Q&A Scene: James McKendry ~ PIRRA

Photo: Nigel Kippers

Tell us about your new single ‘Never Apart’?

Never Apart came about after Curt and I met up with Sam Littlemore for a beer. We’d been listening to a lot of Pnau at the time so it was a nice surprise when the head of our label Mark Brown teed up a meeting for us. The track started after Sam had given us some feedback on our music and was kind of mentoring us a bit. Curt wrote the instrumental track and then I wrote the vocal parts.

What’s your favourite work at this point in time?

I’m still buzzing on Never Apart because it’s been such an exciting journey and we did it fairly quickly so we’re not sick of it yet.

How would you describe your sound in food form and why? 

I’d say we were a falafel wap with salad, avocado, pickled turnips, quinoa and a side of sweet potato fries. I dunno if we are really like that or if that’s just what I’m thinking of because I haven’t had lunch yet and I’m hungry.

Tell us a quick, on the road or studio, anecdote.

In our early days we worked with a producer who was known for being a bit of a dictator. We were doing group vocals for a track and somebody was singing out of key, so he auditioned us one by one to find the bad egg. Talk about pressure, there were some shaky a capella performances but it turned out Jeff was the rotten egg so he was asked to leave the room!

What, or who, inspires you?

I get inspired by hearing amazing music. When I hear something really creative or just really catchy it fuels my passion for making music.

Which song do you wish you wrote?

I wish I wrote Walking in A Dream by Empire of the Sun. It’s just so catchy. Gets me every time.

What’s next for you?

I’ll keep on working hard on writing with Pirra, and hopefully we can build up a healthy touring schedule for the rest of the year.

What’s your scene?

My scene is sitting in a sunny beer garden on sunday with a pale ale watching a band.



Alternative indie pop auteurs Pirra have today announced their buoyant new single Never Apart, a synthy adventure produced by Sam Littlemore of Pnau, out June 18.  The group, whose namesake Pirra means moon in Luritja, a language spoken by the Luritja people, are set to hit the road for an east coast run of dates kicking off at Oxford Art Factory (Syd) on September 3 before moving on to The Toff (Mel) on September 10 and finishing up at Suzie Wongs Good Time Bar (Bris) on September 12.  

After a year of isolation and anxiety, an exuberant track like Never Apart is a welcome, much-needed release.  It’s an irresistible bop from start to finish – synths bounce energetically as lead vocalist Jess Beck’s clever, hooky melodies earworm themselves into the listener’s memory.  Drawing upon influences such as Northeast Party House, RÜFÜS DU SOL and Running Touch, it’ll have you singing along even through the first listen.  

Speaking on the creation of the track, guitarist and synth player James McKendry says, Never Apart was produced and mixed by Sam Littlemore (aka Sam La More) of Pnau.  He really challenged us to get out of our safe zone.  Never Apart started as an instrumental track Curtis (our bass player) was working on for days.  Eventually he emerged from his music cave and then I wrote the vocal melodies and lyrics.  The lyrics are vaguely about feeling connected to somebody, no matter the distance, but I wanted to make a melody that felt easy to sing along to and that people could find their own meaning to.  We were definitely inspired by Pnau, and had been listening to their album Changa around that time, although we never dreamed we would end up working with Sam Littlemore on this song!”

Pirra are currently signed to CR2 Records in London, who also represent electronic dance heroes Carl Cox and Camelphat.  Reflecting on how the deal came about, James explains, “At the time a publisher and friend of ours Rob Scott knew our music was headed in a dance direction so he got in contact with the head of CR2 Mark Brown and showed him our track Under the Skyline.  Mark loved the track, as well as some of the other demos we sent him so he offered us a record deal.  Since then, it’s been such a thrill to collaborate with some of our heroes and we’re pumped about some upcoming collaborations we hope to announce soon.”

Pirra is James McKendry (guitar, synth), Jess Beck (vocals), Curtis Argent (bass, synth) and Jeffrey Argent (drums)

Never Apart is out now on BLK&WHT RCRDS

Tickets to the east coast shows are on sale now


Check it out here: https://smarturl.it/PirraNeverApart


About Mary Boukouvalas 1614 Articles
Mary is a photographer and a writer, specialising in music. She runs Rocklust.com where she endeavours to capture the passion of music in her photos whether it's live music photography, promotional band photos or portraits. She has photographed The Rolling Stones, KISS, Iggy Pop, AC/DC, Patti Smith, Joe Strummer, PULP, The Cult, The Damned, The Cure, Ian Brown, Interpol, MUDHONEY, The MELVINS, The Living End, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, The Stone Roses –just to name a few - in Australia, USA, Europe and the Middle East. Her work has been published in Beat magazine, Rolling Stone magazine, Triple J magazine, The Age Newspaper, The Herald Sun, The Australian, Neos Kosmos, blistering.com, theaureview.com, noise11.com, music-news.com. She has a permanent photographic exhibition at The Corner Hotel in Richmond, Victoria Australia.