POOLSIDE bangers about emancipation and regeneration. Downtempo existential meditations. Songs about shifts at shitty supermarkets set to experimental garage beats.
Melbourne trio Huntly – Elspeth Scrine, Andrew McEwan and Charlie Teitelbaum – have poured themselves into their debut full-length album Low Grade Buzz.
The album is the ultimate extension of their “doof you can cry to” mantra; a collection of tracks that explore break-ups, identity, and “the pain of the world”, as Elspeth sings on ‘Giving Circle’.
They unpack the influences and inspirations behind each track below.
Elspeth: Big baby opener. I remember I’d been listening to a podcast which talked about incompatible histories in relationships, and thinking a lot about how to make relationships survive – which made up the first couple of lines. As a band we’d talked about wanting an opening soundscape to set the album up, and I had this one vocal hook stuck in my head. When pretty much all the other tracks were done, I sat down and looked through my journal for the last year, and penned this one in about five minutes. When we recorded at Sing Sing Studios [in Melbourne], we ran my vocal track through this beautiful Space Echo tape effect, and created new tracks that were heavily effected. Then Andy arranged them, the way you hear them move in and out behind the main melody.
Charlie: You can hear the sounds of the album, and the sounds of us making the album, all in in the first few seconds. We wanted the start and end of the project to speak to each other in some way. As El sings on this track, this is a “project of documentation”, and it’s almost a manifesto for the project. These words could convey both our own, intimate personal relationship, as well as setting up our relationship with the listener. We wanted the production on the track to run with this idea, too. You can hear us constantly re-hashing, re-interpreting and reframing our conversations against the lyrics. A constant and open “project of documentation”.
Elspeth: God, this song took a lot of goes to get right. I started it originally inspired by a Sydney artist,
Elspeth: Having a choir of mates come and join us in the studio for the opening verse of this song was one of my highlights, especially because the song’s about social dynamics and how they play out after a break up. Musically I have been inspired by Conor and Barnaby of
Charlie: Quincy Jones!
Andrew: I couldn’t get this groove out my head – I played it aloud once at a rehearsal and we all jammed over the top. Almost everything you hear in this track came out of that jam.
Elspeth: Mmm this groove is amazing. I know it’s left-of-field so it’ll never be a single, but I love this song.
Charlie: I know the words initially meant something different but whenever El sings, “In the places that remind you that you’re actually on a planet”, I feel the music is coming from another swampy planet far away. And like somehow we’ve just come across it and are reacting to it like “woah”. I was responding to that and the liminal spaces of the creative process.
Charlie: ‘Wait (37 Degrees)’ has a long origin story. Originally written in the studio out the back of my dad’s place on a really hot day, it became very rooted in time and place. It’s both manic and quiet at the same time. For me it was all about tension. I wanted to make a song that was very rooted in the silence of in-between spaces, manifesting most of its power from the voice. The voice is my favourite instrument. The words of the song imagines a dream parable in which I am present at the point of colonisation of this country, tied to key moments in my family’s history. It tackles the idea of being disembodied with history, so the weightless nature and erratic movement of the production are key to the track.
Elspeth: Poolside banger about emancipation and regeneration. I just wanted to write a break-up song that was also an accessible dance track. Then Charlie wrote his parts and it became this high drama interactive little dance we use now to open our set. Not to mention the music video which we got to shoot with professional gymnasts.
Charlie: I wanted the the relationship between the two voices to sound conversational, but still dramatic. I think we nailed it.
Elspeth: We nailed it.
Charlie: I wanted to try and write a simple R&B love song, inspired by my favourite (and the most romantic) hour: Dusk. I think this is what the colours of dusk what sound like, no? This is my most romantic song. It’s about the conflict between falling in love with someone wholly and fully, but also trying to maintain complete control over your sense of self. The struggle of love in your youth. The tension between being young and self-centered but also sharing an emotional ground with someone else.
While part one is hopeful, part two becomes desperate. When the sun sets on the romantic and thick air of dusk, you are thrown into darkness/Into part 2/Into the club/In this frenetic setting things become desperate and increasingly chaotic.
Andrew: this was born from a beat I had that I always thought of as “experimental garage”.
Elspeth: I loved the beat Andy had created for this track from the moment they played it to us, and I went home and wrote the lyrics to work over the top – it’s the first time we’ve ever made a song like that. It’s about being 14 years old, working at a shitty supermarket in the suburbs of Brisbane, with a boss who abused his power with me. I never really understood what that experience was until I processed it through writing the lyrics to this song. I don’t know if it sounds out of place compared to the more cute or clean emotional tracks of the record, but I don’t really mind.
Elspeth: This song is about queerness and identity and desperation and a really complex relationship, and I think the music underneath kind of reflects that sense of emotionality and chaos. I went to Sydney and made a music video for this song with two queer art directors. We went to the footy and the club and filmed the rest in a bedroom, and I think we captured it all perfectly.
Elspeth: My favourite track, the title track; the downtempo existential meditation. Filled with snippets from iPhone recordings and samples, recorded on a keyboard I bought from an op shop and wrote the song on while I was overseas. The Big Kahuna.
Charlie: I made the synth a character in this track. Like it was personifying that “low grade buzz”. Constantly interrupting. I liked the disruptive nature of it; it’s not easy to sit with, like lots of these feelings in life. I kind of think of it like a duet, between El and their own feelings.