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August 7, 2017 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Albion Place

Over the last decade, Dunedin has established a rapidly growing and developing music scene, the most notable act to emerge of course being Six60. The international and local success the band found has created something of a new wave of music in the city, and at the forefront of this new wave is Albion Place. Releasing their first EP back in 2014, the band encapsulates the Dunedin student lifestyle, with a gritty but welcoming sound that resonates with the echoes of a day-long Castle Street party. Their latest single “Easier” follows the release of their self-titled EP earlier in the year, and sees the band adopting a larger sound while still retaining that essential Otago spirit. Ahead of their upcoming four date tour around New Zealand, I interviewed the band’s front man Micah Ray-Davis.


The Dunedin music scene has witnessed such a great revival in the last decade with acts like yourselves, The Shambles, and Soaked Oats. Could you pinpoint at all where you think this new wave has come from?

Strange you should say that, my mum was asking me that just last night. Yeah, it’s pretty sick, there’s so much going on. Shame there’s not many places to play, but there is a huge amount of musical output. In terms of tracking it down to a single moment, Six60 were definitely up there, obviously GROMz as well — their album just blew up on a national, even international scale, [and] people sort of realised what you can do. Dunedin has a rep for being pretty humble for the way people go about things, but then seeing someone go from nothing to something in such a short amount of time is crazy. And on top of that, Chick’s Hotel, which used to be a venue out in Port Chalmers, kind of converged into a recording studio recently. So, accessibility to things like that are key. But it’s just great to be part of it.


Encapsulating the Otago student lifestyle seems to be one of the core ideas of musicians like you and your contemporaries. When articles come out disparaging this lifestyle, do you think it impacts the scene in anyway? Or do just you carry on regardless?

It totally does, it’s not just the articles from Stuff — it’s the university itself. We tried to put on a show at Castle Street recently and it was pretty untimely. It was a year after the Six60 balcony crash. But we took a lot of precautions to make sure it was safe; we had security and made sure the flat itself didn’t have any balconies or anything like that. We got in touch with police and they gave us the thumbs up, we got in touch with Campus Watch and a few other stakeholders and we had the thumbs up from everyone. But then we had a meeting about half an hour before the gig was set to start and the university told us we’d be kicked out if we went ahead. So there’s a lot of pulling and tugging with the student centre authorities. But I don’t think it’s a “screw the system” kind of relationship, it’s more like “how can we celebrate this culture while keeping it safe?” We feel like we’ve definitely been on the exploited end of that on a couple of occasions. I guess it’s just recognising it’s an issue and trying to do what we love to do.


The first EP came out in 2014, and the track “I Will Not Forget” seemed to just explode. Did you ever figure out why the track came out as virally as it did?

Nah, I don’t think I really understand it myself! We were really young when we made it, so we had no expectations of the song. But it just seems like with Spotify nowadays, it makes it easier for songs to just blow up. So it’s all about the platform, and if people like it we’re stoked.


Do you think streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music have kind of helped detonate your career on the local and international scene?

Absolutely, it’s a totally different environment to how it was even ten years ago, but I think for bands like us it can be beneficial and we’ve just got to make the most of it and use it for all its advantages.


Your second self-titled EP came out at the start of the year and you managed to enlist Lyall Moloney [Australian hip-hop producer] to come and help work on the project. It’s a collaboration I wouldn’t normally expect because of the contrast in genres; how did you find the process of working with him? Was your approach quite different in terms of how you made music?

It was great. It was real cool because we didn’t use an official studio; we just used someone’s house in Wellington and set up there. He was really experienced and he’s a great dude/character. It was interesting; we kind of used electronic drums and stuff like that which we’re not really used to, but it was interesting to see his approach to that, and we learnt from it and came up with something we’re stoked with. It was something we felt we could build on, which is something we’re doing with this next album.


“Easier”, the latest single that has spurred this tour, is quite a notable pivot from your older work; it’s groovy but gives the instrumental a lot more room to move. Did Lyall help inspire this change, or was it just a direction you seemed to come naturally to?

Yeah, he had some really interesting points to say about using the “less is more” philosophy, which is something I hadn’t really considered in great depth before. But it was great to reflect on that process and come out with something that I guess is minimal in its instrumentation. We’ve really enjoyed the process of making the song; it goes down a slightly different path, and a lot of the songs we’re writing on this new album are slightly different from that too. Because we just like making different kinds of music, aye?


Have there been any artists or albums catching your attention as of late?

Heaps heaps heaps. I’ve been listening to a lot of Paul Simon recently, I think he put a new album out last year, but it’s his early stuff I’ve really been getting into. In terms of more modern stuff, there’s a couple of guys. Nick Hakim, he just put out his new album which is absolutely fantastic and again uses that kind of minimal sound to create some mean grooves, and that’s something that this other guy from Australia, Jordan Rakei, does. He put out an album last year that’s kind of in the same vein, it just has a lot going on but you know, not much, and achieves a lot with a little.


So, you probably find people like Paul Simon, Leonard Cohen, etc. to be your influences for the most part…

Yeah just kind of in terms their approach to music rather than their actual songs and stuff, just the way they see it is really inspiring to me. To be able to share poetry and emotion are just what I love about making music.


What are the plans for Albion Place going forward from this tour? Any plans or ideas that you’re looking to explore?

Yeah, so we’ve got our first album recording session next week. I think we’re going do it over two or three sessions, and do it slightly DIY at home as well. After that, we’ve got a few festivals lined up for the summer, and we’ll do another tour; I’ve started planning an Australian tour so it would be sick to get over there for the first time, do a few shows. It’s very early days in the organisation but it’s coming along.


Albion Place’s latest single “Easier” is out now on any sensible streaming service. They are performing in Wellington at Meow on August 11.


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