POP VULTURE: Spire Talks Music, Memes and Eating in Perth
Hailing from Denmark, WA, Max Baines has captured the world’s attention as the enigmatic electronic act Spire. With a Soundcloud follow count at 16.8k and counting and a finalist position in the Triple J Unearthed High competition last year, Spire is a name you should all get used to hearing a lot about in the future. Spire is also cofounder of the music collective Soda Island (currently sitting on a cool 47.6k Soundcloud followers), who dropped their anticipated debut album A Trip to Soda Island earlier this year. Recently, WAMFest punters got the chance of seeing him closing off the night at The Moon Café, about a year on from playing at the 2015 Disconnect Festival. We were lucky enough to send our resident Pop Vulture off to meet the young producer.
IN: Congrats on A Trip to Soda Island, I’m a big fan of it. Being a global music collective with members from the United States, Australia, Germany etc., I’m interested in the origins of the Soda Island collective, of which you’re a founder. How did you all come together?
Spire: It actually started off with a Facebook group chat between me, Grynpyret, Izzard and RefraQ. We basically just sent memes to each other all the time. Eventually, we just thought, “We should start a collective or something,” and we added our other friends. We then procrastinated and sent memes for another year or so and then we actually started releasing music. *Laughs*
IN: So you all liked everyone else's music before?
Spire: Yeah. I think a couple of the guys didn’t know each other, but most of us were friends for ages before it started.
IN: Even though you all make quite different styles of music, Soda Island has this unified aesthetic (for lack of a better word), with each song on the album representing a different region of this virtual land, and no doubt the visual artist Funi helped in realising this world. How was this concept created and realised between you all?
Spire: I honestly think most of that is thanks to Funi. We all do our own thing and just write music, but then Funi has the creative mind to bring it all together under some kind of concept. The way he developed the name Soda Island into what it is now is pretty cool.
IN: Your own songs draw together a variety of sounds, is there a usual process you follow for making them?
Spire: Um.. (Pauses) Not really. I tend to do things differently every time. Usually I’ll start songs by playing guitar or keyboards, just playing chords, and then singing a melody, but other times, it’ll start from drums or something. One thing I like to do is have loop recordings on for drums, or a click track or something, and then just, like, loop every instrument and keep adding layers that way. You can write a song very quickly that way, I think.
IN: What are some other albums that were released this year that you’ve enjoyed?
Spire: I was talking to everyone at Soda Island about this yesterday. I just haven’t listened to any albums from this year, pretty much. *Laughs* Like, my music taste is so outdated. There’s some albums from 2015 I like.
IN: We’ll accept that.
Spire: *Laughs* Actually, I don’t want to mention them.
IN: Okay, so you haven’t been listening to much new music, but have there been any shows that you’ve binged this year, or just in general? What TV shows do you watch in your spare time?
Spire: I love the Big Lez Show, and the Mr. Show is pretty good, the Eric André Show is really good… What else… (Pause) I don’t watch much TV these days. Sometimes I’ll watch stuff on YouTube, though.
IN: One distinguishable factor about Soda Island’s stuff is its embrace of pop music, and your music has often sampled pop music. Who is the most underrated pop star of our age in your opinion?
Spire: Um… At the moment, I would say it’s this guy Steve Lacy. He did a lot of production on The Internet’s album Ego Death, and the stuff he’s writing under his own name is really, really good. He’s not that well known at all at the moment, but I think he will in the future. He’s cool.
IN: Taking a U-Turn, do you have any favourite bars and/or cafes in WA?
Spire: Well, shout-out to the Denmark Tavern. *Laughs* I also like Mojo’s, of course, and The Moon is cool. My favourite club is by far Flyrite though.
IN: Where’s your go-to place for a meal in Perth?
Spire: Probably Zambrero. Yeah, definitely.
IN: Who would play you in a movie about yourself?
Spire: Probably Jesse Eisenberg. Or me.
IN: Are you much of an actor?
Spire: I aspire to be. *Laughs*
IN: Back to your music, I recently witnessed you play a killer set at WAMFest (amongst the many other times I’ve seen you play). I know you play your music *live*, so how do you go about translating your sound into the live atmosphere?
Spire: I’m not too sure about that yet, because I’m still working on it. Every set I’ve played has been different. Every gig I’ve played, I’ve played it with a completely different set of music, instruments… Because I’ve not played live that often, I’ve just taken the chance to try experiment with different stuff. The WAMfest gig, all the songs I played there I’m never going to release, or finish, or show anyone who wasn’t there that night.
IN: There are a lot of songs that contend for my favourite song by you, but I think "Reverie" from the album is right up there at least. How did the collaboration with FAWNA come about?
Spire: My manager [Luke] lined it up for me. I had this song I wrote ages and ages ago, it was just a little piano thing. I wanted my friend Katie to sing on it but she was always lazy and busy so we never got around to it. About a year and a half later, Luke organised FAWNA to sing on it, and we sent stuff back and forth for a while and finished it.
IN: Were you aware of her stuff beforehand?
Spire: No, I listened to her to see what her stuff was like, but I hadn’t heard of her until then.
IN: Was it a similar process for Rakita on “Webs”?
Spire: Pretty much, hey, except it was a bit different because I wrote the melody and my manager wrote the lyrics and then David sung it.
IN: So, finally, what’s next for Spire?
Spire: Oooh… Well, I’m going to have dinner tonight. Actually, scrap that answer. *Laughs* (Pause) I’ve got a new song coming out in a couple of weeks, and I’ve got close to a dozen different pop songs which I’ve written but haven’t finished yet, or I’m not happy with but I will finish eventually. I also sort of want to start another music thing, but for meme music. *Laughs*
IN: Right, well, thanks for your time.