Strange Talk chat uncontrolled creativity, and the need for ‘Speech Therapy’

Since bursting onto the scene with their gooey Indie-pop take on traditional EDM, Strange Talk has endured an evolution unlike any other.

Their latest LP, Speech Therapy stands testament to this ability to constantly change. While paying homage to the gooey indie-pop that cemented them as Australian electro-powerhouses, Speech Therapy unwinds into sometimes sinister, unbridled floor fillers.

In light of this amazing release after a five-year hiatus, Happy got to the sit down with Strange Talk’s Gerard Sidhu and Stephen Docker, to chat about uncontrolled creativity, and the need for Speech Therapy.

HAPPY: Firstly, I absolutely love Starlight! But it’s definitely different from your earlier works on Cast Away – what did you do differently this time around?

STRANGE TALK: Thanks, so happy to hear you’re enjoying Starlight…’s definitely one of our favourites! I don’t think it’s too different to what we’ve done in the past especially with songs like Painted in Gold or When it Feels So Good, I think our sound has just evolved since Cast Away. We also had the pleasure of writing it with the very talented Ciara Muscat, who imprinted her style and flavour onto it and luckily it really complimented ours!

Another key new ingredient was bringing in incredible session players such as Felix Bloxsom (percussion) and Harley Stewart (guitars), these guys really helped us take the music to another level. I (Gerard) also mixed the album at my studio which gave us complete control over the final versions and the ability too keeping changing until we were 100% happy.

HAPPY: Following on: Starlight and Love Elevation are so punchy, yet oddly melancholic. I love this juxtaposition (though I might be projecting here). Was there anything specific that inspired this change in tone and style? 

STRANGE TALK: I love that you picked up on that, we definitely wanted to give this album the sonic undertone of a dance record but still keep it very indie/pop at the same time and mixing this record in-house gave us the time to really experiment with that until we were both happy. This was also the first record we’ve done with no manager or record label, so we didn’t feel any pressure or expectations, we just wanted to write and deliver the best record we could on whatever timeframe it took, it was really nice.

HAPPY: I gotta ask… what did you get up to in the last five years? (We missed you… in a non creepy way).

STRANGE TALK: Hahahahah we missed you too!! We just took a little break from Strange Talk, got normal jobs and worked on different projects, Steve focused on writing and producing different artist such as the very talented Matilda Pearl and I (Gerard) focused on more mixing and production, working with artist such Los Leo, Okenyo and Islandis. Then a few years ago both felt ready to work on a new Strange Talk album and now we’re about to release a new album and we couldn’t be more excited!

HAPPY:  I’ve always been obsessed with how Strange Talk is able to make music that sonically feels like it’s alive, or exists in a different universe. What goes into creating that, if you don’t mind me asking?

STRANGE TALK: Thank you, that’s so cool of you to say. It’s honestly just us and how we write, we want to write music that we love and excites us and others and this is what comes out. We both like the same music and are always sending playlist back and forth, so we’re constantly on the same wavelength when comes to writing new music.

HAPPY: For your upcoming album Speech Therapy what were some of the greatest challenges in creating this project? Was there anything that you both struggled with at first, that ended up sounding better than you could’ve expected?

STRANGE TALK: Hardest part was deciding which tracks to shortlist for the album. We had so many demo’s and unfinished songs that it all seemed like a big mess until we actually sat down and decided which tracks to commit to finishing completely for the album. Some songs on this record were reworked 2-3 times while others were pretty close to their original demo form. Lockdowns and km radius restrictions did throw a small spanner in the works as we had a bunch of amazing instrumentalist friends record on this album so there were many recording sessions pushed-back or rescheduled throughout the journey!

HAPPY: What’s your personal favourite track from Speech therapy? 

STRANGE TALK: This question is never easy – neither of us have children yet, but as recording artists this question is like asking who’s your favourite child! If we had to pick then probably:

Love Elevation and The Good days.

HAPPY: ‘Hyperkinetic’ might be the best description I’ve heard for your music. Would you agree, and how did you achieve such an enjoyable, yet genre less sound? 

STRANGE TALK: Such a fantastic word! I think this would partly be because of the amount of music and genres we were both individually consuming at any given time throughout the creative process of this record…we both have various life projects we are involved in which includes being heavily exposed to all kinds of music, new artists, old artists etc etc. The second reason is more of a subconscious things whereby we tend to both have a unanimous feeling of disliking albums, that 3-4 songs in everything starts to sound the same. It keeps us excited and motivated by trying to make a cohesive body of work but not having too many tracks sound similar to the last.

HAPPY: While COVID has kinda thrown a spanner in the works – are there any plans for touring in a vaccinated future?

STRANGE TALK: For sure – it’s something we’ve done a lot of over the years, and having taken some time off it will be fun to re-invent the older music and also implement our current songs all into one set. We both love DJ’ing too so most definitely will be showing our faces at a few spots soon.

Speech Therapy is out on September 17! Preorder the album here!

Interview by Mike Hitch

Photos Supplied