With unique and gorgeous jazz-infused melodies and smokey low-fi-esque samples, to say that Slum Sociable‘s debut self-titled release has been keenly anticipated would be an understatement. The Melbourne-based duo have been making waves for some time now, with singles such as All Night getting huge attention worldwide.
On the eve of the release, I talked to Miller Upchurch about having three full-time jobs, mental health and the trials of recording.
“Sometimes doing take after take after take… it was very difficult pumping out that kind of stuff,” he muses. “It was a small little room and we were all pretty much touching the whole entire time; listening to a snare in this tiny little hot room for four hours… just that constant, constant tweaking of one tiny sound. Really fine-tuning things like that gave us that new appreciation [for the record].”
I thought that the snare he referred was the rich, woody one from the album’s forerunner Castle, but apparently, that song was unique in its creation.
“Castle is an exception of the album where those songs were laid down with Rich Cooper, who we recorded with in London, so he had already done the drums when we got there. He has his own methods of recording drums and obviously they sound sick! Then we sent them back to Russ [Caucus] who recorded the entirety of our album. Castle came together in the three days in London that we had to work with Rich… That was more of a spur of the moment sort of start, and we dived into it afterwards.”
In previous interviews with Rolling Stone Australia, Upchurch referred to mental illnesses as being a sort of extra full-time job. Writing a debut album while working at a cafe and dealing with mental health amounts to about three full-time jobs (if my math is correct), which is frankly outrageous.
“It’s a lot to have on your plate,” he says reflectively. “I love making music and I love our project Slum Sociable… I do love working in cafes, to be honest. It’s not that bad. I think being motivated by the things that you’re passionate about can help you feel better about yourself in general. You won’t have any reason to be upset with yourself or beat yourself up.”
Of course, your world creates your art, and Upchurch’s struggles can be felt seeped within the new releases.
“Castle is probably the main one lyrically I’d say… it’s about the walls and barriers that you put up around yourself and sometimes you make it really hard for people to get through to you and try and help you if you’re going through a hard time. I used to do that… I’m still coping with it and trying to self-manage myself about it… You make it really difficult and you can’t commit to helping yourself sometimes. There’s trickles of talking about mental health struggles across the album… Everyone in the world can relate to some form of struggle that other people might feel more severely.”
But now, with the hard work done and on the cusp of reaping their musical harvest, Upchurch is keen for the days to come.
“We’re on the cusp of releasing our first debut album. It’s hard to think past that at the moment. But I think for the future we just want to keep making the music that we love making together. We want to keep playing shows, we want to get back overseas and we want to keep making the music that people seem to love! We want to put our heads down and put on some cool new shit for the new year.”
Slum Sociable’s meticulous self-titled debut record it true artistry in full bloom.
1 December, Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
2 December, The Corner Hotel, Melbourne
8 December, Jack Rabbit Slims, Perth
9 December, Fat Controller, Adelaide
14 December, The Foundry, Brisbane
16 December, Hobart Brewery, Hobart