Words by Marc Prodanovic & interview by Gurvin Dhillon
He is no stranger for making trips down under, and British producer Tourist is coming back for more this week.
After hosting two intimate concerts in Australia last year, he’s back with more music and more shows to give us warmth with his soothing sounds for the Laneway Festival tour and sideshows.
He’s already kicked off his run of shows with Laneway Singapore over the weekend, but now he’s on our shores for some exclusive sideshows in Sydney & Melbourne if you aren’t catching him at Laneway. We spoke with William last week to get some insight as to what to expect from his coming shows.
Stoney Roads: Hows your morning going for you over in London?
Tourist: Good but very cold, so I’m looking forward to being in your country in a week.
SR: Mateee, you’d be happy with the weather once you finally come over again. How was the Christmas and New Year period for you?
T: It was good mate, really good. You know, just the usual kinda family things hanging out in London.
SR: You’re pretty lucky not to have any shows around that time of year then.
T: I’ve actually had some shows around Christmas before, and it was not the one. I’ve played shows and all in Australia for New years day and stuff in Australia, so I’ve had to get on flights on New Years Eve and things but its always a difficult one really but there are bigger problems in the world.
SR: Firstly congratulations on dropping your album ‘U’ last year. What was the transition in a writer’s point of view, from making all the EP’s to a full-length album?
T: I think I had the luxury with the album to have time to write and time in the album in a way. Because In a record you’ve got more than 30 minutes to play with, your album could be an hour long if you wanted it to be. So I think with luxury I was really used to was time and I wasn’t really on a schedule so I had the luxury of being creative and I think that kinda struck me slightly, as I had the ability to sit in my studio and write for as long as I wanted to, so um I think that was strange, so I think you have to keep people a lot more interested with an album than an EP. Because time is of the essence really and um I think the part of writing an album and doing ‘what do I wanna write an album about’ not driving straight through it, I had the luxury of conceptualising it.
SR: With ‘U’ based off your past relationship, which songs did you end up using the voice memo of your ex in?
T: Umm quite a lot of them actually, there’s the track called U, Waves, My Love some other ones. It’s weird, I feel quite detached from the album, because I’ve been writing new stuff but it’s fun because we keep talking about it again but yeah it featured pretty heavily in the record.
SR: When your current girlfriend at the moment listened to the album, what did she have to say when you added in your ex girlfriends voice memos?
T: Ahahaha that’s a very good question, I think she was pretty gracious. She wasn’t in my life at that point but she’s not really one to care, I’m sure she’s not too bothered about my music that much, she’s really cooler than I am, she loves rock and roll.
SR: I remember reading that you want people to feel ‘together’ and ‘happy’ via your music, but it comes across that way because of a dark, emotional and depressed time.
T: I’m not sure, I’m not sure if my ambition is to depress people, I mean there’s nothing wrong in being depressed it’s a very normal mental state especially human beings living in cities but that’s a normal thing for humans to do, I really think. I mean there’s nothing wrong in being depressed but I’m not sure if that’s my goal with writing music, I think usually perhaps the reason I got into the studio in the first place is the incredible joy it brought me at an age where I could understand why and I think that’s still probably my goal so yeah, I’m still discovering what its all about really haha, I don’t really know my goal is not to depress or upset people it might be a sad topic but it is definitely not a new topic.
People talk about this stuff all the time but I thought I had a new take on it with the sounds I could use to express it.
SR: I know just earlier you said talking about ‘U’ is a bit weird because you’re making so much new music at the moment, so what is on the horizon. Do you have a new EP or Album in the works?
T: Yeah yeah yeah I do. I think I will have finished it by this afternoon.
SR: Will people at Laneway Festival get a chance to hear songs off this new EP?
T: Hahahah nah they wont. You know it has to be mixed and mastered and has to have a plan there’s a massively boring industry that surrounds all that I do so they have to accept what I’m doing. But I’m definitely driven, that’s the whole point of it for me, I love it.
SR: Talking about the industry you’re surrounded by, do you feel since you’ve won a Grammy that’s the reason why projects might take longer to release?
T: Ahhh umm nah I haven’t really found that, I think that the side effects of winning a Grammy, so to speak, is not that music takes longer to release the side effects are that people think it matters.
SR: Since you’ve won a Grammy, what is the next goal in your musical career and in life?
T: I don’t know really, my real kinda north star, I just have to write music that makes me feel something I didn’t feel before so I’m not sure an accolade really does that and I think my real, my absolute, would for me to be a musician this time next year that’s how I think of it, that would be my dream just to continue to do what I do its such a privilege and um I love the process of creation and the process of making something new so for me the new win or new goal is to be allowed to go into my second bed room Haha, and write music because that’s all I care about genuinely, like touring is fun but for me its about that little spark that happened in the studio when I created something I didn’t think I would or I didn’t think I’d get there. For me that’s the real joy, that’s the magnitude in the universe. For me that’s the most important thing and has been since I was 4-years-old, so I’d love to keep doing that.
SR: You say you love working in your second bedroom to work on music, and you’ve done countless shows around the world lately. When you have a chance to work on new material, do you like to work on the road?
T: I like a routine. I understand someone like Diplo would have to work from the road because he is a touring guy but I don’t feel typically inspired in the back of a van, plane or hotel but that’s just me. I think creativity, you don’t have to treat it like its too precious, I think you don’t have to like flower it with water I think ultimate if you need to be creative you can be, and um I do really enjoy writing from my studio in my flat because it’s a nice thing when I can have coffee and tea when I need it.
SR: Have you every written anything on the road?
T: Ohh yah yah a lot of my new music kinda started writing on a plane or something, its just a different space I think, its interesting how it forms the final thing but um yah I think a lot of the music I’ve worked on over the last few months have been started in different places.
SR: I know I’m going back to ‘U’ again here , but what were 3 things you wanted people to take away from it?
T: Ahhhh take away, I don’t know really that’s not up to me to decide really, the work is there and if it speaks to someone then that’s cool, but I cant. I think it’s kinda dangerous of me to start thinking of how people should feel. I don’t know really and this is an interesting question because it boils down to the person. The 3 things might be they hate it, it brings them joy or they don’t care. And I sound like I’m unsure because I probably am. It’s a good question and I don’t know if the story I wrote speaks to them and its always a nice feeling when the music you create speaks to them and its always a nice feeling done via creating.
SR: Coming forth from big achievements, you’ve been added to the Coachella line up once again this year, is there any surprises you’ve got planned for it this year?
T: I think it will be nice to play Coachella now that I have an album out, because the first time I played I played at 1pm or something and no one knew who I was and no one knows who I am now I don’t have the illusion that I’m famous now but it will be nice to play Coachella when there’s at least more than 5 people in the crowd that know who I am but it’s a real privilege.
SR: Considering you toured Australia last year thanks to BBE and your back again for Laneway this year, what’s one artist on the line up you cant wait to see, and which artist would you like to work with?
T: Tame Impala. I’d like to work with Kevin Parker, but same goes with Whitney you know the 2 dudes from Chicago, I really really like them they make amazing music. They’ve played Coachella as well there so good its kind of an 60’s 70’s kinda song writing feels. They are really talented boys
SR: I haven’t heard of Whitney but if you’re putting me onto them I’ll check them out. If you could add one artist to the Laneway line up whom would it be?
T: Ahhhhh, probably David Bowie but he isn’t around anymore so probably Paul McCartney.
SR: Because you’ve got a great eye at spotting talent, you’ve worked with Lapsley and Kacy Hill how did you first start working with them, what was the initial first moments?
T: Kacy Hill … mmmm I’m not sure if I remember. I genuinely don’t remember how that happened. I think I was sent some music of hers and someone was like did you wanna work with her while you’re in LA and make some music. I didn’t expect to write the piece of music that we did when I went into the session I thought we were gonna make this boring broody cool you know tune, but on the second day it became evident that she wanted to do something ambitious which I thought was cool, and yeah I think it just came about so yeah
SR: Talking about those two artists, you’ve worked with Jimmy Napes for quite some time so how did you two meet?
T: Ahhh I met him because I knew his management and for a while they were talking about managing me ahmm, so they were like why don’t you see how Jimmy works, and we did patterns and then he did stay with me so I met him in about 2013 so it would be like what 4 years ago now.
SR: That’s some time ago now meeting Jimmy, not so long ago just last year you released a couple of remixes. Which remix of yours was your favourite?
T: I don’t know, I like the Christine and the Queen’s one because that was the most unexpected one by me at least which I’m pleased with.
SR: If you could make a remix of either Aaliyah, Sade or Beyonce who would you remix?
T: Oooooh, that’s a good question, Aaliyah I liked, I actually sampled her like 5-years-ago for a song that I did so yeah, I kinda got a soft spot for Aaliyah. I think Beyoncé is our Aaliyah, she’s that girl.
SR: Before we wrap this up, what was one main advice you took away from working with Diplo that you still apply day to day in your working process?
T: I admire him massively, people think he’s a bit of a bro or a dude but he’s not like that he’s a very smart and cultured person. He understands music in the way that I don’t even know he listens to so much to everything. Every type of music and I admire that so much his attitude in being open and that’s summed up in Major Lazer, because they can play a show in Costa Rica or to Osaka they are genially a world group. The thing I like about Wes is his openness to music and his ability to be like just be with and make it work and that’s what I love because that’s where the art comes from.
You can catch Tourist at Laneway Festival which is touring around Australia from this weekend, or one of his sideshows. Check the dates below.
Wednesday, 25th January – Factory Theatre, Sydney
Tickets: Factory Theatre
Friday, 27th January – Corner Hotel
Thursday, 26th January Brisbane Showgrounds, Brisbane
Tickets: Laneway Festival
Saturday, 28th January Footscray Community Arts Centre And The River’s Edge, Melbourne
Tickets: Laneway Festival
Friday, 3rd February Hart’s Mill, Port Adelaide
Tickets: Laneway Festival
Saturday, 4th February Sydney College of the Arts, Sydney
Tickets: Laneway Festival
Sunday, 5th February Esplanade Reserve and West End, Fremantle
Tickets: Laneway Festival