With melodic diversity and sheer originality, Willow Beats are by no means struggling to break the surface of innovative Australian music. Emerging barefoot from the lush and mystical Tweed Valley, the uncle/niece duo began humbly creating music by rebuilding their rich environment into soulful electronic pieces. With her soaring vocals, Kalyani Ellis was the perfect additive to the bountiful dreamscapes of beatmaker Narayana Johnson; quite simply, they had a ‘clear vision’ and allowed it to manifest. Since their beginning, the bonding of their passions solidified their work and drove their love for music, leading to their later success touring their newly-released sophomore EP Water, out through via WA-label Pilerats.
Water premiered on Rolling Stone Australia, with the six-track release earning itself #1 on the Australian iTunes electronic charts, leading to a variety of anticipated festival appearances including Strawberry Fields, Beyond The Valley and inaugural New Years festival Lost Paradise. With their upcoming Water EP Australian Tour beginning this December, we had a chat with Kalyani about the motivations and revelations of song-writing and experience.
You both started your journey together long before you began performing as Willow Beats. When writing music or debuts like your Water EP, is there a certain creative process involved? Has it changed since you both began?
The creative process behind each song differs a lot. Sometimes it will begin with a beat Narayana produces and sometimes with a song I write on piano. Every song is unique in the way it’s created. We tend to piece them together as they go – occasionally we will have a clear vision of what we’re trying to create, but usually they manifest as we write. It has been this way from the start, though, I think we are getting better at planning an intention.
Since creating music together, you have played more than a handful of shows and have garnered a hefty amount of attention. Have there been any moments where you’ve had to stand back and take it all in?
It’s really strange making something you love and having other people love it as well. I never feel like I can comprehend it because it still doesn’t seem real. Playing to a room of people who are there to see you and know your songs will always be the most amazing feeling. When people travel a long way to see you play, that’s very special.
You both aren’t shy about your sound sampling, having recorded things like bathtub splashes and running streams to create your own sonic world. Have you always been inspired by the natural sights and sounds around you?
We grew up in the lush Tweed Valley so to us the forest was our home. Who could pick the biggest lotus? Who could climb the tallest tree? Mother Nature is the ultimate giver, and you just can’t recreate the beauty of her sound.
Most of your releases play with the sounds and flow of fresh water. Is there a deeper connection to that element, either personally or as a creative direction?
Where we grew up it gets super-hot. Your day during the summer consists of chasing a body of water to submerge yourself in. We were surrounded by waterfalls and streams; they were our playground so we have a deep love of water for it has brought us so much joy. Also back home we get droughts sometimes which can go on for months and water becomes the biggest commodity. That sweet rain filling up your tank so you can drink pure water again is the sweetest sound I have ever heard. All the plants, animals, and humans rejoice.
Does the Water EP and music videos like ‘Merewif’ aim to empower these natural associations or was it a way of exploring your sound, creativity and aesthetic further?
Both. It’s a way to share with others the beauty we see, to remind them that the biggest gift they will ever receive is all around them. It’s also a means for us to explore what we love and have fun.
With your Water EP tour drawing closer this December, what will Willow Beats be up to in 2015 apart from all the festival touring?
We just wanna stay creative, write more songs, explore, take up some new hobbies.
You can catch Willow Beats and their ethereal vibes on the following dates below. ‘Water’ EP is out now via iTunes and Pilerats.
WATER EP TOUR
w/ special guest Oisima
Thursday 4th December
The Toff In Town, Melbourne VIC
Friday 5th December
New Globe Theatre, Brisbane QLD
Saturday 6th Decemeber
The Basement, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 11th December
Astor Lounge, Perth, WA
Friday 12th December
CATS @ Rocket Bar, Adelaide, SA
All tickets + info available via www.willowbeats.oztix.com.au