Interview with GUY BROWN
from THE MAMMALS
2017 is certainly gearing up to be a big year for Mammals, (aka Guy Brown). It saw the exciting release of his 6-track EP CHASE YOUR BLISS out now, which showcases and boasts some impressive production and ingenious instrumentation. To top this off, he not only supported Australia’s Vera Blue on her ‘Private’ national tour,but also has his band on the road for his own headline East Coast ‘CHASE YOUR BLISS EP Tour‘.
Amnplify’s Julie Ink-Slinger caught up with Guy recently and as you can see below, had a long chat and caught all the good stuff. We hope you enjoy the interview.
Guy: Hello, Guy speaking.
Julie: Hi Guy, it’s Julie from Amnplify.
Guy: Hi Julie, how are you going?
Julie: I’m good, how are you?
Guy: Very well thank you.
Julie: Alright. Well we’ll dive into the questions if that’s okay?
Guy: For sure.
Julie: Great. Congratulations on your new single, “Chase Your Bliss.”
Guy: Thank you.
Julie: You sing about taking her there. Whereabouts is there? Can you tell me?
Guy: Ah, it’s pretty open. It depends. For me it’s – discovering, I guess?
Guy: Finding places where I feel at home.
Julie: Wherever you lay your hat?
Guy: Yeah, pretty much. Particularly before I went to Indonesia on a big surf trip. I was pretty up when I was thinking about the trip
Guy: Maybe “there” is a tropical island in Indonesia?
Julie: A beautiful place, I imagine. So have you surfed all over the world?
Guy: Yeah, yeah.
Guy: Throughout Europe, all around Australia, Indo.
Julie: You’ve seen so many places, and surfed so many waves.
Guy: Not nearly as much as I’d like to yet. It’s very addictive.
Julie: Let’s get back to the music, okay?
Julie: Listening to your songs, I really like the cruisy sort of sweetly melodic music that you make. How would you describe your sound? Or, perhaps you can’t categorise it?
Guy: Did you ever see the – the Andy Warhol can of soup thing?
Guy: Yeah well one of my mates who used to play in the band. Photoshopped that and put “Mammals,” on it. And it said “Super Chilled Vibey Soup.”
Julie: (Laughing): That’s very funny.
Guy: Maybe it’s super chilled vibey soup?
Julie: Maybe it is? Oh that’s as good a description as any, I’d say that I’ve heard.
Guy: So up again, it’s awesome.
Julie: So what effect, if any, did growing up on the Northern beaches have with regard to your music? Was it influential at all?
Guy: Yeah definitely. I just think just being close to the water, would be the biggest influence for sure, because I’m really inspired by the the textures of water and light together, and I try and replicate that in a musical way.
Guy: So I try and explore really fluid motions and big, lush ambient textures. I don’t know if I achieved it, but that’s what I’m trying to do.
Julie: Well it’s really pretty, it’s really tranquil, at least that’s the way I hear it. So if that’s the effect you’re going after, I think you’re pretty successful to this point.
Guy: Ah ha awesome, I’ll keep trying.
Julie: Now you’ve been described as a – quote, “Sydney folk crooner.” Do you agree with that description? I don’t even know what it means, to be perfectly honest. I need to whip out my dictionary and thesaurus.
Guy: A crooner?
Julie: Yeah, you’ve been described somewhere as a Sydney folk crooner. How weird, right? It’s not as if you are a performer like Frank Sinatra, during the 1950’s.
Guy: Ha!! Yeah, I’m not too sure. I’ve definitely got the Sydney and the folk music elements, but–
Guy: Well maybe look up the definition–
Julie: Crooner, yeah. Look up crooner. It might be cooler than either of us realise, you never know.
Julie: Okay, Veronica Milson says about your song, ‘Carried,’ “This is a dangerous song to listen to while driving. It’ll take you to a destination far away, until you’re lost in a state of relaxation and don’t know how to get back. That happened to me, but it’s fine. I eventually worked out how to get back onto the freeway.” Do you realise your music is so enveloping and distracting, and that you could be responsible for some disorderly driving on the roads?
Guy: Oh that’s awesome. it’s quite a flattering compliment, to be honest.
Guy: ‘Cause that’s the most amazing thing about music, no matter who the muso is or what the music is about, you’re just – so in the zone, you know what I mean?
Julie: Yes, music takes us away to other places, real and imagined.
Guy: Exactly. When I see live music, the experiences have been amazing. So that’s what I’ve also tried to do with my writing, by being conscious of that. And trying to make everything sort of an experience rather than than just write a pure pop song.
Guy: What I like to do when I write and perform is to try and draw out emotions from people and hopefully someone’s personal experience relates to what they/re hearing.
Julie: Your songs are quite hypnotic Guy, that’s what I found when I was listening to them. Like very peaceful, do you know what I mean? Like they sort of hit you in your soul, and they make you feel really kind of chilled.
Guy: Yeah totally.– ‘Cause when I’m writing, I’m always trying to do the same for myself. Like venture off like – take whatever’s on my mind or whatever, and just like go somewhere completely different, emotionally speaking. So when I write, it is a form of escapism as well.
Julie: It sounds like your songs are kind of organically created?
Guy: Yeah, I sort of try and find the vibe for like – from like synth sounds or guitar lines and stuff.
Julie: Hmm mm.
Guy: And when I’m inspired by something that I hear, that’s when I sort of get on a roll for writing a song.
Guy: But yeah, it’s just all about finding that one vibe that sort of connects or hits you somewhere deep. And then you’re like–“Oh, okay, well let’s explore this.”
Julie: “I’ve got something here,” do you mean? .
Julie: That must be awesome, Guy.
Guy: Yeah. It’s lovely. I think it’s nice to not worry about where you are or what your surroundings are like, or what’s going on in the world or whatever. Writing music allows me to get in touch with the deep parts of myself, it really is a rewarding experience.
Julie: The single, “Carried,” has been enthusiastically received by Australian surf culture. And it was on a surfing ad, and also in a short film. How do you feel about your music being so favourably received?
Guy: It’s really flattering. The most rewarding thing that I get out of my music is if it’s just one person who reaches out and says “Wow, that moved me — I really like that.”
Julie: Uh huh
Guy: It just makes everything so worthwhile. Like all the money you spend, and all the time that goes into it, if people feel something when listening to my songs, I’m rapt.
Julie: Now, you’ve been hugely supported by FBI and Triple J Unearthed. How does such radio airplay help launch new artists careers? Are they helpful kind of platforms for new artists?
Guy: Yeah, totally. I think FBI has been amazing for us, especially when they had the venue in the Cross, FBI Social.
Guy: So we got to play some awesome gigs there.
Julie: Uh huh.
Guy: Which got us some good vibes going and positive feedback.
Julie: That’s really encouraging
Guy: It was, and Unearthed is where we sort of got going. When we won the Unearthed competition to play at Laneway which was amazing, and yeah it’s just been awesome. Like I think it’s very important to have those sort of platforms to get out there. But it seems to be coming trickier and trickier now because there is so much content out there. So to cut through that ocean of sound is – yeah it’s tough. But yeah, I think we’ve just got to stick at it.
Julie: Yes, absolutely — manifesting belief in yourself, your musicianship, and keeping at it.
Guy: Yeah. but It’s always a rollercoaster, up and down, and sometimes you’re loving it, sometimes you’re hating it. In the Kendrick Lamar’s song ‘Element’ he says, “You know careers take off, just gotta be patient”.
Julie: I guess that’s true for every artist, right?
Guy: For sure.
Julie: There’s patience and continuing to put one foot in front of the other, I guess?
Guy: Exactly, but sometimes it’s one step forward, and two back.
Julie: You’re moving, right?
Guy: Yep, there’s motion in some way.
Julie: I see. Now speaking of your music being released to the public, have you ever considered – as I have.- that in this age of YouTube, Spotify, Soundcloud and other online sites where music is quite easily accessible, do you believe that radio airplay at some point in the future might become a bit obsolete? I hope it doesn’t ever happen, but what do you think?
Guy: Well it’s an interesting question, because people are increasingly accessing music online. Our band Mammals is most popular in America and the UK on Spotify.
Guy: I guess, as long as we are being listened to, no matter the platform, it’s a positive thing. But yeah, in regards to airplay, we haven’t had much lately. However, I still think the power of say like Triple J or whatever is massive.
Julie: Uh huh.
Guy: Whoever they back or push, it becomes huge.
Guy: In a couple of years’ time, though, there will likely be another music platform that is a game changer — that people will move over to.
Julie: Well yeah, there’s probably some music nerd, computer whizzes.out in the world right now who are developing new ways to access music.
Guy: I think so too.
Julie: I downloaded some mp3s a few years ago, but I felt guilty and went and bought the CD’s.
Guy: To be honest, I will buy full albums here and there but you discover so many amazing new artists.on Spotify or Soundcloud or whatever. If you didn’t have that availability, you wouldn’t have heard that amazing music.
Julie: Very true. Now I’d like to talk to you about your connection to Nylon Studios. I checked out their website and it’s filled with musically creative and innovative people involved in original composition and sound design.
Mitch Clark Photography
Julie: How did the Nylon Studios team help you in the creation of your music?
Guy: Oh it was huge. When I left school, I started writing a few songs on guitar. I then studied Audio Engineering at the SAE, Creative Media Institute. I didn’t complete much of the study because I wasn’t applying myself. But after about 8 months, I got offered a studio assistant job at Nylon. I’d then stay back after hours, use all the gear and the studios and write music.
Guy: The music I started to write eventually turned into the project, “Mammals.” And as the years went by and I kept putting my time and effort in, I became a full time composer there.
Julie: That’s fantastic.
Guy: Thanks. I was composing for ads and, on the side, some short films and stuff. I was there for about 6 years in total.
Julie: They must have respected your composition skills.
Guy: They did, but they also mentored me, and taught me everything that I know. So I owe it all to those guys.
Julie: It seems the educational side of your time at Nylon was extensive and fulfilling and contributed significantly to your growth as an artist.
Guy: It definitely did. I was actually there today, for the first time in a while. I’ve made some amazing friends there.
Julie: That’s terrific. And they’re supportive of your career, obviously.
Guy: Yeah, it’s awesome. I was in there today helping one of the guys. We have written a song together for a Netflix doco.
Julie: I love Netflix docos.
Guy: Oh this one’s majorly intense. It’s about rescue, the people in the army who are the first on scene with the rescue helicopter to assist whoever’s injured, no matter what side they’re on, or who they’re fighting for.
Julie: Amazing, brave people.
Guy: Absolutely. And it also documents the difficulty many of these men and women experience when they try to assimilate back into reality after war.
Julie: Yes, a number of people who are “at the front lines” of war, who endure that kind of trauma, will go on to develop PTSD. A very harsh reality indeed.
Guy: I feel for them.
Julie: Me too Guy.
Julie: Now, while some of your songs are accessible online, you don’t have an official release date yet Guy, for your first album?
Guy: No, but I have been a busy boy recording new material. I’m not too sure if it’s going to be an album for the next one, or another EP. But I’ve got about 5 or 6 tracks that I’m developing and that I’m really happy with.
Julie: Great. With regard to your music, it sounds like you write it, sing it and produce it. Is that right?
Julie: You’re a multi-skiller?
Guy: I try to be. But my skills are limited, so I can’t achieve what I want to hear.
Julie: That’s when collaboration comes in handy, right?
Guy: Oh it’s so good. I love writing with other people, the creativity of bouncing ideas around and working together to create new material. It’s awesome. And you never stop learning, which is really cool.
Julie: In your younger years You performed in operas, musicals, theatre and TV commercials. And you described your mum as a bit of a stage mum.
Guy: True (laughing)
Julie: I’m sure she’s lovely! How helpful were those earlier performance experiences on your present position as a working musician?
Guy: Oh huge. I don’t know if I’d be into music as much as I am had I not had those experiences. It was great training and it planted a seed in my mind that I could pursue a musical career, if I put the work in.
Guy: I was always doing music lessons and stuff too, and playing the guitar and piano, very badly.
Julie: I’m sure you can play some chords.
Guy: My dad influenced my interest in music too, always cranking the blues at home. My dad is the biggest bopper ever.
Julie: He sounds like a fun dad.
Guy: Yep, he is.
Julie: I’m always curious about musicians’ songwriting processes; whether you get the melody first or the lyric idea comes first; whether the song has been inspired by a personal experience or an observation of someone else’s life or from your imagination.
Julie: How do you write a song, Guy – in general terms?
Guy: The whole beat of the track is done before I start writing lyrics.
Julie: Oh really? In your mind?
Guy: To a great degree, yes. I play around with the beat I can “hear” in my mind, I produce it on the computer, and record it all.
Julie: Songwriting in the modern age?
Guy: Yep. And then, when I’ve got a vibe going, I’ll start chucking down some lyrics.
Guy: Before I started writing with other people–
Guy: My process would be, I would write the lyrics on the spot there and try and smash it out as quickly as I could.
Guy: I have learned, over time, that a much more enjoyable way of writing a song is to find the melody first. So you record gibberish saying whatever–
Julie: You speak in tongues?
Guy: HaHa! (laughs)
Guy: And then I find the melody. I then take the melody and the gibberish and try and figure out what my subconscious is trying to say, whether it’s an examination of an experience I have had or if it could simply be a phrase or a word that is staying with me. I explore the thoughts and feelings of my subconscious and write the lyrics.
Julie: Thanks Guy for sharing with Amnplify readers how you create new music. And thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me about Mammals. I look forward to your new album or EP and I wish you continued success.
Guy: Thanks very much Julie.
FOLLOW MAMMALS HERE: