Melbourne based duo Fortunes is comprised of producer Barnaby Matthews and singer Conor McCabe. Originally from New Zealand, the two members have honed their unique soul, R’n’B electronic sound, having released their debut EP Hoodie in 2015 followed by their second EP, Jacket last year. 2017 sees Fortunes dropping their third EP Undress, which is due for release on April 28, followed by a tour across Australia and New Zealand. We caught up with Barnaby Matthews to get the lowdown on the bands’ origins, their songwriting process, and whats in store for the rest of the year.
Barnaby had strong musical beginnings as a drummer in a number of punk and hardcore bands that played around New Zealand. When Barnaby first moved to Australia, he was unable to bring his drum kit with him. Luckily, he ended up staying with a friend who had some production equipment. “I started mucking around on that, just because I needed something to do. I ended up learning more and more about producing in Ableton, and just sort of carried it on from there”. Initially taking influence from 90’s hip hop producers like 9th Wonder, Barnaby eventually started developing his own sound, venturing into more modern and electronic territory, which he considered to be “a pretty natural evolution”.
While Barnaby and Conor went to the same high school in New Zealand, they didn’t connect as artists and friends until much later. “We were a couple years apart so we didn’t actually know each other or hang out. We just saw each other around the music block because Conor was always in there singing, and I was always in there playing drums”.
Almost 10 years later, Conor and Barnaby ended up at the same house party in Melbourne, which resulted in Conor showcasing his vocal abilities by singing a couple of D’Angelo and Beyonce tunes. Barnaby, who was blown away by Conor’s singing, expressed interest in getting Conor to sing on some of his instrumental hip hop tracks. This led to a collaborative musical friendship between Barnaby and Conor, which eventually resulted in Fortunes.
Their songwriting process is somewhat autonomous. Barnaby works on beats, loops and musical ideas, while Conor will work on lyrics away from the studio. “When we link up, we sort of put them together and flesh out whatever we’ve done into a full song”. This independent working manner also allows different influences to shine through in the music. Conor draws from pop and R’n’B music, while Barnaby draws from his hip hop, jazz and electronica influences.
Barnaby describes their third EP Undress as being a natural extension of their previous work and a statement of stylistic growth and movement.“You always want to step it up a notch. We learn so much every time we do a project, and it’s always a learning process”.
While there wasn’t many major differences in their approach, one significant change was Barnaby’s intentional decision to not use any samples on the Undress EP. “Deciding to not use samples was a challenge at the start, but pretty rewarding in the end. It ended up forcing me to have to learn a lot more about music theory and composition, which was a blessing in disguise.”
Fortunes are excited to be hitting the road in May, playing all around Australia and even back in their homeland. “Its going to be super cool to go to New Zealand and play some club shows the. We played the New Zealand Laneway which was awesome, but we haven’t played headline shows there. So, we’re super hyped to go back.” The rest of 2017 will see Fortunes releasing a music video for their single ‘Focus’, along with a determination to finish their debut album.
Fortunes ‘Undress’ tour
May 4 – Mono, Christchurch
May 5 – Caroline, Wellington
May 6 – REC, Auckland
May 19 – World Bar, Sydney
May 20 – The Gasometer, Melbourne
May 27 – The Big Pineapple Festival, Maroochydore
June 2 – Jack Rabbit Slims, Perth
June 3 – Rocket Bar, Adelaide
You can pre-order the Undress EP here