DEEP WEST Sunny side up

Deep West is the solo project of Brayden Edwards (The Chlorines, Rich Widow). This Friday, June 23 he’s releasing the first EP of Deep West songs showcasing a very different side to his persona with Australiana-laced indie pop and rock. Assembling an all-star cast of friends to perform live, they will be joined on the night by The Spring Peaks, Trails End and Turtle Bay Television, and CDs are complimentary on entry. HARVEY RAE had a chat to Edwards about this sunnier side.

You’ve played in plenty of bands around town, is this the first release featuring your songs or do some of the other outfits feature your compositions?

We did a couple of tracks for Rich Widow a few years ago which were songs I mostly put together. There was never any official release though and we didn’t push it all that enthusiastically for different reasons. So yes, I guess you could say this is a first for me.

You describe Deep West as a solo project; why did you decide to record these songs yourself rather than jam them out with a band first?

Sometimes you bring the ideas of a song to a band and let them do their thing and it turns into something completely different from what you originally imagined. It’s one of the best experiences a musician can have – seeing a song develop its own personality that’s like some beautiful mongrel offspring of everyone in the room at the time. I wasn’t against doing the same with these songs but I had finally put together my own recording set-up and had the opportunity to treat the writing process a little differently by putting each part together piece by piece myself for this record.

I wanted to try that out and see how the songs would sound if I was the one seeing it through from start to finish. It’s probably a little more personal than anything I’ve written before so maybe I felt less inclined to invite the same kind of collaboration I normally would. But then there were also a few pragmatic considerations here. In my experience the musicians I know that are awesome at what they do and are inclined to say yes to something like this are already in over their head with multiple projects that are really going places and I didn’t want to take their time and energy away from those things.

Did you play all the instruments on the EP yourself?

It might have sounded cool in a promo sense to have recorded it all myself but the truth is I live with Louis Best who is one of the best bass players I know so it made more sense to walk across the hall and just plug a lead in than try and match him for some sense of self-accomplishment. Kian Zeitsch is also probably the easiest drummer to play with that I know so when he offered to do that part as well it would have been indulgent and plain ridiculous of me not to. Plus the only drum beat I can play well is Scentless Apprentice which probably wasn’t going to work out the best on the slower numbers. I did the slide guitar, lead guitar, banjo, organ and piano myself and guess I learnt some more about using those instruments in the process. I probably stalled the release by six months trying to learn the violin though. There were a couple of parts I really wanted on the record but it turns out it’s not an instrument you can fake. There’s a reason people study it for five years or more otherwise it’s basically unlistenable so I needed the expertise of another friend Madeline Sines to help out there too.

There’s a definite twang of Australiana on the songs that brings to mind not only classic Australian bands but some of the current crop doing a similar thing such as Shining Bird. Where does that influence come from for you?

There was a definite theme I wanted to go for on this record and I think you’re on the money there. While I love the term and ideal of ‘Australiana’ I’d have to admit it’s probably more just an attempt at Americana sung by someone from Bunbury in this case. I’ve become a fan of bands like Shining Bird since but at the time I wrote these songs I was definitely listening to a lot of Pinegrove, Deertick and Wilco, for example. I loved how some of those southern style bands could be so pleasant and fun to listen to in a musical sense but could then be so engrossing if you actually looked past the country harmonies and the fiddles and saw the lyrical vulnerability hiding behind it. That kind of music just feels at home in Western Australia – the vast landscapes and open roads invoke a sense of the impossible but loneliness at the same time. I wouldn’t say this is a ‘southern’ or ‘alt-country’ record though it’s just me leaning in that direction in a way that felt natural at the time.

How about the lyrics – is there a thread running through the songs on this release that links them together at all when you look back on it?

Yes, I had a bunch of songs that I could have recorded for this release but chose to focus on the new ones I was writing as I wanted them all to encapsulate what I was feeling at the time. There was definitely a meditative aspect to it all but I didn’t want it to be self-centred or self-absorbed either which is probably why I like to dress it up with as much allegory as I can so others can take their own meaning from it if they choose to. It also means I can personally still relate to the feeling of these songs years down the track without pinning it down to some specific circumstance.

There’s a bit of a storyteller vibe to it as well – are these based on true stories and can you give us a bit of insight into what one might be?

Kuranda definitely has a storytelling vibe to it but it’s more of patchwork of memories than a linear recount of events. It’s all about a week I spent in north Queensland a couple of years back for one of my best friend’s weddings. Although it was a perfect and beautiful time on the face of it I had just been through a break-up and felt guilty about not being able to enjoy the occasion more – especially when I was performing the music at the reception as well. There certainly isn’t any moral to the story either which I suppose is the hardest part and should be left to the pros like Cohen and Kelly. I would have written five or six verses for this song and then reduced it back down to the key moments and phrases that stuck with me the most. It’s actually not that different from what our brains and our memories do all the time anyway. We remember things that are important to us but not so much when they happened or why.

Finally, what can we expect from the band live on Friday night: what have you got in store for us and who will be joining you onstage?

I’ve put together a bit of an all-star cast to play the EP with me live. It wasn’t something I considered much before, but having Owen De Marchi (The Chlorines) and Rohin Best (Terminal Beach) playing guitar together onstage shows how blessed I am with the talent I have around me. This is like the ‘Dangerwood’ of riffage in the centre stage I tell you! It is a band I put together specifically for the night and it might never happen again so I encourage everyone to come down for that alone. We’ll also be joined by some amazing acts like The Spring Peaks, Trails End and Turtle Bay Television on the night. As good as it’s going to feel to release the record I’m also looking forward to starting on the next one.