Slumberjack discuss their latest EP, the lowdown with Groovin’ The Moo, and a little something they might work into their Canberra set.
Electronic dance duo, Slumberjack, have been at the forefront of Australia’s music scene this year and will be treating Canberra to their new live show this weekend.
It’s likely you’ve heard a lot about Slumberjack lately, with the release of their EP, Fracture, in April, a national tour ahead in May, and appearances on the Groovin’ The Moo and Splendour in The Grass line-ups.
With GTM hitting Canberra this Sunday, May 7, I spoke to the architects behind Slumberjack, Fletcher Ehlers and Morgan Then, about growing as a band and touring.
The most exciting part about our chat (aside from praising their Canberra audience) was Fletcher revealing that they might be incorporating K.Flay into their GTM set to perform their Triple J Like A Version cover of Paper Planes by M.I.A.
Ruby Becker: You just got through the first three shows of Groovin’ The Moo on the weekend, how is it going so far?
Fletcher Ehlers: It’s going absolutely amazing. For the last three months, we’ve actually been working on developing this new live show, with a new lighting and visual show as well. We debuted it for the first time over the weekend. It went better than we could have hoped which we’re so happy with. Even in Townsville – where we’ve never been before – we were so stoked to see that there was a huge crowd at the show. It’s just been an amazing weekend and so much fun.
RB: How has the crowd been responding to the new live show so far?
FE: Surprisingly, people already know all the songs which just blows our mind because usually, in our past experience, it’s taken a good few months for people to learn the songs and be able to sing and dance along to the different parts. But we played in New Zealand two weekends ago and there were all these people in the front row that knew every intricacy of every new song. It was so crazy – like they’d listened to it hundreds of times. It was insane for us to see that people would know the songs so quickly, so I’m really happy about that.
RB: With three more stops to go, is there anything you want to achieve before then?
FE: Yeah actually, we just did a Like A Version with K.Flay last week – we covered Paper Planes. K.Flay is also on the GTM tour, so we’re hoping that somehow we’re going to slot that cover into the set with the remaining shows, but we have to see if we can make it work because obviously we’ve got a whole visual and lighting show that goes with the music, so it’s going to be a bit of a challenge. But we’d love to be able to play that for the rest of the shows.
RB: The Fracture tour is your biggest ticketed headline tour so far and on top of that you’re playing GTM and Splendour in The Grass. Would you say this is your biggest year ahead as a band?
FE: Totally. I mean, I’d like to think that every year we have is our biggest year. If we could keep that momentum going, that’d be awesome. But especially this year, we’ve been working towards this for a really long time and now we get to roll out all the things we’ve been planning for the live shows. A lot of things are lining up nicely and it’s obviously taken a long time to put this plan into action, but me and Morgs feel like this is the start of Slumberjack 2.0, which is the real version of Slumberjack that we envisioned from the start of the project. Only now do we have the resources and the team to be able to pull off all these things that we’ve been thinking about, scheming for the last 2-3 years.
RB: You used the term “Slumberjack 2.0”. What are the key differences from then to what you’re doing now?
FE: Well, basically up until now we’ve only been doing a DJ set and the show’s now moving into a live show. We have instruments on stage and we’re playing all the parts. The show is now like 95% our own music. I think we only play like three songs of other people that we really like. But basically, we’re finally at the point where we have enough music to actually play a whole set of originals which is really nice feeling because in the past we obviously had to use other music to kind of fill up the time because we haven’t had the records out. Now, we’re at the point where we can do a full Slumberjack show and we also have the visual and lighting components now. Stylistically, I think our music from here on out is going to follow with what we release in the Fracture EP as opposed to what we’ve been doing in the past.
RB: The Canberra leg of GTM had a faster ticket sell-through than ever before, why do you think that is?
FE: That’s a tough, interesting question. I guess the line-up this year is pretty impressive, there’s some awesome names in there that haven’t been playing in Australia recently, which is probably one of the driving factors. But I also think, just in general, peoples’ interest in music is constantly growing. The places that Groovin’ The Moo hits, there’s been similar levels of selling out. Electronic music and the music on the main stages are taking more of a forefront and people are more interested in going out and getting involved in the scene, rather than listening from home. So, it’s really good to see that transition happening.
RB: How do you find the differences between the regional shows and performing in our major cities?
Morgan Then: We thought it was going to be pretty stark, but I don’t think it is. People have this idea that once you get to regional cities, people are slower with the mainstream media. But actually, I find it the opposite. These guys do know us and listen to a lot of new artists that are on the Groovin’ The Moo line-up that aren’t necessarily commercial on the radio, but still go super hard. We’re talking about bands, that aren’t super well-known, packing out a full tent. I don’t think that is always the case in the city areas because people are more spoon fed with what’s cool and what’s current. I think regional is the new underground.
RB: The Canberra leg of GTM is this coming Sunday. You recently played here at Spilt Milk in December. What do you think of your audience here in the capital?
MT: I love them. We haven’t done a single bad show there ever. The first time we ever played there was at a club called Academy and then we did Spilt Milk and it was crazy – they’re all party people. We always have a good time in Canberra.
RB: Do you have any pre-performance traditions or strategies to get you hyped before going on stage?
MT: Fletch and I don’t usually drink on stage, but we always do a shot each just to soothe the nerves a little bit. Sometimes we do push ups, just to get the blood pumping away from the shoulders and get us from a tense vibe to a good vibe.
RB: So, even after doing lots of performances, you still do get nervous?
MT: Yeah. I mean, I think it’s more worrying when you’re not nervous, because being nervous just means you care. We care about the show so much. We’re not nervous that we’re going out there. We’re nervous whether the show will hit the audience the way we want it to. We want to make sure they enjoy it.
You can catch Slumberjack’s set at GTM at 15:45 at the Moulin Rouge tent.