Young Monks have recently released their new record Swamp Creek. It’s a gorgeous collection of music, and the outfit are about to depart on an Australian tour. We sat down with them to get inside their production process, and discover what life is like in Young Monks‘ world.
Much of Swamp Creek was recorded in nature. Was this a deliberate decision you made, to tie-in your surroundings with a theme on the record? Or did this theme come about later in the process?
To be honest, it wasn’t really a deliberate decision but more of a natural by-product of our circumstances. Throughout the writing and recording process we put ourselves in a lot of different environments around Australia. For us, it was such a journey, so we knew we wanted to bring the listener on that journey by blending in soundscapes and tying the songs together with the sounds of different environments.
What is your creative process like? Do you go in with an idea to build upon, or do you just get in a room together and jam it out more organically?
Sometimes we have an idea like a riff or a melody that’s floating around, but most of the time our songs are born when we are just jamming together. Usually we get together and find ourselves locking into a groove soon after, then it’s really a process of feeling that groove out, evolving & refining it. It’s sort of hard to pin down the process exactly because it’s not really a mechanical thing. It kind of just happens, and we just ride the wave.
Fans have been waiting a long time for this album, with singles being teased sporadically over the last few years. Do you think the band’s sound or style has changed in that time, and how did you ensure the older tracks meshed with your newer material?
Swamp Creek was written and recorded throughout a bunch of different phases over the last few years. Originally, we didn’t give much thought to the piece as a whole, but more just followed our creative instincts with it. I suppose the older tracks meshed with the newer tracks because our writing/production style was fairly consistent throughout the process.
Your latest singles ‘Supersonic Melodies’ and ‘Bayside Suicide’ have received hugely positive feedback in the online community. How much does the band read into the critical response to your music and do you think it impacts the music you make?
We definitely love to hear feedback from our audience, both good and bad but one realization we had when we started the band is that we would always make music that felt good to us and not to please somebody else. I think that’s the secret to making something true & something decent creatively. Be true to yourself and your own taste. At least then you’ve got something you can personally be proud of and enjoy. If other people like it, that really is a bonus.
The production on Swamp Creek is astounding, and on every spin I hear something new. With such an eclectic mix of layered sounds you would expect these songs not to work or flow, but they do, and so expertly. Why do you think so?
Thank you. When it came to putting all the pieces of the puzzle together, we were super conscious of the arrangement of tracks and how they would flow together. Careful consideration was given to the chord progressions, the key, the tempo & the overall vibe of each song to the next. Then it was a matter of putting them together logically. We never knew for sure if it would work but again, we just followed our intuition.
There must be a very mixed bag of musical influences that inspire Young Monks’ sound – who are some of the key influences that inspired the creation of Swamp Creek?
As a group, we derive influence from so many different artists. We found ourselves listening to heaps of jazz & world music as well as mainstream stuff. It’s really hard to pin it down to a handful of artists, but I suppose some key influences during the time of production were Nujabes, The Avalanches, Luiz Bonfa & Tame Impala. Through the use of psychedelics we also gained a deep appreciation for sonic qualities that exist within nature and sound as a whole, which I think had a big impact overall.
July sees your first extensive run of dates along the East Coast – what are you learning as you prepare for these shows?
We’re learning to be more disciplined within our live performances. Rehearsing frequently and meticulously. Realizing and appreciating that live performance is as much of a craft as recording and producing. We’re doing our best to stay grounded and focused so that we can really give a solid live performance.
Where do you hope to see Young Monks in the next 6 months?
No expectations = no disappointment. That might sound pessimistic but I don’t mean it to be. The unknown is exciting. We’ve already started tracking new material so we’ll probably share a new track or two. In terms of live shows, It would be rad to take it overseas. It’ll be interesting to see where it takes us.
Young Monks’ self-produced debut album Swamp Creek is out now via Bad Bad Records/UNIFIED Music Group. Get it here.
YOUNG MONKS – SWAMP CREEK AUSTRALIA TOUR
Tickets on sale now from youngmonks.net
Friday 13 July – Bloodhound Bar, Brisbane
Sunday 15 July – Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle
Friday 20 July – Workers Club, Melbourne
Saturday 21 July – Brighton Up, Sydney
Sunday 22 July – Rad Bar, Wollongong
Wednesday 25 July – Roundhouse Beergarden, Randwick
Friday 27 July – The Park House, Mona Vale
Saturday 28 July – Waterfront Hotel, Moruya