If you haven’t heard of Slowdive, you’ve heard a band they influenced. The English shoegaze pioneers have played a part in too many sub-genres to count, from modern electronica to post-decline offshoots like blackgaze and lo-fi.
Earlier in 2017, Slowdive released their first single in 22 years, a glittering track named Star Roving which knocked us straight back to the early years when we were blasting the band through cassette tapes.
With their new album slowdive due out on Friday, we pieced together a round table of Aussie musos who felt the broad influence of Slowdive while their careers were budding. Read on as Hazel English, Darts, Bleeding Knees Club, Dream Rimmy, Splashh and Lowtide pick their favourite Slowdive track, why they love it, and what they think of the resuscitation of shoegaze in Australia.
How did the music of Slowdive influence your favourite Aussie bands? We ask 6 locals what the lords of shoegaze meant to them.
Hazel English – Alison
My favourite Slowdive song is probably Alison. I really love the lyrics and the chord progression; it’s a very simple song but so affecting and beautiful. I also love how it has this melancholic quality about it but it is very subtle.
Slowdive is a band I continually keep coming back to, their music has a very comforting and calming effect on me. My favourite album of theirs, Souvlaki, is just one of those albums that, no matter how many times I listen to it, it still feels fresh and new to me; it really has stood the test of time. I know I really like a band when I listen to their music and it gets me in the mood to write a song.
Shoegaze as a genre has definitely made a comeback in the last few years; it’s exciting to see that a lot the older shoegaze bands from the 90s like Ride and Slowdive are getting back together and releasing new material.
Darts – Avalyn 1
I was always a fan of the EP, in particular, Avalyn I. It’s one of those songs that make you feel like you can suspend your emotions in mid-air to unpack for the five or so minutes of it. When Rachel Goswell’s high vocals come in, they act almost as a guide in the experience, and when it’s over you realise you haven’t moved.
I always refer back to Slowdive when I’m overthinking a structure, or sound, or length of a song. Particularly, when writing Aeroplane, I wanted that big dreamy outro, I wanted to translate those feelings the way they do so fluently. They’re also a big part of me having too many delay pedals.
In Australia, the shoegaze scene is still alive and healthy, but I think it splintered off in a way, and found itself setting foundations for a lot of indie bands, and influencing other genres like electronica quite heavily. Slowdive changed a lot of things for musicians because they force you to really pay attention to the texture of a song.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/198514397″ params=”color=000000&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
Bleeding Knees Club – Dagger
I like this one the most because it’s just an acoustic guitar and direct lyrics. It’s the most simple song on the Souvlaki album. A lot of shoegaze bands have so many layers and sometimes hide bad songs behind a wall of sound, whereas this song sounds awesome with one guitar. It’s got a really sentimental vibe to it, it’s the kind of song that could take you back to a memory or another time in your life.
To me they’re a band that can set a nice atmosphere, or vibe to a situation. If I’m cooking breakfast in the morning and the sun’s out and I’m relaxed, I’ll put them on. I was really inspired by a lot of shoegaze guitar sounds for my last solo record.
I’m not aware of a big shoegaze scene in Australia, to be honest. I know a few bands but not many. I think Slowdive would have inspired a lot of bands that have influenced Australian groups. M83 and bands like Beach House seem like they have been infused by Slowdive in some way, and these bands have had a big impact on Australian music. I think the whole shoegaze resurgence is really still just happening, so we’ll probably keep seeing Slowdive-esque sounds coming from bands for years to come.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/316641587″ params=”color=000000&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
Dream Rimmy – Star Roving
Their new stuff just has this space and it’s so beautiful. Slowdive is obviously so influential to shoegaze bands around the world. They just do it so perfectly and every time I hear them I just want to write. Oh and when I was a teenager I used to listen to Alison and pretend it was about me – super lame.
A lot of my favourite shoegaze bands are Australian. I think the scene is really strong and so much of it is influenced by Slowdive.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/303629938″ params=”color=000000&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
Splashh – Crazy For You
This would be one of my favourites tracks from Slowdive as its a little more aggressive and diverse from their other material. It could almost be electronic. I always felt it was really clever, it never reaches its peak of satisfaction which makes it even sweeter.
Slowdive were one of the first bands I got into as a teenager. I don’t remember how I stumbled across them but it was a random occurrence as none of my friends were into ‘shoegaze’. From that day onwards I was hooked.
I was starting to learn guitar at the time, I was self taught and had a multi effects pedal which I used. My obsession with that sound made me explore a more textural style of playing which then gave me the confidence to write my own music. Since first hearing Slowdive I connected most with that euphoric wall of sound they create, which is something that still influences my music and guitar playing to this day.
Shoegaze as genre is not something I like to classify, like all genres in music. Especially within a certain scene or country. I feel Slowdive were at the forefront of a sound and culture and like most influential bands, they were before their time. I luckily came across them at an early age and they have played a big part in my own life.
Lowtide – Silver Screen
I’d say that my favourite Slowdive song would be Silver Screen, a demo from the Souvlaki sessions. Christian’s guitar is what draws me to this song. In particular, the density and tone of the swells, and the movements within that. But also, the melodic line it carries. So simple, yet so lush as it modulates around the chords.
Slowdive have had a huge influence on me and how I approach the guitar. They made me look at using it as more of a sound tool, by having it sound like anything but a guitar.
I love how the scene has blossomed in the last decade, especially in the last five years. I first started noodling around with solo ambient/dreampop kind of stuff in about 2002 because I loved the pastoral shoegaze sound of Slowdive but couldn’t find anything else local to listen to.
Back then it was really hard to get shows as there wasn’t any kind of compatible scene at the time. These days Melbourne is spoilt for choice. I feel extremely lucky to be surrounded by such wonderful, diverse talent.
I suppose it’d make sense to put this up, given it’s probably the most languid, Slowdive-y song we’ve written.[bandcamp width=100% height=120 album=2316467007 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=333333 tracklist=false artwork=small track=1188390728]
slowdive is out May 5. Pre-order your copy here.