Renowned local musicians, Diger Rokwell and Felicity Groom have combined their individual talents to make their first full length record together. TOM KITSON discovers great minds think alike.
With beats written by electronic producer, Diger Rokwell and lyrics and vocals added by songstress Felicity Groom, the teaming of Rokwell & Groom seems to have come together with relative ease on their album, New Parts.
“This project brings that individual style and that extra influence of us bouncing off each other into the mix,” Groom says. “There’s never been any need for compromise – this is a couple of people with a love of a vast array of musical styles and songs, getting together to play and write tunes that happen in the process.”
Initially performing together for a one-off Cut & Paste Collaborations micro-festival gig, the pair wrote songs especially for the show and then followed up to work together on an entire album. Constructing much of the show without physically meeting to record, these two seamless operators were able to work in each of their own styles while allowing the other’s input to come through.
“The direction of the album came from there quite easily,” Rokwell says. “We based it on the songs that we first wrote for the micro-festival and then wrote some more after that as our live show developed.” Groom adds: “We’d been sending tracks back and forth between each other for the first gig, working them up to some kind of rehearse-worthy standard before we’d even met face-to-face. Then part way through a Frisbee match I confirmed with someone on my team that the person I was playing against was Diger Rokwell, so mid-match we said our hellos and then got on with the game.”
The role music plays in both of their lives is significant to say the least, with Rokwell managing The Community – a collective of musicians, bands, DJs, artists and producers – and earning national recognition for his music.
“I’m so grateful about where I am in my musical life; The Community Records is releasing great music, my solo and Rokwell & Groom stuff is becoming known nationally and I love performing live,” he says. “I work full time as a teacher, so music is a definite second of my energy, and thirdly is coordinating The Community and then pursuing hobbies in surfing, health and socialising.”
It seems a busy life, but with a passion for what he does spurring him on, Rokwell can apply himself to each role wholeheartedly and achieve great results. “Music making is a hobby and a great way to communicate with people,” he says. “I love performing live and the people in the music community on the whole are like family.”
This relationship-orientated approach makes collaboration an enjoyable and rewarding endeavour, and Groom feels the same way, especially since the release of her successful album, Gossamer in 2011 and subsequent touring.
“I’m also grateful about where I’m at in my musical life, it does take time and energy, but it gives when it takes,” she says. “It’s just what I love to do – I sit at home and play piano and just make up songs that have no other purpose than to keep me amused. It’s what I will always do long before or long after anyone’s listening.”
With music as accessible as it is online, both artists believe the way they make music is a luxury – being able to make music at home on a computer without dishing out the dollars.
“Making music is a blessing, and we are so lucky to be able to make this music effectively and inexpensively,” Rokwell says. “We live in a golden and accessible age of music production.” Groom chimes in: “Music is intangible, unquantifiable, structured yet surprising, that’s what I love about it and what Diger said – it’s never been easier to make it in your room which is a great luxury.”
The project was never designed to achieve a particular sound and this creative freedom and teamwork has been inspired by a number of close influences.
“My mother passing has been a giant life kick in the ass for me,” Rokwell says. “She found her creative energy later in life and it inspired me to follow creative pursuits as a mantra.”
“RTRFM has also been a big influence on me from a very early age. Andrew Ryan (Adam Said Galore, Fall Electric, member of Felicity Groom’s band and RTRFM Out To Lunch presenter) has been my biggest musical influence,” she says of her romantic partner. “We have been writing songs together for seven years and he’s there in the background of the Rokwell & Groom stuff, listening to the tracks and sharing enthusiasm for what we are doing. He has also always been alerting me to new and interesting tunes in the big world, which in turn influences my ways of hearing the world.”
With Rokwell & Groom continuing to work together and planning future releases, their sonic inspirations are still flowing and providing the means to create heartfelt music right here in Perth.
“The potential in the Perth music scene is always driving me, as is my desire to challenge mass perceptions and consciousness,” Rokwell says.
“I would like music to take me overseas a bit more,” Groom adds. “It’s been a while since I have done that and if the tunes can take me to see new places, then that’s pretty exciting.”
ROKWELL & GROOM
NEW PARTS OUT ON FRIDAY THROUGH
THE COMMUNITY RECORDS & SPINNING TOP
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 25 @ MOJOS BAR
$10 entry on the door from 8pm.