Melbourne based production duo Close Counters prepare to release their highly anticipated ‘FLUX’ EP with ‘SOMETHING IN MY DRINK’ featuring fellow Melbournian JAYDEAN acting as their ‘FLUX’ EP’s focus track, Close Counters recount wanting to: “capture the warmth and atmosphere of crate digging for funk records, mixing in waves of drum breaks, samples and live instruments. Whilst the song is an uptempo groove, it touches on the very serious topic of drink spiking. JAYDEAN’s lyrics tell the story of the broken trust, anxieties, and the physical discomfort that occurs to someone who has had their drink spiked. For lovers of Thundercat and Kaytranada – we’re channeling that new funk sound.”
Their new collection of tunes stem from a government enforced 112 day lockdown in Victoria, with studio space traded in for online streamed sessions. A host of friends along the way also joined in various forms and the sense of community with their peers helped them overcome the challenging time, that has seen Close Counters create their most well-rounded piece of artistry, that further showcases their diverse soundscape at the crossroads of house, neo-soul, hip-hop and disco.
After a move across the Tasman Sea a few short years ago from Hobart, the duo had expanded and enlisted a full 7-piece setup with live-percussion, woodwind and stringed instruments joining the tour-de-force on stage which features dancers from their greater collective.
Creative prowess seeps through their music and into video clips and artwork, with Finn Rees as the driving force behind their new works’ artistic production and direction. Finn’s spill into animation and design work has included tastemaker labels Mr. Bongo, Nice Guy Records, a slew of Australian artists such as Sampology and Surprise Chef.
Aside from mixing all Close Counters’ works, Allan McConnell’s uncontainable creativity and passion for cinema and records sees him spend his time delving deep through old films or vinyl for samples and rare grooves; a process that saw his efforts feature in their heavily sample-based debut album ‘SOULACOASTA’. The full length audio-introduction paid homage to The Avalanches, whom the fellow Melbournians draw influences from.
With a knack for flow and re-inventing, the past 12 months have seen Close Counters remix the likes of Bag Raiders on their single “How Long” with Panama and their flip of 30/70’s “Impermanace” earned a debut nod from Sampology on Worldwide FM, their new wave of live dance music has been supported by tastemakers Giles Peterson, NME and radio crews at BBC Radio 6, Triple J, Worldwide FM. In a relatively short spanning career, Close Counters have swept crowds at festivals supporting the likes of Confidence Man and Tall Black Guy.
The Hoof caught up Allan and Finn from the band for a chat.
Tell us about yourself, when and how did you get into music.
Allan – We are Close Counters, a Melbourne based duo that makes soulful dance and house music. We have been playing for eight years since forming in our hometown of Hobart, Tasmania. There was a small music scene in Tas, and even though we had lived on the same street at one point, we properly met at an underage council funded concert for a band called The Scientists Of Modern Music. We began jamming songs infused with our love for electronic music of the early 2010s, and then later infused elements of jazz and soul.
What’s the inspiration behind the record and the sound you have created.
FLUX’ EP is a colourful array of four songs we made at the tail end of 2019 and the start of 2020. These tunes continue our deeper exploration of dance and house music, projecting positivity through rhythm and song writing. Having started playing live with a full band during the development of this project we have incorporated a lot more live playing in these recordings. With a background in jazz we thrive off the spontaneity of jamming and improvising when developing our music and are constantly trying to find the sweet spot between multiple musical worlds of groove
Tell us about a classic track, something that has inspired you or just one you love and never get sick of listening to.
Allan – There’s Never Been No One Like You by Kenix ft. Bobby Youngblood is a longtime favourite classic track, both for listening at home and DJing out. This song is a masterclass on how to arrange a tight disco song, each instrument and voice occupies their own space and compliments each other so perfectly. The driving force of the anthem is the mysterious vocalist Bobby Youngblood, who is only credited as having sung on five songs between 1980-1985.
Can you recommend any new music, something that you have just discovered or are just really digging at the moment.
Finn – Happily! Prequel just put out an incredible album “Love Or (I Heard You Like Heartbreak)” deep groovy and sample heavy, the new Floating Points X Pharoah Sanders is a must hear, (I’m with you on this, pure quality from start to finish – the Hoof) also while we’re going deep Brazilian legend Hermeto Pascoal’s album “Viajando Com o Som” is one of the most bizarre and beautiful recordings I’ve come across.
How have you kept busy during the last year has the pandemic stifled your creativity or the free time allowed you to experiment more.
Finn – Definitely a bit of both, I think like a lot of creatives we were happy to suddenly have a bunch of time to work at home. But it gets to a point where if there isn’t that ‘real’ contact with the outside world to provide a validation of your thoughts and ideas, then things begin to lose context and purpose – that’s the biggest challenge. It was a good reminder that our music really feeds off human interaction to complete itself.
What does 2021 look like for the band, future plans, hope and dreams.
Finn – definitely making the most of Australia’s lucky situation in this pandemic. Having just put out “FLUX” we’re going to be touring around the east coast of Australia in April/May playing a bunch of headline shows as well as supports for Confidence Man. There’s also a bunch of exciting new recordings we’ve been slowly hacking away at! The dream is to be able to bring our live show overseas at some point but we’re just grateful that gigs are back at all at the moment!