Seldom Party
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Seldom Party

Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia | SELF

Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia | SELF
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"Spotlight On: Seldom Party"

Many people may not know this but Timber and Steel was in part conceived in Central Australia. Two of the founders, Macka James and myself (Evan Hughes) have at times lived and played acoustic and folk music in Alice Springs (and will once again be making an appearance at this year’s Top Half Folk Festival). Many of our family and friends also have strong connections to the Central Australian music scene and can attest to just how vibrant and diverse it is despite the obvious isolation.

And it’s amazing how many people make find themselves in Central Australia and are inspired to create. Take Will Kendrew for instance. Originally from the UK Kendrew escaped the drabness of London and, after brief stints in Hong Kong and Melbourne, found himself in the tiny community of Yuendumu, 250Kms North West of Alice Springs. It was here he began the Seldom Party project, part blog, part musical experiment and part performance piece.

Seldom Party is anything but conventional. The remoteness of Yuendumu has meant Kendrew has had to adapt his musical output to fit the mediums provided to him by the world wide web. His music is distributed via his MySpace and Blog. Collaborations, recording, remixes and even artwork is all sourced and managed online. Even his gigs are recorded in his garden (known simply as “Garden Gigs“) and then posted to his site to be watched by the world.

Will Kendrew’s background may be in rock (he played in a number of bands in the UK before making the move across the world) but for the Seldom Party project he is definitely channeling his folky side. Seldom Party’s recorded music (found via MySpace) is a beautiful foray into ethereal, striped back, electronic folk featuring Kendrew’s fingerpicked electric guitar coupled with his echoing vocals and looping instrumentation. His sound is reminiscent of Bon Iver or Matt Corby and, despite still being in demo form, is a joy to listen to. The live work is a little more rough around the edges and focused more on the instrumental side of the music (see the Garden Gig video below) but given the limitations placed on Seldom Party by his location it’s still well worth a listen.

Seldom Party is promising an EP in February of this year, most likely distributed directly by Kendrew via the website. He also gigs occasionally around the NT and South Australia although most of Seldom Party’s live performances are likely to take place in his backyard via the internet. We recommend you head to the Seldom Party MySpace, have a listen to the tracks available there and if you like what you here reach out to Will Kendrew for more.

Country of Origin: Australia (Yuendumu), via the UK
Sounds Like: Bon Iver got lost in the desert
File Under: Nu-Folk
Myspace: myspace.com/seldomparty
Official: www.seldomparty.com - Timber and Steel


"Seldom Party Interview"

Recently the wonderfully talented Will Kendrew - aka Seldom Party – took some time out to answer some questions for us. He spoke about music, blogs and ummm, Ipswich Town FC.
Read what he had to say below and then afterwards, why not visit his blog where you can download some beautiful – not to mention free – music?

* Firstly, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to be ‘Seldom Party’
In 2007 London got me down. When the post rock of They Don’t Sleep petered out I decided nothing really tied me to England (except family, friends and Ipswich Town FC – all of which I miss very much) and left for Australia, via Hong Kong. In HK I grew a beard and played a couple of gigs to empty rooms as Fourteen Birds, dabbling with poppier tunes.
I saw a desert-based job at Pintubi Anmatjere and Warlpiri Media. It read like the break from populated places I needed. It was, but being in the desert came with its own problems. Namely no alcohol – the fuel of my song writing for so long, and, no people to play to – a shame. That’s what brought on the blog and webcast garden gigs, so I could still ‘perform’ to people, and…

* How did you come up with the name ‘Seldom Party’?
…the name, as I seldom partied anymore.

* Who would you say have been your biggest influences in terms of your music?
As an 8-9 year old – Michael Jackson
at 10-11 years – U2
12-13 – britpop, mainly blur
14-15 – Americana to woo girls to, Goo Goo Dolls, Matchbox 20, Third Eye Blind, that sort of nonsense.
16-17 – Can’t remember, Radiohead, the Lemonheads probably and most of what Jools Holland introduced me to, except for world music.
18-19 – Godspeed, A Silver Mt Zion, Sigur Ros,
20-24 – more post rock and music at festivals, seeing Final Fantasy at Latitude. the Hip Hop of Aesop Rock and Atmosphere. Richard Youngs.
24-27 – The pop n RnB of Rihanna, Beyonce, Kanye et al. and world music.

* How would you describe your music?
I like linking a few of the (kinder) words other people have used to describe my music. Melodramatic+Haunting Folk, for example. Seldom Party feels more natural than my previous outings, which encourages me.

* Your lyrics seem like a lot of thought has been put into them. When writing songs, do you view lyrics as equally important to melody?
I used to think if Hopelandic was good enough for Sigur Ros then Hopeglish would be good enough for me. It wasn’t.
Without melody I’d just be a shit poet though, so it still trumps lyrics in my book.

* Your blog is brilliant. The fact that you post ideas as well as full songs means that the eventual listener could potentially help shape a song. Is this a deliberate attempt at a different approach to songwriting or just something that sort of happened?
All my music friends in Central Australia are predominantly into Desert Reggae, and though I enjoy helping record desert music and managing the Bush Bands Bash, the ‘join in’ aspect of the blog is more a plea for like-minded indie depressives to collaborate with. The plea is beginning to work and I’ve received a few images, remixes and a lyrical idea.
I have also started uploading remix packages to www.pool.org.au. It’s a real pleasure hearing detached versions of your own songs, being able to listen to your song as a song, rather than searching for the mistakes in the background, the unintentional buzz of the fridge or a missed pluck of a string. Pool has also got me really interested in Creative Commons and sharing, collaborating in creativity etc etc.
If anyone reading this would like to remix me, click on that pool link above.

* People can download your tracks for free from your blog. Do you eventually plan on charging for your music?
Eventually. I hope people who like me a lot might want to buy my forthcoming catalogue, t shirts and commemorative signed umbrellas, and people who like me a little will be content with the free tracks and a pin badge.
(I’m aware I am not everybody but) I still buy the music I really want. I steal the music I’m unsure of, or the music of those that appear wealthy. A selfish modern Robin Hood.

* Is it tricky for you to perform live, given that there is only one of you, yet your songs often use many different instruments?
I’ve started writing 2 versions of songs. One that’s possible live and one that would only be possible were I not such a recluse. The live versions are stripped to guitar and vocals but I am enjoying my loop pedal and other effects. Probably a little too much. It is tricky to make all the melodies work and it doesn’t always come off as planned, but it’s enjoyable.

* Which do you prefer, playing with bands or playing solo?
Nothing solo has beaten the thrill of playing excessively loud to a packed room of dancers and drunks, so with a band. I’ll have to try to put one together again.

* Do you have any shows or record releases on the horizon?
My debut ep is on the cusp of completion, and will be released in February 2011. 3-4 polished versions of songs (who’s unpolished versions are currently at seldomparty.com) will be matched up with 3-4 songs that aren’t online, packaged in artwork by listeners (if you want to create an image please do so and email my way) and released in time for a couple of performances at the Adelaide Fringe festival, at the Wheatsheaf on Thursday 17th and Saturday 19th Feb, as part of the Long Way To The Top End tour.

* What do you hope to achieve in the future?
Great success.

* What would you say is wrong/right with music today?
Wrong – That it is so hard to make money from music that you need another job, and how depressing it is not to be able to give your all to your day job when the 10% of the 110% everyone else puts into their careers goes towards your art, but you can’t stop cos if you do you get more depressed, so you quit your job, and then you have no money, you remember what it’s like to be poor and get depressed again, so you tentatively look for new jobs, play on the playstation, drink and watch cricket all day… Or maybe that’s what’s wrong with me today.
Right – that the people who want to discover new music have so many ways to discover it… and some of them discover me. Long may it continue.

And there you have it. Now if you haven’t already followed the links above you really should pop over to the Seldom Party site and grab yourself some free tunes. - Tonight We Dance, Tomorrow We Cry


"Party On: an interview with Seldom Party's Will Kendrew."

The end of the "noughties" have come and gone and newspapers were shouting it from the rooftops: "the future is online" - especially for music. Everything and everyone is going mobile. iPhone sales are up. Social media is not only 'the new black', it's also environmentally friendly. And if you don't download your music or visit a music blog at least once every five minutes then you'd better drop out of the human race...

As if we didn't already know... Let's be honest, anyone with even a passing interest in music could have told you that. Music downloads are exponentially up and the princely marketing principle of 'word of mouth' is being slowly replaced by 'word online'... But hyperbole and media grind aside, it is a point worth noting and reflecting upon. Especially now. While digital music distribution is nothing new, it is reaching the start of its 'critical mass'. More importantly, it - and online networking - has been responsible for an incredibly exciting resurgence in DIY/independent music culture, whereby the means of production is well and truly in the hands of ‘the artist’. Wave 'bye bye' to the record companies; say hello to artist-run websites and music blogs.

Will Kendrew (right) is a Territory musician who has embraced this model of music production and distribution. Like many artists he can only afford to make music part-time. Seldom Party is his music blog. It not only motivates him to keep producing music, it is also a stage from which he 'performs'. And publishes drawings and musings.. Being based in the Central Australian community of Yuendumu – 293 kms north west of Alice Springs - it also helps him tackle the geographical isolation that so often plagues NT musicians, allowing him to stay in touch with music culture everywhere else too.

Look up 'glib' in the dictionary and you might just find a picture of Will's grinning face next to it... In his mid-20s he is equally comfortable embracing his inner geek as he is spilling the beans on his 'brief' career playing with several bands overseas. Says Will, "My musical background involves [mainly] playing bass in the London-based post-rock band, They Don't Sleep for three years... Before that I played a lot of acoustic stuff, put on music nights and released a couple of friends-based compilation CDs." (He was also one of the twelve musicians who attended last year's Alice Springs Songwriters Retreat held by Music NT). It's also pretty evident that Will has thought in depth about his music blog and its purpose. In a very entertaining way.

There is method to his madness... While it's still in its early days, Will gives excellent insight into how his Seldom Party music blog might one day turn his 'night job' (as a part-time musician) into a day job (full-time professional musician).

While it may - or may not happen - he's going to give it his best shot. And have fun trying. Music NT spoke to Will Kendrew about his blog. And other stuff. Party on...

Music NT: How did you come to be in the NT? And how long have you been here?
Will Kendrew: I am 26, have been in the NT for a year-and-a-half, and I came here via Hong Kong and Melbourne in reaction to the grime and depression of London, and a job advertising the desert.

MuNT: What bands have you played in, including NT bands.
WK: I toured the UK numerous times playing bass, over-partying, oft-bleeding and under-sleeping in the post rock outfit, They Don’t Sleep. Some of our music is still available on an ugly image-broken Myspace. Before that I mainly played acoustic and alone (Fourteen Birds), except for one brief foray into a big alt. rock/pop band, which I liked but embarrassed me (The Girl With the Electric Hand).

I have not yet been lucky enough to play with an NT band, although I’ve been meaning to start something up between the talented vocalists out here and my electronic offerings.

MuNT: Do you collaborate with other NT musicians? If so, who and how..
WK: The closest I have gotten is recording in the studio with the Warlpiri men here in Yuendumu, jamming at the Alice Springs Songwriter’s Retreat at the Ross River Homestead, or in back gardens, riverbeds and the Water Tank in Alice Springs.

MuNT: Why did you start your Seldom Party blog?
WK: 1) I wanted a platform to display myself.
2) While broadening my spreadsheet horizons I read a quote by Vince Lombardi, “respected American football coach” in the weekly ‘Excel Addict’ newsletter: “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.”
3) I finished my computing for the day and set about finally writing, recording and releasing some of the ideas from my head.

MuNT: Do you have any particular ambitions for the blog?
WK: I like the idea - and the eventuality - of people listening to my songs… I had a conversation at the Australasian World Music Expo in Melbourne (November 2009) on a rainy Swanston Street with a - bar the meter long rat-tail - hairless man about people liking me. He said, “It’s alright to like yourself but it’s better to have 14 million others liking you”. I don’t know if I agree with him entirely but I get his point.

MuNT: Where did you get the name ‘Seldom Party’ from? Does it mean anything in particular?
WK: It is pretty much a direct take on the lack of party action one has available to them living in the desert. It came about through reading something boring though. I can’t remember what it was but a sentence something along the lines of… “She was seldom party to the eating of the chicken”. The two words struck me as complementary, and I liked them so much out of context that they became my blog name.

MuNT: How do you go about making and recording your music?
WK: This batch originated from playing with my loop pedal until it started sounding good. Though there are few opportunities to play live nearby I’ve been trying to write songs that are interesting to watch as well as listen to, hence the sometimes unusual song structures.

I live alone and my living room is (literally) living proof. I record in there and have spent the last year of pay days on ebay adding mics, plug ins, soundcards, pre-amps, computer(s), a (failed attempt at a) reel-o-reel, etc. I am happy with it at last… except perhaps for that sultry ribbon mic I spied last week…

MuNT: You post a lot of your songs online – do you also have an outlet to perform them live? Do you enjoy performing live and have a preference between live and recording?
WK: I love playing live, or at least I used to. Especially playing bass and occasionally screaming, as it was easier to lose myself. Saying that it’s easy to get lost in loops also, hence the songs that go on a bit at the end.

Since leaving England I have played a handful of gigs to a handful of people at dingy bars in Hong Kong, and more recently the Sunday open mic at the Watertank in Alice Springs. Seemingly a small event, but I haven’t felt nerves like that since worrying about wetting myself during school assemblies!
I couldn’t say to which I had a preference (live or on record, not wet or dry). I like both forms of performance. Recording is easier on the sweat glands. Live is better for instant ego boost gratification.

My songs are online to compensate for the lack of performance I suppose. But also, as I want more people to hear me, I don’t think they should pay for the ‘privilege’, at least not until I have a properly recorded and mastered product to wave about.

MuNT: Do you see the net as a ‘legitimate’ platform or ‘stage’ or end point for music? As in, people listening online to your work has as much validity as someone buying a CD and listening to it on their car, on their stereo, or going to see you live? Do you this is the future of music?
WK: It’s a legitimate end point in my house. I suppose its level of validity is down to the variety of speakers they have connected to their computer.
And there are ipods. I’m relatively new to ipods as at first I didn’t like the way they encouraged skipping and stopped people from listening to whole albums. I love my ipod now though. Maybe I’ve just developed more self-control. And podcasts - what a delight!

I suppose the CD - though an inconvenient way to store digital media - is still the most popular way to listen to/buy music, and there will be room for both mp3s and CDs for a long while to come.

Someone coming to see you live is good. Someone coming to see you live lots of times is better. For these events playing live is a prerequisite, and something I have to work on.

The main downside of live music is that you can’t lie down in bed and listen to it, or listen on demand.

MuNT: What do you like about keeping a blog? What freedom does it give you?
WK: Not worrying so much about whether a song is ‘finished’. The potential for help and ideas from visitors, and thus (eventually), a more interactive setting… It’s also an attractive setting for mp3, and there is less emphasis on songs having to sound ‘similar’. It’s early days yet though. Expect more electronic sounds and mouth trumpets in the near future.

MuNT: How does making music, being an artist and keeping the blog fit into your life? Is it a priority? And do you have a particular philosophy behind what you do?
WK: For me making music/being an artist comes and goes. When it comes I am happy. When it goes I am not. I hope that blogging my music will sustain the coming. So I suppose my philosophy would be “Joy”.

MuNT: Do you have a ‘day job’?
WK: I’ve been Station Coordinator at PAW Media/Warlpiri Media (Bush Mechanics et al) in Yuendumu for the past year and a half. When I’m not playing with spreadsheets I hang out in the studio helping with the latest Desert Reggae, Gospel, Pop, etc. This year we released Yapa Beats (see pic below), which you can hear a bit of here.

When I’m not doing that I help out with radio, film and television.

Today is another 40°+er and it’s too hot to think straight. This afternoon I’m going over to the school to help with the sound while Father Christmas comes to town.

MuNT: Are you hoping to make music a full-time profession?
WK: Yes and no…

“Yes”, because whatever I do, it always comes back to making music. I remember John Parrott (rotund ex-snooker professional) saying that having stopped playing he still wrote ‘snooker player’ on his passport. I think whatever I end up doing I’ll still write ‘musician’ on my passport.

“No”, because when music has been my profession or the subject of my studies I don’t make it for fun anymore, and it becomes less of a release. I’ve never been able to find that release elsewhere. I suppose that’s where drug abuse and petty crime come in handy…

MuNT: Who inspires you – and which NT bands and musicians inspire you?
WK: (British 'folktronica' musician) Richard Youngs – food critic by day, musician by night. I don’t know if that first bit is true as I can’t find any proof online. It’s true in my head though as I have believed that without question for many years and am not ready for my hopes to be dashed. The second bit is definitely true though - he’s a prolific, glorious, heartfelt and intriguing one at that. I just bought a couple of his newer cds on iTunes. I didn’t see if (song) 'Sapphie' was on iTunes or not, but if it is, buy it. Another potential rumour but 'Sapphie' was written about the death of a much loved dog. True or not, it conveys the pain of such an event with precision.

NT-wise, everyone I met at Alice Springs Songwriters Retreat at Ross River, and the desert reggae bands I work with inspire me. In particular Desert Mulga [who were] recently on the 'Sampson and Delilah' [film] soundtrack. Their outrageous synth lines and desert rhythms inspired the music for ‘Your Love Is Dead’.

MuNT: You also draw in addition to making music.. Can you give us a little bit of insight into your process – ie which comes first, the drawing or the song?! And how much of your day goes into the blog, writing, drawing, making music.
WK: Nearly always the song. Occasionally an image, story or dream comes first, like with ‘Gypsy Thief’. Most of the drawings are phone doodles at work, made to look somewhat better on Photoshop. I’ve always felt an awkward artist, growing up around so many talented ones. I enjoy drawing; I just don’t take it too seriously.

With regards to my day, if I don’t have a new Playstation game to get in the way of life I play my guitar after work. When something starts to sound good I’ll record it, doodle the next day while listening to the levels again, make a few changes and then blog it. I haven’t really developed a routine yet. Sometimes it takes ages. Sometimes it’s done in an instant. This week there are three songs on the cusp of release. Mainly it’s being unhappy with the lyrics that holds me back.

MuNT: Which music blogs do you visit?
WK: Mine, mostly. Before mine, none really. Since mine, one of note has been Cassette Culture – firstly for a fine remix of Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’.

Mine’s better though. You should all visit mine. Regularly.

MuNT: Using your blog as a personal exhibition space, does it help overcome that kind of isolation that many NT artists often talk about? The geographical isolation they feel from the rest of the country or world even?
WK: It does, partially. I still feel a million miles away from a relevant music scene. I think this is where Music NT shines - a music community and network for the geographically challenged.

Geeking it up on the webstats to see listeners from all corners of the earth does give you a certain buzz that breaks through the isolation. A feeling you definitely don’t get from lonesome bedroom jamming, nor from playing to a handful of people in Alice, though they’re usually from all corners also.

MuNT: Where do you want to take your music? Will you perform it, record an album etc – take that route – or do you think you’ll stick with the blog for a while, making songs and podcasting as you go?
WK: Here are my current thoughts:

Blog till 15-20 songs are up. Get visitors to tell me their favourites and use the most popular 10 or so to form an album. Remix/re-record and master said 10 songs and release as a standard CD/itunes purchase.

I’d love to perform live. If anyone has a stage for me, let me know :D

MuNT: Name five people you’d like to invite to a ‘Seldom Party’…
WK: 1) Megan Spencer (Ed - Flattery will get you everywhere Will! Count me in!)
2) A random, but interested industry bigwig.
3) Bjork, (smitten since I first saw Debut’s cover)
4) Richard Youngs
5) The Excel Addict

Drawings by Will Kendrew. Photos by Gabrielle Brady, Miranda Stokes and
Dani Yannoulis. Visit Will Kendrew's fantastic Seldom Party blog. - Music NT


"Seldom Party Your Love Is Dead"

Seldom Party is an insight into the world of Will Kendrew, resident of NT, Australia.

'Your Love Is Dead' is one in a series of "the music and musings of a withdrawn man", which is about music in a very raw and artistic form.

You can't listen to this song in isolation, you need to experience it as intended on the Seldom Party website, where you get art and commentary on every song that is available on the page.

As well as a melodic verse and chorus, this song takes on an entirely different life once the vocals end as an art-rock instrumental.

Of course, this is a long way off-the-wall and will never get widespread commercial success, but the pure unrestrained freedom of this song combined with some quality melodies and counter-melodies is refreshing. - The-Mag


Discography

Debut release, SINATRA, out 13.05.11

two tracks streamable at http://seldomparty.com/sinatra

Raise Your Hand and My Literary Kingdom have garnered airplay on TripleJ, ABC Radio National and BBC Introducing

more music at www.seldomparty.com

Photos

Bio

The music and musings of Will Kendrew, who, after seven
years in London, looked for something more adventurous.
After a few months growing a beard and playing music in Hong Kong,
remote media in the Aboriginal community of Yuendumu beckoned.
When not helping others make music, he made his own -
the haunting melodramatic folk of Seldom Party.
SINATRA, Seldom Party’s first release, is out Friday 13th May 2011.
Having received recent airplay on triplej, ABC Radio National,
BBC Introducing, LA’s Eclectic Bliss, and various local stations
in Alice Springs blogs are beginning to take note, with the new
reviews and interviews materialising helping to take the music of
Seldom Party further from it’s origins in the desert.

“Sinatra had his time, some time! some time!
Let’s dance until we die - dissolve into the night,
come fly with me and stay there a matter of hours.”

www.seldomparty.com
www.myspace.com/seldomparty