TOTARA JACK
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TOTARA JACK

Barton, Canberra, Australia | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Barton, Canberra, Australia | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Alternative Art Rock

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Press


""4/5 – Nailed it.""

"The production on this never misses a step with supple textures and tweaks gracing the headphones.” - Dave Ruby Howe, triple j


""4/5 – Wow, this is so beautiful and reverential.""

"That violin cuts a swathe through my heart.” - Dom Alessio, triple j


"Interview"

I was minding my own business, having a great time playing guitar and touring around Australia in bands with my friends, when my life took a left turn and I found myself in India. After I got over the culture shock and the intensity of life among a billion people, I started travelling around and India slowly began to blow my mind. Along the way I made my first songs foe a solo project – Totara Jack. The name came from my grandmother’s great-grandfather who lived in my home country of New Zealand, 160 years ago.

What’s your earliest memory of performing and who inspired you to start?

My Dad is one of those guitarists who starts playing towards the end of a party if an instrument is lying around. He somehow knows the chords to every cheesy 60s pop tune. Once he fires up it’s impossible not to sing along. Help me Rhonda!! As a young child I was hooked. I had to learn guitar. I took a few lessons and quickly realised that playing music is pretty addictive. And there’s something spooky cool about sitting around with friends, playing acoustic guitar and singing together. A real analog moment in our hyper digital worlds.

You must answer this question honestly or we steal your rider. What and where was the first gig you went to?

Hands off the rider! The truth is it was Eric Clapton’s Journeyman tour November 1990, Auckland Supertop. This is when he was still rocking out with an electric band before the cheesy MTV unplugged stuff. He played “Sunshine Of Your Love” and it melted my young brain. What happened to EC? Cream was one of the greatest bands ever. Full stop.

‘Fess up. What records have you stolen from your parent’s record collection and why?

Fred Dagg’s Greatest Hits. My Dad has this record from 1975 by comedian John Clarke (he now does Clarke and Dawe on the 7:30 report). It’s a comedy record based on a gumboot-wearing farmer. Ooooh yeah. Pre-empted the characters in Footrot Flats by years. Hmmm mm. This record is still one of the biggest selling ever in New Zealand. Yep.

What’s on heavy rotation on your iPod right now?

I’m loving the new Son Lux record “Lanterns”. I’m amazed at how he layers sounds together; deep heavy electronica with intricate classical music arrangements. Two new Sarah Blasko remixes just came out, one by PVT and one by Seekae. Both are heavy. And great to hear her voice in these different contexts.

How do you find new music?

I sit in my living room in New Delhi and use a cheap projector to put NPR Tiny Desk Concerts on the wall. The All Songs Considered podcast is great too. On Thursdays here in Delhi I can head down to a local 500 year old Sufi shrine and hear an amazing family of Qawwali singers. This is how I find old music.

Do you have any particular ritual before you go on stage, or even a lucky charm you take with you?

I play with heaps of guitar pedals, but never use a pedal board. I always choose to set up each pedal one at a time. Plug them all in. There’s something about the ritual of slowly building a performance environment like that, helps me get into the space. My own little architecture. And I chug two quick beers before walking out.

If you could curate your own festival, where would it be, who would be on the bill, how many people would you let in and what features would it have (attractions/food/bars etc)?

My mate Bertie Blackman came over to India a few weeks ago and we went on adventures together. We were chatting one night over a beer about a great festival idea she has (I hope you don’t mind me telling them this Blacky!). It’s an idea for a music festival where the whole site is an art installation. It’d be a boutique music festival set out of town and it would be curated with an amazing visual art focus. Really trippy. I’d love to see that!

*Sorry Blacky if I blabbed about your idea. I’m sure no-one at Tone Deaf will pinch it, and if they do, we know where to find them!

Where we can see you play next, what releases do you have available and where can we get them? [Feel include links, dates, album titles etc.]

I finally get back from India after Xmas and I’m gonna play a tiny secret one-off show in Melbourne later in January. It’ll be my first ever gig as Totara Jack. I’ve just now released my first two songs ‘Supercolliders’ and ‘Needle’. Both have film clips I’ve made here in Delhi up on YouTube. Check em out! - Tone Deaf


"Supercolliders video"

One of Sydney’s premier session musicians, Cameron Deyell hasn’t struck out on his own as an artist until now, instead spending his time working with the likes of Katie Noonan & The Captains, Lior, Bertie Blackman, Sia, Nik Zinner [Yeah Yeah Yeahs], and Japan Australia Jazz Orchestra.

It took spending some quality time in India to inspire him to work on his own material. He got in touch with his buddy, producer Lachlan Carrick [Goyte, Lior]. In Deyell’s words, “I was always terrified of pressing send on those emails. It was such a strange and new experience for me, writing and recording these songs all by myself, not knowing whether any of it was any good at all. For me, I had defined myself by the kind of music I was making back in Australia, and with whom I was making it. All alone in India, I had to build a whole world of sounds myself.” In May 2012 a third friend Laurenz Pike [PVT, Jack Ladder] headed over to develop the live drum tracks and the last of the songwriting was complete.

Taking on the nickname of a long-lost kiwi relative, Totara Jack, this is his first single, with it’s story of a couple breaking up, despite being still in love. Musically it picks up on a variety of influences, with lo-fi drums and synths meeting power pop overtones. The clip, featuring Bollywood actress Pallavi Sharda, features scenes reminiscent of India’s spring Holi festival, where multi-coloured powder is thrown all up in the place, spawning several camera adverts. Pretty cool stuff, enjoy… - The Orange Press


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

Now living in New York and playing with Streets Of Laredo, Cameron spent the last 3 years in India building a solo project called Totara Jack.

Cameron Deyell had no burning desire to move to India. Playing guitar in, recording and touring with other artists bands and musical projects including Katie Noonan & The Captains, Lior, Bertie Blackman, Sia, Nik Zinner [Yeah Yeah Yeahs], Japan Australia Jazz Orchestra Deyell was transplanted from his comfort zone to New Delhi at the behest of his wife, the Cultural Diplomat behind OzFest, the biggest Australian cultural festival in India.


With Mrs Deyell out staging a massive festival across 18 cities and four months [showcasing Aussie faves from Gotye to Gurrumul, Brett Lee to Masterchef, Romance Was Born to Karnivool] Cameron was dealt the chance to take a breath and dive into his own world, and discover his own sound. Sitting by himself in a tiny studio, with birdsong wafting through the window, guitar on knee, far from home and without the security blanket of his musical peers, he found himself with a scary scenario: a black canvas and no idea what to do with it. 


Dodgy little demos started to materialise over the course of the next two years, and Cameron tentatively emailed them to his good buddy, producer Lachlan Carrick [Goyte, Lior]. In Deyells words, I was always terrified of pressing send on those emails. It was such a strange and new experience for me, writing and recording these songs all by myself, not knowing whether any of it was any good at all. For me, I had defined myself by the kind of music I was making back in Australia, and with whom I was making it. All alone in India, I had to build a whole world of sounds myself.


In mid-2011 Lachlan left Australia for his own Indian adventure, meeting up with Cameron and launching into pre-production of an EP, the upcoming Rescue Flight, and scouring New Delhi for harmoniums, toy keyboards and percussion. Some songs were scrapped, new ones were written and in May 2012 a third friend Laurenz Pike [PVT, Jack Ladder] headed over to develop the live drum tracks and the last of the songwriting was complete.


First single, Supercolliders - written on a trip to New York, about a couple breaking up, when they were clearly in love - starts with a dinky iPhone loop and $5 Casiotone keyboard, before busting into a guitar riff and a Motown-y drumline. The reverb and space in the chorus has inspired a slow motion coloured-powder music video featuring up-and-coming actress Pallavi Sharda, star of huge new Bollywood flick Besharam who, in yet another neat twist of serendipity, also hails from Melbourne, and whose introduction to Cameron was another coup of his wifes involvement in OzFest. 


When at last Cameron was happy with his EP selections, it was simply left to record, and consider a name under which to release the music. While back in Australia committing the venture to tape, Cameron spent evenings discussing his familys genealogy with his grandmother, who was visiting from New Zealand. They discovered an ancestor (his grandmothers great-grandfather no less) so enamoured with his new found home on the Land Of The Long White Cloud that the other migrants teased him about going native, nicknaming him 'Totara Jack' after the beautifully straight, tall, hardy trees that Maori used for years in their carving and construction. 


Appropriating the nickname for the first suite of original music he had created himself, Cameron was ready to release Totara Jacks music to an appreciative audience. Able to hold up the songs as a memento of his Indian experience, Cameron is proud to look in the mirror of Totara Jack and say; finally, Thats me.

Band Members