It’s undeniable that Grids & Dots are serving Sydney’s latest shade of shoegaze. Fresh off the release of their latest single, we caught up with frontman Daniel Handaru to chat their influences, songwriting, and the summery bliss that is The Great Divide.
With two shimmering tracks under their belt, Grids & Dots are a project to be reckoned with. From their introspective lyrics and crooning harmonies, to their eclectic artwork, this indie trio are hands-on and fully tuned.
From The Byrds to Tropical Fuck Storm, their influences span wide, lending to their impressionistic take on Sydney life. Joined by the talents of Carmen Minikus and Pat Hisshion, we caught up with frontman Daniel Handaru for a candid chat.
HAPPY: Hey Daniel, how’s it going? Where do you find yourself right now?
DANIEL: Right now, we are back to rehearsing and getting ready to play our first live shows since March! It’s been such a strange year for us and everyone else. We’ve had the highs of recording and releasing our first singles, to the sadness and stumbling blocks that came with all the external stuff going on in the world. We’re also filming a music video for our next single on the weekend!
HAPPY: Congratulations on the release of your sophomore track, tell us about The Great Divide?
DANIEL: Thanks! The Great Divide’s theme is actually quite a sad, personal one regarding family members who are too far away, whether physically or emotionally. But sonically, we turned it into a really uptempo number, which I think reflects some kind of feeling of hope for turning the corner on everything that’s going on and being more free. We weren’t actually planning on recording it on our EP sessions but Wayne Connolly, our producer, liked a demo so much that he asked us to teach it to the band and we recorded it on the spot.
HAPPY: What was it about this track that inspired the more collaborative process?
DANIEL: With the songs we’ve written so far, I’ve always mostly written the structure and melody myself and then brought it in for the rest of the band to flesh out and add colour. But, I really wanted Carmen to be more involved in the songwriting and singing process. She’s great at harmonising and really adds her own character to the songs. I’ve always loved bands with multiple vocalists singing harmonies, like The Byrds, Pixies or a lot of those 80’s shoegaze bands, so we both wanted to try more of that approach.
HAPPY: Grids & Dots, where did that name come from?
DANIEL: Band names are kinda silly, don’t you think? It’s like having a superhero name or something. Carmen and myself both have day jobs as visual designers right now, so we really use some grids and dots in our everyday lives. People have pointed out to us that it reminds them of the Stereolab album titled Dots and Loops and I think I may even have been listening to that album a bit when we were trying to come up with a name!
HAPPY: How did you guys meet? Was there something that sparked the creative relationship?
DANIEL: We first met as roommates in a flat near Chinatown in Sydney. We came from such different musical backgrounds: I had only just moved back home from Canada and mostly was used to playing in noisy, more post-rock types of bands at the time and Carmen was a classically trained pianist. I think we eventually really influenced each other’s take on what music could be. Carmen started playing synth in a band that I briefly started at the time before buying herself a guitar and we just never looked back.
HAPPY: The artwork for The Great Divide is super striking, how did that come about?
DANIEL: Wayne had this idea that our song The Great Divide conjured up images of the great dividing range on the east coast of Australia and somehow, when he said that, it just seemed to suit the song perfectly and thematically. Like someone who is going away or has gone away to The Great Divide and we’re going to find them now. I manipulated images of mountains that I found online to look like watercolour and Carmen made a car to give it a focal point.
View this post on Instagram
‘The Great Divide’ is out today on all music platforms! 🌻 It’s been a wild 6 months to make this song happen, but it wouldn’t be possible without our incredible team. Huge thanks to all the talented musicians for being part of this song: @joshspolc , @annariots , and Gray Thomas. Thanks to @wayneconnollyproduction for recording and mixing this at @herculesstreetstudios and @gregcalbi from @sterlingsound for the beautiful mastering Job. 🎥Music video can also be found on YouTube💕thanks to @p.p.matereke and @booo_urns from @treasonflowers, @b.ling_film, @teagan149 and @datubdp from @oakvillefilms . Featuring @pat.tato @hanminikus_photos and @mini.minibus ✨ Single cover art by Carmen and Dan.
HAPPY: Are these two singles a taste of something bigger to come? An album perhaps?
DANIEL: Yes! We have another single coming very soon through Scenic Drive records and then we will actually release a seven-song EP that we’ve recorded (and are still mixing now) early in the new year.
HAPPY: Who would your ideal support slot be for?
DANIEL: Internationally, one of my heroes is the band Yo La Tengo – so eccentric yet so melodic. I’ve never seen them play and playing with them would be like all my dreams come true. Locally, we are massive fans of Sydney band Mere Women and my fave is Tropical Fuck Storm.
HAPPY: Thanks Dan, cheers for the chat!
DANIEL: No, cheers to you!
Check out The Great Divide here.