Nostalgic. Happiness tinged with loss. Misery in a major key.*
That’s Polographia, the duo of Moktar Sharouny and Daniel John Stapleton. Combine this with the eclectic yet smooth-as-fark vocals of Winston Surfshirt, and you have the newest Aussie collaborative project dripping into your earholes in the light of a neon sunset. Or a European summer, where Winston (Brett Ramson) says was the perfect place to listen to the back-and-forth working mixes of Pinned Upon, the debut single of POLOSHIRT.
But as much as this hard-hitting music journalism is desired and devoured by the modern Australian, the people really want to know the favourite tunes (tunas?) of Winston’s dog Pops, a pug-cavalier cross with a feature on his album, and if she comes on tour trained to do the feature live.
“I wish I could bring her!” says Winston. “Probably goes through my mind once a day. Her ears are too good though, I’d need to make her some dog headphones.
“She’s obsessed with humans though and sometimes gets too excited and does a lil’ wee, so I’m not sure she’d be able to contain her excitement.”
I’m in good company because I couldn’t contain myself in much the same way when I first heard POLOSHIRT. The single is, as to be expected, just pure smooth romantic grooves (don’t worry, Pops’ Top Tunas coming later).
“It’s all Polo on the music,” explains Winston. “They have a very distinct feeling in their music – it all fits together so perfectly, it’s kind of melancholy and happy at the same time. I find it really easy to write over it.”
“I tend to just hit up Winston with an instrumental,” says Mok, “and 90% of the time he will send vocals back that day! I think we work really well together.”
It’s creamy and it’s dreamy, a stark juxtaposition to the national and international conversations it was released right in the midst of; horrific gender violence and responsibilities especially within the entertainment and music industries.
Artists don’t necessarily have to be political or stand for cultural touch points. Or do they? Sometimes, all you want is a heartthrob of a track that leads your soul to the dancefloor after a hard day of dealing with the bullshit of life, love, inequality, violence and general social fuckery.
“It’s definitely a topic that should never be swept under the rug,” says Mok. “I think it’s really important to address these issues, especially given most men don’t seem to realise how tough it is for women and non-binary people.
“I absolutely love Stella Donnelly and everything she stands for. I think she’s a great example of someone who’s pushing the right message. It’s amazing to see a lot of women playing great music in Australia with a real message.”
POLOSHIRT is that heartthrob antidote, all about love lost along the pastel boardwalks of time.
“We were just doing it for fun,” said Winston. “We enjoy making music together. Now it’s ended up at a point where it’s developed enough for us to release something collectively.”
This is not the trio’s first venture together, with Mok and Daniel having recorded Sly with Winston as a feature. It seems like a long time bubbling, describing the joint project as the culmination of years of friendship and late night studio blazes. How did they meet? Was Sly the origins of POLOSHIRT? Love at first sight?
“Yeah I met Mok after playing a little festival a friend of mine was putting on called Junkyard Festival,” says Winston. “He was keen to get me on a tune. After three months in London, I was back playing a show in Newtown. I think he only realised we were playing while we were already playing and didn’t get there in time. We chatted after and teed up a session and got Sly out of it. Was the first feature I’d done and really helped start me off.”
How do people make music? That question has always fascinated me. Recording equipment, synthesizers, mixing desks, there’s no choice but to just love it all, the whole process.
“I have a recording space at REC Studios [Sydney] where most of POLOSHIRT was created,” says Mok. “The Moogs have gotta be some of my faves – it’s ridiculous how many sounds you can get out of that piece of hardware! I’ve been using a lot of Arturia plugins for synths I wish I had like Jupiters.”
And now: Pop’s Top Tunas. I’m not sure how Winston knows these for sure, whether he sees Pops get down and dirty to these tracks specifically or if she can secretly talk human.
“These are her favourite songs,” says Winston, cheeky as ever:
- Passing Me By – Pharcyde
- Drop it Like it’s Hot – Snoop
- Phatas – Bustlip
Either way, there’s plenty of musical taste in the household.
Finally, as most highly esteemed and self-respecting music journalists do, I asked my mates to write some questions for me.
Dr. Harrison Boyd, my lumberjack-sex-looking jumbo-jet-flying party compatriot, who attended Splendour in the Grass with me last year, sent me this:
“I’m still intrigued by when we ran into Winston at Splendour in the line for Mary’s burgers trying to help him find his way home, how that night turned out for him. He had his phone and we were trying to find out where the joint he was staying was. He wouldn’t remember but it was hilarious.”
Were you ok Winston?
“This. Does not. Compute.
“It’s starting to come back to me! How embarrassing!
“I remember walking that looooong way back to get a taxi. Can’t remember much else. Burger was banging though! And thank you for being concerned! I’m still here, so we good.”
*Straight from their bio – I couldn’t describe them better than that beautiful line.
Listen Out Dates
Saturday, 22nd September
Sunday, 23rd September
Saturday, 29th September
Sunday, 30th September