Over the past 7 years, Australian duo B-Film Etc. has shown their versatility and innovativeness melding indie-rock, folk, alternative rock and indie-pop into a single sound – talk about genre-bending! We had a chance to speak with the twosome about their latest album Maybe In The Next One, giving advice and future plans.
Can you tell us the backstory to Maybe In The Next One?
We released our fifth album in June last year and began writing new songs immediately following that release. There was definitely a greater emphasis on lyrical concepts and natural sounds when writing began (compared with other releases) and this seems to be the trajectory that we’ve been on since our fourth LP gradually getting more and more organic. The emphasis on narratives seems to have stemmed from my attempts at short-story writing, and I (Paul) wove many ideas from these stories into songs on the album.
In terms of the themes, I guess I’ve just been struck by the rapid shift in culture and social norms that’s taken place over the past 5 to 10 years. Working as a high school English and History teacher in a fairly difficult school, you see the most obvious manifestations of these changes in people that are the most vulnerable to them: teenagers. Many will argue that each generation thinks the one that follows is spoiled, obnoxious and fundamentally alien. I’m not sure about the first two points, but I think technology and social media, in particular, has certainly changed the cognitive development and behaviour of those who’ve never experienced life without a smartphone.
What was the writing and recording process like for the album?
Slow going. You’d think that by stripping the sound down it would take less time to record songs. This wasn’t the case. We were fairly hung up on performance and getting whole takes. We didn’t want to have to do a lot of editing. I (Paul) don’t really like heavily processed sounds; I much prefer the natural sound of an instrument, recorded with a microphone in a room. I like natural reverberations and the ambient qualities that come with these. Therefore, we had to do many, many takes until we captured performances that were deemed good enough.
If you could change anything about the album what would it be and why?
I don’t know if I could single one thing out, but it would be nice to have a producer to work with at times. Just someone with a fresh set of ears who knows audio and who can problem solve in a timely manner.
What challenges did you face when producing the album?
We live on the second floor and we have neighbours directly below us, so playing drums is always a stressful experience. Because of this, I tend to only get one take on the drums as we don’t want our neighbours to hate us too much.
Do you have a favourite track?
We both like ‘Butterfly Clip’.
What advice would you give emerging artists who are looking to enter the music industry?
Make friends. In order to build momentum for your band, you need people around you – a “scene”, if you will. You can do this by avoiding the tendency to become clique-y or tribal in your devotion to a genre. That doesn’t mean that you have to be insincere in your support of the people making music around you, but recognise that they, just like you, are musicians who are developing their craft. Relative to the rest of the population, your passions are very, very similar and this should be something that bonds you rather than divides.
How would you describe your music?
I guess you could describe it as a raw and amateurish kind of pop. I think of it as bedroom rock, slacker rock or lo-fi, but those genre labels mean very different things to different people – as we’ve found out while trying to promote this record. I’ve noticed that bedroom pop/rock seems to mean disco with a bit of fuzz to many people. I tend to think that if you’ve programmed 95% of the instrumentation on a record, then it’s not really “bedroom” pop – but that’s just me.
Do you have any future plans?
We’re planning to release some singles, B-sides, covers and even some of our more warts and all recordings within the next few months. But other than that, we’ll just continue to write and record music for the foreseeable future. It’s difficult to do anything else at the moment.