Over the Sun is the highly ambitious new work from recent Triple J Unearthed winners Tinpan Orange, with rave reviews already pouring in and a national capital city tour on the agenda. Tinpan Orange also perform their only regional gig at the Mullum Music Festival 22–25 November. With the album released just last week, Mandy Nolan spoke with Jesse Lubitz for the lowdown.
Jesse, can you tell me what Emily means by the quote she uses when talking about Over the Sun, ‘The housewife goes mad’? I think Emily often writes about mundane aspects of life and finds a way to elevate them. There’s a theme running through this new album of people going about their everyday lives and something simmering underneath – like those little glimpses of inspiration (or madness) that flash across your mind when you least expect it.
Is the entire album really about a housewife looking over her life… what would make you choose that kind of narrative for an album? The album is steeped in nostalgia. There are themes that re-appear throughout a bunch of the tracks, but I think that the housewife isn’t necessarily a housewife…
How has the inception and creation of this album differed from the others? We’ve been working on this album for well over a year. The recording started in 2011 with a couple of weeks with our new producer Steven Schram and our new drummer Daniel Farrugia. We were all getting to know each other – it felt like we were carefully building something. There was no rush and no deadline. We took a break from recording when Emily had her baby. This gave us time to reflect on what we had already recorded and whet we wanted to do. We had the skeleton of the album recorded and it was great to be able to go back to the studio to record for another week earlier this year. The whole process felt quite calm and relaxed in comparison to our other albums. Working with Steven Schram was brilliant – he added something quite magical to the recordings.
Does Emily’s having a baby in tow now change the way you guys make music, or tour? I guess it makes us a little bit more selective about the shows we do, but it’s been quite an easy transition. Louis (Emily’s baby) is a great traveller – he’s great company on the road!
In making this album what was it in particular that you wanted to do differently? We wanted to expand our sound – we brought in Daniel on drums; he’s such a fantastic musician, he brings a whole new dimension to our sound. We wanted to capture something in the recordings and working with Steven Schram (producer) enabled us to explore the collection of songs in a new light. I think that this new album will still appeal to fans of our previous work, but it branches out into something new as well.
How close did you come, do you think, to achieving what you set out to? As close as we could have hoped!
How did the production by Steven Schram assist you and Emily in realising the vision for this production? Schram was instrumental (no pun intended) in bringing a new ingredient to this album. He has a brilliant ear and he managed to bring out the best in all our performances – I think that ‘s pretty much the most important thing that a producer can do.
Is it difficult to translate the album to a live show? Many of the songs on this album have been a part of our live show for the past two years so it’s been quite an easy process bringing the songs to life in a live setting.
What song are you proudest of and why? At the moment, I’m most proud of Over The Sun – it sparkles just how I imagined it would when I first heard Emily and Harry play it to us in pre-production.
What song caused you the most grief? Over The Sun probably took us the longest to record, but it wasn’t a particularly harrowing experience! Schram was always careful not to let us get too frustrated as we were recording – he made us take breaks when we needed. Lots of cups of tea…
You’ve had involvement with MMF since the beginning, how do you view the festival…? MMF is my favourite festival! Glenn and the team have created something truly special. They bring a brilliantly eclectic mix of music to Mullumbimby and showcase the town so beautifully. I love the way they use the town’s infrastructure – it feels like the festival just fits in to its surrounds – it’s not imposed.
What should we expect from Tin Pan Orange for your upcoming Mullum Music Festival show? We’ll be playing songs from our new album as well as a bunch of old favourites – we can’t wait!
For more information go to www.mullummusicfestival.com.