Get To Know: Scratching
The new project of creative duo Grace Sanders and Ezekiel Padmanabham, we asked the pair to interview each other as we premiere their debut single
After releasing their awesome semi-concept EP Nothing Is Personal last year, Boorloo-based Grace Sanders and her creative production partner Ezekiel Padmanabham (formerly of beloved indie-experimentalists Gazey) are ready to start their next chapter under the new moniker Scratching, with their debut single, Peter, premiering on Pilerats a day ahead of release.
An evolution of the folk-leaning sounds heard on their previous EP, Peter is a triumphant, atmospheric cut, pairing piano passages with big acoustic guitar strums and a steady rhythm section, while shimmering synths swirl in the mix around Grace’s striking, melodic vocals. The result is a soothing and mesmerising slice of dreamy folk-pop.
Speaking on the single, Sanders explains "This song was initially written as a poem and was inspired by old soundtracks from musicals such as The Sound of Music and the woeful crooning of singers such as Doris Day, Skeeter Davis and the Mellowmen. We wanted to create something floaty and dreamlike that referenced that feeling of dissociation within the naive optimism of music from the 50s/60s. The song later became much more influenced by artists such as Lana del Rey and beach house as we put our own modern spin to those initial references and discovered how the story wanted to be told."
Peter follows on from Nothing Is Personal that saw support from the likes of Triple J, Double J and Unearthed, added to playlists and supported by music media around the country, while sharing stages with the likes of KUČKA, Boo Seeka, Great Gable, Katy Steele, Winston Surfshirt, and Psychedelic Porn Crumpets.
To celebrate the release of Peter, we asked Grace and Zeke to interview each other about their new single, offering an insight into their creative process and mindset - have a listen and get to know
Grace: What do you like about this song?
Ezekiel: This song? I just love how it feels very meditative. It’s very repetitive and drone-y. I think about it very simplistically. I like the drums, or I like the vocals. There isn’t a whole lot more there for me. What sparked the idea? What made you go.. “Damn, I wanna write this song”?
Grace: I think songs come in different ways for me. Sometimes there is a specific spark or idea at the centre that sets off a song like a domino effect… but in this case, I think I just felt… nostalgic for something, and I wasn’t sure what it was. So I started writing a poem, and the name Peter came to mind - I thought about the Peter’s I know, and I realised I was thinking about childhood - so I decided to go from there. Peter Pan meeting Wendy because he has lost his shadow. Do the lyrics that I write about impact how you record the song?
Ezekiel: Oh 100%. Absolutely. They’re the most important part.
Grace: How do you hear the nostalgia in this track? Are there specific sounds you wanted to bring in to make that effect?
Ezekiel: Yes. Obvious example is the Mellotron - we used those saxophones at the start and they feel so haunting… Because they’re old samples recorded from tape, they’re super old and warble-y and warm. It has this quality that creates a sense of nostalgia… if only just because of all the records we’ve grown up on that use those mellotron samples. How were you trying to approach your vocal execution?
Grace: Well, as you know we’ve both been listening to a lot of the new Lana Del Rey record.. but as a precursor to that, I was really enjoying older singers like Doris Day and Skeeter Davis in particular. I really love the mastery of the breathy quality in their voices, and how they use it to almost feel reminiscent of a woodwind or brass instrument. I’ve always felt self-conscious about the breathiness in my voice, because I wanted to be a powerhouse singer like a Beyonce or an Amy Winehouse when I was growing up… but now I’ve come to terms with how to utilise my natural strengths to create a sense of honesty and vulnerability. Do you remember the first vocal we did for this song, and then we re-did it? I wanted to ask you, did you have a preference between them?
Ezekiel: Um. They both were phenomenal - I think the first one felt more.. there was more vibe to it. But the second one sounds nicer.
Grace: Do you think we made the right choice? And do you notice my habits when selecting vocals enough to predict what I might want?
Ezekiel: I think we made the right choice.. but I also don’t think it matters. They both evoke feelings; it’s a waste of time being pedantic about “is this one better? Is that one better?” When they both sound great. In most cases, one will sound more like ‘the thing’ that you want it to be than the other, but in THIS case they both sounded like how we wanted it to be. One more so in one particular way, and another more so in a different way. So at the end of the day, I don’t think it really mattered. To answer your second question - yes… and I disagree with it a lot of the time. In the same way a model might look at a photo and say ‘this photo sucks because I look bad’ - you’ll hear a vocal take and say ‘this sucks because my voice is pitchy’ while I’ll think it sounds great because the pithiness works great for the word or whatever. But you definitely lean towards perfection… which is great because you really get so surgical with the editing and splicing. You’ll be like “does this hard of the vowel say what I want?” which is great… That's how you want it to be. If you could have anyone listen to this song, who would you want, and why?
Grace: Hmm. Am I sitting with them in a room? Or are they just going to hear it?
Ezekiel: You’re sitting with them.
Grace: Okay, there’s a lot of people who I want to hear our music because of the benefits it might reap to have exposure to them.. but if I’m not answering tactically maybe I’ll just say Lana because she is such a fantastic lyricist and I think I’d really enjoy just chatting about writing with her and seeing if Peter evoked any feelings. I feel like that’s a lame answer.. it’s too obvious. What do you think?
Ezekiel: It's definitely a lame answer but who cares… but also it could be someone who doesn’t even exist or someone random just like in your life like your grandma.
Grace: I wouldn’t want it to be my Grandma.
Ezekiel: But like it could be an imaginary person.
Grace: Oh okay well maybe then… I honestly wouldn’t show it to anyone I don’t really mind. Are there people in your life who you want to like the music we make, or you don’t mind what people think?
Ezekiel: Yeah. You. Umm.. my siblings. That’s honestly it. Maybe like.. Ben Aguero? People in my life. The mailman. That guy at Coles who always asks what I do and every time I say I’m a musician and every time he forgets and asks me again. How does it feel to play drums on a record?
Ezekiel: How does it feel to officially be a recording drummer?
Grace: You know I have such a bad memory I always forget it’s me on drums, and also I feel like it was barely a performance so I’m probably not counting it just yet. That being said… racking up the credits does feel good for my ego. I feel like a real musician even though I literally hit the 1 and 3 for 4 minutes. It was my goal to record drums on at least one track on this album so we did it! Yay! Are you proud of the record we’re about to release compared to the others?
Ezekiel: Hmmmm no.
Ezekiel: Let me clarify. That’s a tough one. Does it have to be an in depth answer?
Grace: Not necessarily.
Ezekiel: I think it’s the most mature thing we’ve done. We did things on the last record that I’m super proud of.. things that I thought were crazy that for me was a big learning curve. This one I’ve learned a bit less about actual song construction and more about recording and production. So I’m more proud of it in that way. I’ll leave it there.
What are you most looking forward to about the release of this record? Not just this track.
Grace: I’m excited to execute the vision, and have the work we’ve been doing become a tangible thing in the world. Mostly, I’m always just excited to get it out so we can do the next thing though. I feel so much love for what we make together, it’s very rewarding to share it with others. But for myself, the drive is to complete it so I can attempt to write something better
Scratching's new single Peter is out October 27