The City of Fremantle’s Hidden Treasures Winter Music Series returns on Thursdays from July 3-31, at venues such as the Fremantle Workers Club, The Buffalo Club, The Navy Club and PS Art Space. On Thursday, July 24, Ghetto Crystals join Jodie Tes & The Popular Front at The Navy Club. BOB GORDON finds out more about this new-yet-strangely-familiar outfit.
Doug May, aka KT Rumble, and San Cisco’s Scarlett Stevens have known each other a long time, but have only recently collaborated as a two-piece outfit known as the Ghetto Crystals, a musical venture without limits.
He has played in The Fuzz and The Fags/Loose Lips, but is perhaps more generally known as his sister Abbe May’s guitar player, a role he held until lat last year.
“Since leaving Abbe’s band, I have been busy setting up a home studio and writing songs,” May says. “I started playing some solo shows and was aware this new project needed some good players to come on board to flesh out the tunes.
“I’ve known Scarlett since we both played at Rock-It in 2005, I remember thinking my band (The Fuzz) just got schooled in how to play a festival by The Flairz, and I’ve been a fan ever since.
“Ghetto Crystals was quite spontaneous. I had a song I was working on called Shake A Badonkadonk and got Scarlett to have a listen. I guess she could hear the sound I was going for and we decided to work together.”
As for the music itself, at this stage it seems to be more about feel than intent.
“We have been consciously trying to make music that is upbeat and danceable, and at the same time, is bad ass!” May explains. “A lot of the songs start with an idea rather than a melody, not necessarily written while playing guitar like I usually do, but I might work on it in my head or on an iPad. Scarlett comes along with ideas and we work on them together.”
The two-piece structure is always an interesting one. May says he’s finding more liberties than limitations with it.
“We have a very big sound for a two-piece,” he notes. “I use a lot of octave effects with my guitar and we are starting to incorporate samples into the live show, so sonically it’s quite a full sound.
“Playing live as a two-piece can free you up to jam songs. If Scarlett puts a stop in, I can go with it, or we can extend an outro. You can shake things up like that.”
With May and Stevens both being Fremantle enthusiasts – not to mention identities – Hidden Treasures is a more than appropriate way to unveil their new wares. The future is bright, but as yet unknown.
“We are an evolving project,” May says, “right now we want to keep writing songs. We hope to put an album out by the end of the year, the working title is I Want To Believe. We will be playing more shows and possibly expanding the live line-up to include some special guests. It’s an exciting time getting to play new songs, with a new band and a new sound.”
For more about Hidden Treasures, head to fremantle.wa.gov.au/festivals.