Musical taste shifts and stirs. Some artists create their music through a culmination of musical influences, while others will listen to genres on the polar opposite end of the sound spectrum from what they play.
Emerging Brisbane solo act Rebel Yell, aka Grace Stevenson, can tell you exactly where her sound comes from, and it’s perhaps the most dependable form of music out there; the CD-R which lives in your glovebox.
There isn’t much that compares to what Rebel Yell is doing these days. Dark, industrial techno doesn’t have a huge voice in Australia’s pop music vocab – but it bloody well should.
The enigmatically titled ‘dark tech’ CD, along with the soundtrack to 1995 techno-thriller Hackers formed the basis for what Rebel Yell would be – a deeply industrial techno act at home in the blackest corners of underground clubs and warehouse raves. Debut single Never Perfection has just been released in anticipation of EP Mother of Millions out August 19 via superb Sydney label Rice Is Nice.
Stevenson herself hails from Brisbane band 100%, and it was from playing with them that Rebel Yell was birthed. Speaking of the KORG ESX-1 which features heavily in Never Perfection, Stevenson says, “It’s funny, I got this new piece of equipment which id been using to write drum beats for 100% and it’d been itching away at me what else I could come up with.”
Every techno artist needs a drum machine, but it’s worth nothing if you don’t know how to use it. Never Perfection showcases Stevenson’s understanding of this legendary beat-making tool: “I just started to add more drums selections bit by bit (which is how I write each song) and this is what came out.”
If the heavy, dramatic percussion lines are the backbone of the single, Stevenson’s vocals are its flesh and bones. A great deal of darker techno forsakes vocals, but through some noisy distortion Stevenson manages to augment her drum lines while wholly occupying her industrial influence. “The lyrics are simple,” she says, “and over time became a bit more diva-esc in pronunciation, but I don’t think anyone knows what I am saying except for me.”
All things considered Never Perfection is as advertised; a killer dark tech track. The beats are sure to throw crowds senseless, especially in the song’s latter-half crescendos. A live Rebel Yell show would boast proper equipment – this is no DJ set – and Stevenson has simple instructions when it comes to gigging: “Turn the lights way down and the PA way up.”
Have a look at the video for Never Perfection, to get an idea of what she means – a Rebel Yell show will be filthy, so don’t come along if you can’t handle it.
In fact, playing such a dark style of music has, believe it or not, reared against Stevenson in the past. “I get put on a lot of mixed bills which is great but also sometimes completely inappropriate and I feel out of place” she says, and one can sympathise.
The Australian scene doesn’t offer too many outlets for harder or more obscure electro currently. Whether it’s a shortage of artists, as Stevenson explains “Brisbane has a few electronic acts at the moment but as far as darker electronic stuff goes, not too many.” A lack of exposure or a nightlife culture which isn’t too conducive to the genre, many artists like Rebel Yell find themselves playing illegal or unpaid warehouse gigs and house parties.
Which, Stevenson admits, she wants to hit up: “I’ve had so many people tell me how good Rebel Yell would be playing in a smokey warehouse with people raving, so if you own a warehouse please make this happen.”
The word is out. It’s refreshing to see techno get signed, so we hope Rebel Yell starts seeing the gigs her tunes were made for.
Finally, we asked Stevenson about other Australian acts. “There are some great things going on in Melbourne at the moment like Nerve, Habits, Vacuum, Lucy Cliche, EN V” she lists. “People who I’d really like to play with.”
We look forward to Mother of Millions next month, and any shows following.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/267574118″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]