On the heels of down under, Perth, Australia is home to DJ/Producer Guy Contact, a stomping ground to augment and expand the “Sounds from the Ecosystem”. Guy Contact’s groove-directed discography has made its name in Euphoria Simulations LP (on Haŵs label) and infiltrated the texturized Liminal Spaces EP (on Butter Sessions label). All appropriately named and inclusive, his past releases are upbeat and full of acidic verve, Slowing things down a bit, Drinking from the Mirage is his newest and most liberated album yet presently basks in some warmer tones with the Melbourne-based Butter Sessions Label. The product was the aftermath of Guy Contact’s transition from his position in the architect arena to a full-time builder on the electronic plane. This morning, coffee in grips, we take a moment to discuss the latest slower-tempo release, its content, and what came about from the debut collaboration. To tie it up, we chat about the hopes ahead for the industry’s topography and what lies behind the curtain of Oz’s current climate.
Torture the Artist: Hi Callum, thank you for chatting with us today! How are you doing, and what is to the left/right of you now?
Guy Contact: Hi Bella, thank you for having me 🙂 I’m good thanks. I’m sitting on the couch and I’ve got my morning coffee next to me.
Torture the Artist: Your most recent EP Drinking from the Mirage is a 4×4 blend of progressive house and moderated trance. Accompanied by some IDM and acid endowments, would this be your most comprehensive release thus far?
Guy Contact: Yes, for sure, I think with it being an LP I had a lot more space to explore slower tempo tracks which I really love. On more dancey/ clubby EP’s there’s only really space for 1 or 2 slower tracks, so I really enjoyed having the opportunity to explore more of that slower more abstract stuff. The Butter Sessions guys were also very receptive to me exploring the downtempo territory, I’m really happy with how those slower tunes turned out!
I remember watching a surf movie when I was younger called Bunyip Dreaming, all these guys are walking across the desert looking for waves and they go kind of delusional in the process.
Torture the Artist: As are we! Moving onto its content, A1 is titled “90 Mile Straight”, which is an actual 90-mile road in Australia, A2 is “Drinking from the Mirage” and, so on. Do you have a blueprint or track-by-track flow for this record?
Guy Contact: Yes, there was definitely an overarching idea for this record. I wanted everything to have a bit of space and expansiveness to it. The track-by-track order wasn’t initially apparent, I was just making songs that all fit under a certain feeling, and then we had a look at the tracks and figured out a way to string them together. I remember watching a surf movie when I was younger called Bunyip Dreaming, all these guys are walking across the desert looking for waves and they go kind of delusional in the process. Everyone has experienced those days where the sun is so hot that you start to go a bit delirious, and your reality is a bit warped, that’s the feeling I was going for on the album.
Torture the Artist: Thank you for sharing the specificities. The head track “Drinking from the Mirage” showcases a (pre) Madonna disco vocal. Behind the voice is ‘NORI’ (aka Nora) and a friend of yours. How did you two come to pair up, what was it like recording this track together and did you two produce/record separately?
Guy Contact: This was awesome, it was the first time I’ve ever worked on a track with someone else. Basically, I felt like there could be a vocal to lift the track and I knew that Nora had a lovely voice from some of her previous music. I hit her up and asked if she would be interested in giving it a go. We worked on it completely separately, I just gave her the track and she wrote the vocals from there. It was actually a very cool process to let go of your track and let someone else do their thing, I love how it turned out, she did such a great job.
Torture the Artist: Can you share a forefront moment you two had while working with each other?
Guy Contact: Initially, Nora gave it a go and came back to me and said she couldn’t write anything that worked. I thanked her for giving it the time and effort and we just left it at that. Then a few weeks later, Nora came back to me and was like I had another go and I’ve written a whole bunch of stuff. She had written the full song and it was amazing, we just played with the arrangement a bit and then it was finished. I’m just thankful that Nora gave it another go because I think the track wouldn’t be the same without it!
After transitioning out of that full-time job, all of a sudden I had so much more time and energy to put into music.
Torture the Artist: The EP was produced in the better half of 2020; given you had just transitioned out of a job, you had extra time slots in your creative schedule. How did it feel to shift focus to have more time for music?
Guy Contact: That felt very good, I had a lot of tracks that never got finished because I couldn’t find the time or motivation. After transitioning out of that full-time job, all of a sudden I had so much more time and energy to put into music. It honestly used to take me a year to finish an EP, whereas now I can put something together in a month or so.
Torture the Artist: Was this official change something you had been practically leaning towards or did a (mid-Covid) final straw prompt you to quit your previous position?
Guy Contact: Yes, I had been leaning towards it already and I finally built up the courage to change it. I was working as a landscape architect, I was on the team that designed the WA Museum, it was a very cool project and experience, but also very stressful. I stuck around until that project was over and then I left to focus more on music.
Torture the Artist: We are glad you did! Speaking of other interests, while you aren’t drinking coffee or going for a bushwalk, what is something you enjoy doing down in Perth? What is your favorite spot nearby?
Guy Contact: Probably my favorite thing is playing soccer in a team with my mates (up the Morley Windmills). It’s seriously so much fun and great for your health both physically and mentally. Other than that, probably just heading down to PICA bar for a few beers, to be honest (hahaha cliche Perth stuff).
Torture the Artist: To check in, we recently saw that Sydney ended their 107-day lockdown. Although you are quite a ways away… how is your homestay doing with everything?
Guy Contact: Yeah, we have been very fortunate in Perth, to be honest, we’ve had it really good, to the point where you start to feel a bit guilty about it. But it’s also an important reminder to enjoy what you have and be grateful for it. I’m definitely feeling for friends and family over east and abroad that have been struck badly by lockdowns and restrictions. I hope it all improves soon and we can all see each other in person again!
Torture the Artist: That’s good news, so given you live on the west coast, how would you describe the difference between the Australian east and west coast scenes, clubs, festivals, etc.?
Guy Contact: It’s kind of hard for me to weigh in because I haven’t spent a great deal of time over east. But I can speak for the west coast. We don’t really have a huge festival culture, it’s more about the club nights and day parties. We are very fortunate that the weather is so good in Perth, so the best parties are definitely the daytime events over the summer. There are not that many amazing venues at the moment so people are getting very creative with where they throw events, I think it’s really cool to see. <smiles>
On the whole, I’d like to see more diversity and genuine inclusivity.
Torture the Artist: What is your idea of what you want to see more of and less of in the industry in your corner and as a whole?
Guy Contact: On the whole, I’d like to see more diversity and genuine inclusivity. There has been a noticeable shift in the right direction here in Perth, but as with the rest of the industry, there’s definitely still a long way to go. I would also like to see less “cool-guy” attitudes, I really appreciate it when people show up as themselves and invite others in without judgment. In the song “Family” by Blood Orange, Janet Mock articulates this in a really beautiful way. Everything in that song is what I want more of.
Torture the Artist: What are a few things that push you to music, what do you find interesting in the labels and people that motivate you?
Guy Contact: I like music that has a nice groove to it, stuff that will swing your hips a bit. I also really like music with really unique sounds and textures where I can’t discern how they’ve made the sounds. I spend a lot of time with my synthesizers just programming sounds and working on sound design stuff, so I’m always really fascinated by songs when I can’t even begin to piece together how they’ve made the sounds in the track. As far as labels go, I like consistent labels, the ones where you know you’re going to like the next release before you’ve pressed play.
Torture the Artist: What is something you are looking forward to releasing and working on moving forward?
Guy Contact: I have been working on a record for my two mates James and Warwick who have started the Perth label ONO records. The whole process has been very rewarding because they have been really open to whatever I’ve had in mind. They have made the whole thing a collaborative process rather than a two-sided back and forth. It’s been great, really looking forward to that one coming out.
Torture the Artist: What does writing a song look like for you?
Guy Contact: I’ll usually sit down and make the main 4 or 8 bar groove and just let it sit for a while. I find leaving and coming back to it helps me hear the idea and the mix a bit more objectively. I’ll usually just go through my recent projects and decide which ones are worth finishing from there.
Torture the Artist: If you could travel anywhere for one day, all laws and limitations void, where would it be?
Guy Contact: Oooh good question, I think I would travel to London to see my best friend.
Torture the Artist: How does music function in your environment, can you give a few different places what you habitually notice yourself listening to (e.g. in the studio, while on a run, in the car/train, etc.)?
Guy Contact: I always seem to listen to music in headphones, I like hearing all of the details up close. It’s usually just when I’m doing stuff around the house I’ll pop some headphones on and listen to an album or mix. I try not to listen to electronic music when I’m making music because if it’s too fresh in my mind, I’ll end up making stuff that is too similar.
Words by Isabella Gadinis
Pictures by Claudia Mancini