Writing songs, composing, telling stories through music – it’s a challenging process for aspiring artists at the best of times. But what happens when you take on the challenge of writing 23 songs, from kayaks travelling 350km along the Californian coast? Shannon Carroll, singer / guitarist with Band of Frequencies tells Samantha Morris exactly what happened. And why they were holed up in kayaks in the first place.
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He’s a humble guy, there’s no doubt about it. When I asked him what his role in this whole project was he says, oh you know, we just facilitated the writing and recording of a song every day of the trip.
The trip in question was 23 days long, covering southern California’s coastline in five kayaks. It was a 350km journey to raise awareness about the sea.
The trip traced the southern migration of the California grey and blue whale from Santa Barbara, along the Californian coast, to the US-Mexico border and was a concept spawned by Surfers for Cetaceans.
“OJ and myself, we were facilitating the writing and recording of a song every day on the trip. Look at the content of what was going on and telling a story about what was happening,” Shannon said.
“This was the second trip,” Shannon explained. The first trip travelled from sailing kayaks between Byron and Sydney and followed the migration of whales returning to Antarctica.
“It was a long journey. And it got the ball rolling. Then there was a crew in the US who said come and do it over here. So we did,” Shannon said.
“We were just trying to learn as much as we could,” Shannon said. “About the impact of human beings on the coastline. It was an opportunity to learn from community groups and also to shine a light on what they are doing and get them more support and publicity.”
“There was a core kayak crew and each kayak took a guest each day. Celebrities, surfers, artists, film makers would join us on the water. Depending on the conditions, we’d set sail in the morning, then wherever we got to we’d set up camp, organise food and accommodation. It was a lot more intense than we envisaged.”
The US trip saw much collaboration with artists including Angus Stone, Will Conner and Catherine Clarke participating in the trip and in the recording of songs. And it was this element of collaboration and the song-writing process that documentary makers Saltwater Creative focussed on when they produced The Transparentsea Voyage.
“This movie retraces the whole steps of the voyage and focuses on the music and song writing. It’s a cool angle,” Shannon said. “I didn’t expect that angle was the one they’d take.”
While Shannon had been involved in Taiji Bay (The Cove) and the Minds in the Water film previously (also made by Saltwater Creative) – both campaigns around conservation – he doesn’t see himself or Band of Frequencies as necessarily being activists.
“We’re always looking for ways we can employ our individual talents together. This is a really fun way to respect the coastline. It’s not a heavy, intense form of activisit – we’re just bringing whatever talents we have to a larger team. It’s joy filled, talking, learning, hanging out.”
“Since the trip we’ve recorded the best of the songs at Rocking Horse Studio in Byron and we’ve filmed those tracks as well,” Shannon said.
It’s those tracks which will be profiled at The Soundlounge / Bleach* gig this weekend.
“Dave Rastovich, also involved in the project, will be joining us on stage. We’ll have music before the film and then we’ll screen it.”
It’s only the second time The Transparentsea Voyage will have been screened publicly.
“Then depending on who’s around, depending on who turns up, we’ll make the most of who’s there and Band of Frequencies will perform afterwards.”
He says this almost quietly, hinting that some of those artists who collaborated on both the voyage and the songs might turn up for the gig. Then he goes on to talk about Catherine Clarke, one of those collaborators.
I had to google Catherine Clarke. Wow. She’s an incredibly talented 19 year old lady, a sponsored surfer, a writer, musician and model. And she’s smart to boot.
“She has one of the most amazingly haunting voices. Incredible. We did a few great song writing sessions with her. Hopefully she turns up,” Shannon said.
Shannon spoke to me from WA where he and the Band had just performed at the Nannup Festival and a bunch of other southwest locations. We wrap up by talking about what Band of Frequencies has in store for the rest of 2014.
“We’ll be getting back into the writing process and working out how we’re going to record our next record. And also, after being in WA, we’ll be trying to work out how we can get over here again.”
“We also want to look at how we can launch the film here and in America.”
You can catch Band of Frequencies, where Shannon will be joined by OJ Newcomb (bass), Mark Henman (drums) and Andrew Szumowski (keys and backing vocals) at The Soundlounge as part of Bleach* Festival.
Band of Frequencies and The Transparentsea Voyage
The Soundlounge, Friday 21 March
We have a double pass to give away. To enter, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org by 10.00am Friday 21 March and include your name and mobile phone details. Winner drawn at random.