SECURE: Experience worldwide has helped develop the talents of Gypsy & The Cat.THEY’VE gone from recording above a garage to jetting around the world, landing record deals, playing festivals and recording their debut album, which peaked in the top 15 on the charts.
But make no mistake, Melbourne’s Gypsy & The Cat already have their sights set on something bigger.
Gypsy & The Cat formed in 2008 and have been catapulted to success thanks to their ‘‘sophisticated brand of synth- and falsetto-laden alternate pop music’’, with hits including Jona Vark and Time To Wander.
Their debut album, Gilgamesh, reached the top 15 on the ARIA charts and number two on the iTunes chart and bagged them fan and critical acclaim, including music magazine NME tipping them as one of the 20 acts most likely to break through in 2011.
LIVE caught up with Lionel Towers, who, along with Xavier Bacash, is Gypsy & The Cat, about their fast track to success.
‘‘It’s definitely been a huge eye-opener and there were some really great experiences and a few disappointments as well,’’ Towers said.
‘‘We can’t complain because everything has been a good learning curve and we’re hoping for even bigger things for the next album.’’
He said the duo began making dance music before their ‘‘unconscious’’ shift to writing pop. ‘‘I think it just all kind of happened. I started off producing dance music and I come from a classical music background and I’ve always been into the song structures and that sort of thing. For me it was just a natural shift back from producing dance beats to using those techniques and writing songs,’’ he said.
Add in a bit of boredom with dance music and the transition was complete.
‘‘I think the shift across to songs happened because we were both getting bored and we discovered Xavier had a voice. Rather than getting him singing over dance beats that he’d make, we’d have him singing over verses and choruses and bridges, and then I started harmonising and it all just happened.’’
The duo wrote, recorded and produced their debut album Gilgamesh above a garage in Melbourne.
Soon after, the band were picked up by triple j, which added their songs to regular rotation. The next step was landing management and record deals, which involved two round-the-world trips. They were signed just before Christmas in 2009.
In the years since they’ve played just about every festival in the country, including Big Day Out, Future Music Festival and Splendour In The Grass. They’ve also toured the globe.
‘‘A lot has happened, lots of shows. We’ve done pretty much all the major festivals in Australia. We’ve also just come back from a European tour, I think it might have been 27 shows, maybe more. It was a three-week period where we had a different show every day. We did Asia and parts of England too, but we haven’t played America. We were supposed to play Coachella but it didn’t happen, that was one of the big disappointments.’’
Towers said Japanese audiences were the biggest shock.
‘‘We played the Summer Sonic festival, a crowd of 20,000 or something like that, and it was just incredible seeing how they react. Their biggest song was Time To Wander, whereas everywhere else it’s Jona Vark. It was interesting seeing them react to that, and the way they react is a lot different too.
‘‘An Australian mosh pit is different from a Japanese one where everyone is in sync and they’re all clapping their hands at the same time, same motion. At the end of every song it is dead silence. As soon as you clap your hands, they clap their hands – they are a very responsive audience. Japan was a huge eye-opener.’’
Turning to recording rather than touring, it sounds as if Gypsy & The Cat have learnt some lessons from their debut release. They’ve branched out and are recording independently rather than with a label.
Towers said he is relieved to have himself and Bacash back in control, keen to avoid the politics and compromises which can come from not being at the helm.
‘‘With the next album, because everything is funded by us, we’re in control, so it’s good,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s definitely been a progression in sound with this new album. It’s a bit more summery and it has more almost Hawaiian and African influences. It will be something new for people to experience,’’ Towers explained.
Like their debut album, the duo are producing their second record themselves, which is slated for release by June.
‘‘I don’t understand other artists who rely on a producer to essentially mould their sound,’’ Towers said.
‘‘Now technology is at a point where you can have home studios, you don’t need to wait for a record company to give you a certain budget to work with a producer and that sort of thing. Back in the day you needed a buget to record and make music, now all you need is the technology and it’s all in your hands.’’
Gearing up for their Newcastle New Year’s Eve show, Towers’ 2012 resolutions are simple: ‘‘I’m going to try and cut back on smoking and do a better job on this second record.’’