Electronic music duo touring with first single
FOR Yamba duo Harry Suttor and Lachlan Mulligan, a musical journey that has them currently touring the east coast of Australia started out much the same as any act.
A few jams with a few mates led to some time in a home studio when Harry on guitar and vocals and Lachlan on keyboards and drum machine decided their sound was worth pursuing.
"I think the first jam we had together was about a year ago, and we wrote the first song there," Harry said.
"Lachy started studying in music production after we started to get more into it, because we thought 'let's do this'."
The band Nocturnal Tapes was born, the name a reference to their influence and sound.
"We had been watching a lot of documentaries on the beginnings of sampling and were interested in achieving the sound associated with using tape as a recording medium," Lachlan said.
"And basically our music was always created in the night - so it became Nocturnal Tapes."
A few gigs here and there started, before Harry suggested they enter the campus band competition at Southern Cross University where he was studying at the time.
"I'd never heard of the competition," Lachlan said. "But we had a few mates playing in the first heat, and we thought that it'll be fun - so we'll just go in."
And then the roller coaster ride began.
"We won the first heat at SCU," Harry said. "Then another heat there as well."
When they won the third event at Southern Cross Uni, now the Queensland state finals, the duo says it was a validation of their sound and combination.
"We thought we better start adding some other instruments and lights, and production," Lachlan said.
With management groups interested, a trip to Sydney followed for the National Campus Band finals. With bands such as Jebediah, Eskimo Joe, Spiderbait and george competing in previous years and going on to recording success, the challenge was set for the duo from Yamba.
"We got there, and listening to some of the bands we just thought 'These guys are just next level'."
One set later, and Nocturnal Tapes became the 2015 National Campus band winner, with $5000 of studio time or gear, a meeting with Universal Records and a gig of their choice their prize.
"We haven't met with the record company yet - the gig is locked in for UTS Summerfest later in the year," Harry said.
Now, with their first single Superficial Light in tow, the pair are in the midst of a tour with dates in Sydney, Newcastle, Byron Bay and Brisbane and say that live performance underpins everything they do.
"We play a really energetic set - it's all about the performance," Harry said.
And while the music has its roots in electronica, it is all triggered on the fly, with no backing tracks playing.
"We want it to be as live as possible, we don't want people watching this massive production and wondering 'Well how do they do that?' - we want it to be something we can do with our two hands," Harry said.
"And that allows us to rearrange the songs on the fly, to respond to a crowd and create an energy," Lachlan added.
As a consequence of this live style, the pair say that creating a recording from these "live-written" tracks can be difficult.
"It can be hard to condense down," Harry said. "We never write a song with a set start and a finish, it constantly evolves.
"That means it's always fresh, and it makes it for fun for us.
"As far as the single Superficial Light goes, it's four minutes recorded and about nine minutes live."
The combination of effected guitar and vocals combined with the electronic aspect makes their sound an eclectic one, but the pair say they have found a broad audience.
"We've been told it's like a combination of 70s sounds with 90s beats and modern production. Psychedelic electronica," Harry said.
"But there's always a deep groove, but on top there's punch, more of the treble spinning out effects and high ambient stuff.
"No matter where we play though, whether it's gigs at Byron or in art galleries where you don't expect it, people are always up and dancing."
Right now, the focus is firmly on reaching a wider audience through live shows, and a promise that their first single is just a hint of what's to come.
"Superficial Light is a dark track, it's almost like an introduction," Lachlan said.
"We don't want to give away too much," Harry adds. "In the last 40 seconds it lifts and gives a little bit more of a taste.
"We didn't want to just put out a song and have people say 'Oh that's what they're like' - we wanted to ease them in."
And as for the next single's sound, Harry sums it up succinctly.
"It's a banger," he nods.
"It's the real crowd favourite from our live set, and the one people will recognise."
To hear the duo's work, head to the Nocturnal Tapes Facebook page, which contains links to the single on both iTunes and Triple J Unearthed.