Dave Rennick has been making music with Dappled Cities for over ten years, but has now decided to spread his creative wings with his impossible to google solo project And, before sensibly renaming it Light Pressure. Dave got on the phone with Happy to talk the evolution of Light Pressure into a new band, recording spontaneously and becoming Dave the Friendly Dictator.
Today’s ridiculously gorgeous illustration of Dave comes courtesy of Irene Feleo. Irene is an illustrator and designer from Sydney who loves hyper colour palettes, fine lines and shapes. Her work often explores concepts of isolation, folklore, imagination and superstition.
HAPPY: So tell me about Light Pressure. It goes without saying that it sounds a little more experimental from Dappled Cities
DAVE: So I’ve been having this concept in mind for several year now, and then at the beginning of this year I decided I’d take the plunge and see what might come out of it. And then towards the end of this year it sort of naturally turned into a band, so it’s more no longer specifically a solo thing, and more a band which is much more fun and collaborative anyway which is something that I prefer.
HAPPY: Did you want Light Pressure to be distinct from your previous work or did it just happen naturally?
DAVE: The process involved for making the songs for this project just by nature of me being on my own ends up being a different process and that results in a different song coming out. Dappled is a very democratic kind of unit, all the decisions are made between the five of us. Whereas this is one it’s just me steering the ship, and I go a bit crazy and I don’t think things through (laughs). For very long periods of time, but that’s just how I do things. But it just ends up a bit more, whacky.
HAPPY: When you say you don’t think things through, what do you mean by that?
DAVE: I’m just a very spontaneous creator. The way I do things is I decide to do something and then just go for it without thinking of consequences or who is actually gonna like it or care about it, it;s just like “Fuck it, Let’s do this! Is this what we’re doing? Okay let’s do it!” I think sometimes it frustrates the Dappled guys a bit because I go off on these unilateral tangents, but that’s why you do a solo career and satisfy those urges.
HAPPY: You’re not entirely going solo for Light Pressure, you’ve got Allan and Ned from Dappled Cities with you as well as Andy Cleland from Bones Bones Bones. At what point did you bring those guys in?
DAVE: Well I released that solo single mid-way through this year under my own name, and I suddenly decided to form a band around it, and that’s how I got those guys firing. After playing together it became apparent that it was a band, not a solo project. Or it’s somewhere in between, you know it’s a blurry line – it’s all in its formative stages as we speak, so who really knows where it goes from here?
HAPPY: So it was very spontaneous then?
DAVE: Very spontaneous, very natural. I don’t really have any grand plans, but the main plan is to just do stuff and release stuff. Not to be too precious with songs I make and just get them out there. Just keep it fresh and productive.
HAPPY: You said you started Light Pressure to be a bit crazy and free, but now with the other guys joining do you have to be democratic or is it more of a ‘Your way or the highway’ with Light Pressure?
DAVE: (Laughing) Well I guess in that perspective it’s still my solo project, because I’m still making all the fucking decisions and being “And so we’re doing this, and this, and this, and this!” But I think this is the only way this band is going to work. We’re not a bunch of 21 year olds gigging about town investing our heart and soul and grand plans into it. We’re just doing it for fun and I think the other guys are totally cool with it with me making all the creative decisions.
HAPPY: You’re like a friendly dictator in a way!
DAVE: Yeah! Like a friendly dictator! (Laughs). Dave the Friendly Dictator, I like that! The whole vibe of the band is very relaxed anyway. The guys come into rehearsal and the basic rule is “Just do whatever the fuck you want! Here’s a song, just play it, you guys are good enough musicians to know what to do so just fucking play it. And let’s go play it live!” We’re not sitting there scrutinising over a particular sound, I’m really keen for it to just be very organic and just rely on everyone’s musicality and make it awesome.
HAPPY: The last two tracks Light Pressure released, French Alps and U Know Me, was the production for those influenced by this spontaneous attitude?
DAVE: Well yeah, because those were the two songs that i was working on for the last two months. And when they were finished I was like “Alright, let’s get them out“, and now I’m working on the next song. I’ve sort of formed this release plan of digital releases once every two months until I have a collection of five with a B-side. The reason for that is that is the longest I can plausibly generate without sitting on anything for any longer than I need too (laughs). That’s me; making a song, releasing it, making the next song, releasing it – I’m not in the mood to make a song and then sit on it for two years while I make the rest of the record. I’m keen just to keep moving forward…and just expose myself, like some weird dude in a trench coat with no clothes on underneath. That kind of vibe (laughing).
HAPPY: That’s pretty cool, how many songs do you have in the works right now? Or is it strictly a song by song process?
DAVE: It is like song by song, but I have sort of sketches of fifty or son songs that I’m constantly working on. But I never just focus on one song, I sort of jump between heaps all the time when I come up with an idea, but then I’ll lock into one and make it. that sort of takes a month or so, just zeroing on that particular song.
HAPPY: Do you ever second guess yourself after putting songs out so quickly?
DAVE: Yeah. Man, there is so much second guessing. It drives me mad to be honest because it’s so silly in hindsight. Songs aren’t precious and music isn’t precious. Even the way the industry is going it’s really ramming that point home for everyone. Recorded music is fucking everywhere, anyone can do it now! Three and a half minutes of a snare drum, that’s what a pop song is. So better out that in I say, but I definitely have those moments where I’m like “Oh my God! Who’s gonna like this? Is it in the right style? Are people gonna think it’s this? Are people gonna think it’s that? But in the end people just forget so quickly (laughs), so it’s better just to produce rather than freak out and sit on stuff. But I’ve definitely been the victim of the latter.
HAPPY: Is that the advantage of doing something like Light Pressure? You can just do something quickly without worrying too much about it?
DAVE: Yeah, it’s just raw expression you know? It’s like I can’t really do any wrong when I’ve got a project like this with a name no one can google, and you’re a dude who’s been kicking around for so long. I got my shot together, I’ve got nothing to lose. So it is just raw expression. It’s also experimenting with styles that I haven’t expanded into before. I’m really getting into late 70s, early 80s disco and boogie, and I really like going to clubs and hearing that kind of stuff. So it’s really just me, in this instance, tapping into that style and seeing how it works, finding the things that I like about it and seeing if I can emulate it.
HAPPY: I noticed on your Soundcloud you have a few boogie-licious tunes. So what is your process for writing these songs? Is there a plan going into it or does it just happen naturally?
DAVE: I never start a song thinking it’s going to be a particular style. Usually it just ends up going in a particular direction. I’ve got folk songs and grunge songs, lots of Dappled Cities songs of course on my hard drive, so the style comes naturally I’d like to think. I’m not sitting there going “Now I’m going to rip off this style! (laughs). That’s called jingle writing!
HAPPY: You recently did a couple of launch shows as well as a few sneaky support gigs. How’d the Australian people receive Light Pressure at the gigs?
DAVE: I think they’re liking it, no one tell you any different would they? The show is quite stripped back. I really love the sort of live shows of Whitest Boy Alive and LCD Sound System where they’re really stripped back, super live, like raw, with those long songs that take you on a long disco, hypnotic journey, but keeping it all real. Real instruments, real bass, real drums, with simple kind of arrangements. So that’s sort of the basis of the live show, there’s no fireworks and samples and projections of shit going on, in fact everyone is sitting down because I’m over thirty now. So we’re sitting down and just jamming these things out and stretching them out into six minute songs. I think it’s working, people seem to dig it.
HAPPY: So moving forward when do you think the next single from Light Pressure will be out?
DAVE: November! The next single will be out in November, and that’ll be number three of the five, then there’ll be two early next year, and then an EP. Or an album. I don’t know (laughs).
HAPPY: Will that be brand new stuff or a compilation of all the stuff you’ve done before?
DAVE: Well I don’t really know. That’s a really good question. I’ll have the five singles and I’ll be like “Okay, now what do I do with these?” Maybe I’ll make a vinyl pressing of all the singles and do an EP, that’s why I’m heading it up this way, so I can have that catalogue by March next year and the decide how to turn it into something real (laughs).
HAPPY: You might even just keep doing singles.
DAVE: Yeah I’m happy just to do singles, they’re so easy! Albums take so much work! Dappled are going in to do a record in January – records take three years to make! Three or four years to make and get released. Sometimes it can be quite heartbreaking to send a twelve tracker out there because it’s been such a labor of love. I’m not keen to get into that kind of relationship with Light Pressure, I want to keep it as a casual sex relationship. Or like a porno (laughing).
HAPPY: Yeah. It’s something you enjoy, and other people also enjoy it through you!
DAVE: (laughing) Exactly, exactly! And it only goes for thirty seconds!
* As of today And is known as Light Pressure. So for those that have come back to read this piece again, just keep in mind there has been a slight name change :) For those who have just discovered this piece, forget this ever happened…
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