Squeak LeMaire of Ocean Shores may just be 18, but he already has two years of gigging under his belt, and he has just achieved the benchmark that most musicians don’t crack until well into their twenties, some even later.
He’s recorded and released an album: Scared of Silence. And by the way, did I mention he’s doing Year 12 at Mt St Patrick’s? At such an early age LeMaire seems to have those two ingredients so vital for someone embarking on a creative career: he’s talented and driven. If this new album is anything to go by, I can’t see anything holding this young fella back.
‘I have always had an interest in guitar,’ says Squeak (who’s real name is Sebastian, but no-one really calls him that). ‘I picked up a guitar in Year 5. There was an advanced guitar group at my school; I had a few lessons and played the songs easily and they put me in the advanced group in two days so I played with all my friends in that group. Pretty soon I was better than most of them. It’s hard to explain but I can’t picture myself doing anything else really, that’s why I am getting serious about it. Nothing else excites me – I have to do this as a career.’
Let’s look at the album. He recorded independently and it was a follow-on from the EP he made a couple of years ago.
‘I sold all of them at gigs and I thought I needed to have something to sell at gigs so people had something to take home.’
So while most parents are battling to get their kids to pay for their phone credit, Squeak saved the money to record his album.
‘I get lots of support from my family – not financially though; they make me do all my stuff myself. The album was a couple of years of gigs – I saved for it. If you know what you want to do it’s easy. My parents want to get me ready for the real world – if I want to keep making music then I have to keep busking and playing gigs.’
Squeak reflects on his passion for music and anchors it back to when he was just a little kid.
‘Ever since I was small I wanted to be a rock star. Other kids would say they wanted to be a fireman, or a policeman, but I was already listening to music and I had my heart set on that.’
If one believes in omens foretelling the future or has ever said, ‘If I am on the right path, send me a sign’, then Squeak had his nudge from the universe at his very first gig.
‘My first gig was at Yum Yum Tree when I was 13 or 14. When I was there Xavier Rudd and Ash Grunwald just happened to be there on that day, and Xavier Rudd came up to me after I finished and pounded my knuckles and said I was awesome.’
Squeak’s album is impressive, his songwriting vast and emotive with tracks such as Bonnie, a seriously mellow song about a neighbouring family dealing with the passing of a newborn child. The expressions are evident with the female backing vocals, and the subtle strings inserted in post. The sultry lead vocal shows Squeak’s powerful strength in both his singing as well as his songwriting.
It’s impressive to hear a young songwriter who is so able to immerse himself in complex stories. Squeak admits to being a very ‘emotive’ writer. ‘It is always good to have some sort of sadness or feeling when I write and to get it out and make something productive from it. It’s what is so good about music. You can get the worst thing in the world and make something that can make people feel kind of happy.’
Scared of Silence is an album recorded in three parts.
‘I had a free day to go record at Studio 301. It was a wicked experience; that was where I recorded Bonnie. It had state-of-the-art equipment, but when I wanted to record the rest of the album there it was too expensive. So I went to Guy Anderton, who plays with Lisa Hunt, and he said I could record, and I recorded Aiming for the Top and then I looked around for something else and found Dave Atkins – he is really mad – and he helped with a lot of the songs, and it really worked; it’s pretty cool having Wolfmother drummer playing on your album! At Studio 301 it was very professionally done – everything was state of the art. I was a bit nervous when I was in the booth and it seemed a bit distant but when I was with Dave I sat in the room with him and we could jam out and chill. It was pretty informal – I think that was more my jam…’
Squeak LeMaire and his band The Moonbears won the Middle Pub’s recent band competition and has landed himself a spot at this year’s Mullum Music Festival.
If you want to catch this local musical prodigy a little sooner, he is at the Hotel Brunswick on Saturday. And his new album Scared of Silence will also be available.
Get in quick, he only has 1,000!
For more information about the Mullum Music Festival (19–22 Nov) go to mullummusicfestival.com.