“I wrote [Lucid Sight] from that mindset of not pushing or pulling against the situation that is going on around you,” Trav Collins says in an exclusive interview with Happy Mag.
Earlier this month, Adelaide musician Trav Collins released his latest single Lucid Sight. A multi-instrumental reflection on finding clarity amid turmoil, the track marked Collins’ first release since 2021, and more than established his long-awaited return to limelight.
Fresh off the release of Lucid Sight and with a handful of upcoming appearances on his roster, we caught up with Trav Collins for a chat on all things music, travelling, and the need to “balance between pride and common sense” when creating art.
Check out our full interview with the Adelaide singer-songwriter below, and head here to listen to his new single Lucid Sight.
HAPPY: What are you up to today?
TRAV: Today I worked on my van all day. I have been renovating my Toyota Hiace camper van. I am heading on a month-long tour to Queensland in about a week and my renovations need to be done by then and in classic side project fashion it will only just be done before I leave!
I have been working on it for about two months in my spare time, improving the interior fit out. I’ve done all the woodwork, the wiring and attempted the plumbing for the new sink but had to get a plumber friend to fix the 12 different leaks I created.
Overall I’m excited for how much more comfortable it will be compared to my previous setups.
I lived in a van for about 18 months when I first moved out of home. The set up I was running then was quite archaic compared to what I have now just a box of water on the front seat to wash my hands and my music gear trolley took up the entire front space which just left the bed and some plastic containers for my clothes and food under the bed.
HAPPY: Where’s home, and what’s the current music scene like in your neck of the woods?
TRAV: I live in Adelaide in a beautiful suburb called Brighton. It’s by the beach. I have lived in this area since mum, my brother and I moved here for High School from the Yorke Peninsula where we grew up.
I managed to get a nice place to rent about a year before Covid struck and the price of everything went crazy!
The music scene in Adelaide from my point of view is very stable and cosy. I have my regular shows at all my favourite spots and it’s very comfortable for me when I’m not touring and playing hometown shows.
There are plenty of amazing original music venues to play.. people are into original music here too. I started my gigging journey busking 4-5 days a week in Rundle Mall.
I no longer play there but that is where I really did some hours getting comfortable sharing my songwriting and stories to whoever would listen.
From that a bunch of venues got me to play and now I have a great relationship with a good amount of bars, taverns, markets and wineries that I can just about fill my calendar with! Don’t tell anyone but Adelaide is such a good place to live and write music!!
HAPPY: Tell us about your average day.
TRAV: So for almost the last year… after five years straight of just working in music as an artist I have been working another job during the week as well as all my music career.
I mainly play shows on Friday, Saturday and Sunday every week so I had a few other days hanging out to do something else.
This other job I do during the week is disability support work. I find it extremely fulfilling and I honestly can’t think of a better, more wholesome job to go hand in hand with my lifestyle.
I honestly feel like it fills me up almost as much as playing an awesome gig and sharing my music with the world.
To be the person that makes someone’s day every time you visit is quite a nice feeling. I am very blessed to have very lovely clients and my main role is to give them access to the community and just hang out basically. So good.
Other than that in my spare moments I’m usually working on all the little bits and pieces to do with music that aren’t playing a show.
Writing music, making demos, all the emails, planning tours all the boring admin and business stuff. I also spend a bunch of time working on my gear and my live rig.
Soldering cables and adjusting my pedal board constantly. Also just cook dinner and watch netflix and my girlfriend and I love going on long drives through the Adelaide hills.
I also love cars and working on bits and pieces with that as well. I have a little Subaru that I’m constantly fixing.
HAPPY: Tell us about your creative community, who are some artists or bands that have inspired you?
TRAV: The first ever Live show that I went to was John Butler Solo at the Gov in Adelaide. I stood three metres from him near the front of the stage in a crowd of only around 500 and that changed my life.
I just loved his playing style. I had only just started playing the guitar that year. I was 12 years old.
My listening taste has slightly shifted and these artists’ influences are much more apparent in ‘Lucid Sight’. Ben Howard is a big one; his songwriting is incredible.
Artists I listen to regularly: Gregory Alan Isakov, Nick Drake, Hozier, Florence and the Machine, KALEO, Bon Iver, Madison Cunningham, Jason Isbell and the 400 unit, Jose Gonzalez, Ben Howard on repeat. There are many more.
HAPPY: What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a musician and how have you overcome them?
TRAV: One of the biggest challenges I have faced in music is an internal battle of balance between pride and common sense.
I used to think that if you weren’t doing music full time and making a living from it then you weren’t giving it everything you could.
I now know that leaning on my music like a crutch can put so much pressure on it that it’s no longer fun or enjoyable.
That’s the whole point right? Make music because it’s meaningful and fun.
My partner really opened my eyes to this.. she’s amazing. She can really pull my thoughts into line when I’m in a bit of a downward spiral that I’m too stubborn to step out of.
My mindset now is that my music creation is something to be nurtured and protected in my life, not leant on and forced into a corner where it can’t breathe.
HAPPY: Lucid Sight is a very poignant song – given the current shift towards personal and spiritual growth and awareness, is there anything that you have read or watched lately that opened your eyes and mind to a new perspective?
TRAV: When I wrote ‘Lucid Sight’ I had just started to meditate each day and I was learning how to calm my anxiety when that decided to pop its head up.
I wrote this song from that mindset of not pushing or pulling against the situation that is going on around you. There will always be things going on in life.
Anxiety, new feelings, uncomfortable and comfortable stages I think just trying to keep sight of the little clear spot as much as we can is very important.
I listen to a few little weird philosophy podcasts every now and then. Alan Watts – ‘Why you shouldn’t be afraid at all’ is an incredible listen!
HAPPY: What inspired you to create ‘Lucid Sight’ and how does it differ from previous work?
TRAV: I wrote ‘Lucid Sight’ a few years ago now. It has changed a little bit in the time between then and the recording but the idea has always been simple.
I wrote it as a sort of explanation/ reminder to myself in that there will always be cloudy and uncertain times in life but in knowing how to be calm through them and not push or pull against a situation then the things are much clearer.
It differs from my other work from a song writing perspective as it’s probably the slowest song I have ever written. It also uses a pop song form which I usually stray away from but this one was calling to be more a slow dreamy/ emotional pop ballad sort of vibe.
HAPPY: Can you discuss the production choices in ‘Lucid Sight’ and how they enhance the overall emotional impact of the song?
TRAV: Back to the vocal especially this is the quietest I have ever sung on one of my songs. I wanted it to be intimate and meaningful.
Instead of a loud chorus/ hook that is sung I let the guitar do that in an instrumental sort of refrain. I wanted to keep the drums pretty chill and we even just used electronic samples for the kit on this one which sound really lovely and natural for being typed into a computer using MIDI.
Overall the vibe was to make it sound really expansive and laid back but then vacuum everything into a focussed vocal in certain parts on crucial lyrics.
Especially the last line of the second verse. “And we’ll know what it means to be alright” with the subtle heartbeat in the background. I love dramatic dynamics which I feel like is something that is lost in a lot of current music.
A quick test I like to do at the end of production is to bounce a rough mix out of the entire track and then see what the waveform looks like.
If it is just a rectangle with no movement then I think the song definitely needs more dynamic movement. Usually on my songs you can see the sections very clearly in the waveform.
HAPPY: Any plans to tour in 2023?
TRAV: Yes! I am leaving next week to Byron Bay for a show and some busking and then North all the way up to Cairns.
I’ll be playing in Airlie beach and at the Townsville Folk Festival the following week and then up to Cairns for a show with Monique Clare at the Elixir Music House.
Then one final show in Mission Beach before slowly heading home and taking in the sights! I have only played in Queensland once before so I am keen to spend a bit more time up that way and also explore the place from a travelling perspective too!
I’ll be in my newly renovated van soaking up the good nature vibes!
HAPPY: What makes you happy?
TRAV: That is a daunting and hugely broad scary question …. are the initial thoughts that pop into my mind.
What makes me happy? I think feeling comfortable and loved in the space I occupy is the most I can ever ask for and that’s what makes me happy.
Also helping others and sharing good things is something I feel quite happy about! Simple but big things I think.