Tell us about your new single / album?
Anthropomorphia is the first album we recorded completely by ourselves, and it allowed the songs to develop differently. There’s a tradeoff between the pro sounds you get with time in a studio vs. creative potential when you try to do it yourself at home. A home recording gives you more opportunity to try things out, follow odd thoughts to their conclusion, and build different arrangements – but more scope to go off the rails too.
We had spent a while getting these songs in shape to record, and had a bunch of noisy guitar tracks when we started. But then as we worked them up we peeled stuff away – lost some drums here and there, played around with samplers and drum machines, replaced electric guitars with acoustics – and it came to life.
After tracking at home for a couple of months, we had Wayne Connolly do a few days mixing. He organised sonic jumbles into artful messes, added a few synth lines and brought it all together.
What’s your favourite work at this point in time?
Bird is a good representation of the recording process. With the exception of a few hi-hats, we cut all the original drums we had tracked and made other instruments do that work. There’s an aggressively percussive (but quiet?) acoustic guitar holding the intro, occasional sampled 909 beats, shakers and tambourine changing the rhythm section perspective throughout the song. Various synths and vocals float through on different trajectories, and the bass – when it eventually comes in – uses the steadiness of the guitar to wander off on its own and provide low register counter melodies.
How would you describe your sound in food form and why?
Chips? Hot and salty.
Tell us a quick, on the road or studio, anecdote.
Most of the shakers we tried to record didn’t sound right. The majority of the ones we kept on this record are little bells collected off Christmas crackers and looped together with a piece of wire.
What, or who, inspires you?
The songs on this record are generally written about or through an anthropomorphised view of animals I know. It’s a loose concept album about creatures in the suburbs, on one level at least. Dog started with my staffy sleeping at my feet; Stray after I found a kitten in the park; Bird after a development drove away birds who used to live in my suburb; and Echolocation about a bat colony nearby.
This concept was inspired by a few sources. One is a really inventive book by Ceridwen Dovey called ‘Only the Animals’ which comprises of ten short stories following animals who had lived and died over the last 100 or so years. It dips in and out of history, artistic turns, writers and violence to offer different perspectives on historical moments. Another is Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka’s book ‘Zoopolis’, which looks at animals we live alongside in human societies and the way we think about interactions. And the third is Marc Bekoff and Jessica Pierce’s ‘Wild Justice’ that looks at the moral and emotional lives of animals.
Which song do you wish you wrote?
Today’s winner is The Notwist – Consequence, with honourable mentions to Slint – Good Morning, Captain, Gillian Welch – Revelator, Falling Joys – Lock It, The Shins – New Slang, 070 Shake – Under The Moon, Hop Along – Tibetan Pop Stars, Khalid – Free Spirit, Leatherface – Springtime, The Hummingbirds – Blush, Boards of Canada – Dayvan Cowboy, Kate Bush – Hounds of Love.
What changes with your musical direction have you made due to the Covoid-19 restrictions?
I think we got a slight head start on the current situation by locking ourselves in to make this record at home, but it’s a bit of a downer not being able to head out and play for people.
The video for Stray is a bit of a reflection on where we are at – it’s a series of close images that I think are pretty engaging. It’s not a video we would have made in an un-locked-down world, but the new reality means you have more time to think about and look at what’s local. I think that’s our direction.
What’s next for you?
It depends a bit on the state of the world. We’ve learned a bunch of new songs and instruments but it’s not clear where or when we can safely play them. There seem to be a couple of options that are a bit at odds with each other – either a further embrace of technology and beaming through cables into homes, or taking a step back and organising slower and smaller gatherings. We would also like to make more records by ourselves at home where there’s time and space to try things and fail spectacularly on the way to stumbling across something new.
What’s your scene?
A lot of ins, a lot of outs, a lot of what-have-yous.
“Stray”, the second single from Key Out’s forthcoming album “Anthropomorphia” is available Friday 29th May on all digital platforms via Half A Cow Records.
Stray is a change of pace – a wash of attacking guitar, unexpected cross-cutting drums and a contemplation of suburban life, anchored by an insistent post-punk bassline. It finds a place on the sonic spectrum between My Bloody Valentine and Shellac, was recorded by the band and mixed and mastered by Wayne Connolly (Amy Shark, Matt Corby).
The video is a study of small details, finding interest in minutiae.
“An exceptional wall of sound that would easily fit in the discographies of either Kev Shields or Steve Albini, the Wayne Connolly-mixed track sees the trio dishing out a mesmerising mix of post-punk instrumentation, wrapped up in a slick two-and-a-half minute package that truly commands your attention.” Tone Deaf on “Stray”
Key Out will release their second album, Anthropomorphia, on Half A Cow Records, on Friday 26 June 2020.
Anthropomorhia is a bedroom recording featuring acoustic guitars and ageing synthesizers, toy percussion and drums, sequencers and vocal harmonies. It has the intimacy of a home recording, but the polish of Wayne Connolly’s mixing and mastering (Amy Shark, Matt Corby).
The home ‘studio’ gave the band the freedom to chop, edit and rearrange original demos and the songs changed. Electronics were swapped out for acoustics, and analog drums for sequencers. Rock songs became electroish-post punk (Chorus), filtered summery pop (Buildings) and close mic’d folk (Dog).
The first single Chorus was playlisted on Double J, made 2SERs best new music list, and was played across Austereo (Rebel Rock FM Qld), ABC Darwin and community radio across Australia. Doubtful Sounds called Chorus “dark, melancholic and moody synth-rock… bringing to mind acts such as Underground Lovers, Ride and New Order”.
The album’s ten tracks clock in at just over 20 minutes. The longer tracks on Anthropomorphia would have been short on 2019’s What (Do) You See. “We’ve always liked the complete sounding two-minute pop songs of Joyce Manor or Sneeze or The Magnetic Fields or Guided by Voices, but they weren’t our template” says Paddy Haid (ex-Sarah Blasko, Ides of Space) “we just built songs around the important parts, and let them run their course”.
The album will be available on limited edition marbled vinyl and via digital platforms through Half A Cow.
The band is looking forward to playing songs from the album live in a reopened world or via digital channels in the near future.
Key Out is Paddy Haid, Rohan Geddes and Caroline Wake.
“That bassline, those synths, the sharpness of the guitars, the vocal delivery; if you’re a fan of post-punk and atmospheric indie rock, you’ll love this new single from Sydney’s Key Out.” Double J