Last Mullum Music Festival I spied a familiar face that I hadn’t seen in some time. ‘Jez Mead, is that you?’ Fortunately for us in the Byron Shire, this place has elastic strands. People may leave, but we know they’ll be back. And with a talent like Jez, it’s worth the wait for his musical rebound, right back to home base.
Jez, where have you been and what have you been doing over the last few years? What drew you back to the Byron Shire?
I’ve spent the last five years in the Victorian goldfields having a break from gigging. I was a little worn out from going round the countryside and basically needed to regroup. I spent the time in the country playing the trumpet (something I had done at school) and writing instrumental songs for what has now become a band called The Golden Mile.
As much as I love central Vic, I had really missed the beach, the weather and friends up here.
How do you approach songwriting? How would you describe yourself as a songwriter?
Songwriting for me is quite a random thing; it comes when it comes, and when it does it can be quite a few songs in a row, and when it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I think it’s more about the mood you’re in and if you are receptive to ideas coming through. I don’t try to force it. Lyrics and melodies come a lot when I’m driving, the iPhone voice recorder is very handy for that. Having said that, I don’t feel like writing lyrics at the moment, hence the instrumental band. I like how instrumental music conveys emotion and feeling without lyrics. It bypasses any sort of intellectualising. A lot of the bands I like are instrumental bands: the Dirty Three, Silver Ray, Ry Cooder’s instrumental stuff, lots of world music too.
What do you want your music to do to people?
The Golden Mile to me feels like film soundtrack music. Some of it sounds like driving across the Nullarbor, some of it sounds like a huge wave coming in. I don’t write with this in mind; it’s just how it sounds to me after I’ve written it. After one gig, a mate of mine said that a song sounded like flying over Ayers Rock, and that’s pretty much what I think it sounds like too. I guess I just like people to trip out on music; I just want them to be moved in some way. You can’t really think about it too much. You just have to write what’s in you and there’s usually someone out there who will understand it and be moved by it.
In your experience, has the music scene changed here much since you went away?
I don’t think the music scene has changed that much since I was here. There’s still some really cool little intimate gigs; they’re my favourite kind. There still seem to be a lot of people keen to listen to original music and venues keen to put it on.
Who are the artists who you find yourself listening to time and time again?
I’ve been listening to Ry Cooder’s Paris Texas soundtrack sinceI was a teenager; that never gets old. Neil Young, Talking Heads Remain in Light, Talk Talk Spirit of Eden, all that stuff’s timeless.
What should we expect for your show at Bangalow Hotel?
We’ve been playing in the lounge bar that looks out onto the balcony at Bangalow Hotel. It’s nice and intimate. Expect to go on a musical road trip.
You can catch Jez on Friday at The Bangalow Hotel at 6pm.