After five years of deep introspection and even getting together in a house in the middle of the woods for inspiration, the Sydney-based Indie-electronic trio of Jack Froggatt, Lachlan Bostock and Alex Nicholls have dropped their self-produced, coming-of-age debut album, Shadowboxer. We had a lovely, stripped-back chat with the lead singer, Jack, about the creative process behind the album, their Coachella performance and why he has eight different throat sprays.
BYO: What got you into music?
Jack: I loved listening to music and wanted to return the favour for the people that gave me music. I wanted to do that for someone else. I think it narrates your life in such a beautiful way and it’s the centrepiece of many of our memories. For me, writing music full time documents my life but for myself. So it’s just a very therapeutic, cathartic effort, and I think it was a culmination of those things that got me into it in the first place.
BYO: And what got you specifically into indie music?
Jack: Well initially, I was a folk fan and I loved the looseness of it. I loved how the words are really at the centre-point, and I guess I started falling in love with indie music or maybe a bit more pop music, as kind of a nicer way to order the chaos and repeating refrains.
BYO: Congrats on your Coachella show, how was that?
Jack: Thank you, I dreamt of going to Coachella ever since I figured out what it was, and I would’ve been 15 at the time. I would always look at the festival line-ups every year and no matter how much time I spend in the music industry, it will always be a very breathtaking thing to see our names on the poster. It was a really good experience, and I think a lot of what that festival does is that it really brings the best out of you because there’s such an expectation of it.
BYO: It’s really interesting and exciting to see more indie Australian bands making it internationally. Do you think there’s more of an opportunity for Australian bands internationally now?
Jack: Definitely. We’re so fortunate to have come up post a lot of amazing Australian artists breaking us into America in particular, like the Rufus boys, Flume and a lot of great artists that represent what Australia stands for: a laid back, beautiful, sun-loving country. And over in America you really feel that effect.
When we’re sitting at a bar, they’ll come to us and say “Oh you’re Australian, what are you doing here?” and we’re like, “We’re a band”, and they’re like, “Oh do you know the band Tame Impala, we love them.” There’s such a love for Australian music out there, and it’s only benefited us in the best of ways.
BYO: And when you’re on big tours, like Coachella, how do you take care of your voice?
Jack: I mean I think it’s a lesson I’m still learning, I had six months of training on how to keep it together after a year of touring incorrectly with my voice, where I did some damage, and now I have like eight different throat sprays that I rotate, which is hilarious. And talk softly as well.
I used to be afraid of going out on tour, and now I just expect a lot from it and that I can hold it together. And if it feels a little on the fringe of going, I just sleep an extra two hours a night. That’s the biggest secret. Sleep. I sleep a lot on tour!
BYO: Going to your new and first album, Shadowboxer, what was the inspiration behind it?
Jack: We started the band on a bit of a back foot and just tried to catch up for the first two years to the expectation. And I think we discovered something fragile, introspective and melodramatic within that feeling. We opened up and collaborated with each other and discussed things that was probably not something you have on a day-to day conversation with your friends. We built this world where we were discussing different feelings of anxiety or things we were struggling with. And the record became this therapeutic way to get things out.
I found a big love for writing about movie scenes. Sonically, it was a difficult thing to find a balance with, because I’m a bit more of a folk guy, Lachlan is more of an electronic guy and Al’s a Jazz dude. We were pulling each other in different directions and once we started to compromise a bit and compensate by trusting each other, then we were able to find the right thing that we all felt good about. That’s one of the best things about being in a three-piece band: there’s always a decider.
BYO: During those five years of gathering inspiration, what were you guys doing musically and non-musically?
Jack: We were jumping around from share-houses, making new friends, just really living in my early 20’s, falling in and out of love, all that stuff life comes with. Musically, we were touring a lot, and in between breaks we were finding new places to write music, which is always a bit of a challenge because there weren’t many around in Sydney, so we jumped studios a lot.
It all feels like a bit of a blur to be honest. All I’ve done in the past five years is sit at my desk, which is a good thing, because it feels like I’ve worked hard. It was basically a constant process of trying to find a balance between creating and working and also enjoying the things that were around us, and the people around us, and figuring out who we wanted to be. I guess it was a bit of a coming of age era for us.
BYO: And you said that you were sitting at your desk a lot which is good, what did you do when you were lacking inspiration?
Jack: I guess this will sound a bit uninteresting, but I would go for a swim. If I couldn’t work out a song, I decided that swimming laps in a pool and following a black line would give me inspiration, which now looking back at it, was probably not the smartest thing to do, I probably should’ve gone for a walk or had conversation with someone. I think that’s why the record mentions so much water, because that was the only thing I was exposing myself to!
I used to live right by the Art Gallery of NSW and I’d go there twice a week. They obviously wouldn’t have a new exhibition, so I’d see the same exhibition multiple times, and it was really beautiful. So if I was really stuck I’d try go bother a friend, and say, “C’mon let’s get lunch,” and then I’d talk at them and then eventually I’d go, “Oh that’s how I’m going to fix that song.”
Mansionair are currently touring Australia. You can find their tour dates here: https://mansionair.com/