Interviews

Drapht shares how his latest album reignited his love for music

Drapht talks upcoming WA tour and explains how his latest album, Shadows and Shinings, helped to reignite his passion for music and songwriting.

Happy had the opportunity to speak with Drapht about his upcoming WA tour, kicking off on October 15, and his most recent album – a captivating and refreshing body of work. From the diverse collaborations to the relatable and shocking events that inspired its creation, Shadows and Shinings is sonically rich and explosive.

Drapht gave us personal insights into the significance of the album and how it re-ignited his passion for songwriting, making him fall in love with music all over again.

DRAPHT: Hey Alex, how are you?

HAPPY: I’m good, how are you? How’s your day going?

DRAPHT: Pretty good, pretty good. I had a string of interviews earlier on and just working on this tour that I’ve got coming up in WA so it’s just insanity.

HAPPY: Yeah you just got back from your last tour so how was that?

DRAPHT: Well the national tour got cancelled and I could only play Perth. We announced this national tour the week of the album release and then the next week all the Delta variant COVID news just started hitting left right and centre. The timing was just terrible, but the silver lining, being in WA, we did have to cancel the tour but then we could regroup locally and we’ve now structured a 14 day WA tour which starts in two weeks which is amazing. I can’t wait to travel, get out of Perth, get some sunshine.

HAPPY: Yeah that’ll be nice to have that return to performing in different areas will be cool.

DRAPHT: It’s crazy to think about it because I’ve got a couple of other shows over east, two in Victoria next year, so fingers crossed they can happen,  two in Tasmania in early November and I’ve got so much PTSD around booking flights at the moment.

HAPPY: Really?

DRAPHT: Yeah, just because I’m self-managed, I try to save income where I can in terms of travel and logistical stuff so when you’re booking flights and accommodation and ground support around a time that’s so fragile, and you just don’t know what’s around the corner, you can only take it a day at a time, just the fear about it all falling over again.

HAPPY: Yeah, and not having control, that would be horrible. Well hopefully it doesn’t fall through…again!

DRAPHT: Yeah, fingers crossed. It’s more our border than everyone else’s, like Mark McGowan being an absolute stickler for hard border rules and having to quarantine coming back from anywhere for that two-week period is just not feasible for any touring act so.

HAPPY: Well it’s looking up now so, I’ve got my fingers crossed for you.

DRAPHT: I’ve got my fingers crossed for you guys more so! Far out, all the poor people in lockdown on the east and just any sense of normality would be amazing for you guys.

HAPPY: We’re looking forward to that October 11 date I’m telling you now. We’re just so over the lockdown. I don’t even know how Melbourne have done it, it’s just insane. But I wanted to talk about your track Problem Here and you collaborated with a few different artists on that track so you had Perth rapper Complete and pop-punk artists Eli Greeneyes. I wanted to know why you wanted to collaborate with these guys on this song?

DRAPHT: Yeah those to guys are two of my closest friends here in Perth. Complete is someone who’s been around in the local scene for at least – I’ve been friends with him for about 10 – 15 years – and he’s on my label as well so it’s kind of a no brainer. Eli Greeneyes, he plays in my band, we’ve been collaborating for the last 8 – 10 years as well. I think as a whole for this record it was just about writing and collaborating with friends and family first and foremost and just making sure that energy aligned and that people could feel that in the finished product of the album.

HAPPY: Definitely.

DRAPHT: So that was actually one of the last songs for the record. There was a little bit of a missing piece within the puzzle and I really wanted to get Complete on a song where it was just him and Eli Greeneyes had this hook idea and it sort of just came together at the eleventh hour so I’m stoked that one actually found a home. Funnily enough, it’s always the way, the ones with the least amount of energy around them – in terms of how much time I put into a song – tend to go the furthest. So this one is my highest-streamed song in the last two weeks and I think people can just feel the effortless nature behind not overthinking it and not worrying about it too much and letting the song just speak for itself.

HAPPY: Yeah and just not tweaking it too much. I definitely noticed that with some of the other artists I’ve interviewed. They’ve said deliberately avoid spending too much time on a track just because it feels like it loses its naturalness about it when it’s worked on too much.

DRAPHT: I’m the opposite.

HAPPY: Really?!

DRAPHT: Yeah, I’m a Virgo so…

HAPPY: *laughs* Perfectionist.

DRAPHT: For sure, and ill work on a song until it tells me it’s finished and I always have for the last 15 – 20 years. I’ll throw myself under the bus until the songs finished. But I’ve had some really amazing results off the back of that, sort of work ethic as well. You know, a song like Rapunzel I rewrote the chorus 8 – 10 times before it found its final home or Sing It, the same thing you know that probably had three different lives before the song that you hear today. But then you get a song like Jimmy Recard and it came together within the space of 24 – 48 hours and it feels like ‘where did that come from?’. But there’s a real channelling energy behind it where I don’t even know where that came from, it came from left field. Even with that song it’s the gift that keeps of giving, like 12 years later and the amount of people from overseas that visit my Spotify just off the back of finding that song within the last month even, its crazy!

HAPPY: It’s definitely got that timeless sound about it and I think Problem Here also has that as well. It’s funny that you said it sort of happened quicker than your other songs. I was reading about what happened to lead to Problem Here and all this stuff bubbled up at once. Like your dream home and all this shit just hit the fan! I just thought, at what point when you were going through all that stuff did you realise that you could turn that into a track? Like, when did that even hit you?

DRAPHT: Oh, I walk around with that thought in my head constantly. Off the back of that song, yeah I bought this property and first world problem after first world problem just started to unfold and in my phone one of the ideas I had basically just said “Fuck you Greg” which was the agent that sold the house to me. And the line that says, “I bought a house from Greg, he promised birds I got some planes instead, fuck you Greg” that was the first idea I had written in my phone and then I thought surely there would be so many people out there that would relate to this.

HAPPY: Yeah, oh 100%

DRAPHT: Like buying their dream home and you get in the house within the week and you start noticing stuff that you didn’t notice before. In my case the viewings were on days where planes weren’t flying over. So first week in the house I had a rude awakening, literally, like 4:30 – 5:00 in the morning when planes started flying over on a Tuesday I’m like ‘What is going on?’. Because of the planes I thought, ‘I need to get new insulation in the roof’ and I had to rip off all the tin, put new insulation in the roof and then I found termite eaten beams and it was like ‘Oh my god’. I literally felt like my whole world was crumbling underneath me.

HAPPY: I cant even imagine how frustrating that would’ve been. It’s just like ‘What else? What else is there?’. But something good did come out of it – a very great song came out of it so that was the flip side I guess.

DRAPHT: Yeah, thanks.

HAPPY: Has Greg heard the song, has he said anything?

DRAPHT: I hope so! He wouldn’t dare say anything to me. A lot of people gravitate to the ‘Greg’ part of the song on my YouTube video there’s comments about Greg and part of me is like, ‘I hope he hears it’. But when I first found out about the planes and the termites, I emailed him and said, ‘Aren’t you meant to let me know about this stuff before, aren’t I entitled to know about that stuff?’ and then a lawyer just hit me back, like he didn’t even write back to me. A lawyer basically said, ‘Greg’s not going to talk to you, if you have any communication from here on in, its between you and I’.

HAPPY: Wow! Greg is a shit dude.

DRAPHT: Yeah but I had a bunch of stuff rectified for the house and my studio’s still up there and I love the property and there was so much silver lining around buying that house and I wouldn’t change it. I got a good song out of it too!

HAPPY: Yeah! Memories there.

DRAPHT: I guess the downfall of having planes fly over three days a week it makes it really hard to try to record an album. So I got into this house, set my studio up, planes would fly over and then I’d have to listen to take that I’d just recorded and some stuff id have to re-record because you’d just hear the hint of a plane in the background.

HAPPY: Yeah very frustrating. Ah damn. I feel like after COVID you might have more planes flying over as well.

DRAPHT: Everyone has been saying that to me, so yeah.

HAPPY: I’m sorry to add to that! *laughs*

DRAPHT: *laughs* yeah nah.

HAPPY: Forget I ever said it! So, the songs on the album are very reflective and very honest especially Shadows On My Wall, Hollywood Hills, Hypocrite and Keys To The City. With your new songs, what has been the biggest shift in your musical mindset compared to your last album Arabella Street (2018).

DRAPHT: I think it goes back to focusing on the relationships that were involved in the records entirety. With Arabella Street I wasn’t feeling my most passionate about writing and releasing music at that time and I didn’t know to what capacity I would be releasing music within the future, just because I’ve been releasing music for nearly 20 years. It’s a bit of a roller coaster. There’s so much behind the scenes that you have to think about. Its not just me sitting in the studio writing music there’s all these other little pieces to the puzzle that are also very draining and play on your mental health. So this time around I wanted to focus on having people involved in the project that were going to energise me rather than take energy away from me in the process.

DRAPHT: So yeah I was really inspired by the local scene writing this record as well. Two people in particular, Complete, going back to him again, and another friend of mine Bitter Belief, who are a few years younger than I. But I wasn’t very inspired by the local scene – and I haven’t been for the last 10 years – just because everything kind of sounded the same to me. It wasn’t until these guys started to really pop off that it inspired me to look at my verses again.

You know, the last 10 years I’ve tried to work on my song structure more than the lyricism within my verses. But by having these two release music around the similar time, that really inspired me and made me put all my eggs into one basket in regards to the stuff that I’ve learnt over the 20 years with having more pop song structures but then rap lyricist driven verses as well. I haven’t really put that energy into a record for about 10 years. I didn’t know that I wasn’t but it was only until Complete and Bitter Belief were releasing their music that I thought, ‘Oh far out, that’s been such an integral part of what I stood for in the early days that had been missing for the last years’. So it allowed me to take a step back and refocus my energy on stuff that I was originally focusing on.

HAPPY: Right. Because you did say that some of the songs on this album were from 8 or 9 years ago that you hadn’t touched or hadn’t released. Was that back in a time when you were doing music that you hadn’t touched in 10 years, was that those songs that you’d kind of left behind?

DRAPHT: Yeah, there was one song in particular, there’s a track called Model Plane on the album that was off the back off my album 10 years ago The Life Of Riley and I had this chorus that would just follow me around everywhere but I just couldn’t finish it. So, Seven Mirrors came along couldn’t finish it for that record, tried to find a home for it on Seven Mirrors but it didn’t eventuate. Then Arabella Street came along and I had the idea to split that project into four pieces and then two pieces came along… It just started to feel like it was way too hard so I put all the energy from half of that album into what is now Shadows and Shinings. So a bunch of those songs were meant to be on Arabella Street and originated from my time in the states in 2017. Tracks like Hollywood Hills, Model Plane, what else… there’s a handful of songs.

HAPPY: Hypocrite?

DRAPHT: Hypocrite, yeah Hypocrite’s one of them too. A bunch of the songs that are on the deluxe edition as well, some of them have been floating around for 5 years now. So its amazing to finally have a home for all of my ideas and there’s not a dark cloud following me around everywhere I go. That’s sort of the process of me, I have a phone full of ideas and if those ideas aren’t finished they just follow me everywhere. I’m like ‘Fuck I need to those and just release them’. So now for the first time, for as long as I can remember, I’ve got a clean slate and it’s just the best feeling.

HAPPY: You must feel so light!

DRAPHT: I do! And I’m so inspired to get into the next project like the albums only been out for two weeks, the deluxe edition comes out next Friday and I’m just (inaudible) at the bit to get into the next album. I’m a little bit impatient, I’m thinking, ‘Ok I’m gonna get another album out next year!’ and it’s like, ‘But where are the song ideas gonna come from?’. *laughs*

HAPPY: *laughs* But that’s good, you’ve got that good feeling within yourself and I’m sure that’ll come through the next one.

DRAPHT: Yeah, for sure. I feel like I’m in a real good position in terms of my mental stability as well and I’m a lot more grounded, I’ve learnt a lot over the last 5 – 10 years and I can see a future within the music industry again because two albums ago I couldn’t. I didn’t think it was sustainable for who I was and where I wanted to be in 10 years and any good for my mental health.

HAPPY: Wow. Would you say that biggest shift in your mindset was reconnecting with those close friends and making music with them?

DRAPHT: Yeah, 100%. It’s like anything. You rocking up to work and working with people you love to work with. You know, you bounce off their energy. If you’re working within a toxic environment and people are trying to bring you down or talking behind your back, it’s going to affect you everyday. So, it’s like any other job and any other workplace you just have to be smart about the people you let in, especially when it comes to the creative process.

HAPPY: And listen to how you’re feeling as well and know that this is not good for your growth and it’s making you grow in the wrong direction.

DRAPHT: For sure, and I guess it comes down to the pressures of what media tells you is a successful musician as well and who you should be working with. But for me it’s like, music to me is the sense of community and being aligned with the people that have a similar outlook on life and want the same end goal. Its not all about money at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you have number one record or if you played on a radio station or if you have platinum plaques or whatever. Its not about bringing different elements that are going to help you to get to this hollow place within your career, it’s about maintaining the relationships that will feed the creative process and that’s longevity.

HAPPY: Yeah!

DRAPHT: Well that’s kind of what I’ve realised, personally. I guess I’ve got other people within the industry that do it a different way to I and are about trying to marry themselves up with people who are popping off in the moment. I dunno, it’s just never really worked for me and hasn’t ever felt honest and my listenership hasn’t attached to that way of working either.

HAPPY: I think it comes across. Because you put so much of yourself into your music, people can kind of feel if it’s an authentic version of you in your work. All those things are so important, they definitely influence that and how can you give back if you’re not in a healthy state of mind because of who you’re working with and the environment you’re working in.

DRAPHT: It’s the support network as well and who you can speak honestly to. If you’re writing with people that you can be completely yourself, and completely vulnerable with, of course people are going to attach to that. People relate to honesty and vulnerability more than anything else. So, if you’re in a room with someone you can’t be yourself to, and you’re writing something so personal, how do you expect anyone to connect to it. You know, it just doesn’t make sense.

HAPPY: Yeah.

DRAPHT: But any time that I’ve tried to write a “single”, it’s never turned out the way that I’ve wanted it to. It’s like, ‘Yeah I’ve got this fuckin bangin’ single’ and then it’s just like no one relates to it because you’ve just worked with people that you don’t even know and all they’re there for is the dollar.

HAPPY: Yuck.

DRAPHT: Yeah. The industry, the industry.

HAPPY: So, Travis Price was behind the album artwork for Shadows and Shinings and you said that was based on some profound experiences in your life. How involved were you in the visualisation of the album art?

DRAPHT: Minimally I think. I have so much respect for what Travis does. He’s just an incredible artist. I’ve been a big fan of his work for about 5 or 6 years. He’s looked after merch designs for me earlier. So when I had the idea of doing an illustration for this record, I came to him with the concept around Shadows and Shinings and the light and the darkness within one’s life but I wanted to encapsulate the house that I grew up in first and foremost. That was such a monumental time when I looked at my childhood, that was the representation, that was the core piece… I guess I was pretty involved when I look at it *laughs*. A lot of the elements did come from that initial idea, but I guess for him as an artist, just to be able to drive it home and simplify everything and just have such strong imagery that encapsulated the way I felt, number one, but also how the songs were coming together because he didn’t hear any of the songs either.

HAPPY: Oh right!

DRAPHT: Yeah, so he absolutely smashed it. I love working with that guy. He’s just such a breeze to work with. He’s an absolute gun that guy so I’m stoked to have him involved in it.

HAPPY: It connects beautifully with all the songs. It’s a nice connection visually and sonically. It was cool to see.

DRAPHT: Thanks. It’s such a gamble going into a front cover design and it was something that I’d worked on with two others previously and no one nailed it. So, me being the Virgo that I am was like, ‘I can’t, this can’t be it, I can’t sign off on it and I just have to be honest with this person and say ‘Look, I like it but it’s not where it needs to be, it’s not something that I can see represent the body of work that I’ve been working on for the last 3 to 5 years.’’ And I get so anxious dealing with artists that I’m trying to explain the best way possible to encapsulate how I felt or what the songs are about. Some people just don’t get it and Travis completely got it and smashed every element from the front cover to the back cover to the merch. It’s my favourite merch line that I’ve ever had – I’ve never been one to wear my own merch but I’m totally gonna be guilty of it this time around!

HAPPY: You gotta be your own cheerleader too sometimes. *laughs*

DRAPHT: Oh god, I’ve always thought it was so cringy, I was like ‘Man I’m not going to wear my own fuckin merch like some douchebag’ and then me at my album launch in Perth, I’ve got the album cover on my shirt, rockin the Drapht logo and it’s like, ‘Oh there you are, you’re one of those douchebags’.

HAPPY: Nup, I think it’s totally warranted. It’s a beautiful piece of art so why not flaunt it.

DRAPHT: Oh thank you, you’ve got the right idea.

HAPPY: Thank you Paul, it was lovely to talk to you.

DRAPHT: Yeah you too.

Shadows and Shinings is available on all streaming services – Give it a listen!

Drapht’s WA tour kicks off on October 15. Grab your tickets here.

Interview by Alex Stefanovic.

Photos supplied.