Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that making music is hard work. Even the most-gifted artists have to knuckle down and write regularly to see results. Brisbane beat-maker Charles Murdoch knows this well.
In December he released Point, his debut album, through label Future Classic, which also hosts Flight Facilities and Flume. But it almost didn’t happen.
“After my first EP, Weathered Straight, I had the old-fashioned writer’s block,” the 25-year-old says. “I wasn’t really feeling any music. It’s dorky to say, but I got super into golf. Nothing was exciting me.”
Then the music-writing program Ableton released a new physical controller, Push. “I got super attached to that piece of kit and started writing again,” he says. Every Sunday, he’d force himself to sit down and work, then share the results to his SoundCloud followers, which number 20,000 now.
“I thought I was writing another EP,” Murdoch says. Without Future Classic’s help, he probably would have. The team there helped him sift through all the brief sketches he’d amassed and fatten them up.
The label also gave him access to a heap of talented vocalists, such as Banoffee, Chloe Kaul and Oscar Key Sung. A total of seven collaborators appear on the eight-track album, which was fully produced by Murdoch.
The result is a record that rarely feels similar from track-to-track, whether you’re wobbling along to the hip-hop-inflected Frogs, getting lost in the pillowy folds of Privacy, or slashing through the neon jungle that is Straws. The core thread is synth-y lushness.
“All the artists on Point are people I’ve looked up to in electronic music in Australia and overseas,” Murdoch says. He was surprised so many agreed to work with him.
“I sent Frogs to Future Classic and they said Ta-ku was looking to do some vocals,” he says. “I thought he was just a beat-maker guy, and I was stoked, because I like all his stuff.” Ta-ku brought his friend Wafia along for the ride.
New York rapper Hak, the third vocalist in Frogs, came along later. “A few weeks before the album dropped, I extended the middle section and dirtied it up,” Murdoch says. “One of my friends messaged me on Facebook and said, ‘Hey, you should hook up with Hak from Ratking’.” One email later, and it was locked in.
It’s a change of pace for Murdoch, who’s used to writing with Mitzi, the band he plays bass in. “Sometimes we get a bit lost, or clash on which way a song should go or end up,” he says. “Doing my own stuff is an outlet for what I wanted to hear on Mitzi records.”
The band is on hiatus right now – two members are running a radio station and another is developing a soft-drink business. “Eventually I think we’ll get back into it,” Murdoch says.
In the meantime, expect to see more material popping up on SoundCloud. Or not. Who knows when the golf course will call again?