The end of uni semester has wrapped up for most students across the state. Exam season is concluding, folio showcases are wrapping up, but just imagine if submitting a file of songs for your final-year project attracted the attention of not just your RMIT tutors and fellow classmates, but the likes of indie-electronic, alternative music lovers, as well as Liberation Records (Mushroom Group). Slum Sociable is now pursuing more than just a HD these days, with their debut self-titled album being released November 24th following the success of their 2015 EP, TQ.
Combining an essence of various genres into their sounds with soft poignant vocals, this duo’s style is listened with efficacious respect. It’s easy to identify all the sounds in early-released tracks like Moby Bryant, and then be astounded by how such differing and individualistic beats and instruments come together in such a complimenting manner. It’s listening to songs like these that, as a failed musician, define Slum Sociable as purely talented and inventive artists to me. Aside from making easily-adored hits, their music gives off the impression that it is not just thrown together quickly for the sake of a release; each sound produced by Edward Quinn is experimented and perfected before being slot into the collaboration of a chill beat backing up the retro-sounding voice of Miller Upchurch and his fresh, honest lyrics.
Well-known among the Inner North’s local music venues, we were lucky to chat with Miller Upchurch to discuss the upcoming release of Slum Sociable’s debut album.
So your album is coming out next Friday (24th of November). What do you want people to know about the album?
I guess…I don’t know what I want people to know about it so much as I can’t wait to hear what people have to say about it. It’s been a long process and I think we’re both pretty proud of the work put into it so I think we’re more keen to hear what everyone else thinks of it.
What has the general response been for the tracks released early?
Yeah, I mean, pretty damn positive, y’know…we released our song Hearing just the other week – not even a full week ago – and we just played Copresents [Festival] on the weekend which was awesome, and I already saw some people singing along to some of those words, like, straight away – they didn’t even have a week with the song, so I think that’s pretty amazing, like that’s always a surreal experience; seeing people sing along to songs that are brand new and weren’t even singles. That happened for another song off our old EP as well – I didn’t expect people would know the words, but then they were all singing along and it’s just tumbling, y’know.
That’s so cool! So what song resonates with you the most on this album?
Maybe Don’t Come Back Another 100 Times for me, I’m a bit of a slow-jam boy at heart, but also possibly A Hearing which we just released, it’s kind of about the world being indifferent to your circumstances but also I tie that in with that your father never giving up on you as well. Those are a couple of my favourite messages on the album.
You revealed in an interview a few years ago that you wrote all the lyrics to the songs, is that still the case with this album?
Yeah, I still do all the lyric writing. Ed, my other half, he usually comes up with some music. He’s the producer, he doesn’t have much to do with the lyric writing stuff but he’ll tell me if he’s not vibing on something and we’ll have a discussion about it – it’s still a democracy in the band. But yeah, I write all the lyrics, they come from all over the place, you know, I’ll be inspired by someone else’s lyrics or reading a book, looking at some nice artworks. You draw inspiration from anywhere, build your own stories about things that might not already happen. It’s fun to do!
Is the process of showing each other what you’ve come up with collaborative or I’ll do my thing, you do your thing and then come together?
I guess it kind of started out like that because Ed got into production long before I ever took doing the producing side anywhere near seriously. He was doing an RMIT course and he had to present an EP for his final project and got me to sing on it, so after that we kept writing songs cause that was really fun to do. He would just be making these awesome beats and great songs. I guess just luckily enough our styles fit with each other and I was just always loving the songs that he was coming up with. I guess since we finished doing the album it’s kind of taken a bit of a flip cause I’ve been doing songwriting myself, so we’ve been working on some songs that I’ve started up which is all so very humbling.
So you’ve played gigs in the Inner North like The Melbourne Museum, Howler, sold out shows at Northcote Social Club, what makes these gigs stand out to you?
The crowd, the area, the locals who always go to events on at all those venues – they’re die-hard music fans. The Melbourne music scene is just such an inspirational place to be, that northern area especially. There’s so many music lovers all around the place and music makers, djs, artists of every kind, I think it’s a real special hub for music and arts. So yeah, I think they definitely bring a real special energy.
Do you have any favourite places within that area?
Howler’s pretty fun, it’s a good venue, I love that one. We’ve played at Northcote Social Club a few times and that’s always a big, super fun night. Yeah, I can’t wait to do another show there, had some pretty good times at Northcote.
The whole album was written in Ed’s bedroom over the last three years, do you think that the shape and feel of the album would be different if it was written in a studio potentially?
Oh, that’s a good question. That’s tough to answer, yeah, I guess we’ve always just had this relaxed feel going into our sessions and writing and everything. So, I guess from experience going into the studio and working on songs for an album for something, like a step-up from your demos, you definitely…I guess if we were doing that day-today, we’d definitely regiment our days a lot better. You know, we’re very relaxed and chilled out when we make our songs in Ed’s bedroom because there’s no rules. But, yeah, I guess it’d be totally different…not quite sure how it would be…maybe it’d be, I don’t know, more serious, I guess, because we’d be paying for that space. We’d know that we’re there to work really hard – who’s to say that would be better or worse for our music.
The album artwork was done by long-term friends @Daisylegs. It features Ed’s grandfather, Lee Barker. Why was this the choice for the album artwork?
Ed told me that he just got sent through this email chain from someone in his family that were all these old photos that they’d uncovered. He immediately sent it through to me and John, our manager, and we just got back like, the coolest photo hands-down. We were kind of struggling to get some album artwork together as well; it’s been a long process. We experimented with a few different things and then that photo just popped up, it was just perfect timing and it’s a great photo. Lee knew that he was going to be the cover star for our album but unfortunately he didn’t get to hear it. He passed away before we finished tidying everything up; so it’s got this extra weight to it now – this extra significance for him.
That’s lovely you guys did that. It’s genuinely a really cool album cover!
I don’t want to get my grandad’s hopes up but you know, maybe, what’s the next project? Yeah, uh [laughing]…I don’t know what it’s going to be, maybe I should get him on.
You also posted on your Instagram that ‘every album ordered via our online store will receive a handwritten note from us on a topic of your choice!’ what kind of topics and things have you written so far?
We haven’t gotten around to doing them yet but I’ve seen some of the requests in there. One of them is from this guy, wish I could remember his name, but he pretty much sent us this message saying: topic, I want is and then he just said his own name, so we have to write about this guy we don’t even know, that’s going to be fun. We put out some prompts so some people have just been like, you know, tell me some space facts and I watch a ton of space documentaries so I’ve got those bases covered. People want us to write about dogs and I have no crimes with that either; we’re both big dog lovers so we’ll be able to cover those bases too. Yeah, they vary but I think those are my favourites so far.
Who would be your dream musician or band to support or collab with?
Pwoah, huge! Um, I think probably at the moment because I’ve been listening to their new album non-stop it would probably have to be Grizzly Bear. And I know they’re coming soon so if they read you guys then please, guys, Ed! Listen, we’re available, we’ll make time! Yeah, that latest album by Grizzly Bear is phenomenal, like, they’ve just taken everything a step up, I don’t know – it never feels right saying ‘a step up’ because all their old stuff is just as fresh still when I go back and listen to it, but you know, just the direction they’ve gone in for this one. It’s such a fluid piece of music and such a cohesive album, I just love it.
What are your plans for the future?
Well, since we’ve finished the album we’ve already been doing a lot more writing again so I guess we just wanna’, you know, keep presence in people’s minds and ears, etc. We wanna’ keep releasing some stuff as soon as we can, really. No one really cares to wait that long for artists anymore to release new stuff so we really like that vibe, we wanna’ keep up with that. We can’t wait to play shows as well; we haven’t played many shows in awhile, like a tour, in awhile, so this upcoming tour will be a lot of fun. I guess we also want to get back overseas early next year as well. Mainly it’s just keeping busy, we want to keep making music that people like.
I can’t wait for [the album] to just be out, for people to be able to listen to the whole thing, y’know, that’s why we have a couple of interlude tracks on there as well because it works as a whole. I can’t wait to get it out there.
Slum Sociable’s album is out November 24th, which you can preorder here
They will also be playing at The Corner Hotel, December 2nd to celebrate the release of the album. Tickets are selling fast: https://www.slum-sociable.com/events/2017-12-02-slum-sociable-the-castle-tour-corner-hotel
Feature Image Credit: Slum Sociable Facebook