A metaphor for gossip, Luna Park draws on the imagery of that iconic beaming face that looms above the entrance to the Sydney and Melbourne attraction park, and the track is beaming with attitude.
We caught up with Baxter Avalon to chat about her new album after her synth-pop knockout, Luna Park. Fair warning: Baxter Avalon kicks ass!
HAPPY: Hey Lilith! How’s it going? What are you up to at the moment?
LILITH: I’ve been finalising the rest of the Baxter Avalon album and finishing off a clip for the next single Witness. I also just signed off on production for an album for Bouclette this week.
A project by Ben from Oolluu. It is a slick synth-wave record and I make a performance appearance as Baxter Avalon on vocals along with other guest performers such as Marlene from the Fix Ups. The latest single for the Fix Ups, Enter your Soul, that I co-produced will be out in the next few weeks. There’s also an EP I made last year by Undercover Crops, a new post-punk band featuring members of Mesa Cosa, Carousel Club and Chev Rise out very soon. It’s good to have some projects that have been on the boiler for a while finally coming out. I’ve also been doing gigs and writing new tunes with Les Yé-Yé Girls, a sixties French-pop all female group.
HAPPY: We’ve loved ‘Luna Park! Really fun track, how is it having it out in the open air?
LILITH: It’s great to have the clip and single out and hear what people have to say about it. Most people think it’s pretty fun. Some people who are into my previous material are a bit confused. You get that. I think people will either love or hate Baxter. I still have loads of Lilith Lane songs to record too so that will be next on my list.
HAPPY: How does ‘Luna Park’ fit into the rest of the Rocketship Taxi album?
LILITH: Luna Park is one of the more upbeat tracks on the Baxter Avalon record. Other songs are more synth-wave with Juno pads and lots of vocal layering. I started making tunes in-the-box when I was working at a recording studio in Melbourne and it was a whole new way of songwriting. My previous three records were recorded with live bands and are very much about capturing the dynamic of musicians performing together in a space. A whole new character was born with this project and I have been quietly working on songs amongst making records for other people. Baxter Avalon’s sound is minimalist instrumentation and the style is completely different to music I was making a few years ago. Hence, the moniker. Baxter is to me like another self, someone I might have been if circumstances were different.
HAPPY: Where do you see the sound heading?
LILITH: I think Baxter’s sound will inevitably become more complex. Producing music with computers as a sound-nerd coming from playing in bands makes this style of songwriting and discovery of sounds an endless playground for me. I don’t really write with an idea of the sound in mind, I’m more focused on the story, but I’m naturally drawn to low-fi electronic sounds. I tend to write parts that instrumentalists could play live rather than using complex layering and heavy editing. I’m old school in the recording studio and prefer to capture great performance rather than rely heavily on post-production.
HAPPY: Were there any particular artists you were listening to that inspired the sound of Luna Park?
LILITH: The sound is very retro electro-pop. Artists like the Knife, LCD Sound System, and the 70’s synth-pop ‘Pleasure Principle’ record by Gary Newman were all swimming around my head. I read a book by one of Prince’s studio engineers who said ‘Pleasure Principle’ was on high rotation by the Purple one. A huge early influence of mine. On a fortunate and strange night I ended up at the Melbourne after party of Prince’s last tour and he came out onto the dance floor and had a boogie with us. He died shortly after which was such a shock. This project has been bit of a tribute to his influence on me. His early records changed my life. ‘Sign of the Times’ is one of my faves. I listened to that record again when Baxter was developing. My minimalist electro drums and vocals layering were definitly inspired by early Prince. As far as modern influences, I think Baxter Avalon is a female response to the school of Australian pop with a satirical tone like Spod, Kirin J Callinan and Client Liaison.
HAPPY: What inspired the bright angular neon themes of the film clip?
LILITH: I’d had that clip in mind for ages and shot it myself in my lounge room. The colours were inspired by the actual face of Luna Park. We did a photo shoot there and the colours were an inspiration fro the clip. It was pretty fun to make. Ben from Bouclette did the colour grade. He is also a film-maker and produced my next clip which will be out soon.
HAPPY: ‘Your mouth is bigger than Luna Park, I wish you’d find something better to do’ conjures fantastic imagery about someone not minding their own business. Where did you get the idea of Luna Park form?
LILITH: The saying is like a playground taunt that I would have first heard at school, or on TV? Have you heard it before? I don’t have much use for it in my everyday life but like most songs, it just rolled out of me.
HAPPY: Would you ever play a show in Luna Park?
LILITH: Absolutely. Baxter Avalon gigs will be highly suited to a theme park. Stay tuned!
HAPPY: What’s next for Baxter Avalon, when is Rocketship Taxi hitting airwaves?
LILITH: The album will be out later in the year with a few singles still to come before then. I’ll announce some shows soon. You can visit Rocketshiptaxi.com for updates on Baxter activities and other artists I’ve mentioned from our collective here in Melbourne.