Emotions and melodies: Spike Vincent and Angie interview each other

Back in January, when Spike Vincent dropped Lie In The Dust – the first single from his self-titled EP – he released what still holds up as one of our favourite tracks of the year. Then, about a month later, the full EP came; a six-track offering of sun-drenched and distinctly Australian post-punk, recorded live in front of a small audience at at Damien Gerard Studios in Sydney.

With his raw and honest vocal delivery, Spike crafted one of the most unique and emotionally impactful releases we’ve come across in some time. Hence why we invited him to come play at our NZ Week Party this Saturday at The Lady Hampshire in Sydney. Needless to say, we’re pretty bloody excited.

But before then, Spike caught up with his friend and sometimes-bandmate Angela Garrick (Angie) to chat about the themes and circumstances that influence his music, and that smirk that always seems to find its way onto his face during a live performance.

In a way this whole tape was a negotiation between my fears and anxieties of being in love“: Ahead of his performance at our NZ Week Party, Spike Vincent caught up with Angie for a chat.

ANGIE: Spike, would you say your debut album is a sentiment from a certain time or place in your life, or does it rather present disparate pieces from many sources? I’m curious because there is such a sense of beauty and pain amongst your songs captured, I conjured this sense of time passing and your thoughts rethinking moments to create the deep sense of optimistic and reflection in your songs. And if so, do you think your songwriting has evolved in any way since?

SPIKE: I’d written all the songs over the last 5 years or so, always in different circumstances, but they all seem to have similar themes. They’re all self reflective and specific to moments and places but I try to give them room to transform meaning over time as well. When I wrote I Like You, Lie In The Dust and Faded, they emerged from a heartbroken perspective, there’s not that much hope in those songs.

But I’ve come to find great joy in sharing those sentiments with other people. I think they react to the honesty of what I’m saying and it becomes a positive exchange. Launceston and Get Over It speak to me about the unsteadiness of being hopelessly lost in love, there’s a lot of hesitation in there. In a way this whole tape was a negotiation between my fears and anxieties of being in love.

Lisp stands alone in some regards due to it’s more impressionistic and surreal lyrics, but I think it also ties the whole collection of songs together in a more subconsciously visual way, it sets the scene. My songwriting now is still informed by these songs, there’s a progression and fallout, the new stuff we’ve got coming is a lot darker and heavier.

ANGIE: Cool… I guess there is kind of this bowl-over experience seeing you play live, in the sense that your sense of emotion and experience that comes through your songs seem to betray your years, in the sense that you’re a young person. It’s cool. I think when that happens and you see someone playing live and their songs give you insight into your own life, like yours can do.

SPIKE: Haha, your songs give me insight into my own life Angie.

ANGIE: I wanted to ask… you always seem to have a slight smirk on your face while playing… are you thinking about anything in particular while you’re playing, or are you just happy?

SPIKE: Oh the smirk! Sometimes I can’t help but laugh to myself when people are dancing and singing along to my songs, it never ceases to tickle me. I used to try and keep a straight face on stage, but I just started smiling and laughing one day and it seems to happen almost every gig now.

When I was suffering from depression and anxiety to a greater extent, playing live was extremely cathartic. Playing these songs was a cry for help in some ways, a lot of people would be crying and some would tell me they had to leave. The songs have become a lot less painful to play, maybe because I’ve played them too many times or I’ve just moved on from what they were about.

ANGIE: Yeah that’s interesting. I guess there is a strange juxtaposition when you’re writing songs that come from a dark place, and then playing them is in a sense cathartic that it rebrands the meaning and slowly can turn those emotions into ‘good’ feelings but also sometimes can draw you back slightly. I guess emotions and melodies are never one and the same, so together, that’s experienced tenfold. So what kind of themes would you say you are drawing from at the moment?

SPIKE: Well I’m still digging through material I’ve written over the last ten years, trying to make sense of it. I recently moved out of Sydney down to Austinmer and the change of environment has done wonders for me. It feels very funny sometimes to be working through my old material, which can be very painful, in such a beautiful place. More then ever I’ve been writing with my band members rather then just bringing in finished songs and it’s been so rewarding.

The lineup is always changing from gig to gig but consistently over this year it’s been Paul Mclean, Sammy Sudhakar, and Kellie Alison with a recent addition of Amy Yoshiko on second guitar, I’m feeling really excited about this lineup! In my spare time I generally listen to hip hop and R&B, maybe because it’s a world away from what I do.

I’ve especially been flaunting the new Drake, Pusha T and Teyana Taylor this last couple months. I’ve been completely sober for over a year now, which has been huge for me. It’s hard to even remember what it was like before, but there’s still a lot of scars and healing to do.

ANGIE: Would you say you write different kinds of songs now that you’re collaborating with your band members?

SPIKE: The songs I’ve been writing/jamming with the band are a lot more chaotic, they go from sounding like hardcore/black metal to surf/psychedelic all in a song, I’m still not sure what to make of it but it’s been a lot of fun working with them! And while I’ve got you here can you tell me a lil bit about your new record?

ANGIE: My new record! Well, its called The Underling, its just been mastered and its an 8-song fiery rock combo that I would say would completes the circle of rock and roll experiments and utterances that began with Turning and Free Agent. It’s definitely the end of that sentence so to speak. And I recorded it in Athens, Greece, which was very interesting!

SPIKE: That’s awesome Angie, can’t wait till it’s out!

Catch Spike Vincent live at our NZ Week Party at The Lady Hampshire on Saturday September 29th. More info here.