Meet Spokesmodel and their synth-pop debut, Ceiling Roses
The Australian duo and their debut single are must-listens for fans of Purity Ring.
If there's one thing we're all about here, it's acts pushing out incredible debut singles to kick off their careers. Spokesmodel, the pairing between of Brisbane's Ben Breitenstein (who also plays in We Set Sail, FYI) and Melbourne's Sophie Benjamin, is an act doing exactly that with their debut single, the just-released Ceiling Roses. It's synth-pop with a slightly left-field twist you'd expect from acts like Purity Ring, with Ceiling Roses combining this punchy, driving bassline with a synth-soaked production and Sophie's spiralling vocals somewhat reminiscent of CHVRCHES' lead Lauren Mayberry, into this moody, synthy epic which will definitely get you nodding along. That said, they're doing things a little differently than your typical duo, which you can read about below while you dive into their sensational debut single now:
Tell us about yourself?
We're a couple of energetic, slightly anxious creative types who can't sit still for too long. We bonded over a common fervour for making stuff - I had been playing in bands for ages, and at the time of our meeting, Sophie was deep into publishing zines. After all, that anxiety has to be channelled into something, and I think we could both relate to that feeling. It turns out we have a pretty big overlap in our tastes and our approach to music. So it made sense to encourage each other into making something. You always feel more motivated when you know someone else is relying on you. There's that anxiety again, but used for good and not evil.
What’s the vibe music-wise?
Well, it really just comes down to whatever we can make without a huge overhead of gear and skill. I play drums, Sophie sings and plays guitar, and all other synths and editing are done by both of us. Technology has democratised music production to a staggering degree, and between us there's really not much territory that we wouldn't explore, but I think the stuff that's most interesting to us right now, is a 90's aesthetic but with a 2018 electronic tinge. Put simply? Synth pop.
What are your production and writing processes like?
We use a combination of lightweight editing software (Reaper) and cloud file storage (Dropbox) to work on stuff collaboratively. We're always basically taking turns to operate on the same files but in two cities 1700km apart. Neither of us has the patience to create a whole song from start to finish, but when you can each take little bites, over and over, then it doesn't seem so hard. And it's a good way get ideas because it's super easy to get stuck in your own head - having someone else come in and mess with a song introduces entropy that requires you to respond with something that pushes the music forward and (hopefully) makes for a better song.
Can you tell us about your new single, Ceiling Roses?
Everything was built around the bass line, which Sophie wrote while experimenting with her new synthesiser I think. I remember around the same time she had sent me a handful of riffs and synth leads, but this one really sounded like a 'song' - in that it had structure and it was laid out really nicely. It sort of screamed out 'finish me', which is why I guess this was the first song that we managed to finish. So I sprinkled some leads and backing instruments and drums over it to fill it out and she recorded her vocals at her rehearsal space in Melbourne.
I really dig the vocals - Sophie has a pretty cool approach to coming up with imagery in her lyrics, which makes sense because she writes for a living. She once described her lyrical aesthetic as 'sexy demented' which I think is absolutely perfect (patent pending!) given the vibe that we're going for which is equal parts Garbage and Nine Inch Nails.
We spent ages going back on forth on what to do with the crescendo at the very end. Eventually, we both agreed on the synth riff that comes in and carries it through to the end with the soaring vocals. We also see-sawed on the drums a little. It's always hard to decide how gnarley to make the drums on a scale of 0 to Phil Collins.
You both are approaching the music release method in a bit of a different way than usual. Can you please explain how you plan to release your music and the thought processes behind it?
Everything we do, we do in a way that it has to wrap around everything else we have going on. Because we live in different cities, have our own studio spaces and aren’t on a label, we’re not locked into the traditional cycle of “write, rehearse, gig locally, release ten songs at once, gig to promote that, repeat”. Not to mention we can’t really play local shows to get a little bit of vibe and cash trickling in as we don’t live in the same locality! So we're releasing songs when they're done, as we do them. It makes sense for the music and for the way people mostly access music these days - streaming. Since we can’t play locally and don’t want to be foisting ill-fitting merch on people, anyone who wants to get really intimate with how we make this process work can subscribe to our Patreon. On the one hand, we're doing this when it suits us, but on the other hand, we're not lazy, so we have a lot to offer in terms of showing off the process and inviting people in to join us while we do it.
Any shows coming up?
Nope. Walking between my kitchen and the study to make music is doing just fine for us at the moment. But if anyone wants to fly us somewhere cool to play and put us up in a nice hotel, I'm sure we could work something out. After all, we're approaching middle age and have had our fair share of van rides up and down the east coast.
What’s the rest of the year have in store for you?
Just keep grinding. We have a handful of half finished songs and tons of other stuff to drip feed to anyone who's interested.
Where can we find more of your music?
Pretty much wherever suits you: Spotify, Apple Music, Bandcamp, Triple J Unearthed, YouTube, Amazon, Google Play, etc., the list goes on! You can also follow us on Instagram or can also sign up to our mailing list at our website to keep tabs on what we’re doing.
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