Today Dustin Tebbutt unveils his angelic Chasing Gold EP, the artist’s first juicy release since First Light in 2016. From the subdued chart-throb Love Is Blind to the sky-high Satellite and Satellite (ii), the EP is back-to-back with intoxicating tracks celebrating heartbreak, life, and human connection.
To celebrate Chasing Gold hitting shelves and to grab a little insider’s perspective, we reached out to the artist for a chat.
Penned during a brief period of intense self-expression, Dustin Tebbutt’s new EP Chasing Gold is at once his most uplifting and harrowing release to date.
HAPPY: Hey Dustin, how are things? What are you up to at the moment?
DUSTIN TEBBUTT: Hey Happy Mag! Thanks for having me! I’m working in my new studio today – it’s in a warehouse in Melbourne shared with a coffee roaster, so there’s plenty of awake juice flowing.
HAPPY: Your new EP Chasing Gold is out today. How are you feeling about it?
DUSTIN TEBBUTT: I’m really excited about this one, I’ve been sitting on the tracks for a few months now and there’s nothing I want to change. Early on in my career I had quite a few releases back to back, and it almost became the norm.. There’s been a bit more anticipation with this one.
HAPPY: I understand you did the majority of the writing in a single month, which was new for you. How do you think that process impacted the way the EP turned out?
DUSTIN TEBBUTT: Yeah, so I did a bit of touring and writing around Amsterdam and London last year, and came back home with the first half of the record. I think it was a lot easier to then record them all and have them feel like they belonged together because they came from the same place. In the past there have been songs from all kinds of timeframes, and it can be a bit harder to weave a thread through them. It’s more like a puzzle. This one felt more like making a sandwich, or maybe a pizza.
HAPPY: What held you back from writing in such a condensed period before?
DUSTIN TEBBUTT: I’ve always been writing constantly but I think I was a lot slower and held on to bad ideas for longer, so would spend lots of time trying to make them good instead of scrapping them altogether. Turns out that’s quite time consuming! Sometimes too, you may have a lot of songs, but the just don’t fit together. This time around though, I did a lot more co-writing which is something I’ve been trying out slowly and now love it. Having that extra energy and a fixed deadline (the end of the day) can be a really exciting way to work, it also allowed me to step back and hear parts of the music not as my own if that makes sense, so I didn’t have to do the internal battle of trying to decide wether it’s working or not, or whether I just think it’s working cause I made it.
That also helped me to trust my gut a lot more and was able to commit or walk away from ideas very quickly. There’s also a bit of luck just day to day with what you end up with at the end of a session… one of the most rewarding ones to work on was Satellite (ii) which I wrote with Tom Rosenthal in about two hours. I didn’t know that was possible, or maybe thought before that experience that if it was coming so quickly it was because the song was maybe a bit shit… and good ideas had to take time… but that one just flowed.
HAPPY: I’m getting a pretty heavy thread of lost love in Chasing Gold – is this a breakup album? I see how writing in a single month, at the right time, could really string these songs together in that way.
DUSTIN TEBBUTT: In a way, yes it totally is… in that I guess these are all stories about human connection and different facets of that, but for me they aren’t focused on a specific relationship. Some lines and songs are closer to home for sure, but there’s also a lot of things in there that are more character based or have come from jumping back into the past and scratching beyond the surface of something left there.
HAPPY: I really loved Innerbloom and Atlas In Your Eye, they’re a great footnote to the EP. When do you tackle track listing when a release comes out? Right at the end, or is there a moment of “these songs should close the EP” when they’re being written?
DUSTIN TEBBUTT: That one is always really tricky, especially in today’s world where a lot of people aren’t listening to full releases anymore. It makes it quite cut throat. My goal with this release too, was to just write a batch of songs that could stand up in their own right… more than creating a journey over the course of the album, so that made it even harder.
I shuffled the order around for weeks, and after lots of driving around at night trying different combinations in the car, this one seemed to make the most sense, and the way tracks were leading into each other felt like the right flow. There were songs too that I felt just had to be at the front, Chasing Gold, Satellite and Satellite (ii) in particular, so it was kind of filling in the gaps after that.
DUSTIN TEBBUTT: Musically I wouldn’t say he was a big influence, but I’ve loved what he’s bought to the table on that front indirectly perhaps. His ambient works for example had a massive impact on Max Richter and other minimal composers who I now adore, and his production work with James Blake, Nick Mulvey and Coldplay brought a whole other level to those records. The way he works, thinks and understands creativity is really inspiring though, and Oblique Strategies are so incredible! I also still really enjoy diving back into How Music Works by Byrne, together in creating that card set they’ve managed to condense many lifetimes of insight into a really fun and accessible tool.
HAPPY: What’s coming up next for you?
DUSTIN TEBBUTT: I’ve just finished setting up a new room down here in Melbourne and have been enjoying working my way into that. Looking forward there’s a few exciting collaborations coming together for the new year. The project I’m really busy with at the moment however, is an instrumental record I’ve started working on. I don’t think it will be a big release or anything, more just to satisfy my own creative path, but a big part of it is based on piano which is far from my comfort zone. Granted it might not stay instrumental for long haha, but I’m really enjoying getting back to basics and building some worlds without words in them for now.
HAPPY: Thanks for the chat.