Papaya Tree chat road tripping, Nannup, and why they’ll never be a boring band

It’s hard not to like Papaya Tree. Both on stage and off, a big smile on your face is the band’s number one priority. Of course, it helps that their music is a shit load of fun.

With the announcement that they’ll be playing the absolutely wonderful Nannup Music Festival, we thought it high time to catch up. So, we reached out for the latest.

papaya tree interview nannup music festival
Photo: Harrison Scott

What have the boys of Papaya Tree been up to in 2018? Before they jet off to Nannup, we took 5 with the band.

HAPPY: Where did the name Papaya Tree come from? Why not some other tropical fruit?

PAPAYA TREE: This is a funny one. So our lead singer Lee was working in a corporate job at that point in time, something to do with lawyering, and he couldn’t pronounce proprietary limited right (I mean it hurts our brains just thinking about it). He wanted the band name to be something along those lines, but he would mis-pronounce it and say Papaya Tree instead. And wouldn’t you know it, the name stuck and here we are.

HAPPY: You’re playing the legendary Nannup Festival next year! Which other acts are you looking forward to seeing?

PAPAYA TREE: To be perfectly honest we haven’t heard of too many of the acts on the line-up, which is actually super rad! We’re all suckers for the Aussie music scene and it’s always exciting to see so many great acts going through the motions and trying to make it doing this beautiful thing we call music. Ballpoint Penguins have our vote so far though, absolute cracker of a name.

HAPPY: How do you all warm up for shows? Do you have some kind of pre-stage routine?

PAPAYA TREE: Here at Papaya Tree Limited we believe in the power of the one, one two one’s. You know those scale warmups centred around the numbers you used to do in early high school choirs? Oh, we know you remember. So once we scream those out and regress everyone back to getting bullied in year seven for being in choir, we partake in some shoulder charges and some stray jabs to get the adrenaline pumping then we go out and play a rock and roll show!

HAPPY: Your music is pretty unique, especially in the context of Sydney. Are there any other local bands you can recommend in the same kind of vain?

PAPAYA TREE: First of all, thank you for a huge compliment! It’s hard to make something your own with so much coming in and out of your ears but there are plenty of bands doing it. We love Sagrada Familia, an awesome jazz hip-hop group, Micra, a very dreamy, synth-y ethereal kind of band, Lola Scott, who writes amazing tunes with great lyrics and very unique, unorthodox guitar parts, Ollie Thorpe, whose guitar and melody writing is so different and unique, and Ben Pannuci’s new record is super great.

HAPPY: Will you be making another season of your Tourtuga diary vlog about the drive (or flight) to WA for Nannup?

PAPAYA TREE: My god we love a Tourtuga don’t we. We’ll definitely be flying to Perth despite the tantalising 24 hours’ worth of mind-numbing driving we could do to inspire some content. We’ll definitely be taking the video camera though, so keep your damn eyes peeled. We’ve got some more shows lined up around March that we’re sure we’re going to run amok on like the previous tours we’ve done (check our Instagram for details xo). But hey, we’re on holiday and you gotta satisfy the three B’s. Beers, banter and buddies.

HAPPY: You guys aren’t super new to the scene anymore. In fact, you’re almost veterans. What has being in a band taught you about the industry, and yourselves?

PAPAYA TREE: Yes! We’ve been around for nearly two years now and we’ve seen everything from Jordy running over his own trumpet, to getting a parking or speeding fine in almost every city in Aus and it’s been a hoot. The thing we took away from it the most as a band is entertain your crowd. In the words of Lee, “life’s too short and money’s too tight to see a boring band”. When you get up on stage, you have a duty to make the crowd dance, to make them feel good and forget about all the stress that life can have. That’s what builds a successful band we feel. Write music from your heart, rehearse and practice your craft until it’s tight and then play it to a crowd at 110% energy. Music is a uniting force that no one can take away.

HAPPY: How do you guys manage to make your music sound layered as opposed to cluttered, considering you utilise so many instruments?

PAPAYA TREE: We don’t think that there’s some bulletproof theory to creating a well sequenced and arranged tune, it’s all about trusting your musical instinct and always voicing your opinions in the studio or in rehearsal. If we feel as though something’s getting in the way, we nut it out and look for a solution. If something’s not good enough, we’ll work to get it right. Giving each other ample space within a song is crucial as well. No one wants to hear a horn line over a main lyrical hook and no one wants to hear a 1one-minute jazz saxophone solo in the middle of an indie rock tune. Doing enough to hit the emotional intent of a tune and having the courage to do less is something we always think about when writing or recording.

HAPPY: Will there be a Papaya Tree album out by the time Nannup comes around?

PAPAYA TREE: Maybe yes maybe no, depends on how many T-Shirts you all buy (we’re kidding of course, but help). In all seriousness, we definitely have plans to release something a little more extensive than singles in the near distant future, but we want to release the best music we possibly can for all you lovely people. When we feel as though we’re happy with the songs we already have or the songs we write, they’ll reach your earholes one way or another. All we can say is keep supporting our music as we get a real kick out of hearing people sing lyrics and talk about how they resonate and love/hate the tunes. Y’all are the best.


Catch Papaya Tree at Nannup Music Festival and their Youth single launch:

Sat 1 Dec – Bank Hotel, Newtown – Details
1-4 March, 2019 – Nannup Music Festival – Nannup, WA – Tickets