Clouds, waterfalls, breeze, ambience, expansion, impact – Slow Motion Music. These words are just a fraction of what can be felt and seen while listening to Oliver Tank’s second EP, Slow Motion Music. The Sydney lad makes incredibly fragile and stylistic music that echoes some of his musical heroes such as Boards of Canada, Mount Kimbie and the UK producer/singer-songwriter who makes mankind buckle at the knees from the sound of his achingly beautiful voice, James Blake. Whereas some disgruntled James Blake listeners sometimes label his music as “drunk karaoke” as his music mainly revolves around his voice, Oliver Tank strides a different, yet parallel, avenue. A slight mix of trip-hop, post-dubstep and even hints of shoegaze makes Oliver Tank one of Australia’s most exciting up and coming acts. On the cusp of his national headline tour, Oliver took some time out of rehearsal to speak to Jake Wilton.
“I tend not to get so nervous in the lead up, it’s only really on the day or a couple of hours before that I start to… not panic, just get very nervous. I used to be quite uncomfortable on stage, just because I feel kind of awkward and I never really felt comfortable in front of hundreds of people just by myself. But this last year I’ve become a lot more confident with it, I’m just trying to have a good time when I’m playing live and be as prepared as I can be.”
Oliver’s biggest tour around the country takes him to some of Australia’s most vivid and spacious venues so there’s no surprise at those feelings of nervousness. Yet these feelings pale in comparison to the scale of other shows he’s been lucky enough to play at. In the past few years, Oliver has had the chance to warm up punters anxiously waiting to see the beautiful Lana Del Rey, Youth Lagoon and the aforementioned James Blake.
“The James Blake show probably meant the most to me. Just because, he was basically the reason I got into this sort of music. I really respect him and I think he’s essentially perfected the live show. So to get a chance to play with him was just incredible and it still doesn’t even feel like it’s even happened. Every now and again it does feel sort of surreal supporting people like Lorde and James Blake.”
“I think that whole James Blake comparison came around, I think it was Dom Alessio on [Triple J’s] Home and Hosed who said that I was the Australian James Blake. I can see people making the link there; we’ve both got the auto-tuned voice, down tempo. To be perfectly honest, I think anyone who’s spent a reasonable amount of time listening to James Blake and listening to me, I don’t know if I hear that much similarity. He’s definitely a big influence for me, but I don’t know if I’m hearing it that much anymore.”
Aside from the James Blake fandom, Oliver had the privilege to simultaneously wrap up 2013 and kick off 2014 in perfect style thanks to the good promoters of the Falls Music and Arts and Southbound Festivals. Oliver scored a sweet late morning slot for each leg of the festival and eased some of his biggest crowds out of their drowsy, hungover states.
“I haven’t really done many festival shows before so I was pretty nervous for the first couple, especially being on such a big stage by myself. I’ve done festival shows here and there but I’ve never done four shows in five days, so it was a really interesting experience. Honestly, it was a lot of fun and I’m hoping I can do some more festival shows. I feel like I’ve got some more music now that would probably be better suited to festivals.”
It felt appropriate to see Oliver’s name on the Falls and Southbound Festival bills. His dreamy and electronic presence rightly captured everything these festivals do well. At these shows, Oliver has been able to flex the extraordinary material from his latest EP release, Slow Motion Music; a collection of songs that abridge the same vibe that UK group and the XX discovered on their self-titled debut in 2009 – the space between music. Stay, the first track from the EP, caught my attention the most and Oliver described it as a real, “beginning track.”
“One of my friends sent me this track that he heard in a taxi. It’s a real cheesy ‘80s track but the beginning of it is actually really nice and I sampled some of it. I was kind of going for a vibe of two people who really care about each other and that are willing to do anything for each other. I was getting into the vibe of using rolling, delayed pianos and used some of that on the song. I felt it was a good start to the EP. I like to work with really nice sounds like pianos, guitars with little samples. I always try to mix electronic music with natural sounds.”
“I definitely had the mindset of an EP but I also wanted to do what I wanted to do. I really just wanted to put together a bunch of songs and have another EP with a solid idea behind it. It makes no difference to me, I just wanted to have seven songs on it because I felt like they all needed to be on there – I’m working towards my album now. I feel like an album is a really big deal and I want to make sure I get it perfect.”
As Oliver turns his focus onto this huge string of dates around the country for the next weekends, he’s still in a song writing groove which will hopefully develop into a full-length record before the year is out.
“I think after the tour finishes, I’m really just going to lock in some studio time. I just want to improve my production, singing, guitar work and my song writing and just try to put together something really special for an album. It’s going to be really daunting, I’ve never made an album before, but I feel like I’ve got a lot of potential. I want to make sure I get it right and that the world hears it right.”
Slow Motion Music is out now through Create/Control.