Premiere - Cool Explosions 'Runaway'

Runaway is the latest single from Melbourne band Cool Explosions upcoming EP. We had a chat to the band’s singer and songwriter Elle Young about her music making process and radio show Headhunters on PBS fm.

Enjoy the cathartic power of Runaway with driving drums and layers of escapist melodies, leaving us all salivating for the EP.

How did Cool Explosions become a band?

Cool Explosions began as a studio project with Matty Vehl on beats, and myself on vocals.  We always wanted the project, and most importantly the drums, to be live, and our dreams came true when Alex Roper joined us a little later.  Now we're a happy family of three!

As the radio presenter of PBS Headhunters you program really great music by a diverse range of innovative artists. How does your radio show influence your music-making process?

Through Headhunters, I've discovered Sevdaliza, who is utterly unique in the presentation of her live show, music videos and imagery; Noga Erez, whose production elements and ideas make you second-guess everything, and think about sonic space in an entirely different way; and the sublime compositions, vocals and feelings that Kadhja Bonet creates to make a world all her own.  Luckily, Matt and Alex were fans already, or felt the same as me upon listening.  I'm very fortunate to be in a constant state of searching... it can be soul-destroying, though!

Who are your radio and musical heroes?

I've discovered so many incredible artists through Gilles Peterson's Brownswood Bubblers compilations and his BBC1 show.  I admire his passion for discovering and supporting up-and-coming artists from all over the world, especially South America.  I've also been inspired by former PBS Breakfast host and now Triple R presenter Beth AQ's knowledge and passion for bringing diverse voices and stories within our community to the forefront; I remember her once saying that giving up time to volunteer as a presenter with community radio is an absolute privilege.  That realisation was very humbling, and continues to shape the way I curate my show and interviews.

Vocally, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and Feist were all significant influences in my development.  I also felt a strong kinship with more unconventional voices such as Beth Gibbons, Bjork, Ani DiFranco and Nina Simone.  More recently, I've found myself drawn to musicians like Arthur Russell, who combine electronic and acoustic elements in an organic way. Then there are artists such as FKA Twigs and Sevdaliza, who combine composition, production and art elements into an ambitious, cohesive whole: an approach that we try to emulate in Cool Explosions.

Tell us a about your first ever gig as Cool Explosions?

Our first gig was at Sydney's Tokyo Sing Song, a basement dive in Newtown – I have never smelt anything like it!   It was a rainy and humid weekend, and the crowd was already partially naked, and seriously loose by the time we started our midnight set... the three of us, a pile of synths and a drum kit, all squashed onto a tiny karaoke stage.  It was packed, frantic, and all over within twenty minutes! People were spilling out everywhere as we loaded all of our gear back into the car in pelting rain.  We flew out the next morning, less than 24 hours after we arrived in Sydney.  A fairly memorable first gig!

What is your favourite part of your making process?
For me, a song usually starts as a melodic phrase and maybe a loose lyrical concept, but what I love is that we each bring something different to a new idea: it makes it really exciting to see where they end up.  One time, I brought a chord progression, a melody, and the phrase 'stray gun' to Matt... pretty obscure!  Luckily, Matt has a gift for taking my melodies, and finding beautifully poetic lyrical interpretations. In that instance, we created  'Leftover Prayers' – a track from our upcoming EP.

When we're all in the studio together it's fascinating to see something slowly appear; It's like we're all kind of throwing paint at the wall and smudging it together, removing it, mixing it, and reshaping it, until it's a cohesive thing that we're all proud of.

There is so much art and music being made in Melbourne - How has place influenced your sound?
You're surrounded by inspiration in Melbourne.  You hear it every day on PBS and RRR, and you can see it every night of the week.  There are so many music scenes to fall deep into, and curated events that are really trying to engage with the audience beyond just music: into visuals, dance and beyond.  Kindred at The Stables back in April was one of these events for me.  I feel like there's more pressure now to present not just a gig, but an experience – I don't think that's a bad thing though, because pushing yourself to work with other art forms only encourages growth.  In other words, it's an exciting time to be in Melbourne!

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Ella Thompson