Acoustic wielding singer/songwriters Josh Pyke and Jack Carty caught up to talk music, life changes, and favourite tunes.
What do Josh Pyke and Jack Carty have in common? Quite a lot, it turns out. They’re both Aussie musicians who’ve been performing and writing for over a decade. They’ve both found success in the indie-acoustic scene. And, last but definitely not least, they’re both family men.
The two thoughtful musos caught up to talk about everything from what “success” really means, to the best cities in the world. Take a read.
JOSH: What is the definition of “success” in the music industry these days?
JACK: I can only speak to my definition of success in the music industry. I am sure it is different for different people, and also probably depending on the type of music you are interested in making. Writing songs and making music has always felt like the right path for me. There was a time in my life where the answer to this question would have been something like “success is being able to keep going – to keep writing/releasing/touring/travelling and expressing myself for a living”.
These days I’ve got two kids and my own backyard, and I’ve also become really interested in all sorts of other branches and expressions of creativity. It’s more important to me to be a successful, well-rounded human being, than a successful musician nowadays. So, to answer your question: success in the music industry for me is being able to make the music I want to make and share it with a community of people who want to hear it – release it when I want, tour it when I want, and have all of that fit in with the rest of this crazy, creative, messy life I’ve somehow found myself with.
JOSH: You also have a successful card company with your wife (The Carty Club), do you find using your creative chops in that way helps with your music?
JACK: Yes! The more I delve into other creative spheres (design, literature, photography etc.), the more I realise that – though there are obvious differences in the technical skillsets involved – the creative spark really comes from the same place, and breakthroughs or discoveries you have in one discipline can positively influence work in another. Starting and working on The Cardy Club has definitely helped me unlock new facets to my songwriting, and my songwriting and experiences with music have been (and continue to be) hugely helpful in the setting up and running of The Cardy Club.
JOSH: How has becoming a parent influenced your creativity?
JACK: Becoming a parent changed everything about me. It’s the most wonderful, overwhelming, joyful thing that I’ve experienced and it helped me to unlock what feels like a whole new, deeper layer to life that I was previously unaware of. It’s made me more creative because I have a deeper and more intense well of experience to draw from.
On the other hand, it obliterated the amount of uninterrupted time I am able to spend on creating, and that was a bit of an adjustment at first, but it’s made me more efficient, and less inclined to second-guess myself and endlessly obsess on smaller details, which has definitely been a net positive. Being around kids all the time is great for creativity too, I find. They are so curious and interested in the world, and open-minded – it’s really inspiring.
JOSH: What is your fondest memory of performing anywhere in the world?
JACK: That is a really hard question. You and I have had some pretty amazing shows together over the years! Our gig at the De Roode Bioscoop in Amsterdam springs to mind. I think this one is a tie between getting to play Primavera Sound in Barcelona, the same year as Radiohead in 2016 – the stage was right next to the Mediterranean, and there were SO MANY people. And getting to play Union Chapel in London, because it’s such an incredibly beautiful venue, and that was one of those shows where I just felt transported and outside of my own body for a little while.
JOSH: Has being a musician created any situations or opportunities that you never would have had access to if it weren’t for music?
JACK: Literally my whole entire life as it is now is the result of situations and opportunities that I never would have come to pass if it wasn’t for music. I met my wife when she was working at my old publisher; most of my closest friendships have been forged through years of playing music and/or touring together; all the travel I have done has massively shaped me as a person, and the majority of that has been through music. It’s hard to imagine where I would be living, who I would be with, and what I would be doing if it wasn’t for music.
What’s been your favourite thing (so far) about your life in music?
JOSH: My favourite thing about being a musician and creative in general, is the freedom and flexibility. I can’t imagine doing the same thing every day or having to be at the same place every day. Being a creative definitely has its challenges, like COVID, for example! But the flexibility it’s given me has allowed me to spend a lot of time with my kids in their really formative years, and that’s really the most important thing for me. That and getting a free Sony PlayStation once. That was also my favourite thing. Except that my kids claimed it, so it’s more their favourite thing about my life in music.
JACK: What is your favourite song you’ve ever written, and why?
JOSH: Too hard! I can genuinely say that I love all my songs and can find something in each of them that I’m really proud of. But the truth is, they’re all so personal and written about such private things, that to nominate a favourite would feel like I was favouring the subject matter, or the person the song is about and I can’t do that! I can say that Middle of the Hill was the song that really opened up a career in music, so it will always have a very dear place in my heart, but I reckon I’ve written better songs, so it’s an unanswerable question I’m afraid!
JACK: What is the coolest fact you know?
JOSH: I try to stick to heresy and rumour, but since you asked, the coolest fact I know was gleaned from the book Sapiens. I’d never known that there were about four different types of humans on the planet at the same time! I’d always thought we’d evolved from primates in a kind of linear fashion, but it turns out Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens were bumping into each other at the water hole!
JACK: Aside from Sydney, what is your favourite city in the world?
JOSH: Again very hard to say. I love New York but wouldn’t want to live there. I love Melbourne but wouldn’t want to live there. London and Paris have some great aspects. Berlin is super cool, but also kind of a tough place. I adore Wellington in New Zealand, but the wind would get me down. The bottom line is I live in Sydney because I feel it’s the best!
JACK: Outside of music, what do you find inspires you the most?
JOSH: The older I get, I find that nature is the great leveller and greatest inspiration. Not in terms of inspiring creativity, but in terms of highlighting what a small part of greater whole humans, and more importantly, I am. When you hang out in nature and realise that it would just keep doing its thing, the ants would keep anting, the grass would keep grassing, whether we’re here or not, is a good feeling, and one that I seek out more and more.
Josh Pyke and Jack Carty both have newly released singles out.
Illustration by Jess Kitty Parker