jack britten: hello vera
I met Jack Britten when I taught him in high school (ergh - getting old) and he was an incredibly talented musician back then. Apparently he's only gotten better since then. This week I talk to him and his band - Hello Vera about making music, their new EP Pigeons (it's really very good) and how an independent band can make a place for themselves in the hectic Aussie music industry.
How did Hello Vera start?
Three of us met at uni (SCU) studying music. At the time we were playing together in different projects but not under the name of Hello Vera. Julien then decided to move back home to Sydney to play with a band called Zeahorse. Fast forward about 2 years and Charms was living in Sydney in between touring with Lisa Mitchell and I ( Jack) decided to move down and join her to start a project with some music I had been writing. It seemed natural to call Jules as we had such good memories playing music with him and we were excited when we said he was keen. After being a three piece for a while we decided we wanted a bass player and met Brendan through a mutual friend.
What parts do the different band members play?
Brendan plays Bass and sings, Julien plays Drums,Charmian plays Keyboards and sings and Jack plays keys and guitars and sings.
How would you describe your music?
Beat-Pop. I guess it is best understood though through what we grew up listening to. Artists like Stevie Wonder, Fleetwood Mac, Billy Joel, Earth Wind And Fire, Radiohead, Supertramp,Toto, Bach, Chopin,
Midnight Oil, Bacharach, French Folk and Hymnal Music.
What is your process for creating it?
I am the main writer for the band. I will often come up with and record an initial idea or sometimes a completely arranged demo and email it to everybody in the band. Everybody listens to it and internalises the music. We then get in a room together and play the tune. This is a really vital part of the process as this is often when the songs come to life and each member has an opportunity to put forward their ideas and duff-tail or completely change the arrangement. It is often at this point that we know whether or not a song is going to work or not.
Where and how did you record your EP?
We recorded most of the EP at a studio in Alexandria and some of it at home in our little studio. However, now we have purchased a bit more gear and with our next EP we will be recording the majority of it ourselves. We feel it really comes down to where you can capture those elusive vibes and emotions. We found booking into a studio once a week for 6 months and expecting to fabricate these things at particular times is a really hard way to achieve the desired outcome as typically you are
meddling with something you just can't control.
How often do you gig and where?
We often play in and around Sydney at many of the usual venues e.g. Oxford Arts Factory, The Vanguard, FBi Social, Spectrum, The Annandale. We try to choose the shows we play carefully as we really want to make each thing we do special and it is easy to get complacent and lazy if you are playing 5 nights a week and Sydney isn't really big enough for that anyway.
How do you build and expand your fanbase?
Through playing live shows, radio airplay, blogs, Rage and social media. We try and keep a balance, it is easy in this day and age to just become a Facebook slave. Facebook can be a really useful for bands but we think it can also be really distracting. There is nothing like just playing a show and hanging out with the people that have made an effort to come down and see you play, talking face to face.
Where can we buy your EP ?
Thanks Jack and Hello Vera... great music is still being made! Go get the EP now and get to a gig soon... The Scout.