Melbourrne quartet DASH have fashioned a quirky sound representative of the familial ties which bind these two pairs of sibling-musicians. Working with producer Col Leadbetter (Whitley, Sarah Blasko), DASH launched the band with an energetic and eclectic debut EP And Then There Were None in March 2013 before touring East Coast Australia, playing at festivals such as MONA FOMA, Cygnet Folk Fest & St Kilda Festival and many more.
DASH release their second EP The Day the Rain Comes Down, on September 19th, so we caught up with the band to go behind the scenes for the making of the EP and have the exclusive first listen.
The Day The Rain Comes Down seems to imply a slightly melancholic narrative, what was the intended emotional response that you hoped listeners would gain from the EP?
The Day the Rain Comes Down is a saying I overheard in a conversation once. I instantly disappeared and wrote the entire song in about 5 minutes. Growing up in drought the imagery of rain coming down is so strong for kids in their 20 somethings in Aus. It feels so intimate and promising. We played with that concept throughout the album – of intimacy and wide emptiness. My vocals are quite dry and loud, not a lot of reverb. Then the music feels quite sparse. We captured the same feeling in our photos and also in the film clip. We wanted people to feel a little uncomfortable in the intimacy of the record and then breathe a sigh of relief in its space too.
As far as the writing process goes, does DASH function democratically wherein you all contribute quite equally, or does it vary track to track?
At this stage I have been the main song writer. Luke and I have also done a bit of writing together. Once the ideas are down the process is fairly collaborative and evenly split with arrangement ideas and sounds. The writing process is definitely evolving more and more as we grow as a band. We’re mostly democratic when it comes to developing a song
While you were in the process of writing The Day The Rain Comes Down, what other bands and artists were you all listening to and have those acts had any influence on the finished product?
We really get into a lot of folk/roots music. I love the way roots artists structure their lyrics. Like storybooks and poems. So I was listening to a lot of Patty Griffin and Anais Mitchell. Anais Mitchell did an album called ‘Hadestown’ based on the Orpheus myth and set in the depression era. The first time I heard it I was literally stopped in my steps. I sat down in the middle of the loungeroom and floated away. It’s stunning. But then we all love big emotive arrangements and we’re all fairly avid Feist fans. We love the dirty Jack White flavours and dark undertones.
Your Facebook bio it states that DASH “lives, works and plays on Wurundjeri land.” Are Indigenous land rights something that you are all passionate about, and does this passion find its way into your music?
I have come from a background in human rights advocacy. So I like to find little ways to incorporate my passions into the music without being blatant or cliche. We also did a fundraiser gig for Syria last year. And I try to make a lot of our shows disability accessible. I have done some work with Indigenous People – mostly in a process of sitting and listening to stories. We do a lot of talking about Indigenous people and not enough listening.
The clip for ‘Cautiously’ is quite intriguing with its focus on nature and being reborn. Where did the inspiration for that come from?
The film clip was a collaborative process with Melbourne group Full Stop Pictures. We wanted it to feel a little bit jarring and wild like the song. The song interprets a struggle between the you people perceive and want you to be, and the you that you most times feel you don’t really know. We actually filmed it on the property that Luke and I grew up on. It was pretty special to do that. There are references in the clip to books we love (The Little Prince) as well as a fairly heavy movements between the real and the imagined.
Much of the EP takes on a confessional tone backed by piano driven melodies, what comes first generally, the lyrics or the melody?
I’m pretty into trying lots of different things with my writing so that I’m constantly being challenged. For this record I did a lot of forming the melody with the lyrics away from any instruments. Then you can really follow it where it needs to go and have a strong foundation before you put music to it. This also allows you to be very creative with chord structures and movements. A lot of the songs have a natural progression without following a verse/chorus/bridge structure.
The artwork for the EP features a beautiful print by Jessica Hodkinson, were any of you previously fans of her work and how did you come across her?
Back when the band was just starting I went away to Tasmania by myself to an artist’s colony to write (Sounds fairly idyllic!). I met Jessica there who was also doing the same thing. She is a genius and a beautiful print artist. Print is so fascinating as you have to layer it and what you end up starting with is not necessarily what you finish with. The process is constantly evolving. Jess is wonderful at interpreting landscapes, so we really loved incorporating her art into the theme of the record.
Being a pair of siblings is there any sense of rivalry or competition between any of you? What is the biggest challenge in working so closely alongside family?
I think the best and the worst part of working with family is the absolute honesty. It is awesome to not have any issues with openness and feedback when you’re writing. But it can mean you have no sense of holding back too! We do pretty well though. We all tend to appreciate honesty so it works well for us.
Amp room, accommodation, hide out.
Dash / Who Is Zoe Double EP Launch
Friday 19th September
The Evelyn – Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
$15 on the door
Stream The Day The Rain Comes Down in full.