Congratulations on the release of your latest Ep, Eastbound! What’s the story behind the record?
Thank you very much, I’m super happy with how it turned out. Well, unintentionally all the songs came together as a reflection of different relationships in my life. Friends, family, my girlfriend and my relationship with time.
You released your first EP independently in 2016: How has the release of ‘Eastbound’ differed from ‘Outside the Lines’?
Eastbound is still very much an independent release but this time I focused a lot more on the production side of things and really wanted the emotion of the songs to come through. The cover art features a silhouette of me on a bike. I’m not a huge cyclist… or even a cyclist at all, but I really wanted the music to fit to that feeling of riding down a hill on a bike at the end of a day when it starts to get cooler and you see the world in a different light.
What’s something you’ve had to learn to progress as a musician?
Back before I got a manager I really struggled with separating my business mind with my creative mind. Even afterwards I would still try to stay really involved in that side of things, it took me ages to realise that if I stepped back and let them handle it and trust they know what they’re doing then I would be able to focus on the creative process and it would be beneficial to everyone.
“The best songs are the raw, gut-wrenching emotional songs and sometimes they’re the hardest to play but also the most rewarding.”
How did you go about getting Management, has much changed since having Lemon Tree Music behind you?
I felt like I was at a good point in my career to bring someone on board, I had all these goals I dreamt about reaching but really needed someone else who had the know-how to get me there, and above all possessed the enthusiasm to champion my music. I had a bunch of chats with managers who I really respected and ended up going with Lemon Tree with my former booking agent Regan Lethbridge.
Growing up with a father who was a lover of music; in what ways did that shape you into the person you are now?
Dad and my uncle were always big into music, it was always a part of family gatherings or played around the house. I was never the kind of kid that stole their parents record collection, I was listening to Shaggy’s Greatest Hits (What I actually asked for, for my 9th birthday present). I’d like to think my tastes have improved since then. Dad would play lots of Eric Clapton or James Taylor - songwriters who expressed themselves and told their stories of heartbreak & love and that might’ve helped me to be less hesitant in expressing my own feelings when I started to write songs.
What does ‘creativity’ mean to you? Do you have any other creative outlets?
That is a super tricky question to answer. I’ve never thought about it to be honest. To me it’s the result of expressing my feelings or telling a story through music, piecing something together that represents me and is bred from millions of influences throughout my life. I started sketching on my last tour, but I don’t know if it qualifies as a talent yet.
Is being misunderstood something you fear? If so, why?
Not really. I write my songs with a message or story behind it and then the listener brings their own interpretation to the song a lot of the time. So much of that is out of my control it would be ridiculous for me to feel like I’ve been misunderstood when I’m playing a song. The song means something to me and if I’m at peace with that then that’s usually enough for me.
What does vulnerability mean to you on a day-to-day basis?
Allowing myself to be vulnerable is a big and often uncomfortable part of my life and a huge part of being a musician. Letting people in, taking them on a journey through your song and then bidding adieu. The best songs are the raw, gut-wrenching emotional songs and sometimes they’re the hardest to play but also the most rewarding.
When was the last time you felt compassion and why?
In the musical realm, all of the time. So many musicians make incredible music that for whatever reason goes unheard or is underappreciated and that can be massively disheartening in such a competitive and unforgiving industry. A lot of this does come at the hand of a lack of opportunity. The more the music scene becomes a community though and creates an equality empowering space and the more governments and the public value and respect musicians hopefully the less this will happen.
The world is starting to recognise that musicians can live a lonely life. How important is companionship to you?
I was lucky enough to be part of a songwriters camp a few years back and that was the first real moment when I felt like I was surrounded by people in a very similar position to myself. Often living in Perth can make you feel separated from the rest of the Australian music scene and any initiatives that support artists from regional areas or far off states is hugely important to fostering the arts scene in Australia.
Lastly - It’s time to pay it forward: recommend a friend/acquaintance/hero to be featured in our next quarter and tell us why.
Michael Dunstan - Amazing musician from Perth who continues to do his own thing despite not getting that much attention through the standard avenues. So many musicians feel as though there’s only one path to success, but Michael is out there forging his own and it’s bloody great to see.