kneeling). We also worked with him for our last Sydney show.
FL: He is a VCR/ projection artist, he also did a visualiser for our single Heartbeat. We are trying to build a bit of a relationship with him, to work towards something.. last time we played Tom filmed us with a crappy camera, and so while we played, he projected and manipulated the image. He is pretty cool.
Have you got gigs coming up?
AG: Yeah, we’re playing at Yours and Owls Festival in April. It will be interesting to see how it happens in this new world. We want to make it really good with Audio Visuals.