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September 18, 2017 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Interview with October

Heralded as “one to watch” back in 2015 by The Wireless, Emma Logan aka October may be young, but her talent should not be overlooked or taken lightly. The Auckland-based musician draws from tenets of glam rock, post-punk, and punk rock in both her style and music to provide an enticing visual and aural experience. Her newest release “Pure” picks at the inconsistencies and contradictions that are typically conflated with the term “purity” and what it traditionally stands for in a wider sense, as well as how it is imposed on individuals in a gendered fashion. The latest release projects the kind of quality that makes you want to dance in appropriate places; it bestows both a sense of depth and carelessness to the listener. Salient spoke to October recently to talk about her new song, what the idea of purity means to her, and her quickly emerging status in the music industry.


October3_sml_Marissa Findlay


Salient: What was your initial inspiration for “Pure”? How long did you spend coming up with the song?

Emma: “Pure” was actually one of the most recent songs I’ve written, in the period of 4–6 months that I was writing. At the time I was thinking a lot about what it means to be, or rather everything it means to not be, pure — in every sense of what pure means. I was thinking a lot about commercialism in music. And whether you can be a true musician or a pure musician while still maintaining a sense of commercialism, and whether you can still be in service of the music but still be considering the best way for your music to be heard by a lot of people. I was feeling a bit of conflict with that because I’ve certainly started to consider the commercial aspect of my music a lot more than I used to. But I don’t think that makes me less of a true musician.

I was also thinking a lot about, just generally, what it means to be a good person. Also, thinking a lot about being a female, being a feminist, and what it means to be feminine. I think that for me, I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself traditionally “feminine”, but I’m obviously entirely female, and I’m entirely feminine in my own way. I would say that I don’t exactly contour my image to the taste of men. It’s not something that I would generally consider in my music, I’m so obviously still entirely female but I don’t necessarily bend to the traditional sort of tropes of being a feminine female. I think I was just thinking about purity in general, in every sense of the word.


S: Do you feel as a young person emerging onto the scene you’re getting noticed, that there’s pressure for you to not sell out?

E: I would say that I’m aware that the pressure is probably there, but I definitely choose to ignore it. I’m kind of the person where if I ever meet a labelhead or my management for example, before I sign anything the first thing I tell people is that I don’t like being told what to do, you don’t need to tell me what to do. I’m writing and producing all this stuff myself, I come up with the visual concepts myself with my boyfriend. I’m kind of like this package deal that you don’t need to worry about, all I need you to do is like the business side of it because that’s not my area of expertise. But in saying that, obviously as an artist I care a lot about how I am portrayed and how I am sort of distributed and how my image is distributed, and I don’t think that makes me necessarily a “fake” sort of person, or contrived, because I am considering that a little more. It’s just that I’d much rather it, and these decisions, come from me, rather than the labelhead or management. Because basically it comes down to the fact that I want who I am, and my music and my image, to be entirely authentic, and so the easiest way to do that is do it myself and consider every facet of the business side.


S: Do you feel like a lot of people disregard pop or dance music on the basis that it doesn’t appear deep or have any substance?

E: Well honestly, I’d be the first person to sort of disregard pop, I don’t really listen to a lot of pop. I listen to a wide array of artists but mainly from the ’60s/’70s/’80s. I think when it comes to writing I’m not necessarily thinking about writing a pop song, I’m thinking about writing a good song, and a good melody, with a good set of chord progressions, and you know whatever genre that falls into so be it.


S: Going back to last year when your other stuff came out like the Switchblade EP, was that a developmental time? When I hear it I feel, with the lyrics, you kind of create this identity — especially in the song “Switchblade” — you don’t want to be misinterpreted.

E: Yeah I guess with “Switchblade” it was when I first left home [Blenheim]; I moved to Wellington. It became this opportunity where I could create this whole new persona in my music and because people had never heard of me before this was the first opportunity where I was releasing music for people to hear. I think that I’m talking a lot about sort of standing up for myself and saying to people, “watch out, don’t push me around.” I think as a female in the music industry it’s really easy to be trampled on in the sense that a lot of your ideas can get pushed to the side, and you’re not necessarily taken seriously — especially as a female producer. I mean a lot of people didn’t even believe I was producing my own stuff, they assumed it was my band mate that would play in the live versions of my songs. So I think that song is just really about saying, don’t belittle me, and take me seriously. I obviously still believe in that sentiment to this day.


S: What prompted you to move to Auckland?

E: Music, really. I think I was gaining a tiny bit of momentum with my music, with Switchblade EP and with “Voids” which was the very first song I put out. I wasn’t necessarily enjoying university, I really loved learning, but I was constantly skipping class to go back home and make music. So I thought rather than waste more money and waste more time being at university, I just wanted to take the opportunity, and the leap of faith, and move to Auckland, and pretty much see what happens. So far so good, it kind of paid off.


S: Speaking of “Voids” (released in 2015), does that seem like an age ago to you now? What have you learnt since that release?

E: Oh god, it really does seem like an age ago. I think most importantly what I’ve learnt is better production techniques — as a musician, as a producer, as a writer. I’ve learnt and improved so much. You could probably listen to “Voids” and listen to my stuff now and think it’s two very separate artists. But I would hate to think people would think that I’m leaving my roots behind, because it’s not necessarily that, it’s the fact that I’ve improved and gotten better. You know the stuff that I’m making now I think is still in line with what I was making two years ago, it’s just that it’s better, especially in quality.


S: So you used to do a lot of this production stuff on your own, like in your bedroom, now you’re working in proper studios here and overseas. Is there anything you miss from working alone?

E: Actually for the majority of the songs I still write and produce them at home. Then I would take them to a big fancy studio and then finish off the recording and production there. I definitely haven’t left the bedroom producing behind — that’s my favourite part of it, and I definitely prefer working alone. I never plan to leave that process out at all. The reason why I went overseas to work with producers was mainly actually for the fact that I wanted to learn to become a better producer. That’s why I was in the studio with Joel Little, which was super fascinating. And I was also with Tom Powers from The Naked and Famous. I wanted to learn and better myself as a producer.


S: What has your average day consisted of since moving to Auckland and releasing more music?

E: Half of this year I was in a very intense writing phase so it would consist of me waking up at 7.00am, when my boyfriend was going to university, I’d start writing at 8.00am, and I’d do that right through until lunch time, have a small break, then continuing writing up until 7.00pm, have dinner, then write more ’til 11.00pm or 12.00am at night. That was pretty much my day every single day for about four or five months. Me in my bedroom producing, making a lot of music — a lot of bad music [laughs] — but also a lot of good music I think, refining it down to these select few songs that I am about to start unleashing upon everyone. I really wanted to treat it like a job. I’d been given this opportunity where I could dedicate every day to music and I wasn’t going to take that lightly so I really worked my butt off. It paid off I think.


S: You performed at the Stolen Girlfriends Club show during NZFW just the other week, how was that?

E: That was a pretty interesting show. It was my first show in like a year, and we had a completely new set up because we now have a live drummer and guitarist. We fucked up a little bit, but it’s all fun and games… I think I got progressively more drunk during the set. I think in my eyes the set got better [laughs], there’s nothing like a little bit of liquid confidence. But you know, it was super fun, people were dancing, the sound was a bit shitty but you can kind of expect that when you have a short, snappy soundcheck. I really can’t wait to start performing again and it was basically just a good trial run for my shows I just had in Brisbane, the last couple of days at Big Sound.


S: In regards to future shows, are you thinking of doing your own tour any time soon because I think that would be so viable now. I think you’re ready?

E: Definitely! I mean I don’t have any set dates yet or where and when, but it’s definitely on the horizon. I just gotta plan when and where basically. I’ll make sure everyone knows about it, that’s for sure.


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