The mysteries of Spotify, staying lyrically direct and unearthing guilty pleasure bands with Adelaide’s Lonelyspeck

Adelaide based producer Sione Teumohenga has just released his sophomore EP as Lonelyspeck, a collection of downtempo electronic gems titled Lave.

Before launching said EP in Sydney last week, we picked the brain of this budding bedroom producer, delving into Adelaide’s scene, teenage guilty pleasure bands and the mysteries of Spotify.

lonelyspeck sione lave ep happy mag molly ulm
Photo by Molly Ulm

What music was Lonelyspeck into before delving into the realms of electronica? We dissect the lush production stylings of Sione Teumohenga.

HAPPY: What’s the meaning behind the name of the EP, Lave? Did you mean to derive it from the French word laver, meaning ‘to wash’?

SIONE: I actually did. It’s kind of a long story… I put a lot of research into it. I really intently wanted to find a word that represented a whole bunch of concepts together. I was looking at a whole lot of geological words like fissure and fracture for representing a break happening, like the concept of something coming out. I was looking at anatomical and geological terms because those sorts of bodily things and geological ideas were in a lot of the metaphors I was using through lyrics and there was a theme of things twisting and warping.

HAPPY: So then how did you get to Lave?

SIONE: I told you it was a long story! Eventually I felt like laver was the perfect representation but I didn’t really like it for the title so I just kind of looked into the etymology of it and laver has the same roots has lave. I was looking for words that meant cleansing as well, like the idea of rebirth, so lave seemed to capture that.

HAPPY: What are the concepts and stories behind the songs? It seems like a very personal album.

SIONE: I definitely made the conscious decision to be more direct with what I was saying. There’s still metaphorical stuff in there. I think before, I tried to hide stuff in metaphors and would try to make it more poetic but now I try to be more direct.

HAPPY: So more direct and honest, and more ok with being honest?

SIONE: Yeah definitely.

HAPPY: Can you explain the evolution of Lonelyspeck since Presence?

SIONE: I think sonically it’s changed quite a bit and the directness applies both musically and lyrically. I’m moving more and more towards making exactly the sounds I want to make as opposed to filtering it through a popular genre. Even though I want to make pop music, I think I’m just trying to cut away all of the pretence and make the most honest things I can make.

HAPPY: You basically produce everything in your own – a “bedroom producer” – do you have any musical education?

SIONE: No, I haven’t! I did some music when I was a kid, I just played around with instruments we had at home. Then I had keyboard lessons for a little bit when I was ten…

HAPPY: Didn’t we all?!

SIONE: And I hated them! I didn’t like music lessons in primary school and I thought I wasn’t a musical person and then I rediscovered music on my own when I was about fifteen.

HAPPY: You picked up electronic music?

SIONE: No, I actually picked up guitar and it wasn’t for several years after that I started doing electronic stuff.

HAPPY: Were you into pop music when you picked up the guitar?

SIONE: Kind of, but I was really into rock. My Chemical Romance were my absolute inspiration for everything. Before that, Linkin Park and stuff like that. A very 2000s kid.

HAPPY: That brings back memories, I was a very hard core Green Day fan.

SIONE: I loved Green Day as well. They were my introduction into making music and it wasn’t until 2011 when I was about 18 or 19 that I was making a gradual transition, making little electronic things on the side.

HAPPY: What’s the music scene like in Adelaide? Could you compare it to Sydney?

SIONE: I don’t really understand Sydney’s music scene a lot. But I don’t think they’re that comparable because Adelaide’s so small, it’s kind of like one big scene with some little offshoots. It’s pretty lowkey and everyone knows each other.

HAPPY: All My Skin on the Air has half a million plays on Spotify and Settle, which you released only last week, is up to 24 thousand. How do you feel about that?

SIONE: I don’t really know enough about how Spotify works, but it’s really cool! I’m happy and it’s cool to know that many people would listen to what I’m doing.

HAPPY: Do you like to travel and are there any other cities you’d love to play at?

SIONE: I do like travelling but I don’t get to do it much. I really want to go to Brisbane, I’ve had a few people over the past couple of weeks wanting me to come up. I definitely want to go to Melbourne this year and I have a lot of friends there as well.

HAPPY: You’re from Adelaide, why’d you come to Sydney for the EP launch? And where to next?

SIONE: There was no specific reason really, it was the first show that got locked in. I’m doing an Adelaide show at the end of the month but I’m not being super professional about it. I’m pretty casual about what happens. Perth would be cool as well but that’s so far away… one day!