Music

Interview with Owen Rabbit

Loopmaster and experimental electronic whizz Owen Rabbit exchanged a few words with us in between dates on his Police Car single tour. Read what goes into making his tunes, his opinions on Beyonce and where Police Car came from.

owen rabbit

Today’s mammalian illustration is from bird-crazed Sydneysider Samantha Gold. Check out her awesome works on her Tumblr, Instagram and shoot her a like on Facebook why dontcha?

HAPPY: What it is that initially drew you to music and making music?

OWEN: I can’t really remember. I’ve always kind of played something, I think I was probably about 12 when I started to think I could make music and then from there I guess it was really because I started DJing at bush doofs in WA. I felt really great playing music for people and having them respond to it and having that connection with big groups of people. Then I started making my own dance music, I haven’t released it but it was hours of stuff. More recently I have started making my own, with my own sound and layering.

HAPPY: You’re originally from WA – how has moving to Melbourne impacted on the music you make?

OWEN: I had this idea of what I wanted to do and what I wanted to do technically in WA and I started looking for second hand gear. But I mean with the Internet it doesn’t matter where you are you can make music anywhere. Australia has such a sound, there is awesome music in Australia, all this electronic stuff coming out, yeah all of Australia has its own thing going on.

HAPPY: You use a huge range of instruments and sounds in your pieces, are they created spontaneously or do you premeditate the combinations and rhythms?

OWEN: A combination of the two, sometimes I’ll be playing around and say “oh that’s cool” and remember it and then do it again. I write a lot of music on the bus or driving in my car, walking around my house. I like to see what makes sounds, what I can make sounds out of. It can be either way. Sometimes I jam and pump it out and sometimes I hear it all in my head before hand.

HAPPY: Your music has been described as ‘experimental’ and ‘unique’ – is this something you were going for when you started out?

OWEN: I think it just happened, it’s not something I was really going for. Most electronic music by big DJs and producers is made with big clips, big clops of sounds, which is great you know, it sounds good but there are a lot of premade sounds. When I started I wanted to put all the gear together and start practicing so that everything I touched made an immediate sound. I thought it would be cool to put it all together and see how it sounded. Most of my gear is second hand and a bit mish-mashy, but I think I’ve got a good thing; I’m on a good thing with the sounds. I do have a laptop but I try to have lots of sounds programmed in that I’ve already made.

HAPPY: It’s a Saturday night and you’re getting ready to go out, what tunes are you listening to?

OWEN: Something really cheesy like, I love Beyonce. I think I would be listening to Beyonce, her new stuff in amazing. It sounds immaculate from a techy nerdy point of view, its so complete and crisp and brilliant, also it’s creative, so creative. I think there are only two songs on her self titled that go verse, chorus, verse, chorus, like a normal pop song, like her old stuff. When I first heard [her latest album] I was blown away. I know I said something cheesy like Beyonce, but I don’t care because Beyonce if fricken’ awesome.

HAPPY: It must feel pretty great having your first single Police Car released and available for purchase, what was that process like?

OWEN: I think I totally mucked it up, I’ve only just learnt how the music system works, [I’ve] learnt there’s the big man and he has to get the right things in order, you know, all the ducks in a row. I met Dave from Catch Release Records who is amazing – he is the coolest guy ever and he’s got such great things going on. He has been really great to me. As far as me recording, I did it all myself and I produced it myself. It was great doing it all, I don’t think I want to work with anyone else.

I have the skills to do what I have to do and I have it all in my house, like, I can’t imagine being in a rock band and not being able to just make music when I want. I would hate not being able to just sit down and write a song. You do a lot of self-analysis through writing which is something you don’t get to do so much performing live. It was a cool process. I want to put out a lot more music, when I get back home it’s back into the tiniest room in my house; seriously it’s like twister trying to get into that door!

HAPPY: Where does the name Police Car come from?

OWEN: I had this little instrumental thing that I had made, just a recording no software, it was called police car. Then I wrote the guitar riff and was like “that’s really pretty” then with the loop pedal I added more sounds and was like “crap I made that song police car a year ago!” so I chopped it up and played it over.

The song was from that part of my life when I was a bit younger and out all the time and in trouble. I wasn’t breaking laws but just in shitty situations. My life is really easy now and I was being nostalgic, it seemed like every time I left the house something shitty would happen and I didn’t know how to deal with being a teenager. Police car is like the end of the night, like the last thing you do is sit in the Police Car. That’s it, like the worst your night can get.

HAPPY: I think you had a really great crowd last night at Oxford Arts, how did you find the show?

OWEN: I had a great time, it was my first time playing in Sydney, I’ve got family over here so I spent heaps of time here as a kid but as an adult it’s nice just hanging out here and Oxford Art Factory is amazing, such a cool venue.

HAPPY: What are some things you are looking forward to on this Australia tour?

OWEN: I’m stoked about playing in Byron Bay. In a club you have to get your music to fit in a few hours with support, I feel like I never get to play as much music as I have. My songs are between 3 – 7 minutes long when they are recorded but when I play live it’s like 3 min prep before I can play the song, I have to record everything onto the loop pedal before I can play the song. Last night I played for 40min but that was only 5 songs. In Byron I get two hour-long sets so I really get to play, I haven’t had that that opportunity to just play for two hours. Also I’m excited about Perth, that’s where I’m originally from and The Bird is a fricken’ awesome venue, probably my favourite in Australia.

HAPPY: What are your plans for the future?

OWEN: The more you plan, the more success you have in terms of trying to sell your music, so I need to figure it all out, not just put up un-mastered tracks on Soundcloud and be like “here you go”, that’s a shit idea cause it kills the exclusivity and hype of the track if its just sitting there doing nothing.

I’ve got this opportunity to go to Seoul, my friend has a recording studio there and I really want to do that if I can figure out the money. I will be able to just make music for two or three weeks and I want to make some weirder music that’s more confrontational and difficult to listen to. I want to do that sometime next year and not write any songs before hand and make an EP, finish and master it and release it back in Australia.

HAPPY: Would you rather you can listen to any genre and any song you want but not be able to make music or perform for the rest of your life, or you can perform and make music whenever you want but only ever listen to just one song of your choosing for the rest of your life?

OWEN: Probably making music, definitely making music. Because I go through phases of not listening to music but I get itchy and cagey if I can’t play music. I went on a family holiday when I was teenager without a guitar or anything and went a week and a half without making music and, yeah, I couldn’t do that. Besides the reason people make music is because they have something in their head that doesn’t exist, you know, it isn’t a song so you make it and then you listen to it and listen to it until you get sick of it. I got really sick of Police Car when I was recording that, but now I like it again.

HAPPY: What makes you happy?

OWEN: Probably… getting the balance right between time with songs and time with family. When that’s all in equilibrium and I get to party now and then, that’s when I’m happiest. Lately it’s been amazing having a studio in my house, it means I get to make music two days a week, at least two days a week, which is awesome.

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