Lunch with Galapagoose by Chris
November 14, 2012, 11:52 AM
Filed under: Interview, Lunch With | Tags: , , , , ,

A few weeks ago Kleo got together with Melbourne producer/genius/nice guy Galapagoose over lunch… Skype lunch. In anticipation for Inca Roads Music Festival – where Galapagoose and the Fuck the Radio Collective will be sharing a stage – they chat about music, Melbourne, fame, Low End Theory, and most importantly Gourmet pizza:

Howdy! What are you eating?

I’m eating pizza, but currently some garlic bread. We have a ridiculous pizza place around the corner from our house and it is outta control.

Where do you live?

Just in Fitzroy North.

What’s the pizza place called?

It’s called Al Albero.

All right, I’ll keep note!

It is…the best pizza I think I’ve ever eaten…maybe…ever. This [pizza] is ridiculous.

That looks amazing! What’s on it?

I think it’s like: pumpkin, capsicums, parsley and goat’s cheese. The most amazing part is the tomato sauce; it’s like the best tomato sauce…ever…anyway, hi I’m Trent!

Hi Trent, I’m Kleo, nice to meet you. All right so lets talk music just briefly.

More about food.

Actually yeah let’s talk about food. There’s a tradition on Fuck the Radio when we’re interviewing musicians to ask what their preferred alcoholic beverage is:

I would say just a straight scotch. Just a real smoky scotch, or maybe like a cocktail, like a Manhattan.

And we have a question from a fan: He’d like to know that if you were in a band would you be called ‘Galapageese’?

[Laughs] Actually, its come up before. One of my friends had a dream, and in his dream I was being given an award and they called out my name but they called out Galapageese, and they were like “Trent, Trent! What’s happened? They said your name wrong!” and I was like “No, no! They said it right, it’s plural now! I’m just that huge!”

How did you start making music? When, and how, and why?

I’ve played music since I was a kid. Since I was like seven or eight or something. I was playing guitar and a little bit of saxophone and a little bit of piano. I guess I started writing music when I was maybe fourteen, fifteen. Just as being an angsty teenager and needing an outlet. I started doing electronic stuff that led into the Galapagoose stuff… not until the end of high school, start of uni…eighteen, nineteen. So what’s that? Like six years ago now? I just turned twenty-five.

Have you ever listened back on the stuff you wrote when you were fourteen, fifteen?

Little things. I actually listened to them the other day, ‘cause I just moved into this place and I was at my parents’ house cleaning out old CDs that had been there for years and years. I found all these demo CDs and stuff from when I was like fifteen, sixteen. Really funny: like, me playing guitar and singing really badly, my friend playing drums. It was kind of cute but at the same time it was really embarrassing.

Can I ask what it was about?

I was quite into abstract lyrics and stuff so it was very umm…


Yeah…talking about lightning rods, and lots of random things. Then there was some whiney “La la la, I wish I was with you. La la la why don’t you love me? La la la…”

Now you make, in a broader sense, electronic music. Do you feel like everyone’s doing it now? Do you get that feeling ever?

I feel like it’s easier these days to record and release electronic music than it is with acoustic music or, you know, music that you make in a room. It’s much more expensive and complicated to get recording equipment than it is to just use a computer. So I think that naturally most of the music being made, it’s by people who make it on the side for fun. You get that feeling a little bit. I do think that you hear indie music or rock music and everything seems to have a synthesiser now and it seems to all have some kind of processing. I like that, I’m kind of happy to embrace that. It’s just kind of looking at the tools that are available and making something.

So tell us about “This Thing”:

This Thing is kind of a record label, kind of just a collective mostly run by my friend Dylan – Wooshie. He handles more of the day-to-day stuff. It’s basically an outlet for us to release music and find music that we like. If we find other people making music that we really appreciate and connect with in some way, it gives us an outlet to take that to the market. Also it’s just been really good in terms of teaching us a lot about the industry; how to interact with more industry-type people, how to book gigs, how to deal with other record labels and distributors and PR people and all that. It’s almost more of, at least from my perspective, a learning setup but at the same time we throw some really amazing parties. It’s one of those great things where you learn along the way.

Who else is in the collective?

It used to be a lot more specific, it’s more loose now. It’s: Electric Sea Spider, Naps, Kane Iken, a couple of other guys like Mike Katz. I guess kind of Baba X and Zanzibar Chanel, but they’re kind of doing their own thing and those guys are totally crazy, they’re good fun.

And you guys are going to be at Inca Roads with us (Fuck the Radio Collective)?

Dylan and I are both playing, I think Electric Sea Spider is playing as well. Should be really fun. The idea of doing like a big outdoor festival but with only a few hundred people is really exciting.

So, I told you I was going to…and I definitely am going to… ask you about Low End Theory:

It was really cool. Its funny, it gets built up as this huge club party but in reality its way more about a bunch of young kids particularly between sixteen and twenty – it’s an eighteen plus show in LA where everything else is twenty-one plus – but it’s 18+ and its quite loose. It seems like everyone in LA has a fake ID, it seems like that’s the way it is. It’s full of kids, and it’s like they go there every week. Its not like a big venue where its like, “Oh are we gonna sell enough tickets?” Every week it’s full. There’s a line down the block and around the corner. We tried to go a couple of weeks after we played and there would’ve been a line about 600m long. Kids that’d been waiting there for four hours and we turned up at midnight and we’re like “Oh. I guess we’re not getting in…” It only goes until 1:30 in the morning. There’s the band-room upstairs which is quite small and has a huge incredible sound system which isn’t that loud but has so much bass it makes your guts rumble in a way that I haven’t really felt except at a huge festival. It’s really over the top in terms of how many subs there are. So it makes it really fun to play, but also really ridiculous. The venue’s quite big but the performance space is quite small. There’s a huge courtyard, and then another layer above it, and every week people go there and catch up with their friends, and meet people, and you get to talk to the people that make the music. Everyone there makes music or loves music. Its not the scene in like a hip, trendy way; it’s the scene in that these kids love hip hop music or they love this kind of electronic music. It’s their place to go and catch up. It closes at 1:30am which is when Melbourne kids start going out.

So do you feel like (in LA) its more about passion and love for the music and a little bit less about partying and being hip than Melbourne?

I think so, but at the same time there’s definitely the same kind of thing there as well. I think that it’s just that I haven’t really seen a party quite like that in the city (Melbourne). It (Low End Theory) is on a Wednesday night in a really bad part of town. The venue does have a very liberal smoking policy, so its not like kids are going out and taking pingers and drinking heaps of alcohol. It’s quite a different vibe there. So I think that maybe that contributes to why it’s not such a late thing as well. It starts earlier, finishes earlier, and people are like “yeah cool, I had an awesome night. I’m gonna go home now”

Don’t you feel like in Melbourne it’s more about doing the drinking and taking pingers thing? Or am I just being bitter?

I think if you go to the wrong places it is. That being said I don’t know many of the right places so… I mean most of the parties I go to these days are just friends’ houses or a warehouse party or a gig that I really wanna see one of the acts.

No clubs necessarily?

No I haven’t really done that for a while.

Is that because there’s a lack thereof?

I don’t know. I think maybe I’m just getting old and boring.

Do you get frustrated by Melbourne being small in comparison or do you like it because its cosier?

In terms of Melbourne being small, I don’t think that. I think, coming back, I’ve realised the potential of this city and Australia more generally. There’s actually a lot of kids that are really into it. Maybe there’s not quite as many but the ones that are really into it have a bit more money and are more willing to put themselves out there. It’s quite different; you go to the States and you can’t sell a record for more than twelve dollars, whereas for us they cost ten dollars to make. For us it’s “Yay! We made two dollars buy selling a record!” its kind of amazing that we can work on a small scale but run in it in more of a sustainable way. There’s a lot of positive things that we have that they don’t have in the states.

In that way, that means you can be at the headway of the progression in Melbourne. Artists like you and on your level are the ones that are going to bring it forward and make it bigger…

Yeah totally I’ve felt that even in what I’ve done. From where I’ve started to where I am now feels like a huge thing. For people to have heard of the record even if they haven’t heard it. It’s baby steps but its definitely happening. It’s fun to be on that leading edge, but more on the side of being able to bring it to more people rather than the ego trip.

Is there a little bit of ego though?

In terms of the ego thing, for sure you do deal with it. It comes and goes. I’m lucky to have friends who call me out and put me back in my place a little bit.

Have you seen any egos?

I’ve dealt with a few. Part of this whole entertainment industry is a bit about ego. You have to learn how to handle those people. Its hard to make a living, you have to suck it up and let people have their way. It’s a good skill to learn how to deal with those egos.

Who’s one of the most exciting people you’ve gotten to play alongside?

I got to play onstage with RJD2, that was kind of cool. I was in New York a while ago, doing some production work. I went down to Philadelphia for a trip to meet this guy called King Britt and his now ex-partner Russell. They used to put on these nights called Saturn Never Sleeps and I went down for one of them. The idea is that each person has a solo show and at the end there’s this weird collaborative jam thing. It was the two of them, myself, RJD2 and another guy whose name escapes me; this crazy technologist. It was really funny and bizarre but also fun.

In terms of inspiration, the people around Melbourne are as inspiring as anybody. I love making music with my friends; playing with Wooshie, or playing with Naps.

Tell me about how it felt when you released Commitments:

I think receiving the records was one of the coolest parts. Having a big cardboard box turn up on my doorstep… well, I had to go to the post office and pick it up. It’s this big weighty thing full of records. You open it up and you’re like, “Oh my god this is what eighty records looks like. Then the next day another box turns up and you’re like “Crap” this is a third of the records we’ve made. It kind of creeps you out. The cool thing about releasing a new record that’s different to what you’ve done before is that it opens you up to a wider audience.

How do you pay the bills? Is the selling of records enough to keep you alive?

Selling records, definitely not enough. Selling records makes you very little money. That’s the funny thing about our music; you might make 500 selling an album but the equipment you use to make that album is worth like fifteen grand. Before I did music full-time I spent a year working full-time doing a crappy office job, which helped me save money so I could afford to live.

Could you imagine doing an office job and being stuck in the grind for the rest of your life?
I can’t really imagine it, no. I don’t think I’ll ever be quite like that. I have lots of ideas of what I wanna do if I’m not making music but they’re all quite self-directed.

Because a lot of artists don’t know about artists’ grants could you explain how a grant works? I think young musicians would appreciate hearing it from you:

The easiest thing to do is search for Australia Music Grants online, and you’ll get lots of responses. Basically you come up with an idea…you look at what you can get a grant for…you can get a grant to write a new work which is what I got one for, but that’s gotta be more of an academic or a classic or a jazz kind of approach to what they’re expecting. In Victoria they have grants specifically for experimental music, there’s grants for touring, there’s grants for helping you promote and advertise a record. There’s a lot out there and there’s lots of different categories. Basically if you look at what you’re already doing and think about how do I get from here to the next step, you can probably find a grant that’ll get you from here to the next step.

I think I’ve taken up enough of your time Trent! How much of your pizza have you gone through?

This is piece number three, there’s only four pieces. I think three might be my limit! It’s hard work, even though it’s really good.

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