Running Touch has spent a good chunk of his time watching spaghetti Westerns and writing his most stylistically diverse body of work yet.
Running Touch’s brand new album Carmine is out later this week. We got to chat with him about the stories behind the music.
While the album is heavily influenced by a nostalgic moment in Running Touch’s past, he’s conceptually mirroring his favourite narratives from all the best flicks.
HAPPY: Hey, how are you?
RUNNING TOUCH: Good thank you. How are you doing?
HAPPY: That’s good! I’m well, thank you. I just want to start off by saying congratulations on your upcoming releases. How very exciting. So we’ve got the single already out and then the album Carmine coming out on the 6th of May. Congratulations. It sounds incredible.
RUNNING TOUCH: Thanks. Have you heard the whole thing?
HAPPY: Yes! Yes, I have. I was very fortunate to get a streaming link. It’s so diverse. It’s… yeah, it’s very cool. I think you mentioned, at least in what I read about the album, that you’re kind of touching on so many different genres and influences, so you definitely hear that listening to the album.
RUNNING TOUCH: Yeah. Do you think it’s too much? Like honestly?
HAPPY: Haha, no. I’ve always been a big fan of that. I know some people who get like really into their fandom with an artist. They’re like, ‘No, sound the same all of the time’. I’m not like that. I personally think it’s just really fun to write stuff that sounds different. So I understand the appeal.
RUNNING TOUCH: Yeah, well, hopefully, there are 7 billion other people on the planet that feel the same way.
HAPPY: Hopefully, all 7 billion of them.
RUNNING TOUCH: Because they’re all going to listen to it.
HAPPY: Yeah, of course. So the new single, Why Do I, you described it as a reflection of your life ten years ago. Can you tell me a little bit more about that time of your life?
RUNNING TOUCH: Yeah, sure. Yeah, it’s set in the house that I started music production in, and that’s the same house that I met my partner in. So those were and still are the two most significant pillars in my life, creatively and personally. And the song Why Do I is inspired by the two songs… two or three songs that I also found while living at the house. So it’s this kind of like a triptych of inspi… meaning they’re like… those songs still have such a personal and nostalgic meaning for me. Everyone kind of has their equivalents, you know? Like I said, my partner and like that house, which no longer exists. I’m so shattered about it. But, like, yeah, it just has… Everyone has that place. Or at least I hope they have that. I know a lot of people probably don’t, but I’m lucky enough to have that. Just a place that really feels like home. So ten years ago, that was my life. And that’s what the song’s about, like finishing school, finishing school in the house. So, yeah, I hope that answers your question.
HAPPY: Yeah, totally. So you finished school at the time as well, it’s a lot going on.
RUNNING TOUCH: Yeah. Transitionary period. That’s probably the easiest way to put it. Like everything in my life that was going to, like, serve me for the next ten years. It was going down then.
HAPPY: That’s so cool. I was going to ask how you tapped into those memories, but I suppose those sorts of things, it’s just such a big event, a big time in your life that it’s not really something you need to worry about remembering, right?
RUNNING TOUCH: No, it’s a feeling. It’s not… there’s like two or three images you have associated with that place and that general feeling that something like those songs I was mentioning, the inspirations fill you with. That’s all you really need, you know? You’re not going into detail like a recount. You just get that, like, little pang, and that’s enough.
HAPPY: I love that. It’s very nostalgic. It’s quite a treasured emotion, I think.
RUNNING TOUCH: Yeah, I think.
HAPPY: What I was reading about the album as a whole… I was also listening to it, of course. But when I read about it, it was said a few times that it is, you know, a record about violence and love. Those are not two things I think people would ideally always put together. Can you tell me what that means to you?
RUNNING TOUCH: Yeah, I’ve actually honestly never thought about it like you just said. So, yeah. I mean, the violence part is more like the conceptual stuff, so like, Carmine, Juno, all that stuff is kind of based on really heavily influenced from movies like Reservoir Dogs, The Mexico trilogy. Like spaghetti western, Tarantino or like that kind of vibe. Like it’s all just like excess, pure excess. And love pours into violence in those movies. All of those… Like, it’s very passionate, and more than anything, the word Carmine is based off the colour red. And specifically, Carmine is like blood. And red for me is quite brooding and love-based. So it kind of just made sense to kind of put it all in the same pot. So that’s yeah, that’s where I guess the connection is.
HAPPY: I see that. I feel like passion is a great word for that because it is like this aggressive love, right?
RUNNING TOUCH: Lust. Lust is a lot like that. Like, it’s not really an outward violence. It’s like an internal kind of thing. It’s like, what the fuck are you doing? What the fuck is wrong with me? That kind of stuff, rather than like saying those kinds of things to someone else.
HAPPY: That’s so interesting. So you already mentioned the opening track, Juno. It is so different to… it changes along the whole album, but Juno really stood out. It’s very fun. It’s a really cool way to start things and you know, there are hardly any dance motifs in there at all. You mentioned that you were being influenced by these spaghetti westerns. I want to know a bit more about how. I see it. I totally hear it, especially once you actually name a few movies. I’m like, ‘Oh, of course, you just have that feeling’. But were you watching a lot of spaghetti westerns at the time? Is it just something that’s always influenced you?
RUNNING TOUCH: At the time, I was more actually interested in my paintings and stuff because another project I was working for, it’s entirely based on art, like the names of paintings and artists. And I was writing for that project and I was writing Juno at the time, and I just was very influenced by how Rapids and singers get to incorporate real-life elements in their songs. Like you don’t really hear that much of indie music and electronic music.
Someone like Frank Ocean is a master at it, you know, like how at the start of Slide with Calvin Harris, it talks about the boy with the pipe, you know, which is a very famous painting. So that is how that kind of like reference started. And I really like that. And then I love movies and the way that kind of fit in is like a heist, crime, that kind of stuff. And I love the Mexico trilogy, like movies like Lehane, The Third Man, Dusk Till Dawn, real visual, like lots of violence. So it kind of… I don’t know, I hope that makes sense. But, yeah, they kind of fuse together.
HAPPY: Yeah, totally.
RUNNING TOUCH: Like those movies I’ve kind of just always been interested in. And they’re very easy to understand, like something like Reservoir Dogs, you know, it’s just, like, so straightforward and it makes sense. So incorporating painting into a way that integrates with that narrative and those movies. Yeah, that’s how I saw it.
HAPPY: Yeah, that’s really fun. Do you find the narratives themselves influencing any of the lyrics, or is that more so from your own experience that you’re pulling the lyrics from?
RUNNING TOUCH: No, no. Like actually in the conceptual songs, like none of my own experience. It’s straight-up, just like narrative. Carmine is all really heavily influenced by Reservoir Dogs. Carmine is like the prelude to Juno. So, like, it’s like a job gone wrong. Like half the people that are in this crew have been shot and half of them are dead. And the protagonist in Juno is just like a bystander who’s kind of like been trailing them because he wants to be part of the crew, but he’s also been shot. And Juno is the person that kind of drags him out of that place. Like the same as Reservoir Dogs. Like one of the people in Reservoir Dogs gets shot. And like, it’s all about like, finding the snitch and they escape. And that’s like one of the opening scenes in the movie is they’re escaping from the job going wrong and they’re shot. It’s kind of influenced by that.
HAPPY: That’s pretty damn cool. I really like that. Do you write anything other than music? Like, do you write prose or scripts or anything like that? I think you’ve got an obvious gift for storytelling.
RUNNING TOUCH: You’re being very kind. I think if you read my attempts you would say, like… I’ve had this one story that I’ve been writing for a while just for fun. It’s kind of like fantasy. That’s just dumb. Like, it’s not, like, poetic or? It’s just fun. So that’s the only other attempt I’ve ever made, to be honest. It’s just like Lord of the Rings shit.
HAPPY: That’s awesome. I hope one day we get to see it. It sounds very intriguing.
RUNNING TOUCH: Maybe.
HAPPY: Maybe. So you produce everything, correct?
RUNNING TOUCH: Yeah.
HAPPY: Awesome. And so you’re a multi-instrumentalist?
RUNNING TOUCH: Yeah.
HAPPY: Amazing. Do you do all of the instrumentals on this album?
RUNNING TOUCH: Yeah, minus the guitar solo on Stay is part me and… well actually, no. My guitar teacher Mitchell Clews did like this beautiful shred all over that song and then I used heaps of little parts. So he’s the only real other contributor to the album, like collectively. And then Plini is a guest on It Starts With You and then Geneva didn’t play any instruments, but she helped do some of the vocals on Come With Me. Well, she didn’t help. She was, like, fucking integral to that process. She’s incredible. So those, between us three, those are the thing. But in terms of actual production, no one else.
HAPPY: Wow. That’s a big job. Fantastic work. Like the opening piano to You Look Better Alone. It’s just stunning and it’s so different. Can you tell me, do you listen to a little bit of everything when it comes to your just like everyday music listening?
RUNNING TOUCH: Yeah, definitely. Well, I listen to a lot of the same stuff, you know? Everyone has their, like, constants. It’s always music, but I just like stuff that’s easy to listen to, you know? Like, I don’t want to sound like I’m trying to be interesting here, but a lot of the stuff I just listen to was just like easy listening soundtrack stuff, like the Avatar soundtrack or like the… I don’t know. I’ll pull up what I’ve got right now. Hold on.
HAPPY: Yes, thank you.
RUNNING TOUCH: I’ve got the Halo soundtrack from the video game.
HAPPY: Awesome. Have you watched the show?
RUNNING TOUCH: No, I haven’t.
HAPPY: Oh, my goodness.
RUNNING TOUCH: Apple TV Invasion. That show soundtrack. The Eternals soundtrack. That’s pretty cool. But yeah, that’s mostly what I listen to. That and like, you know, Ben Bomber and stuff like that. But like, that’s all I listen to if I’m being honest with you.
HAPPY: But you’re getting those influences from orchestral kind of music as well. It’s, I don’t know, it sounds like a very varied influence overall and it comes through in the way you’re playing these instruments so differently. It’s incredibly impressive.
RUNNING TOUCH: Yeah. Thank you.
HAPPY: Very cool stuff. So you’re going back on tour in May. Is this your first tour since the pandemic?
RUNNING TOUCH: Yeah, it is. It’s been a while.
HAPPY: Yeah. You excited?
RUNNING TOUCH: Yeah. I’m really excited. Kind of nerve-wracking just to, like, put yourself out there again like that. It’s strange because, you know, you have however many years of momentum on a project and then all of a sudden that gets pulled out from under you, you’re like, ‘Oh, fuck’. Like, it just feels like starting again. Yeah. I’ve been nervous, but, like, at the same time, really excited because it’s my job.
HAPPY: Because it’s your job. Yeah, that’s good. It will be amazing. And I think everyone’s in the same boat. It’s very exciting. Did I see that you were doing Coachella as well?
RUNNING TOUCH: Yeah, yeah. I’m just singing. I’m just singing.
HAPPY: That’s huge, though. That’s so exciting.
RUNNING TOUCH: Yeah, it’s awesome. It’s so cool. Like, ridiculous. I probably don’t appreciate it enough, but it’s very, very cool. And it’s really cool to just… Like I’m a solo act, so I don’t get to experience a lot of things in this project with other people like obviously my management team and stuff. But that’s different. You know, they’re not making the music with me, so you don’t get to share the stuff like you would with a band. So to like perform at such an amazing festival with people like other artists and like Hayden who I made the song with, it kind of makes it a lot more enjoyable and you can share some emotion with someone, which is a really nice change. I’m really looking forward to that because you have that memory forever together. First time he played Coachella, I get to be there, something we made together. It’s fun.
HAPPY: It’s good fun. So exciting. Congratulations again. It’s all happening.
RUNNING TOUCH: Well, thank Hayden.
HAPPY: Yeah. That’s everything for me. I will leave you to get back to your other interviews but thank you so much for speaking with me.
RUNNING TOUCH: Thank you so much. Thanks for taking the time and putting in the care.
Why Do I is out now.
Carmine is available for pre-order now.
Interviewed by Chloe Maddren.