Perth-born Joe McKee currently resides in Melbourne, but harbours a great desire to shift back to London, where he and fellow Snowman members were based late in their tense, celebrated tenure that ended last year.
Constant geographical shifts, he informs, are something that keeps McKee’s creativity alive. “I get bored very easily and need to keep myself stimulated, and I think sometimes we neglect our senses a little bit,” he says.
“It’s like when you’re a kid, everything’s new and sights and sounds are new, then [as you mature] you tend to fall into routines and patterns.” It’s all too true.
McKee has seriously distanced himself from this idea on Burning Boy, with the record capturing a spectral sense of light and shade and a dreamlike meditation on life. Expansive tales and rhythms feed into McKee’s rich arrangements, the results assuming the form of masterful mood piece that captures an oddly charming, Devastations-meets-Jimmy Little feel.
It makes for a linear creative anecdote filled with subtle fades and sequences – something rather inimitable if you invest the headphone time. “It’s quite cohesive in that sense, like being one piece and not a collection or scrapbook of things… It’s very much one kind of feeling I’m trying to get across,” says McKee.
With the songs and thought process of the album being a direct result of McKee’s longing to return back to his hometown of Perth after the dissolution of Snowman in in early 2011, Burning Boy channels this concept throughout.
But as McKee informs, he was in fact yearning to return to a home that actually “didn’t exist anymore” in light of the time he had spent abroad.
“There was this unnameable emotion that I couldn’t really express or work out in any kind of logical way, so the best way was to express it was through music,” he explains. “And that’s what music is for – expressing the inexpressible – and that’s the kind of the emotion I’m trying to nail.”
Interestingly some chief crooners such as Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole both inspired the cinematic characteristics of Burning Boy. “I was leaning on those beautiful kind of sweeping, sparse strings as an influence,” says McKee. “But generally I’m just hungry for music all the time and Burning Boy is just an amalgam of a billion different things I’ve listened to, and archiving them in the brain.”
Continually attracted to the world of sinister, abnormal themes, McKee still strived for balance.
“I didn’t want to bludgeon people over the head with brutality like I have done in the past,” he says. “This was more about delicately luring them and seducing them into a darker place.”
Joe McKee launches Burning Boy on Saturday August 11 in Melbourne at the Grace Darling, and Thursday August 16 at Paddington Uniting Church in Sydney. Burning Boy is out now through Dot Dash/Remote Control.