POP VULTURE: Winston Surfshirt
Since the emergence of their single ‘Be About You’ on triple j, magnetic six-piece Winston Surfshirt has sent hearts soaring. Over the past few years the band has come into fruition from what was initially the solo project of singer/rapper/producer Winston Surfshirt.
The past few years have seen the band establishing themselves in the local scene, with the collective effort of other local artists and producers on board. Yet, with the advent of 2017, the the boys of Winston Surfshirt have taken to reinventing the game, by delivering an unorthodox but smooth blend of soul and hip-hop. (A match made in heaven I’d say.) Regardless of whatever you're into, or wherever you are, Winston Surfshirt is a must to keep on your radar.
June will see Winston Surfshirt embark on their national tour, with maybe even some fresh material — and it's safe to say, we're pretty darn excited.
So, what exactly lies behind the magic? Lucky for us, we got to chat to 1/6 of the band!
First off, how excited are you for this headline tour? Are you aiming to bring any new tunes or covers along?
WS: So pumped! This is our first tour so we're all excited; we'll definitely be bringing some fresh covers and tunes along with us!
How long exactly has the band been together?
WS: We’ve all been playing together for probably 2 years now. We all came in at different times but it all happened really organically, so it worked out nicely.
I’m curious; what’s the story behind your moniker?
WS: Elton John was taken.
I’ve heard about you guys opening for one of Midnight Oil’s shows, before they embark on their world reunion tour later this year; that must’ve been surreal.
WS: It was really surreal — it was a couple of weeks ago now which was really fun. It was so cool that they gave us the opportunity to do that. They nailed it as well; it was such a fun live show.
Not only that, but your collaboration with Polographia on the track ‘Sly’ was unequivocally one of 2016’s best finds. It seems the band has since gained all new acclaim, from the likes of people all around the globe (and Majestic Casual!). Do you think there was a specific moment where the band broke through, or has there been a buildup to this acclaim?
WS: No not really, she’d just been trucking along, met the Polographia boys and then it all started falling into place nicely — Moktar is my man!
Now let's talk about your single: 'Be About You' is a stellar track (with equally stunning cover art to match) which has even landed itself more than 2 million plays on Spotify. You've also just released 'Ali D'! It's no doubt a captivating preview of plenty more to come. Is there anything in particular that you’re working on right now?
WS: There's lots to come, really excited to get some of it out so you’ll just have to wait and see!
How did you know that you wanted to the direction of establishing your sound as a culmination of such disparate genres?
WS: There's always been an underlying love of hip hop, and the music I’ve always made has always had some kind of Beatles undertone to it. But it just comes out and it is what it is I guess. Na mean? I don’t.
Have there been any influences that you’ve drawn upon and/or look up to?
WS: Just everything I listen to and have listened to really. It has a lot to do with what my parents used to listen to.
Do you happen to have an album of the year (or one that you always find yourself returning to)?
WS: Album of the year? This year? Hm, still hasn’t come out yet…
Last year: Blackstar - Bowie.
2015: Pimp A Butterfly - Kung Fu Kenny.
2014: Early Riser - Taylor McFerrin.
Winston Surfshirt was recently announced as being included in the lineup for Splendour in the Grass. Is this the first major festival you guys will be playing at?
WS: We have Party in The Park which will be before. That will be our first festival and then Splenny.
How do you think SITG will compare to playing at other festivals?
WS: I’ve never been, so I actually don’t know, but we're really excited to actually get the opportunity to play. It's gonna be all-time.
Who are you most keen to see up on the SITG stage as well?
WS: Ooh, I have to say Stormzy on a badman stage. Schoolboy Q should be fun to see, and I gotta see that Future Islands shit for myself. I also really like what I’ve heard from Maggie Rogers, Cosmo’s Midnight and Moonbase… Standard.
With that said, what is the best gig you’ve ever been to?
WS: Been to... Ooh I’ve seen Bowie so I would probably have to say him. But dang I've seen some good ones. I did see Kendrick recently; it was huge and I copped the absolute last seat in the stadium but it was cool to see something on that scale.
From headline shows to festival appearance, and underground warehouse gigs to block parties — do you guys have a favourite venue that you’ve played at?
WS: El Beau Room. Always and forever. Just a small venue we used to play at every week that's now closed down.
In the lead-up to the national tour, have there been any TV shows you’ve been absolutely devouring?
WS: Not really, I just watch random things. Alan Partridge makes me wheezy!
What do you turn to outside of music to recharge or get inspired again?
WS: I think you just need a change every now and then; a different environment outside of your comfort zone is the best thing to help you write. Other than that, kicking a ball. Nothing much better than kicking a ball.
So what does the future/rest of 2017 bring for you boys?
WS: A few more months of music (September, October etc.) then 2018 will bring some more music along the way.
Well, we can’t wait to catch you in Perth!
WS: Cannot wait to play Perth! First time, we gone break it down.