At the heels of releasing their EP Dozens Cloud Wide and playing the massive Parklife Festival in their home city Perth, the fresh-faced jazz-indie Australian quartet Shy Panther also won our Artist of the Week contest. So, we spoke to them about all things Australia, their deceiving band name, their upcoming releases, and their biggest craziest dreams.
Also, scroll down for a premiere of their song “Dreamcatcher.”
You guys really killed it in the last few voting hours and won against La Chiva Gantiva. How does it feel to win the title of Artist of the Week?
Dan: It sort of feels like the competition was a game of cyber football, designed for people who love the idea of sports, but can’t really be bothered physically playing. The blood, sweat and tears without the hamstring strains and swollen ankles. It felt like a thousand little Internet hugs at once, which feel good… Reeeeeal good. We’re also receiving medical bills and being sued by the people of Perth, for an outbreak of RSI as a result from voting so much. It’s a super sweet feeling to be Artist of the Week. Thank you a zillion times for the title!
Some of your songs have this jazzy, old soul to them. Where does that come from? Inspirations or past life of any sort?
Rhien: We love jazz, even though it’s probably not the most obvious influence for us, it’s still nice each time someone says there’s hints of jazz in our music. Ben studies jazz drums, so he definitely brings that to the group. For us sometimes it’s just about making our songs less predictable. Just trying to push the boundaries of chords or timing or whatever, trying to push it and make something new, but you can still show it to your friends without them thinking your crazy.
Last time I checked, panthers weren’t native to Australia.
How’d you guys get your name?
Dan: We were initially going to be called “Shy Kangaroo”, but it just didn’t have the same hop to it.
Rhien: My good friend Laurie suggested it, it was probably a joke at first, but the more we thought about it the more it seemed an alright band name. Naming things is tough for us so having a name we haven’t started hating yet has been great. It might kind of fit too, because our music isn’t really typical Aussie music.
What’s different about playing festival sets (Parklife 2012) as opposed to your own smaller shows?
Dan: Generally the shows we play around the traps in Perth are at venues with small stages, and now that there are six of us in the band, that means there ain’t much breathing space… It’s a ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’ sorta thing. That makes it pretty cozy up there. Which we think is nice. Brings us all closer together, literally. We’ve played a couple of festivals this year, and after cramming ourselves on to tiny platforms, the festival stages swallow us like a humpback, and there’s a lot more room for activities up there, which is just weird. The biggest difference playing at festivals though, is the fact that you’re generally playing to a completely different, fresh demographic, who might only be meeting your songs for the first time… You can only hope that they all hit it off. The festival thing is a gastronomic amount of fun, but there’s not a lot of things that compare to the intimacy of playing at a normal show with a full room of people.
. I heard a lot of trip-hop in the majority of your songs, but some range from alternative rock to dream indie pop. What would you guys classify yourselves as, if you did at all?
Rhien: We’re definitely fans of trip hop, but we don’t really take much notice of the term. We just listen to music that we like and make music we like. It’s hard to describe what you’d call us with basic labels, probably because we’ve been influenced by a bunch of different genres. If I really had to describe it as best I could, maybe like trip hop inspired by electronic music and instrumental hip hop. Or something. Yeah.
We see you’re touring around Australia for the next couple weeks. Any traveling plans in the works for the States or elsewhere?
Dan: We’re planning on hopefully doing a few shows around Australia before year’s end, which is an exciting prospect, because Perth is a world away from the East Coast of Australia, so it’d sort of be like playing overseas anyways! I feel like you can’t really get a completely accurate gauge on a band/musician until you’ve seen them live. So it would be really nice to go play on different soil, and let people adjust their gauges backwards or forwards. To play a show in the States is a massive dream.
Michael: It’d be exciting to see what other countries think of us. And it’d be cool to play shows and not recognize the majority of people you’re playing to.
What can fans who come out to the show expect to see at a typical Shy Panther show?
Rhien: Our live shows are really important for us. We spend a lot of time trying to make them special for people who make an effort and pay to come to them. We like having a lot of people on stage, our current live setup is six, with two drummers. We really like it, it comes out a lot more boomy and heavy. Just trying to make it a big event with hopefully a good sound but also really put on a show. We hate having our drummers play to a click to fit in with electronics, so usually we’ll spend time making everything fit around the drums, which is a lot more fun than being stuck concentrating on a boring static tempo. Hopefully we’re allowed to just keep making our live show bigger and better.
You just released your debut album in July. Any plans for an upcoming EP yet?
Rhien: We’re in the early stages of making something new at the moment. For now the bulk of it is just ideas in our heads or some stuff on computers, but it’s taking shape. I won’t stop thinking about these ideas for a few good months till they’re all finished. My favorite part is recording, so I can’t wait. We’ll have new music out before the end of the year hopefully. Probably just a single for the new project, but it’ll let people know what the new stuff is about, so it’s exciting even if it’s just a song or two to start with.
Michael: In the mean time we have a music video that will be hitting the interwebs before the end of the month. If you’re a karaoke fan, stay tuned.
In the meantime, enjoy this video of “Dreamcatcher,” which we’re told is an unreleased live track, from an upcoming, unknown release.