A staple member of the Australian music scene, Rowan Dix, AKA Joyride, is one interesting guy. With a crazy resume of past projects and groups, including Spit Syndicate, One Day and the Meeting Tree, Dix decided to go solo in 2017. What followed was a string of groovy, innovative singles celebrating a spirit of friendship and recreational drug experimentation.
Backyard Opera caught up with Rowan to discuss his new single Blue Batmans, the psychedelic music video that goes along with it as well as his upcoming projects and the sweet relief that comes with checking off to-do lists.
BYO: You’ve just released a pretty bloody awesome music video for Blue Batmans! How did you come up with the idea for it?
ROWAN: I’d been getting into VR a little bit. Also, just the idea of different forms of escapism that have presented themselves to the human race over time. From closing your eyes and rubbing your eyelids to create a speckled universe, to now being able to put on a mask and see someone else’s vision, it’s all pretty interesting. So, the idea was just drawing comparisons between the digital escapism versus what the song is about; wanting to feel blue batman’s forever.
BYO: What was it like filming it?
ROWAN: Laborious. The concept part of making things is always heaps of fun, with music, videos, whatever. With this video, coming up with a concept with my mates was hilarious. And then standing in front of a green screen for 8 hours, was like ‘Oh man, this is real boring, I hope you guys make this way more exciting than how it feels’.
BYO: The single itself has received rave reviews, how has it felt for it to be so warmly received?
ROWAN: Has it? Haha. A friend of mine recently described it as a challenger single, which I think is funny. It’s a song I’m incredibly proud of and it’s a song that I think is very different to what exists in a big part of the Australian music landscape at the moment, which is one of the reasons I wanted to put it out. I wrote it with Alex from Kingswood and Oscar from Holy Holy, and when we finished it we showed it to a bunch of mates and they were just like, “This is crazy. This is a wild song.” So it’s a great feeling to be able to have something you’ve made that is different to other things. But on the flip side, it’s like, “Fuck, are people ready to hear something different like that?”
BYO: What was the process like writing Blue Batmans with the Oscar Dawson from Holy Holy, Alex Laska from Kingswood and Ali Barter?
ROWAN: They say that if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room, and I was very much in the right room that day. They’re hectic. It was great just working with them. They all understood where I was coming from conceptually, and we were all speaking the same language and getting it done. It was super smooth.
BYO: Your other singles have also been hits, especially Aunty Tracey’s Cookies. What inspired you to write it?
ROWAN: Believe it or not, Aunty Tracey’s Cookies! It’s based around the spirit that exists when you’re touring around the country, and how giving people are when you’re away from home.
BYO: Is Tracey a real person?
ROWAN: She is, she is a real person but I don’t want to snitch too hard on her. She is a great representation of the love that exists out there for people who travel around playing music, you know.
BYO: Is she actually related to you?
ROWAN: She’s just a mate, someone we met on tour. I thought it would be nice, an ode to her, and to everyone else who is so generous when you’re out touring.
BYO: Have you had any negative reactions or comments about the subject of the song?
ROWAN: Not that I can think of. I’m sure people have thought it, but the great thing about art is that if you’re doing something right you’re probably going to piss someone off, and if you’re doing really right it’s going to piss off the people you don’t like. Have you heard anything bad about it?
BYO: Not at all!
ROWAN: I’ve heard more negative stuff about Blue Batmans to be honest. People have had worse experiences on Blue Batmans than on weed cookies. I think with any drug, the idea is, if you respect it and treat it right, it will respect you and treat you right. It’s kind of hard when there’s not much dialogue around drug culture and drug safety, because we are kind of backed into a corner. Everyone’s scared to talk about it, because if you’re talking about it you’re talking about doing something illegal, but realistically, when you talk about it, you’re making it safer.
BYO: Who inspires your sound/music?
ROWAN: Oh, everyone, everything. It starts with my friends. One of my main goals with the stuff I write is to impress the people who I respect. So that includes my friends who are musicians, friends with similar musical tastes. So that includes the One Day guys, my manager, everyone in this little musical clique that exists in the Inner West. When we show them something and they’re like this is sick, that’s what I’m doing it for.
BYO: How did you start your music career?
ROWAN: It was a long, long time ago. A very long time ago. I did music stuff at school, left school, thought this would be fun to keep doing, so just like starting bands and DJing in clubs. Joined Spit Syndicate and doing that turned into pushing further with my own music, which then rolled into doing One Day. It was all a natural progression from where I first started, which was not wanting to have a job.
BYO: A common feeling I think.
BYO: What prompted you to go solo?
ROWAN: I’ve always wanted to do it. I’ve had people bugging me for ages saying “When are you going to put your solo stuff out?” I put out three EP’s in 2013, just put them online for free. I held off putting my own stuff out and making it a priority just because I was having so much fun with everyone else.
So I put it off, put it off until I thought “Fuck I just gotta do this.” So, I ripped the band aid off, and it turns out that it was heaps of fun, albeit, more stressful.
BYO: What have been some of the highlights of in your career so far? Any notable moments?
ROWAN: Overall, pre doing this solo record stuff and trying to do it all together, a very very clear highlight is when we sold out the Enmore with One Day. That was crazy. That whole tour, that little moment in time when we put the album out and toured it around, is something that I hope I never forget, although I don’t trust my brain cells enough to not forget it. That was great.
The Meeting Tree, for me, is something that I think very few will remember, but those who do will remember it very fondly. The Meeting Tree was an interesting project that meant a lot to some people, which was very cool. In terms of highlights, every day now is a new highlight, because every day is me closer to finishing this record, and it feels better than the day before.
BYO: You do have a new record coming out?
ROWAN: Yeah, I’m getting mixes back at the moment, it’s all coming and getting put together. I have this soft, crawling sense of completion slowly coming over me. It’s incredibly refreshing.
It’s been passively four years in the making. I’ve been going hard at it for the last one and a half to two years, but some songs on there I started four years ago.
BYO: Do you create music with a purpose in mind, or just to create for the hell of it?
ROWAN: My role, or something that I keep a focus on, is to entertain. I think it’s easy to lose sight of that. Being creative in any form is quite a selfish and self-gratifying thing to do, and it can really bring out people’s insecurities. But if you bring it back and say the aim is to entertain, then everything kind of flows. For me personally. People have different goals in regards to how they write and stuff. I just love getting in people’s heads.
BYO: Anything else you wanted to mention?
ROWAN: Follow me on twitter! @donjoyride
Check out Joyride’s new music video, Blue Batmans, below:
Head to his website www.donjoyride.net to keep up to date.