CLOUDER // Sydney’s Emo-Revivalists Talk Slowcore, The Mighty 90’s & The Importance Of Community

At the tail end of last year, Sydney’s Clouder shone through with a glistening homage to twinkly minimalism with the track Stars & Clouds.

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The track shines with a glaring beauty and ebbs and flows with emotional heft—it shows off the band’s strong musical identity and knack for touching songcraft.

Following a string of single releases and shows, there’s no denying they’re making a name for themselves as one of Sydney’s most unique exports in the scene. To get to know the moody four-piece a little better, we sat down for a chat to get inside their heads, unpacking the influences and ties that have brought them together over the years.

Jetboys Brisbane 21st February 2020

You’ve put together a “slowcore” playlist on your Spotify profile—what do you find so special about the genre? How did you discover this scene?

In late high school, back before I had premium Spotify, I was streaming music on my phone and it would just skip to random songs? I don’t know if anyone else experienced this, but Duster’s The Memphis Sophisticate came on and I fell in love with it within 10 seconds. Listened to all their material on repeat, found bands like Idaho and Low

We have a couple of playlists up and they’ve gone through a few names, but the one titled Modern Slowcore is a selection of bands I’ve been digging that remind me of those 90’s bands. The other playlist is full of those 90’s cats I really love that I mentioned before.

We’ve developed this 90’s aesthetic which we all dig, but we also want to keep our sound modern and relevant for today’s audiences.
[ Clouder ]

Stars & Clouds has quite a minimalistic vocal and lyrical approach—explain how that came to be and how that space creates meaning in the track?

Heavily influenced by Duster, I really like approaching vocals with ‘When does it feel right’ rather than sitting down, figuring out a melody, then lyrics etc etc. When it was written, there was only one guitar part, what is now Jackson’s guitar part. That guitar part is quite taxing on coordination, so to try create a consistent melody to sing while playing wasn’t going to happen. 

This allows for the listeners attention to flow between all instruments, the idea that the drums and bass keep groove and the guitars provide the core of the song, while vocals flow in and out, they sit on top and then within. This all reflects the songs meditative mood, reflecting on things that have happened and working through what may seem like a convoluted path.

Sydney has quite a large emo scene, but you’ve definitely set yourselves apart musically—how important is a sense of community to you as a band? 

Community is paramount, it’s that mutual support and pooling of efforts that make shows happen. Whether it be sharing equipment, or finding help to put on shows, the process is definitely easier when you have people willing to lend a hand. Yeah the emo scene these days is quite strange, its quite broad it’s almost like saying ‘rock.’ I love emo bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, Far, Cap’n’Jazz, that OG 90s indie rock type of emo. Is that relevant today? I don’t know. 

Unless there’s a booker/collective with ties to a renowned venue, it’s hard to create a community of bands that can grow. Sydney’s emo scene stayed strong with Hot Damn and now AM//PM. We’d love to play AM//PM! Would we fit? No idea haha

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What are some of the biggest challenges and highlights you’ve faced musically over the last year? 

Getting to know one another musically, figuring out parts that not only fit but satisfy personal tastes, which gets easier and easier as time passes. Playing to a click track live was tough, we synced up and performed the latest single whilst having the music video animation project behind us. It was a difficult process to create the materials necessary and then get the equipment going but it was super rewarding!

Where do you find your inspiration, what do you draw on in writing both lyrically and instrumentally?

We’ve developed this 90’s aesthetic which we all dig, but we also want to keep our sound modern and relevant for today’s audiences. I’ll go back and listen to those bands I mentioned before not just for inspiration but because their songwriting is incredible. Luke tends to mould bass lines around the rest of the band but quite often becomes a feature, Jackson has an incredible knack for creating ‘sounds’ rather than ‘parts’ and I love it.

I suppose we largely influence each other in that sense, the core of the song probably comes from Tim’s solid drum work and my guitar, but the performance is brought by Luke and Jackson.

What are your plans for 2020? What can we expect to see from Clouder this year?

In 2020 you can expect more releases, we are currently demo’ing a bunch of songs. We’re giving all of these new songs road tests at gigs, so for those of you reading at home be sure to come to a show soon, we always appreciate your thoughts! Hoping to do an east coast tour in the next 6 months or so.

How did Clouder come together as a band? Tell us a little bit about your story up until now, and what drew you to play music initially. 

Clouder started as my little project, I wrote and recorded an early version of Star’s & Clouds for a university project back a few years ago. The producer said his younger brother could come in and play bass, and that’s how Luke walked in, slammed a great bass track down and I asked him to join. We’ve been through a couple of drummers, Tim was a friend of a friend who I’d always bump into at parties and he fits really well. Jackson went to school with Luke so they’ve known each other for yonks, they had some drinks at a party and Luke suggested he come along to a rehearsal and it worked well!

My father handed me an acoustic guitar when I was really young, I can’t remember how old, but I always had it in my hands when I was growing up at home. Same goes for the rest of the band really, they’ve all played from a young age. Luke teaches music, Tim has played in another band, Ride for Rain, who are pretty awesome, he and I both studied music at the Institute of Music. Jackson and I work in the industry, he occasionally run’s lights. I run audio, the 4 of us just gel really well!

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