Think pop needs some more character? Meet Eilish Gilligan, the crustacean-wrapped songwriter bringing an off-kilter sound to Melbourne’s scene

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The newest member of TEEF Recording’s family, Melbourne’s Eilish Gilligan is one to watch. As the lead singer of dream-pop outfit Frida, Eilish is hardly a stranger to the scene, but from the tracks we’ve already heard, she seems to be settling comfortably into her solo offshoot.

Taking an angle more focused on piano and vocals than she’s experienced before, we caught up with Gilligan to have a quick chat about this developing project.

Photo by Clean Mess
Photo by Clean Mess

Bringing her own twist to the classic pop song format, Eilish Gilligan is the slightly off-centre Melbourne songwriter you’ll soon be hearing everywhere.

With her debut EP due to be released in 2017, you won’t find more than a few Eilish Gilligan tracks online at the moment. However her latest, Here, is statement enough. When you’re introducing your act to the world, you need a defining sound, and the ethereal majesty of this track is just that – Gilligan proudly claiming her musical territory.

“I’ve been trying to pinpoint the sound of this project for some time, and I like to think that Here is a really good example of where it sits right at this moment. It swells and oozes and feels warm and sad to play.”

It’s a killer track, as emotive as Gilligan describes and then some. Her vocals are nothing short of incredible, and the soft piano work inter splicing minor chords into an otherwise pop-friendly work distinguishes Here from like-minded songs on the market.

On it’s inspiration, Gilligan cites a very specific source.

“When Here came about I was watching a lot of RuPaul’s Drag Race, which is a TV show that continues to be an endless pool of inspiration for me and this project. The sound textures and lyrics in Here are heavily influenced by time spent sitting on my bed in awe of the incredible performance art that Drag Race showcases.”

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Not that distinguishing herself has proven a problem, an elephant in the room still remains. When any artist from a band starts their own solo work, the shadow of their previous career hangs over them like a stuffy carpet.

Not to say that Gilligan is trying to escape Frida – she’ll continue recording and performing with them, with their EP I Want In Your Head hitting the shelves next month. It’s more a question of branching out, and shining in a different frequency than she has before.

“My solo project utilises electronic instruments and features piano quite heavily, whereas Frida is a full band experience. Frida is also a collaborative songwriting project, whereas I write and, for the most part, produce the music for the Eilish Gilligan project by myself.”

“Apart from these logistical differences, I always find myself thinking that if the two projects were people, Frida would be extroverted and the Eilish Gilligan project would be introverted – but both strangely confronting and exciting all at once.”

One aspect of her solo work that certainly stands on it’s own is the art we’ve seen. The cover for Here depicts Gilligan in a crustacean’s embrace. It’s surreal, calming and creepy all at once – similar words you could use to describe the single.

Photo by
Photo by Guilia McGauran

Funnily enough, that’s exact how the shoot came about.

“I wanted the photos to reflect the deep, dark, gloomy blue colour that I saw in that track. We decided on the theme ‘deep-sea visceral’ and from then on the rest has been history…smelly, slimey history…”

“We caught a moment on camera when the crab claw fell from my shoulder onto my lap – and the claw appears to be hanging in mid air. My eyes are shut, as though I could not feel more serene, but in reality I was yelling that the crab was falling, and probably also complaining about how I’ll never get the smell of prawn tails out of my hair.”

Off the back of her TEEF signing, Gilligan has a few gigs coming up in November, so if you dig her sound, be sure to jump over to the Facebook events here and here for deets.