BIGSOUND 2016: TOTALLY MILD

Interview by Charles Lawrence photographs by Max Orchard Fox
13.09.2016

So BIGSOUND ended last Thursday. What a time!!! 

We met up with Melbourne band Totally Mild for an interview and to shoot some photos on a rooftop.

So you guys are back for BIGSOUND, is it a particularly well known event outside of Brisbane?

liz: I didn’t know about it before last year (when we played) or really know what it was when I got here, but I think people definitely know about it. There aren’t really any other events in Australia like BIGSOUND and it is kind of cool that it happens in Brisbane as opposed to Melbourne or Sydney. 

zac: I didn’t know about it too well either until last year, but as soon as I mentioned I was going it seemed every single person I have ever met knew about it, so I would say it is really well known. 

Will you guys be showcasing lots of new material this time around?

liz: Yes, we wanted to come back because we have a new album that is pretty much done and we wanted to play it to people. When we came last year it was off the back of a new record which was really awesome because it meant people knew the record and were excited which was really nice. But this time we wanted to come and show the record before it is out. 

What can we expect from the new record, will it be along the same lines as 'Down Time'? The last record was very self reflective and I read somewhere that described it as empowered bedroom sulk music.

liz: I really like that. I think thematically I find it hard to write stuff that isn’t about myself because I guess I’m a bit of a narcissist. 

zac: I think songwriting is different in places but the vibe of the songwriting is quite consistent. We have definitely expanded in terms of genre because we dip our toes into little different pools of stuff that’s already been a part of the music canon for a long time. By saying ‘let’s do something that’s like The Idiot or let’s do something like The Pretenders, or something that’s RnB influenced. So we are always shifting gears but the songwriting remains consistent. It will still sound like us but we have been trying tonnes of different stuff. 

liz: We also didn’t want to get caught in the group of being a guitar band that makes the same record because you arrange songs in the same way and it can end up sounding the same. No one in our band wants to play in a guitar rock group, everyone wants to do other things and I think you can hear that on this new record. 

On the topic of songwriting, would you say most of the songs on 'Down Time' are auto biographical?

liz: I’d say they are all auto biographical. I mean there are a couple about stuff that’s happened to friends. ‘When I am Tired’ is about a friend who was going through a breakup and he told me about a dream he kept having about his ex coming and burning his house down. 

zac: It is interesting through because I feel like whatever the story is or whatever it is influenced by you manage to make yourself the protagonist somehow. Maybe it’s that narcissism coming back into it. I think it is a positive thing though because    I really think that people that listen to music want to get their head around a really tangible personality.

liz: I think people also really like this thing where they feel like if they are listening to someones song they are getting the secrets of that person. I personally really like doing that when listening to someone else’s song. Especially if it a friend of yours and you know who the song is about and you try guess who it’s about or what led to them saying that. But it is weird because I think most people assume the songs are about my life, and they mostly are but yeah, I don’t know. 

Do you find it difficult to perform such intimate songs such as ‘Money and Fame’?

liz: It can be at first. I always find playing the songs to everyone in the band is way more scary than playing it for the first time live because I feel like they are my close friends so it feels like reading out a diary to them. But by the time we are ready to play it live - I feel a little disconnected to it. 

zac: It is that thing where its about a point of time in your life and when that is fresh it’s difficult but by the time you have arranged something or recorded something then you can be like ‘well that is where I was and I can connect to that feeling because that was me, but it’s not me anymore.’

You released an EP earlier this year, (Alive in Denmark) which was all live recordings - was there any stylistic choices behind releasing that EP as live recordings?

liz: Not really at all, there was just a great guy who recorded our last set from our European tour and sent it to me and they sounded really nice.

zac: It was nice because that was where we were at as a live band and after playing so many shows across Europe and the UK. I think stylistically, all the aesthetic came into the presentation of putting it out. It was there and we wanted to do it. 

liz: Personally as a music consumer I love being able to listen to live performances and getting to see where the band was at at that time. 

zac: I love that, especially being able to hear tracks that aren’t recorded anywhere else. There is a track on that EP that Liz just plays by herself and it will never be recorded like that ever again. 

liz: Yeah that was one of the tracks from the new album and it is totally different now because I had just written it when we were playing in Europe, we were only using it as an encore song. 

zac: Yeah we had already had a setlist and had a fill in bass player with us so if we had an encore we would have to push Liz up there. 

 

How did you feel European audiences reacted to your music as opposed to Australian audiences like what you are more used to?

zac: It was really positive. I don’t know, I think the positivity has been pretty consistent. I was really nervous heading over to Europe because you don’t know what is going to happen. Some shows you knew there was going to be people. In Australia it isn’t uncommon to have 4 bands on so you can feel confident that someone has friends that will come. But there was one show in Spain where we didn’t know anyone and didn’t speak the language and we asked the bar staff ‘who else is playing tonight?’ and they said ‘oh just you guys’. 

liz: It was in a really tiny town as well so we were sure no one was going to come but people came out and that was a big difference in culture. The fact that people would just come to shows even if they didn’t know the band. Also I don’t know, I don’t think we are a particularly Australian sounding band which I guess can work in our favour and against us. Because sometimes if people are going to see an Australian band they want a very specific thing. 

Do you have any friends or people you want to see playing at BIGSOUND this year?

liz: Yeah, Terrible Truths who we toured with last year and are probably one of my favourite bands in Melbourne. We are also sharing a drummer for these BIGSOUND shows. Also HABITS, I love seeing them play and Simona Castricum is really great. 

zac: GL is also great, we are playing with them for their launch when we get back to Melbourne