Interview: ALTA are one of Australia's most exciting electronic acts right now
The Melbourne two-piece kick off their Australian tour this weekend at Jack Rabbit Slim's with LUCIANBLOMKAMP and Carmouflage Rose.
For over three years now, Melbourne electronic two-piece ALTA have built themselves up to become one of Australia's most unique electronic artists. Their intricate productions are effortlessly slick in nature, bridging the gap between the percussive sounds of UK garage and that trademark Australian house edge with their percussion-soaked, punchy productions semi-reminiscent of other increasingly popular names including Christopher Port and Jack Grace. June's Fix It – arguably their biggest single yet – combine the comforting vocals of the duo's Hannah Lesser with a clapping, disjointed production which is somehow both subdued yet bold, something that you'll be pushing to find not just in Australia, but internationally too.
Last month saw the duo return the spotlight with Sentiment, a more woozy and brooding affair than much of their past work, which also came with a round of live tour dates in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart. Ahead of the tour – which kicks off this weekend with a massive show at Perth's Jack Rabbit Slim's with LUCAINBLOMKAMP and Carmouflage Rose (details HERE), we chatted to the pairing about the inner workings of Sentiment, where they find their inspiration, and their renowned live show. Check out the full tour dates below.
Hey team! First of all, congratulations on the release of Sentiment. It’s a really great single, so do you mind telling us how the track came to be?
Thank you! Although we’ve been playing a fair bit this year we’ve been focussing on writing new material and pushing our sound forward. There’s a lot of trial and error involved in that process where we can overwork songs and stuff like that. Sentiment is a track that came about at the tail end of this. We were grinding out a song and both went “fuck it lets start a new one”. That’s pretty common for us now in our process, we grind things out to develop ideas and then throw it away and start again to create a new low-pressure starting point.
Hannah, you mention in a quote accompanying the release that the single is about unravelling lies and cutting toxic people out of your life. Do you start writing with these themes in mind or does it gradually inject itself into the song? How do you include these themes in your music?
Having a theme is really important for me to feel connected with the song. I pen the lyrics at the same time as I write the melody so they develop simultaneously. Sentiment didn't originate with that exact theme in mind, the concept came out as the songwriting progressed. It has to feel honest and organic for me to get excited about it.
Sentiment builds off this UK garage sound which despite being quite popular big overseas, doesn’t have much representation in Australia. Where do you find your inspiration from for making tracks like Sentiment?
We’ve been playing a lot of shows this year and the vibe a new track creates live is at the front of our minds when writing music, so we’ve kind of moved more towards the faster dancier tracks because of the energy it creates at shows. When we write stuff we have always found inspiration in experimenting with different types of sounds and genres. It’s also a style of music that blends really well with elements from other genres and we connect to it quickly. The freedom of the structure too, it’s really exciting for us to write.
You’re about to kick off your live tour which will see you hit up places like Perth for the first time. What is currently being done to translate your music into a live setting for your tour? How does your live show operate?
At the moment in terms of tech setup we’re running two laptops, a synth (Proph08), a drum machine (TR8), effects (TC) and 3 midi controllers (APC, Maschine and BCR2000). We’re full wireless now too. We used to be able to get our setup down to two backpacks but sadly it’s turned into a “two tripper”, but it’s worth it for the instrumental element it gives our live show.
Australian electronic music has this big DJ culture to it, which you guys are actively avoiding by having more of a live show. How important is to you that ALTA is a live act when you could easily tour it – cheaper – as just a DJ set? Do you feel that it sets you apart from the rest?
One thing I love about live shows is there is an element of risk for the performer and the audience which I think is hard to create with a DJ setup. There are a million things happening at once and everything could go wrong and I think that adds to the show. Our set doesn’t have any gaps in it and the gear gives us a lot of freedom to really experiment in those transitions too.
You guys have had a big 2017, but what do you have planned for us next year? Anything ready to go for 2018?
We’re ending 2017 with our tour and then kicking off 2018 with Pitch Festival and a string of releases which we can’t wait to get out there!
Sat November 11 - Jack Rabbit Slims, Perth (w/ LUCIANBLOMKAMP & Carmouflage Rose) (TICKETS)
Sat November 18 - The Chippo Hotel, Melbourne (TICKETS)
Fri November 24 - The Waratah Hotel, Hobart (TICKETS)
Sat December 2 - Northcote Social Club, Sydney (TICKETS)
+ Fri March 9 - Mon March 12 - Pitch Music & Arts Festival, Victoria
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