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Sydney prog band Intrøspect have been quietly working away for the last twelve months, preparing themselves for the release of their debut EP Ad Astra.

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They’re also about to hit the stage for the first time in support of Glass Ocean on 30 November. Hysteria sat down with the brains behind Intrøspect, rhythm guitarist Jamie McVicker, to find out all about the band, their debut EP, and the newest single Sovereign which is premiering right here at Hysteria.

Starting Intrøspect and getting the project up off the ground to put out a debut release has been no easy task for McVicker. Having had the first single, and the title track, off the upcoming EP under his belt for almost four years, he had almost given up hope in it ever seeing the light of day as lineup changes hampered his efforts. 

“It’s been a bit of an interesting journey!” McVicker says, laughing. 

“This particular lineup has been in place for about a year. I met Felicity [Jayne] about a year ago. We had a period where we had a different vocalist and we were working under a different name but then the vocalist left and we didn’t have one for a long period of time and it was in that time that I actually thought the project wasn’t going to go anywhere, it was sort of stagnating. But then I was introduced to Felicity through a mutual friend, at a gig, and it was quite serendipitous,” McVicker says.

It didn’t take long after that for them to welcome Hugo Rumore, a 16-year-old drumming prodigy, into the band and completing their line-up. They were eager to get to work on finishing and then releasing the EP that McVicker had been working on for so long, starting with the first single, Ad Astra.

Ad Astra is an exception off this EP, as it’s a song I imported from an old project that I was in,” McVicker says.

“It was one that wasn’t really going anywhere with that project. Then I left that band and still thought that I wanted to make it into a song and then build the rest of the record around it later. So I actually wrote the EP about two and a half years ago now, and it was just a matter of presenting that as a complete work to Loko [McDonald], our other guitarist, to see if he wanted to make something out of it,” he continues. 

With single Ad Astra already making waves for the Sydney band, they’re excited to release their next track, Sovereign, which is premiering right here at Hysteria.

Sovereign is our heaviest song by a country mile and sometimes I listen to it and I think ‘this is disgusting’ with just how heavy the riffs are!” McVicker laughs. 

“We also had a guest vocalist feature on it, Jacob Wilkes from another Sydney band called Above, Below and he did some really gnarly screams on it.”

Sovereign also seems to be the unanimous favourite amongst the band with vocalist Felicity Jayne and guitarist Loko McDonald also weighing in on the track. 

“Sovereign is my favourite track on the EP. It sits close to my personal favourite genres and influential artists and it has all the elements involved that make me really connect with a song, so every time I hear and sing it, it’s like my heart just explodes. I think I am also really close to this track due to the writing process of it and seeing it come together. That held many firsts for me, it was definitely an experience I will never forget,” Felicity says. 

It’s about confronting a shadow, or the concept of a shadow or aspects of your personality that are sort of repressed by society.
[ Intrøspect ]

Sovereign has always spoken to me the most because of the dark heavy syncopated riffs as well as the contrasting vocals,” says Loko. “The riffs are synonymous with the music I grew up with and the lyrics speak to me on a deep level—the purest light can have a darker side.”

McVicker muses on the single’s theme, which fits in with the theme of Ad Astra in general; looking for the light amongst the darkness.

“It’s a dark song, but it’s hopeful and dark at the same time,” McVicker says. 

“It’s about confronting a shadow, or the concept of a shadow or aspects of your personality that are sort of repressed by society. Like your capacity to have dark thoughts and things like that. It’s about this idea that you need to come into contact with that part of yourself and integrate it into your personality to have power and to be strong and not be walked all over. But obviously you want to stay nice! So it’s about dancing with that bit of yourself and just discovering your own darkness in a way. But at the same time, it re-enlightens the world by harnessing that power.”

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While it’s not just the favourite for the band, it is also one of the tracks that really brought the band together.

“More and more I am just trying to open it [the band] up to creative elements. I love creative collaboration, but you have to be careful about opening up in ways that work and that are useful to the whole project,” McVicker says. 

“With this EP I kind of wrote everything in guitar pro and I sketched out the EP myself and then I took that to Loko and was like ‘what can we do with this?’ So while I wrote most of it, Loko actually made it playable.”

The collaboration became more tight knit over time. After McVicker took the idea to Loko, they made changes before they eventually brought Felicity in while working out the vocal melodies.

“The trend has been opening up the creative process and I think that will continue. So while it was my project foundationally, but now that the vision and direction has been established, we’re all going to take equal part in making stuff which is the best way to do it,” McVicker says. 

McVicker is more than happy to continue down this path the more they become aligned with their musical vision; the less it is about him and ‘his’ project and more it is about the band as a whole.

“There is also a philosophical throughline of the band. We want to harness the cathartic power of metal and push it towards the light if that makes sense! All of our songs have a hopeful, optimistic sound that I am hoping empowers the people that listen to it and has a resonant power to it that can sort of amplify that signal of hope,” McVicker says.

We’re very focused on creating music that empowers people, that makes them feel strong and gives them meaning. The songs are written in such a way that anyone can relate to them and while they are about our personal experiences, they are de-personalised so that people can process their own shit and connect with the tracks in that kind of way.”

If you haven’t checked out the clip for Ad Astra yet, or had a listen to their latest single Sovereign, we recommend that you do as Intrøspect have created some powerful music and melodies.

Pre-order Ad Astra here.

Catch Intrøspect w/ Glass Ocean, Opus Of A Machine & Code Atlantic at the following date:

Sydney // Saturday 30 November // The Factory Floor

Tickets available here.

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