There’s a rumble coming from up north and it’s starting to spread. With a strong beat, a wail and a sick solo, Elko Fields are coming in fast and looking to roar into your ears.
I meet lead singer, Kella Vee, in the front bar of Frankie’s Pizza By The Slice on Hunter Street in Sydney’s CBD. It’s a venue well known for supporting hard-hitting rock bands and I admittedly wasn’t sure how the hardened rock fans of Frankie’s would take a duo from north of the border.
Starting out playing cover shows in her hometown of Cairns, Kella would play acoustically, changing up tracks to her own style as well as adding in her own along the way. With the minimal venues in Cairns she decided to make her way to Brisbane and pursue music with a new idea in mind.
Kella speaks fondly of her home town and also her rock beginnings. “My dad is a musician. He taught me everything I know on guitar. He’s a rocker from the ’70s. Back then, covers were huge. He played in about four different bands in North QLD, Brisbane and Ipswich. I’m trained by ear because I’ve had that influence from my dad. Since the age of five he was playing guitar to me and showing me everything I know.”
Bass guitar was actually Kella’s first instrument as her dad attempted to form a family band. “My brother’s a drummer and we had a little family band. My dad was on lead guitar and we played all over Cairns.” Not a bad way to start your musical career. She excitedly brings up the fact that Elko Fields will be supporting Butterfingers in a hometown show on 9 September. “Finally I get to take my original music back. All my family and friends that came to every cover show, every weekend have already all bought their tickets!”
Enter the drummer. Although starting out with drummer Tomas Stephenson, Kella has now combined with the hugely talented drummer from The Medics, Jindhu Lawrie, who, in a happy coincidence, is also from Cairns. “He’s one of those drummers who can listen to something once and he’s got it from there. I want him to take it wherever he wants it to go.”
Somehow, despite being from the same town and the same age, the two didn’t meet back then. “It’s amazing that we didn’t cross paths earlier. We talked about the venues of where we played at and the hangouts we were at and we realised we’d been to the same shows and never met!”
Rock duos seem to be back in fashion again, especially with the big sound of Royal Blood and Japandroids, but also with new local bands like DZ Deathrays and Hockey Dad. “I really try to focus on the riffs when we play, but travelling as a two-piece is great. I’m only responsible for one other person and gear at the airport is so simple!”
Elko Fields released their debut self-titled EP late in 2016 and it contains six tracks of power-riff rock ranging from the slow and murky in Never Slow Down to the rollicking blues-infused Tilted Sally all played with a fuzzy mix of distortion.
We have a laugh about Kella’s accent. Despite moving within the same state from Cairns to Brisbane, she often gets asked about her voice, surprising many that’s she’s just from up north. There’s also a decided difference between her speaking and singing voice. “I get told that I sound like Gwen Stefani!” She laughs it off. “Don’t promote that!”
Elko Fields have also been blessed by Queensland rock royalty in the form of Powderfinger’s guitarist Ian Haug. He not only fell in love with the band on first listen but has since produced their EP and helps guide them along the slippery musical highway. “When we played our first gig at The Zoo we sent some of the footage to some labels. Ian, working at Airlock Studios, told us we had to come out and meet him. It’s really nice to work with someone that’s so passionate about up and coming musos. He’s still got that buzz and that life for music. He gives us the freedom to do whatever we want and to drive it. We’ve got that support and he shares his experiences. That’s priceless.”
When the tour’s finished, the pair will be working on the next EP to help progress and develop their sound before eventually tackling an album, but it’s worth catching them at a rock venue near you soon for this live show.
Tonight, they blew a healthy Frankie’s crowd away with a solid stage show. Kella was in great form, her rock voice soaring through, despite coming off a cold and Jindhu’s drumming is precise, passionate and pulsing.
May rock duos live on!