Static is a DIY-spirit project from Melbourne, under the artistry of Joseph Ling, vocals and synths, and mastered by Jessica Thompson.
Chatting with Joseph brought me back to my favourite time in music, the punk and grunge era – what a treat for my nostalgic soul 😉 Today we are going to explore his second EP called ‘When I’m Falling’, released this year, in a small room at Joseph’s, during lockdown.
Static dips into cold wave and dark, main influences are Joy Division, The Cure and Black Marble. Each track deals with themes of regret, nostalgia, loss, and hope. “When I’m Falling” has definitely found its identity in the 80s movies and could be the perfect soundtrack for a tv show such as ‘Stranger Things’. The lo-fi texture of a self-produced album, gives us an authentic retro’ sound, the one you would have as a background on a gloomy day in your bedroom, sitting next to your music cassette player and looking at your fav artists’ posters.
Static is not meant to be a live performance project, but as long as he keeps up with music, I can just say that I can’t wait to listen to his next album!
YMX: Hey Static, thanks for talking to us. How have these gloomy times been treating you?
STATIC: Hi – thanks for asking. It’s been a difficult year for a lot of people. I think “up and down” is probably the best way to describe how 2020 has treated me. It’s definitely had its challenges, but overall I’m making it through. Things in Melbourne, where I live, are starting to turn-around now, though, so I’m grateful for that.
YMX: How did you decide music was something you wanted to pursue? Are there any particular episodes that inspired you in doing so?
STATIC: I’m not sure if I can pinpoint any exact moments, but I know that having an older sister got me into music at a younger age than I probably would have on my own. I remember always hearing Alanis Morrissette, Nirvana, and Green Day being blasted through her wall and thinking it was the coolest thing ever. I’d always been trying to dub her cassettes. I think one time I accidentally erased part of her Nirvana MTV Unplugged cassette, while I was trying to copy it. I’ve still got her Smashing Pumpkins poster from the 90s as well. Once I started playing in bands and writing songs, I basically never stopped. There’s a real thrill and peace of mind I get when performing live.
YMX: Here’s a fun game: name 3 artists, or bands, that inspire you and influence your work, and explain why:
STATIC: The first one that springs to mind is Alkaline Trio. When I first heard them it had a huge impact on how I approached music in terms of song structure and simplifying my approach. But most of all, their juxtaposition of poppy upbeat melodies with sad or cynical lyrics really changed the way I started writing songs. That influence has pretty much been there ever since. Other bands or artists may influence me for short bursts or in more superficial ways, but Alkaline Trio changed everything for me. Tom Waits is my favourite artist of all time. Definitely a big inspiration due to his experimentation and instrumentation.
The way every album is different, yet every album is very clearly a Tom Waits album. I always wished I had a voice like his, but it really is one of a kind. Embracing whatever it is that makes you unique is something I’ve taken from Tom Waits. More recently, Lebanon Hanover has been a pretty direct influence on my songwriting. The minimal, bleak atmospheres they create is something I wanted to draw from when writing ‘When I’m Falling’.
YMX: You recently released your EP ‘When I’m Falling’. Can you tell us how that project came about?
STATIC: Static is a new solo project for me, I released the debut Static full length early 2020, and the new EP ‘When I’m Falling’ was released in October 2020. The project as a whole came about because I wanted something I could do musically on my own, when my main band (Hammock District) had downtime. I’ve always been a big fan of Joy Division, the Cure, Cyndi Lauper, and 80s synth-pop. When ‘Stranger Things’ came out, the soundtrack really reminded me how much I liked that type of music. It’s something I wanted to explore but hadn’t before. A solo project was the perfect opportunity to do that since it’s not unreasonable to be using drum machines in this genre — which I need to do if I’m doing everything myself. The new EP is more stripped back and a bit darker than the album was. I wanted to set myself limitations and tone things down. When you’re doing everything yourself, there are no bandmates to reign over in your wild ideas. I think this time round I was better at being objective with myself.
YMX: How did the pandemic affect your personal music recording experience? Was it easy adjusting to working remotely?
STATIC: I’ve always recorded/mixed at home — calling it a home studio is probably an overstatement, but I have a desk with some speakers and a laptop in their corner of our one bedroom apartment. So in that sense, making music from home was no real change. The big change is that I didn’t have the apartment all to myself as often. While we were under lockdown, my partner and I were both working from home and basically not allowed out of the house.
Pre-lockdown, I would wait for them to leave the house for work, sport, seeing friends etc, so I could record vocals. But as none of those things were on the table anymore, I had no opportunities to record vocals. I’d have to ask my partner to sit in perfect silence while I recorded vocals. They were very good about that. I’m sure if you listen closely, you can hear them rustling a bag of popcorn or laughing at me. I know there were a few takes I had to bin because you could hear our dog walking on the floorboards. I think it ended up helping add to the stripped back result I wanted, though. I didn’t have the opportunity to go overboard with overdubs and unnecessary layers.
YMX: Professional livestreams seem to be really taking over these days. Is it something you would consider doing?
STATIC: I’ve watched a few livestreams throughout lockdown. Luke Seymoup’s Alkaline Trio cover set was a highlight, as was Future Islands’ recent performance when they released their new album. Static was always intended to be a project without live performances. But who knows, that may change. I also planned to only release one album and those plans changed pretty quickly.
YMX: Since pandemic began, online music promotion has become crucial for an artist’s growth. How important is that for you, and are there any strategies you are willing to share with our readers?
STATIC: Music promotion is really difficult, especially as an independent artist. There is so much great music being created daily, all deserving of our attention, but such a small percentage of it will get noticed. As a fan, I get stressed out trying to keep up with new music, knowing that I will never get to listen to everything. And as an artist, it’s all a bit depressing if you think about it too much. But ultimately if you’re making music because you enjoy it, how much attention you do or don’t get is a bit inconsequential.
YMX: Finally, what are your plans for the future? (releases, gigs etc.)
STATIC: You can definitely expect another Static release in 2021. Whether it’s a full length or an EP will probably depend on how much time I get with the house to myself to record the vocals.