Records hold a very special place in the hearts of listeners, especially musicians. Whether it be through the distinct artwork or a stand-out track, records have the unique ability to instantly take us back to the first time we heard them. We spoke to Ally Campbell-Smith for Darts about some of her favourite records and the influence they’ve had on her as a musician and the recording of their new album, Below Empty & Westward Bound.
Did any albums influence the production or music of your debut album Below Empty & Westward Bound?
We just really wanted to make a good album. We’re big on great albums, not just great songs. I remember the first time I heard Kid A by Radiohead, I was lying on my bed with headphones on and by the end, I hadn’t skipped a song, I hadn’t moved. I was completely entranced. That kind of cohesion throughout the album was important to us.
What is your favourite album/s of all time?
That’s a tough one. It’s probably between Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People or Interpol – Our love To Admire. I’ve never really thought about it too much, but these are the staples I find I’m always going back to.
What was the first album you bought with your own money?
I got my first job when I was about 15 or 16, and I’m pretty sure with my first paycheck I bought The Vines – Winning Days and Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever To Tell.
Which album has influenced your music style the most?
That’s a difficult question. I can’t answer with complete certainty. I think everything I listen to plays a part. It’s strange because I actually listen to a lot of stuff that’s completely different to the music I write. I cut my teeth on punk rock and grunge albums, now I listen to all kinds of music; I’ll listen to hip hop with my brother and sister, and even have a routine where I’ll listen to classical on Sundays. I guess I draw something from everything I hear, and whatever happens when I write is the result of all of those interactions.
What has been your favourite album release of 2015 so far?
No Cities To Love by Sleater-Kinney. Charging up my riot girl battery for sure.
What was playing on your family stereo growing up?
I have pretty young parents; both my parents are children of the 80’s. Dad was a guitar-playing punk, my Mum, a rebellious Madonna lover. I remember the Nirvana Unplugged album being spun a lot as well as The Cramps, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, The Cruel Sea, Transvision Vamp, Madonna and Leonard Cohen.
Which album did you play to death as a teenager?
I had the White Pony album by Deftones which I played constantly, and still every now and then I’ll go through a stint of playing it flat out for a couple of weeks. I had it listed on MySpace as my ‘sleep music’. I can never grow tired of that album.
What are your favourite album releases from your record label Rice Is Nice?
I have always been a huge fan of Batrider; anything Stephanie Crase and Sarah Mary Chadwick do is golden for me. In January, we were in Sydney for the Rice Is Nice Summer Party, and I remember watching Summer Flake and having my 19 year-old-self fan girl throughout the entire set. So definitely You Can Have It All is right up there alongside Sarah’s 9 Classic Tracks.
Who created the artwork for Below Empty & Westward Bound?
The artwork was done by a couple of super talented guys that go under the name Confetti Studio. We had an idea of what we wanted, but we didn’t relay it to them at all. We just gave them the album, had them listen to it and interpret it at their discretion. Right off the bat, they came back to us with what you see today, which is everything we envisioned.
Did you have any other names on the table for the album, or was it always going to be called Below Empty & Westward Bound?
Not really, it was always going to be Below Empty & Westward Bound. We wanted it to have that two-part act feel to it, like a double album, without being one.
What was your most memorable moment while recording Below Empty & Westward Bound?
Probably doing the vocals for Aeroplane. I had always sung the vocals a lot rougher than you hear. Performing live, it had always worked, but for some reason I just wasn’t satisfied with it when I was under the microscope that is recording. Angus and I took a break to figure out how to approach it. I ended up singing a lot softer and more delicate which was exactly what the song had always needed. It was by far the most rewarding day of recording for me.
Darts launch Below Empty & Westward Bound on the following dates
Saturday 20th June
Shadow Electric, Melbourne
Saturday 27th June
Brighton Up Bar, Sydney