21-year-old Raudie McLeod’s latest project is River Yarra, seeing his sound move in a dancier, more cosmic direction, garnering comparisons to Tornado Wallace, The Tortoise, Andras Fox, and other players in Melbourne's slo-mo house and disco scene. We called him while he was in Nepal, where's he was taking a break from studying communication design, to talk about his new EP, Rain Dance Extended Play & Vision.
Did you grow up in Melbourne?
Yeah, in the north-east suburbs, in Eltham. Basically as the city meets bushland, it's the last little town before it becomes paddocks. That's where I got the name River Yarra. It runs through the back of the suburb, and as I kid I was always swimming, exploring and fishing there. I identify with it a lot, and I still live there.
You made music under other names before. What was the motivation for starting the River Yarra project?
I find it easier to use a moniker. It's like putting on a super suit. You've got your role, you know what to do, so you just do it. It gives me an idea and an identity, and I can take my feelings from that and turn them into sounds or artworks. It's not limited to music. I want to push it down other avenues, too.
Rain Dance Extended Play & Vision comes with four collages I made while listening to each of the songs on it. What I was trying to do there was mix disciplines and try and make people think about music as something more than a thing they can grab online. I want people to interact with the music and the collages, take meaning out of it, and see how they're connected in whatever way they want to interpret it.
Do you think people will appreciate this idea? With Spotify and YouTube and all that, quickly grabbing tunes online has become the norm?
I used to do that a lot too, but now I've found that it takes away most of the feeling that you get from the music. It's so accessible. You're just clicking around, and if you don't like something within 10 seconds, you move along. It's a really shit attitude to have towards music. Stuff doesn't come to you that quickly, you have to sit there and appreciate it before you can have an understanding of what's going on. I guess I'm just trying to strip it back and make people think about what's happening – what are you seeing? What are you hearing? – instead of cruising around with their phone in their pocket, changing the song every minute.
How do River Yarra tunes differ to music made using your previous names?
It's more focussed on natural-sounding elements. For The Look, I took a lot of samples of throwing rocks in the pond at my friend's farm, yelling into the woods and hitting sticks together. That formed a majority of the percussive parts of the song, and then there's also didgeridoo in it. Then all that's juxtaposed against the electronic elements: the drums, the bass line, the synths.
Why do you use so many samples?
I've always been interested in sampling, ever since my Dad played me Frontier Psychiatrist by The Avalanches. I thought it was crazy that people could make songs from other songs. I guess that carries into other disciplines as well.
In art I've always been a huge fan of collage. Some people say it's a bit of a cop-out because you're not creating the art on your own. I think it's probably more intelligent that you can look around and pick out little bits from all over the place and bring them into something that's completely new and has a totally different emotion to it. Say if you use a sample that people can recognise, but you use it in a different song, it changes peoples' perspective. I think that's very powerful, to change peoples' understanding of things.
How far would you like to take that?
The other day I was hiking in the Himalayas, and there's all this rubbish lying around. It's just shit. It's one of the most beautiful places in the world. I can't believe people would litter there. So I was thinking about my role as River Yarra and how I'm very inspired by nature. I probably want to move into something that has a political consciousness at some point in the future, and move beyond just making mixes and artwork and videos. Something with a bit of social responsibility to it. I have no idea how that would happen, but it's just something I'd like to do.
Solitaire Recordings will release Raindance Extended Play & Vision on March 30, 2015.
River Yarra will launch the EP at Joey Smalls at 284 Sydney Road, Brunswick on Saturday April 18. Free entry.