Big Scary are not so scary…
Big Scary are a Melbourne duo that have managed to consistently create hauntingly beautiful alt-pop tracks, since way back in 2006. They consist of Jo Syme and Tom Iansek, and whilst they were recently in town for their ‘Not Art’ album national tour, I caught up with Jo to get the low down on sweet soul singers, Kanye collaborations and the true Arcade Fire fan-girl at heart.
Your latest release ‘Not Art’ definitely had a shift in style and dynamics overall compared to some of your earlier work such the ‘Vacation’ LP, was this shift intentional?
Um yes and no, I guess we had an idea about the production style beforehand and I guess that we knew that it was going to be different to 'Vacation'. Song writing wise, usually what happens is we keep writing like what we enjoy listening too, and our tastes change pretty rapidly these days.
You have recently added two more members to your stage line-up, what was the reasoning behind this?
This was mainly because 'Not Art’ was so much more layered and had parts that we feel couldn’t be missed, like the songs wouldn’t be quite pulled off.
I understand you’ve recently been doing some writing with Jonti, how was that?
Yea it was great! It was really funny, we didn’t know what to except, like I've never really collaborated with anyone before and we kind of had just sent each other some ideas over the internet. He came down and we met, and we had two days to try to get stuff happening. But yea, it went really smoothly and he built a sweet beat to a piano riff that we had and it kind of just moved swiftly from there.
Do you have an ultimate artist that you could someday hopefully collaborate with?
I guess the two pinnacles would be someone like Justin Vernon, because I feel like everything he touches turns to gold. And on the other side of the spectrum would be someone like Kanye West, who’s just so bombastic and it would be pretty fun for him to sample anything we did.
I was actually going to ask you about that, I had noticed that you've listed Kanye before as one of your biggest influences, who would you count as some of your other major influences?
Um people like DJ Shadow were a real revelation in terms of the way he uses samples. From a more song writing perspective I guess Bruce Springsteen, Bon Iver, and I personally kind of love TV On The Radio, and how they manage to get hip hop and rock together really well.
You released ‘Not Art’ on a striking white vinyl, what are your thoughts about this recent rebirth of the vinyl?
It’s the opposite of what you expect isn’t it? I think it’s great and its trendy, you know I'm a vinyl-philiac and I recently blew all my money on one day of shopping in Perth on vinyl. I don’t know, I guess it’s a little bit silly; it’s like any stupid desire for something you don’t need. I might look down on someone with a Louis Vuitton bag, but then I'm the one spending more on vinyl, it’s just what I want, you know? Its ritual and it’s beautiful, and you feel like it’s justice to the music. I guess it’s a trendy thing that’s coming back, and with less CD's it’s kind of the vinyl or the digital you know?
A few months ago you guys signed with Barsuk Records in the USA, congratulations first of all. How do you find the response over there and how do the audiences compare to back home?
Well we definitely haven’t got a fan base yet in the states but there are a few individuals that write to us and stuff like that. I think it’s really positive, we've been to the states twice now and we've played lots of live shows and they always have been great. They’re really generous and they come up after the show and they want to tell you that they liked it. I think that we appeal to a lot of peoples’ tastes over there; it’s just a matter of getting exposure there now I guess.
So the last I saw you guys live was at a lunch break gig for FBi Social, what’s your thoughts on what these community stations are doing in the way of support for the industry at the moment?
Oh I think they’re invaluable, they’re amazing, and it’s a different market to something like what triple J does. Triple J are beneficial because they unite a whole country, and I don’t know any other country that has something like that. But the smaller ones, the local ones, it’s incredible that people just want to feel connected, and I think that these stations provide that. You get shocked at how many people do; you know they just get you aware of what’s going on around you and how lucky you are in your own cities. Places like Sydney and Melbourne and a lot of other Australian cities have got so much going on, but it’s not supported, I think it’s unfair to say it’s not entirely supported by the government… but the community stations really really push an important part of our culture.
What is on the calendar for the rest of 2013?
I tell you what, a big gap actually. It's awesome! (laughs) Between now, the tour and Falls, we’ve got some time off which is a bit of a relief. We were going to head overseas but that’s been postponed until next year. Yea it will be good to, I'm trying to study just because I don’t want to fritter away brain wise.
Oh that’s cool, what do you study?
I'm studying accounting. Just because you know, not to fall back on, it’s not like something like that. It's just more like having other skills in life, other than mopping the floors and playing the drums (laughs).
Where are you guys planning to head, when you do go overseas on that tour? Or you haven’t locked it in yet?
No, that’s why I think it was postponed. We're just trying to wait for a good tour support slot. We've got great support, we've got our label, publicity, we’ve got booking agents, it’s all ready to go. We just want to make sure we make the most of it, when we're going to introduce ourselves with this album. But I guess it always means New York, LA and everything in between.
Alright well thank you so much again for speaking to us. It’s been a pleasure and I'm definitely very psyched to see you on stage again at Falls Festival.
- James Sherley