Local songwriter Leigh Gardiner has been independently producing music and art, and running pop-up events in Perth for 10 years. Throughout that time he has honed his craft both in the studio and on the stage, with his previous musical incarnations achieving support slots for Okkervil River, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, The Panics and more. Now Gardiner is releasing his new project, Chuditch, out into the wild on Friday, October 30, with Grasping at the Water, the first single and video under the moniker. BRAYDEN EDWARDS caught up with Gardiner to find out how the strength of the song, and the project, came from handing over creative control to others, culminating in something greater than he could have imagined by himself.
What artists do you feel you leant on the most in terms of influence in the writing of this song?
I always seem to rely heavily on Nick Cave. That feeling of sparseness and weight really allows a narrative to come through in a song. But I was also listening to a lot of Lana Del Rey, which would make sense for the strings and the drum style. And I’m obsessed with Score: A Film Music Documentary. I find that really powerful and inspiring, especially for preparing something to have strings.
How did you go about capturing this on record and what musicians did you get on board to bring it to life?
Chuditch has been a slightly different way of approaching songwriting for me. I wrote the piano riff myself while trying to learn the instrument, put a rough beat to it and some lyrics I had started. I then took these to Andrew Atthowe (Terminal Beach) on keys and Erin Gordon (The Reductors) on drums who I’ve long worked with and in an evening we recorded the basis of the song in my lounge room.
I then gave those parts to composer Rebecca Erin Smith who wrote the string parts. I never heard those until we recorded them and basically had no say in what they would sound like. This isn’t something I’m great at, letting go of those creative parts and opinions but it is doing me some good!
The strings were played by Rachael Aquilina, Rebecca Hooper, Alix Hamilton and Anna Sarcich, all amazing players that helped gel it together, again recorded in someone’s house. I then recorded my vocals, Clare James (Tanami) did some backing vocals and James Newhouse mixed it.
So what do Chuditch look like as a live outfit then? Have you been able to make that happen and are there plans for any more of that in the future?
We actually did our first gig last month as part of an ongoing series of events I’m putting on called Tender is the Night, where I have string arrangements made for a local musician. At the moment it’s just something I’m putting on for friends but I might start putting them on for the public next year. But that’s really the only way we can gig is by playing that support because it pays for the quartet.
And is this single a good indication of what we can expect musically from Chuditch going forward? Or is there plenty more to your sound you are hoping to explore?
I think for Chuditch this is what I want to explore for now. I’ll have another project to launch early next year, when I can think of a name for it, that is more piano and guitar based, but I’m enjoying writing this broody string based stuff at the moment. I like handing over some of that creative control to the string composers and getting something greater than I could imagine back.