In a sea of whimsical frou frou, Abbe May is an indie siren who takes no prisoners. “I’m drawn to someone like Patti Smith over somebody like Feist – women who have a kind of strength about them,” the Perth-based songstress says of the female vocalists she most admires. “That’s not to say a softly sung female musician can’t have strength but predominantly there’s a kind of faux femininity that comes with this notion that to be female, you have to be gentle and sweet and soft. Women come in all different guises. The art that women create can be quite ferocious and I really enjoy that”.
Ferocious is an apt word for the kind of sexiness on display in Abbe’s video for Mammalian Locomotion. “When we sat down with the director, she asked me what I wanted and what I wanted was a clip with some really gorgeous women roller-skating,” Abbe explains of her collaboration with director Zena Loxton. “I’m a big fan of the roller-skating troupe Sisters in Motion from NYC, which is where those girls come from”, she says of the video’s snake-hipped stars. ”I wanted to pick women from that troupe who have unusually beautiful physiques, but I didn’t want just chicks with plastic breasts and that standard kind of sexuality,” she points out. “The thing you’ll see with those women there, we’re flaunting a kind of sexuality but there’s something really empowered about it”. So why don’t we see Abbe get her own skates on for this vid? “I’m quite accident prone", she insists.
It is no accident that Abbe May has become one of the most exciting up-and-coming acts on the Australian indie music scene. She has more than earned her stripes as the growling, howling front-woman for blues and roots outfits Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Devil & Abbe May. Those familiar with Abbe’s projects from the past may be surprised by how far she strays from her blues & roots with this single. “It would be a bit of a worry to me if I had just kept spouting out the same stuff,” Abbe defends the change of pace. “I didn’t want to push anyone away and I thought maybe some people who were into the old stuff might not like the new stuff. But what can you do? You can’t stay the same”.
Abbe puts much of the transition down to her changing music tastes. “I went through a big period of listening to old school blues like Willie Dixon and while that’s still amongst my favourite music you sort of branch out. I’m listening to lots of Grandmaster Flash, lots of Prince, amazing new bands like Mikachu and I’m a huge fan of Julian Casablancas and the Gossip”. Far from being an engineered reinvention, Abbe insists this shift was all natural. “I don’t think anyone really deliberately says I’m going to be this or that – it’s very difficult to consciously deliberately be something you’re not,” she insists. “I actually wrote that song the morning before we started recording the album. It was a kind of a pressure cooker experience of realising you haven’t got enough material to fill the fourteen days of recording,” she says of the single. “I hadn’t consciously or deliberately tried to make it different, it’s just the song that came out”.
Does this mean recording for her new album is complete? “We’re about 75% done but I’d really like to have surplus songs so I can make the record as good as it can be and at the moment I don’t have surplus songs. So I’ll spend the summer whittling away at it, trying to make it as good as possible”. May 2011 is when we can expect the album out and Abbe promises a smattering of single releases and touring dates to sate our mammalian appetites in the meantime.
And what’s this we hear about the album being called Sexorcism? “That was the name for the Rockin Pnemonia album we were going to make, but then I sort of got tired of that idea and threw it out of the window but not before I started telling people as many people as possible!” Abbe giggles (in a rock chick kind of way). “It kind of worked for me at the time but I’m not sure I have the strength to hold up a title like that now”. Mammalian Locomotion is pretty damn sexy, though, Abbe. “I think the album is about love and sex and I’m interested in linking that to the notion in the end we’re all pretty much just animals, that’s the idea behind the song,” Abbe muses. “There are different moods to it but hopefully you can put it on and, you know, feel a bit... whatever!”
For more news on Abbe May’s forthcoming album, you can log into her Myspace and wait, with baited breath, for news on upcoming release and tour dates – at
If you can expect anything of minimal techno wunderkind Pantha du Prince, it is the unexpected. “Even I don’t know what I’ll play in the end,” says Hendrik Weber of what his alter ego has planned for Meredith Music Festival and sideshows in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. “It’s an adventure – that’s the point.”
By telephone from the depths of a Berlin winter, the DJ, producer and installation artist admits he is equally unsure of what to expect from his first Australian tour. “I’ve never been to Australia before so I’m curious but I have no prefabricated image in my head of what’s going to happen, how it’s going to happen or who’s going to be there. There might be seventy year old women who come along and like it, you never know.”
Though seventy year olds kicking back at Meredith may be few and far between, the Pantha du Prince sideshow at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art might just attract the kind of audience you would least expect to catch a techno set. “I always adjust to the place where I’m playing”, Weber says when asked if his set for the gallery will be more subdued than his festival and club shows. “There are certain limits to that adaption because I have prepared a live set but I can improvise at any moment of the set – change direction while I’m playing, or make up new tracks or new parts of the track in the moment that I’m playing”.
If anything defines Pantha du Prince, it is his adaptation to his surroundings, absorbing and regenerating sound-scapes like some kind of sonic photosynthesis. “I’m always trying to find a way to enter the place, to incorporate the place into my set,” says Weber. “It’s not just going and playing a concert but it’s always trying to, sound-wise, incorporate material from the space and trying to sample material from the place that I found there. During sound check I’m always looking around for little items,” he says. “I use contact mikes and I just try to get something out of the stuff that’s there or that I find”.
“You collect the sounds and in your mind it’s geo-psychological mapping – you remember the place you recorded,” Weber says of his archaeological dig of sounds. “The recordings all have a core in nature,” he explains. “It’s like a mineral liquid – you take out certain minerals and you let these minerals grow and they become like crystals and these crystals are the tracks you get in the end”.
Pantha du Prince’s live shows are an extension of this philosophy, building on his approach to recording his most recent album Black Noise, released earlier this year. The album was named after the very sound Weber set out to capture – the black noise that exists outside the realms of what is perceptible by the human ear, ringing out just before a natural disaster is about to strike. Venturing into the Swiss Alps, Weber visited a the site where an entire village was buried beneath an avalanche centuries earlier, recording sounds which formed the building blocks of the Black Noise album.
“It’s a horrible scenario when you think about it,” Weber muses of the buried villages as the inspiration for an album as haunting as it is hypnotically brilliant. “But at the same time it’s very fascinating and beautiful. You can feel the power of nature and see that nature taking over again and it’s like a battlefield – a beautiful battlefield”.
When asked whether his quest for the purest sounds of nature through man-made technologies might be something of a paradox, Weber turns the question on its head. “I think it’s all nature in the end – your computer is also nature and the digital world, the internet is also nature. Everything we do is also nature – every city, every car – it’s just the way you see it. I think if you separate things, it’s never going to work”, Weber muses. “The only way to make [nature] more sustainable is to incorporate everything into that idea and things might change”.
This muddying of the distinction between natural and synthetic by Pantha du Prince is much like the tensions that define science fiction, so it’s little surprise to hear Weber’s approach to music is inspired by authors like Stanislaw Lem. “Lem’s [books] are always about new life forms you get confronted with and how a social group of people react to a new phenomenon,” he says of his literary muse. “A project like Pantha du Prince is basically coming from there – it’s imagining a new world that’s easy to create. It can be powerful to step into this world and be confronted with a new life form, in a way, and to get ideas and power from it to change things, get inspiration or just have a good time”.
So will the life forms created by Pantha du Prince in his upcoming sets be shoe-gazers or booty shakers? “I try to go through every stage, every energy level that you can feel on the album live – through every story and every part. Sometimes I don’t even know what’s happening”. Like Weber when he gets behind his laptop to bring the specimens of his sound laboratory to life, we just have to give in to Pantha du Prince and wherever his forces of nature take us.
Catch Pantha du Prince, if you haven’t already, at the following shows:
December 10th”: Meredith Supernatural Amphitheatre, Meredith
December 11th: New Guernica, 322 Little Collins St, Melbourne
December 17th: Barsoma, 4/22 Constance St Fortitude Valley, Brisbane
December 18th: Adult Disco/Civic Hotel, cnr Goulburn & Pitt St, Sydney
*** Brisbane’s GoMA show looks like it’s cancelled but we hear Pantha will play Barsoma instead.
T-Squat does a cut and paste with Paper Scissors front-man, Jai Pyne
Props on the video for new single Lung Sum – is this the follow up from the video for T-T-Time where you guys died and now you’re roaming, dust-coated zombies?
Thanks, appreciate the props. Yeah dust coated, drowning zombie crazies. The plot was not our story, our friends at Press Hatch productions made it with us, it came from their twisted imaginations, and they just wanted to torture us with spraying dust in our faces and making me float around in a pool all day that was freezing and heavily chlorinated to the point where I couldn't open my eyes, it was intense. So we felt like zombies after the production that's for sure. It was worth it, it looks great, we are really happy with it.
Is it safe to come see you guys play gigs coming up or will you chomp our fresh brains out?
We are gonna chomp brains out at The Gaelic Club for Purple sneakers NYE bash called 'Last Night' which is an FBI fundraiser.
So the title for your second album’s going to be In Loving Memory – what is with all the death?
I think it's part of getting older, mortality is a pretty given fact. I had a few people die around me, family friends etc in the past few years. So the title comes from death of loved ones but it also comes from just the concept of memory and love and how important these things are in life. It isn't just a sad sap fatalistic album though, it has love songs and party jams, but lyrically and musically it is darker and a bit more grown up. It's about death, getting older, love, life, friends, family.
Does this mean you are done and dusted recording in the studio for this next one?
Pretty fucking close. We are finishing final tracking by the end of the year and then handing over for a final mix first week of January. We have taken a long time and we are pretty excited to finish it, some songs we've rerecorded four times. We just want to get it right. And we've been doing it all ourselves, borrowing gear, recording at home a lot, so it has allowed us time to tinker away to our hearts content, but maybe to our fans’ chagrin… But we are putting down the instruments and microphones by the end of 2010.
When can we expect to see the album emerge out of its little tomb?
We are looking at an April release, will be another single from the album February and then not too long after the album will be out.
Will you be releasing this second album on your own Our First Label or do you have other plans?
No, we have signed a deal with Sandcastle Music, a Sydney-based indie label, they are doing this record with us. Our First label is taking a rest.
Can you tell us a little more about what led to Paper Scissors signing up with New York’s Dramatico Publishing?
It came about through the magic of the internet! They contacted us through Myspace - this was a year ago when people still used Myspace - and we started getting to know them via the magic of electronic mail and telephone, and then we signed with them. Voila! We were pretty excited to sign with them, they are a pretty cool little label, very diverse.
Do you have any more videos in the making?
We will be making more, definitely. Nothing in production right now, but we will do one for the next single. We might put some live footage up soon. We got our hands on a 5D so been filming away like crazy.
Now that you’re dead, are you holding any more auditions to replace you guys? And who, in your opinion, would be your ideal replacement?
Hopefully we can keep going for a while without our heads exploding or anything ghastly happening. But if we had to replace us, I think we'd probably hand if over to our younger siblings and cousins – people that look like us but are more fresh faced and have more street cred.
Can we expect more touring dates after New Year’s or will you guys crawl back into a freshly dug grave?
No more graves, we are back from the dead. We are doing a short tour at the end of January, then we are playing with Local Natives on their laneway sideshows in February and we will be doing some of our own single launch shows later in Feb/early March. Then we'll see, but no more lying around in your proverbial crypt. Check our our myspace/facebook for more deets.
Paper Scissors will haunt the following venues:
The Gaelic - Purple Sneakers: NYE Surrey Hills, NSW
The Corner Hotel- Local Natives support: FEB 8 Melbourne, VIC
Metro Theatre- Local Natives Support: FEB 10 Sydney, NSW
The most famous version of ‘Chinese Whispers’ was recorded by the British during the First World War. The original message from the trenches to HQ was, “Send Reinforcements! We’re going to advance.” However in transit it became, “Send 3 and 4 Pence! We’re going to a dance!”
Far from getting lost in translation, November 26 saw the latest instalment of Chinese Whispers murmur sweet-nothings into your ear. Relocated from its origins to an infamously antic-ridden warehouse in Prahran, Melbourne, it came, it saw, it conquered.
The concept behind the evening’s affair dated back to the traditional and the old-school. Hosted by the well-endowed Love That Music crew, the event was a tribute to the days when word-of-mouth got you by and not a flood of social network and technology related-invites lost in cyberspace. Enlisting the help of The Boroughs squad, the Chinese Whispers: Warehouse Edition was conceived. That’s right; you heard it through the grapevine…
The heavens cleared on a drab Friday and nightfall saw an abundance of stylishly-clad individuals displaying their social tactics. Hitting the decks and headlining with his musical-poetry, Sweat It Out’s Ajax. The former art lecturer turned DJ/producer/what-you-want-baby-I’ve-got-it mastermind geared up with track after track of brilliance to assist patrons become all kinds of friendly. The man behind the sound (Adrian Thomas) is undeniable proof that the electro-clash genre is nothing short of pretty-darn popular, with his credentials long enough to fill the White Pages.
The emotionally charged sweat-fest continued with ear to ear goodness compliments of Rob Pix, James Fava, PTFFP and Yasumo. The LTM graduates bringing their swagger of contemporary tunes to keep the dance floor stomping at all times. Their lush electronic audio-scapes and vintage sounds added to the unique setting. Throw in a decent amount of Doss Blockos, a yellow bucket, a No Standing sign, a skate ramp and there you have it. Perhaps some strategically placed speakers and short-skirt-drenched furniture and the evening’s escapades were complete.