In a city where oppressive laws are impinging upon our creative lifestyle, it's refreshing to talk to artists who push forward and surround themselves with a strong diversity of artistic collaborations. Sydney-based 5-piece Jackie Brown Jr does just that. Having just released the track Sauvignon Bogan that follows lead-vocalist Madeleine's travels abroad, the group showcase their aptitude for cheeky insights over intriguing multi-influenced beats. The band take pride in collaborating with artists in all mediums, including selecting visual artists to create pieces of art-work for their 44 Project last year. Jackie Brown Jr are set to release an EP later on this year and will be performing at Sad Grrrls Club Festival and Psyfari in the upcoming months.
We chat to vocalist Madeleine Mallis and rapper/drummer Rhyan Clapman about the inspiration behind their latest single, the writing process as a 5-piece band and what can be expected at their exciting live shows. Ayla Dhyani writes.
Your latest track Sauvignon Bogan is a part of a song series about road tripping and travelling abroad. Is there an event that pin-points the inspiration behind the track?
M: Yeah, so I went over seas last year for a while. I spent three months travelling with a couple of my friends, so the track is pretty much about that. Then Rhyan suggested putting aspects of rap into the track about being an Australian overseas.
R: We had a lot of fun making it. It was really good. In order to write lyrics for it, I wanted to have specific examples of what happened to them overseas to keep up with the idea of the song really being about Maddy's travels in America and Canada.
M: When Rhyan was trying to figure out lyrics, he kept coming back to me saying "so did this actually happen?" (laughs).
As a 5-piece band, tell us about your writing process as a group.
R: Our writing process has actually changed a lot recently. It used to be mainly Maddy who would come into a rehearsal with the songs pretty much written down and notated. Nowadays, we would have one person come into the band with an idea, then we'd have a generic brainstorm surrounding that one idea and turn it into whatever makes it "Jackie Brown Jr" and that way, we are also integrating a lot of our different sounds. For instance, I'm very hip hop influenced and the rest of the band has their own different sounds. Gideon Traurig, our bass player for example is very funk and rock based, while our other guitarist Michael Brady is very influenced by jazz. So we all have our individual influences that we bring to the drawing board.
Rhyan, as the drummer and rapper for the group, do you find many challenges combining the two mediums?
R: It's really hard sometimes. I haven't practised certain grooves with certain types of rapping, but it's very fun. But I guess it also allows the band to do a lot of different songs that other bands don't really get to do. We have these added vocals and rap music is very accessible to us as well. But yeah, it's mostly really fun (laughs).
Who are your biggest musical influences?
M: I think when we started, I really wanted to be a classic '60s soul band. But that didn't end up happening, because I can't write like that (laughs). I'm listening to a lot of Alabama Shakes - I really like that sound, and lyrically I'm quite influenced by Courtney Barnett at the moment. There are a lot of different things really. But everyone has such different styles, and that helps a lot with developing our sound.
Tell us about the concept behind The 44 Project.
M: So again, that didn't really turn out the way that we wanted (laughs). They were meant to come out while I was away, so we just recorded a whole lot of tracks beforehand and we tried to release one track a month, but it didn't really end up that way. But one of the important things about that release was the fact that we worked with visual artists in Sydney and got them to make artworks in relation to the songs. We didn't give them much direction, they just drew what they thought the song reflected. So we're trying to create a nice collaborative environment, because with music and creative arts it's important to always be working with other people otherwise there isn't really a point to it.
R: One of the things that I really like about what we're doing as Jackie Brown Jr is we're always looking for ways to collaborate with other people across the arts-board. So we've got these visual artists that we worked with in the 44 Project and a little bit more recently, we were a part of the COMMUNE Locally Made Market in Surry Hills and just artistic spaces where people get to express themselves artistically. We always like to be a part of that. Our guitarist, Michael Brady just said the other day that he prefers to make music rather than be a musician and that's totally reflective of who is, he just pushes and expands, and that's all that we want to do in this band.
M: There's also a group called Sad Grrrls Club who we work with sometimes. They're really cool because they try to get women and non-men in music up on stage and create a line-up that has more diversity to it.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
M: We're going to put these two new songs on an EP, which we're going to record in the next couple of months. At the moment, we're just writing a whole lot of new tunes. I feel that these two songs are very different to what we've released in the past and in a way, we do prefer this sound a lot more. So, we're trying to write more songs with this style. We're also planning on heading down to Melbourne soon and we're playing and Sad Grrrls Club Festival and Psyfari and recently, a couple of friends and I launched a creative collective, which Jackie Brown Jr will play at, so that's another thing that we're going to be a part of.
What can listeners expect from your live shows?
M: They're really fun. We get ridiculous (laughs). We just started doing this new thing where we get everyone in the room to sit down at the start and then they have to get up as it gets louder. And you know it actually works, even in a venue like Tokyo Sing Song at midnight and everyone's a little bit tipsy, people still just got into it.
R: Plus everyone loves to sit down. That's what Jackie Brown Jr does. We just like to do a community service and help people sit down during a long night (laughs).
M: We have a lot of sing-a-longs and embarrassing banter, but we can't help it and we have fun.
What moves you?
R: I'd say stories. We're very much into good stories. Maddy's been making a lot of music lately that tells a story.
M: Yeah, good stories. Good wine chats. I just love getting to know people and hearing their stories and connecting with people.
R: Yeah, I would say that moves me.
Thu AUG 18 // SYDNEY - Mercentile Hotel
Thu AUG 25 - Mon AUG 29 // CAPERTEE VALLEY - Psyfari
Sat OCT 8 // SYDNEY - The Factory Floor (Sad Grrrls Club)