Melbourne newcomers Edith Lane sat down to unpack their music, songwriting, and their stunning debut album.
If you haven’t wrapped your ears around Eden On The Park, the stellar debut single from Melbourne’s Edith Lane, then you’re seriously missing out. A playbook of alt-rock in all its forms, the band have well and truly knocked it out of the park with this one.
Fresh off the release, the band’s Vic and Em sat down to reflect on their creative process, their formation as a band, and their approach to Eden On The Park.
HAPPY: Hey guys, what are you up to at the moment?
VIC: Hey mates, a whole lot! Promoting this album, working, trying to write a second record, and just waiting out the end of lockdown.
EM: What Vic said! I’ve also been spending a lot of time kicking back listening to the cool things Vic’s been writing on guitar and piano, imagining all the possibilities. (They’ve been coming up with some super interesting things that my brain has been enjoying whilst not being able to go out).
HAPPY: Bring us back to the start, how did Edith Lane begin?
VIC: Ooft, that’s a long story, I’ll try and summarise it. Edith Lane started in 2012 when I was 17. It started off with just me and my friend Edwin playing in a room with an eight-track recorder, being really content with just making sounds. I think at the time, even though we wanted to start a ‘band’, we were kind of just exploring sound. We’d make all sorts of weird stuff like getting our friend to read books through pedals, or messing around with accordions and toy pianos. It was total play. We did some gigs with a permanent lineup for about three years and released an EP plus a bunch of rough live recordings. But yeah, at some point our wants for the band differed and we split. Around that time, Emily joined and helped refine the songs I’d written, starting the band we are today. We’ve got three other wonderful bandmates in our lineup too now. I’d say it’s kind of like two beginnings.
HAPPY: Can we just say that your album is breathtaking. Could you walk us through its conception?
VIC: Oh youse, you’re making me blush. It wasn’t so much a conception as it was a realisation that this particular collection of songs worked together. They’d been on our setlist for years and they just kind of developed a succinct sound because of that. What I initially wanted to do was three albums with really distinct sounds and imagery, but I can only ever get one or two good songs with one particular ‘sound’ or style before I get anxious about it being monotonous. Besides the actual music, I think the album came together from a need to be heard. I had a lot to say about myself to people, so I had to manufacture a space where I could scream and cry at people without looking like I’d lost the plot. Music’s good like that.
EM: I came in later in the piece for most of the tracks. At the time, I was playing bass in the band and was listening to In Rainbows at least once a day. I kind of took what Vic had written and came up with some ideas for polyrhythms and polychords to go along with them. When we were in the recording studio, I had the chance to come up with drum and keys parts that followed those ideas. I think studio time was incredibly helpful to get to the point we got to… so many opportunities to add layers upon layers!
Basically, conception was all down to Vic, I just put in some flourishes.
HAPPY: Eden On The Park has such an intimacy and rawness to it. How important is honesty to you in your songwriting?
VIC: I think it’s the core of it. Honesty gives a song its potency and, in that sense, it makes it timeless for the performer. Whenever I write something that’s forced, even if it’s a ‘good’ song, I just don’t want to play it after a while. I’m also really anxious about how the music we play is presented. The audience can tell when you’re not feeling a song, because they’re not feeling it either, and that’s when you lose that connection.
HAPPY: There’s such a beautiful sonic layout on the record. What’s a catalyst for you guys when choosing a stylistic direction?
VIC: I’m not really sure, hey. I think we try to build our dynamics and tonality around the feelings we’re trying to convey with each song. In a sense, the songs would just sort of inform themselves once we started writing or recording them.
EM: I think the fact that both of us are so into so many different (sometimes seemingly contradictory) styles equally meant that whatever we were listening to on the day, we jammed had a huge influence on how the songs’ styles came through. There is never really a ‘plan’ for how a song will sound when we noodle with it.
HAPPY: Eden On The Park really drew me back to Radiohead’s Kid A in the way that you guys have just unleashed this weather of sonic. Were there any particular influences who inspired what we hear?
VIC: Oh heaps, I think I could write an essay on who inspired what on the record. But the big ones would definitely be Radiohead, My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Jeff Buckley. I think those artists influenced the broader sounds, especially Radiohead when it came to layering and arrangement. Album identity was really important to us too, so we’d taken a lot of influence from really succinct albums like In Utero and Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea that had particular ‘colours’ you’d associate with them.
HAPPY: The album’s been in the cooker for a while now. Could you break down what the process of writing Eden On The Park was like?
VIC: It was pretty difficult. Every song starts with a visual element. Usually, a space that evokes a feeling, and then the song would compliment that visual element. The literal writing part was all over the place. Some songs used a collaging process with bits of poems or music written at different points in time that I’d cut up and piece together like a jigsaw. Some songs would just come out of the blue in random creative spurs. A couple came in the midst of really intense emotional experiences where I couldn’t do anything but write. In a nutshell, it was a chaotic and inconsistent process.
The only time it was easy was once Emily joined the band. When we were finalising the songs for the album, Emily was able to just bring it all together and refined them to such an admirable degree.
EM: Aww shucks, Vic! I definitely have the easier tasks in this band.
HAPPY: What’s something that you think is lacking from music right now?
EM: For me, there’s not really anything ‘lacking’ in music. I think the fact that there is so much music coming out every day means it can just be hard to find that certain gem. It’s all there, we just need to keep listening to more artists and I find that giving a whole album a listen from start to finish can give your ears a chance to really hear more in what the artist has created. I’m often surprised when I start listening to an album, expecting certain flavours and discover that the things I love most are completely different to my expectations and it’s so, so exciting… I can get strangely nostalgic feelings from a piece that I’ve never heard before.
VIC: Yeah same, my only thing is I don’t like how people like Daniel Ek have manufactured this mentality that you have to be hyper-productive with music. I think the new age of music where people can record and produce at home is being exploited by companies like Spotify in that sense. I hate the idea that there might be young new musicians starting out who will get the impression that their music’s value is determined by how efficiently it’s produced. That might just be me though, I find unnecessary expectations stressful.
HAPPY: What’s on the horizon for you guys?
VIC: Hopefully write more songs that people will like. We’re pretty keen on doing a second record, I think we have our first track almost ready. Besides that, we’re eager to get back on stage and see our friends again. We’re also trying to plan out a live video recording somewhere cool like a cathedral or something, but that’s a ‘maybe’ project right now.
EM: Yeah, getting back on stage is going to be incredible! I’m pretty sure all musos, especially those of us who’ve been in the Naarm/Melbourne lock-down, are going to feel super inspired by each other and there’ll be a heck of a lot of amazing things on the horizon for us all.
HAPPY: Cheers for the chat!
EM: Thanks for the chat and for your support!
VIC: Yeah, thanks heaps. We’re really stoked you like the record!
Grab your copy of Eden On The Park here