Ahead of his imminent EP Coffee, we caught up with singer-songwriter Bobby Uncle for a chat about his artistry and recent single Pendulum.
Last month we were treated to the shimmering synths and bedroom pop stylings of Pendulum, the infinitely catchy single from Sydney singer-songwriter Bobby Uncle.
The track found Uncle wrestling with his mood swings, as soundtracked by sparse electronic production and the croon of his buttery vocals. “I remember thinking ‘Is this a Harry Styles song?’, Uncle told us of the earworm hook that birthed Pendulum.
Below, the musician swings by Happy Mag to dive deep into his artistry, his latest single Summertime (Make It Happen), and upcoming EP Coffee due out in March.
Catch our full interview with Bobby Uncle below, and scroll down to listen to Pendulum and Summertime.
HAPPY: What are you up to today?
UNCLE: Currently, I am mixing the rest of the tracks on my new EP ‘Coffee’, still doing revisions on the lead single ‘Coffee’. When I need a break, I will start producing a new track that comes to my head during the day.
This can be a dangerous habit as it may end up being put on the EP if it is good enough, making me want to delay the release of the EP more.
HAPPY: Your new track “Summertime (Make It Happen)” is just around the corner! Can you tell us how it compares to the darker mood of “Pendulum”? Is it a complete switch, or are there threads connecting the two songs?
UNCLE: Summertime is not connected to ‘Pendulum’. I just wanted to write a feel-good summer track. The lyrics are about chasing a dream, whether that is a love interest or a career opportunity.
I thought of the track while mowing the lawn. With the sunshine on my face and in good spirits, a choired voice singing the chorus popped up in my head.
I spent the next 30 minutes mapping out the structure and what instruments that the song would need and produced 90% of the track over the next 3 hours in my bedroom.
80% of the verse lyrics are what came to my head when singing the melodies during those 3 hours. The other 20% was changing words to make it coherent and rhythmic to the bass line of the track.
HAPPY: We loved the unique blend of electronic and instrumental elements in “Pendulum.” Can you walk us through a typical day in the studio while recording a song like that? What does your creative process look like?
UNCLE: The hook came to me while cooking in the kitchen. I remember thinking ‘Is this a Harry Styles song?’. After my sister confirmed it was not, I started producing the track in my bedroom.
Originally the lyric of the hook was going to be ‘Swinging like a wrecking ball’ but thought that was similar to Miley Cyrus’s song ‘Wrecking Ball’. Coming from a background of Physics, I changed the lyric to ‘Pendulum’ after Newton’s cradle.
I then played with ‘Retro Synth’ on Logic to create the central melody of the track, mirrored it with a phased electronic guitar and had an acoustic guitar in the centre which gives it that blending of electronic and instrumental elements.
Using ‘Serum’ I emulated the sound of a Pendulum on Newton’s Cradle during the chorus. The second verse of the track was sang in one take and the lyrics used were what came to my head at the moment and likely inspired off the clips I watched from ‘The Notebook’ off YouTube earlier that day.
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HAPPY: Do you see genre as a box to be ticked or a playground to explore? How does “Summertime (Make It Happen)” fit into your overall soundscape, considering “Pendulum’s” different vibe?
UNCLE: I see genre as a playground to explore. I have always loved making music by the way I like it – otherwise, you will quickly fall out of love for songwriting.
Occasionally, I will produce a track that is in a genre I am completely inexperienced in, e.g. Reggaeton or techno, to develop my production skills and get ideas for songs I write under Bobby Uncle.
Though both ‘Summertime (Make It Happen)’ and ‘Pendulum’ have different emotional appeals, their foundations are derived from the same elements – 80s influenced synths, Australian Indie guitars, groovy bass line and a hip hop/rock influenced drum line.
HAPPY: The theme of emotional fluctuation is central to “Pendulum.” What drew you to explore this topic? Did you find it personally relevant, or was it an artistic exploration of a broader human experience?
UNCLE: The themes of ‘Pendulum’ explore both personal and broader human experiences. The struggle of retaining a relationship was the motivator for the lyricism behind ‘Pendulum’.
The changes in moods while remaining in a confusing relationship with an ambiguous future is analogous to a Pendulum swinging back and forth between good and bad until it eventually settles in the centre.
Whether the pendulum settles from two people working it out or them going their separate ways is dependent on the relationship. For mine, it was the latter.
HAPPY: The single draws upon many sounds and genres. Do you see genre as a restrictive or liberating force?
UNCLE: To keep your music to one genre restricts you from connecting to a broader audience. I personally believe it would be detrimental to having longevity in the music industry. Every artist has a foundation from an era of music they grew up on.
For longevity, I believe the building blocks used needs to come from elements of modern-day tracks. Coldplay for example have evolved their sound to the changes in the music scene, yet you could still bundle ‘Yellow’ and ‘Sky Full of Stars’ in the same album and not think that they’re from a different artist as they both have an early ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ 90s/2000s pop feel.
HAPPY: What are you hoping listeners take away from your recent EP “Coffee”? Were there specific messages or feelings you wanted to convey through the collection as a whole?
UNCLE: I hope to emulate the journey of consuming Coffee for listeners of the EP. The EP will start with high energy tracks that listeners will struggle to sit still to.
As listeners progress down the track list, the energy from the songs will start to slow. The last track of the EP will be a slower, more personal track to signify the end of the caffeine high and the anxiety that follows.
HAPPY: The idea of mood swings is central to the track. Why was this topic particularly inspirational?
UNCLE: I have always struggled with mood swings which derives from anxiety. There are few tracks that talk about the issue and trying to live through it.
Using a relationship as a metaphor or central theme of the lyrics made it easy to talk about the topic in a way that can relate to a broader audience, including listeners who do not struggle with mood swings.
HAPPY: What do you hope listeners gain from your EP ‘Coffee’?
UNCLE: To enjoy, dance, sing and relate to at least one of the tracks within the catalogue. I also hope those closest to me can understand how I think a little better, as explaining the way I behave, or act can be difficult to verbalise at times.
Hence, why I use music as a medium to talk about issues that people might find uncomfortable talking about in social settings, but to do so in a way that leaves a new favourite melody in their head for weeks.
HAPPY: Any exciting hints you can give us about upcoming projects? Is there a follow-up to “Summertime (Make It Happen)” in the works, or something completely different?
UNCLE: I am hoping to release the lead single ‘Coffee’ shortly before the release of the EP. This track and the others that will follow are high energy.
Though, they are not the same vibe as ‘Summertime (Make It Happen)’. I always try to make the songs I write somewhat different to the last as I do not want to be stuck in a bubble where I make the same track a bunch of times and all my songs start to sound the same.
HAPPY: What makes you happy?
UNCLE: Enjoying time with my family and friends – writing music that I hope they will enjoy. The excitement in their faces when I write a track they relate to can never be matched by anything else.
Performing on stage is something I am addicted to, especially when you hear the audience singing the song I wrote back to me