Coming from Sydney, Australia and known for his tenure in acts like Last Thursday, Euan Hart only recently began performing as a solo artist, before quickly moving over 17,000 KM to Ireland. Now, he sets to build and continue what he started there.
On the week of his launch gig for his single “Self-Pity” (which you can read our coverage of here, plug, plug), Euan met with Post-Burnout‘s Aaron Kavanagh at the Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin to discuss his background, the difference in the Irish music scene compared to Australia, balancing his music with his job as a bartender, his history of performing since he was in daycare, his self-titled EP, his peripatetic nature, the absurdity of herbal tea and more.
So, the first thing I guess I’ll ask is just how you became a musician? What made you want to start playing?
Eh…so I was…I was very young…so, how did it start? When I was in daycare, I would bring a “Grease Lightnin’” CD with me to daycare every day, and I would ask them to play it every day, and I would dance to it every day. So, that was weird and that was the first one. And then when I went to primary school, I would bring an Elvis CD – and my parents didn’t listen to Elvis, so I don’t know where that came from – but I would bring an Elvis CD to school and then I would have that…mum would let me use her Walkman, so I would use that, and then I would, like, put on shows on this wooden stage that we would have out the back, and there would be no music, and I’d force my friend to, like, dance with me on stage to Elvis songs. It’s fuckin’ weird. It’s weird when you think about that stuff, when you’re like a kid, the balls you had. And I would hand out leafs as like tickets, pretend tickets. Anyway, then I started playing fiddle in a teaching room once and I wanted to learn to play fiddle, so I played fiddle, and then I got bored of that, because they were trying to teach me classical music, and then I got a guitar and I started playing guitar and then singing, and then I started writing my own stuff because I couldn’t sing covers very well and wasn’t good at remembering lyrics. But, why? When I grew up, I would’ve listened to a lot of music: my uncle is a musician and then my dad just loves music, like so much music, I grew up around it. We’d go to gigs probably every weekend – just more pub gigs in Sydney – and I think I was just kind of surrounded by it and I think it’s in the family a little bit. Apparently, my dad’s dad was a pianist, and my uncle is a muso, but my grandad’s tone deaf, so…my nanna’s tone deaf. One of them was…nanna was tone deaf. I don’t know, The Irish, I think.
[Laughs] The Irish heritage?
The Irish. And then it was the only thing I could ever really properly…it doesn’t feel right not to be doing it, so it’s kind of weird. I only thought about that actually last week, when my friend was like, “Do you feel like you have to do it?” and I was like, “Fuck, actually, yeah.” It’s weird. It’s very strange.
You were talking about that thing, like setting up fake tickets and stuff as a young kid. I mean where does that come from, that showmanship? That idea of not only performing, but the kind of industry side of it too?
Oh, I don’t know. I was like giving out tickets…I wonder. I wonder why. I don’t know where that came from.
You just sort of knew that’s what performers do?
Yeah, it must’ve been. Like, you needed a ticket to come. It honestly might have been because – I got told recently, even when I was 15 that, my uncle, he’s from Dublin – I used to say, “Oh, I want it…to be my job to be a musician, like my uncle,” you know what I mean? So, maybe it came from being like that. Maybe I saw it in an Elvis movie? It might’ve been like Roustabout or something, I remember that movie really well. Who knows? I can’t remember.
So, you’re from Sydney. What’s the music scene like there? You mentioned the pub rock scene, but just in general, to me…I know it’s not the actual capital; Canberra’s the capital, but Sydney seems to be the cultural capital of Australia, so presumably anyone who’s touring Australia is playing Sydney when they come?
So, what sort of things would you have seen around then? What sort of venues would you be going to and stuff?
Sydney, you’ve kind of got…if you’re a bigger artist, you’ve got the Enmore and Oxford Art Factory, kind of. So, like Oxford Art Factory, I think my friend Jack [Moran, photographer. Remember his name, he comes up a few times!] is shooting Alice Phoebe Lou at the Oxford Art Factory tonight. And then you’ve got the bigger ones. But the smaller ones, you’ve got…Just before I left to travel, this like…the pub music scene really started kicking off again, post-COVID, which was actually really cool to see, because just after COVID and kind of before COVID, all the venues were investing a lot into their… – it seemed like to me anyway, my theory – but they were investing a lot into rooms dedicated to ticketing events, right? So, you know, whatever, twenty dollars a ticket to get into an event. But then people go and because they’ve spent twenty bucks on a ticket, they don’t really buy much drink and all this stuff. And then just before I left, all these pubs were putting more money into putting in speakers in like the corner of the pub, in the front bar, free in and everyone would go and buy drink, and then the pubs were paying the bands just straight out for their gigs, and that was really fun. So, there’s…in Newtown, there’s a road called King Street – it’s kind of like Camden Street, if there were more Whelan’s venues on it – and it was like all these pubs that you could go to, and there would be live music all down there on Friday, if you visit Friday night. Not as much midweek stuff as they do in Dublin; nowhere near as much, but weekends. And then there’s…so there’s The Vanguard, Oxford Art Factory Gallery, Golden Age Cinema, and the Bank Hotel upstairs, Waywards. There’s a few. There’s a lot of small venues. But the pubs are cool, that was cool.
And would the musical variety there be various? Could you see any genre you wanted?
Yeah, you could. It’s different, I’d say it’s different. You go…big country…like, country rock scene. Country, Americana, rock scene in the last five, six years. I don’t know why. They call them Country & Inner Western, because it’s the Inner West is where everyone hangs out, in like Marrickville and stuff. Oh, and Vic On The Park. There’s Country Inner West and lots of hip-hop and R&B and soul and that was getting big, and rap. Indie pop, not so much, we’re definitely still not there. Pop is a big one. Not…the folk scene is like near-non-existent. It’s there in some house shows and small shows, but it just doesn’t really suit the lifestyle, I guess. It’s sunny outside, you’re hardly going to want to listen to someone read out four-minute poetry and then sing a song about the weather; like, you want to go listen to some guy play twangy guitar and you want to drink a beer. But there is massive variety, it’s just different. Like, and then they don’t grow up with folk music like you guys do here, I think as well.
Sure. I think all the influences you listed that I’ve seen have kind of been foreign influences. With Australian domestic acts, is there any that have resonated with you or that you think you’ve taken influence from?
Em. There’s definitely some, because I grew up with it. I really liked Middle Kids and their first EP, have you heard of Middle Kids? They’re this really good band. Their first EP… – they were like one of the first Aussie bands that I, like, fangirled over – pre-ordered their first EP and went to see them when they had, like, no followers. Went to see them…when I was travelling, when I was 18, I saw them at Berlin, in like a 100-person venue, and then went back to Sydney and they just got massive. They kind of started churning out, like, bit more commercial albums but they’re still good.
Triple J stuff, that kind of stuff? [Laughs]
That’s my musical reference for Australia…
…Triple J and Rage. [Laughs]
It’s a monopoly, dude. It’s a fucking monopoly in Australia; it’s Triple J, like that’s it. Even the festival scene, it’s like Triple J kind of run the world over there. It’s like Sticky Fingers got cancelled, and then they chucked Ocean Alley in there. Ocean Alley are different, but they’re reggae, rock, psych kind of thing. Anyway. I listened to, I guess, Gang of Youths for that one album, probably when I was in high school. Aussie acts? Paul Kelly when I was younger, probably. But I didn’t grow up with…so I don’t think I listened to…yeah, that’s a funny question. I don’t think I really listened to a lot of Aussie acts. It’s quite weird. Because I grew up with…because mum’s from Dublin and dad’s from Ayrshire in Scotland, so I grew up with…– and then all their friends are either Irish, Scottish. They had Aussie friends obviously but… – so I grew up with all the shit that all of the people I’m meeting here grew up with, in the music scene: like, bunch of folk, bunch of trad, Cat Stevens, Van Morrison, and pop, like Britney Spears – mum liked Britney Spears – you go from Britney Spears to Mozart or something. So, yeah, I don’t really listen to a lot of Aussie acts. That’s funny. When my mates talk about Aussie acts and they’re playing stuff, I’m like, “I don’t know this and I don’t really like it that much, either.” [Laughs]
Yeah, that’s fair. I think of your music, you’ve referenced Father John Misty and stuff [as inspirations] and it’s like, you know…Oh, and Weyes Blood, of course. Those are kind of two of your central influences it seems, and I think those are really a good indicator of your music. I was reading the interview you gave with Ticketmaster, where you mentioned that you just happened to be going to a Weyes Blood show and it blew you away and stuff. I think that organic experience is still something that just can’t be replicated, you know what I mean? Just the idea of going to a gig on a whim and being blown away.
Sometimes I wonder if – maybe this is me probably being a bit cynical – but I wonder if ticket prices for major venues and stuff will start maxing people out from being able to take a chance on artists that they otherwise may have an interest in seeing?
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I never thought about that.
Because I think independent ticket prices still seem reasonable, like obviously people don’t want to do that. But I wonder if more popular acts will…I don’t know…
Yeah, more popular acts. That’s true, I never thought about that. Just taking a whim on going to gigs and stuff.
Yeah. But I mean even when you go to a festival or something, it is always I think really great when you just find stuff to discover and you’re like, “Holy shit, this resonates with me!”
Yeah, I went to see Sticky Fingers when I was really young, when they weren’t cancelled…[Moves closer to recorder and starts enunciating more deliberately] When they weren’t cancelled! [Both laugh]
They still played here, a few weeks back.
Oh, dude. They sold out the Ar…the Arlington or something. Big venue in…
…in London! No, in London. They sold it out! A huge venue! [Editor’s Note: The venue Euan was talking about was the Alexandra Palace] They’re not…they’re like not…they’re cancelled, but cancelling doesn’t, like, work that well. [Laughs]
And then they sold out Olympia. It’s crazy. Anyway, I went to see them, but their support act was Methyl Ethel, and it’s a pity they didn’t kind of…they kind of dropped off a little bit. But I remember seeing Methyl Ethel and being like, “What?!” They were so much better than Sticky Fingers were, I thought. Anyway, yeah, you’re right. That was good, getting that ticket to Weyes Blood. So, at the time I was…I guess at the time I was writing the stuff that I’ve only just released now; that stuff’s quite old, it’s like first lockdown, COVID and just before, because I was leaving the old band that I was in…like, not leaving, but figuring out what I was doing. And I was trying…I was, like, recording this stuff with my acoustic guitar but also was interested in, like, production and trying to get keyboards and synths in, and I was like, “I don’t know what it is I want to do,” and then my mate was like, “I’ve got a spare ticket to Weyes Blood and my mate can’t come.” Listened to her on the train, I was like, “Oh, she’s fine.” And it was exactly where I think my brain was going, it was like a slide guitar and there were some crazy big synths and then there was some big, thick drums and then her voice was like old-style influenced and that was such a good realisation. And then, a few months later, my friend for my birthday bought me Father John Misty’s Fear Fun album and I’d never listened to him before, and I was already writing these songs, then I listened to that and I was like, “Oh, shit, so you can write lyrics that are funny over emotion…and also be emotional, over, like, good music and be catchy, funny and emotional,” you know? So, all those influences, it’s funny how late they kind of came up, and then that led to Bob Dylan. Eventually everyone starts listening to Bob Dylan – I think every young boy starts listening to Bob Dylan when they’re like 19 – and you go through this stage of Bob Dylan, and you’re like, “Oh, that’s funny as well.” All really lucky realisations. And then Chet Baker and Harry Nilsson and all that sort of stuff.
I think when you look at someone like Weyes Blood, I think you and her would probably have… – and Father John Misty, too – have a lot of the same influences…like, I think with Weyes Blood, wasn’t it like her father was a musician too and then he became devoutly religious and…?
…it’s this very interesting story. Yeah. So, she was kind of raised in…I forget what religion it was, but it was a sect of Christianity, and she was raised with that kind of music, and she had all this weird interest based on…she was always travelling. Anyway, I mean, I think if you look at the roots of your influences and their influences, I think you would find a lot of overlap, yet the kind of expressions you take from that seems to be I think very…I don’t want to use this word because it sounds dismissive, but kind of quirky, you know what I mean?
Yeah, yeah, yeah!
Kind of expressive in a non-traditional way, let’s say.
Yeah, I was wondering where you think that additional expression comes from?
Additional expression? Quirkiness? Quirkiness comes from?
Well, let me just put it like this: I think you’re not content just to do folk music; you want to do additional expression over that.
But you want to use it as kind of a base, I would say. Would that be fair?
Em…probably part of it just comes from just having…because my parents are a bit older and because I… – like, dad’s 75 – so, probably I do have an overlap, of listening to older music. Probably that, and then also growing up listening to… – like anyone does – finding out their own music. Where would it come from? I don’t know. When I record something, I find that…like, that first song that was at the show, “Rust,” where is starts off with those big rock guitars then it goes into, like, a folky ballad, I just find that so much more interesting than starting off with a folky ballad, because it’s like listen to the next part of the song, in the lyrics, you know I’m emotional; I don’t need to also make the whole fucking song so sad because that’s also not how life works, you know what I mean? Like, you can go from having the best day ever and then, like, step in dog shit. I don’t know, I think it’s just kind of…I just think it’s a gut feeling. It’s very lucky. That one came to me, a lot of the other stuff just kind of comes, you’re like, “Oh, what the fuck? How did that happen?” And then you just laugh and the stuff that I find is funny, you giggle at – not funny, but you giggle at – is like my favourite kind of stuff. I don’t know where it comes from. I think I’m just kind of lucky that I’m like that, as a person. It can be very sadboi, and then it can be very ridiculously silly.
Yeah. And that was the thing I noted when I went to your show, is that it seemed like you guys were sort of in on the joke a little bit but, simultaneously, it didn’t feel like you guys were being sarcastic in your approach; it felt like you guys were being earnest but, simultaneously, you’re aware kind of…I don’t know. I think a lot of creatives nowadays have a sense of self-awareness which I think feels maybe pre-emptive to any backlash they may get.
Where it kind of feels like, I don’t know…they’re self-knowingly pointing at themselves and laughing before anyone else can. I’m not accusing you guys of doing that, but do you ever feel like taking on, say, aspects of like country western, as someone from Sydney, do you think that may feel perfunctory or that people may be critical of that?
Do I what?
Do you ever feel people may be critical of that? Because I know, for example, there are a lot of Irish artists who do country western music and sometimes there is criticism of them singing about stuff they don’t know, or simultaneously you have Irish artists doing gangsta rap, you know what I mean?
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
And stuff like that, and people criticise them for doing stuff that isn’t related to their life, in some way, I don’t know. Or that isn’t appropriate, like cultural appropriation or something like that.
Yeah. Well, I think because I’m taking aspects of country and western or Americana folk music and just writing…the lyrics aren’t about getting drunk in a bar in Texas; they’re about me drinking green tea or whatever it is. So, and also, if people, I don’t know, if they say, “You can’t do that because you’re not American” or whatever…I don’t know.
I feel people get given shit if they feel like they’re emulating a culture that they’re not a part of, which I don’t think is necessarily fair; like, again, I think people want to put others in little boxes, culturally, where it’s like, “You’re not a part of this, therefore you can’t take elements of that…” where I think it’s cool if you look at someone like the Dropkick Murphys, right, and they’re American, but I think it’s cool, the shit they do with Irish trad music or, you know, stuff like that. I think it’s cool to have…you know, it’s like, “Yeah, fuckin’ take our aspects and do it,” but I feel others get a bit prissy about that kind of stuff, and they feel like, “No, you have to be from here to do this kind of thing.” I don’t know how you feel about that?
Yeah, that’s weird. It’s like Willie Nelson wasn’t Willie Nelson before he started looking like Willie Nelson. Have you seen, like, early photos of him? He’s like a polished boy with like his Brylcreem’d hair and he’s clean shaven, and then he decided to move to Texas, I think, or somewhere, and he just completely rebranded himself. So, there’s no such thing as a proper outlaw, proper country, proper western dude, like, they’re all just…In Sydney it’s really strange, like, I…probably not, I don’t think I’ll probably do that sort of outfit on stage, that sort of thing again, I’m probably going to do something different, but in Sydney, the country western stuff is crazy. Like you’re walking down this one area called Marrickville and there’s dudes walking around like they’re straight out of a Western movie, they’ve all got…you go into a pub, everyone’s got cowboy hats on and they’re wearing big boots and expensive cowboy shirts. It’s cool. They also…I don’t mind it, it used to annoy me when they first started because I was like…not annoy me, it used to be like, “You guys are playing dress-up.” But then, they drink a lot and they smoke a lot and they play country music, so I’m like, “Well, they’re fully embracing the whole cowboy character, so good on them.” Like, they’re like proper cowboys or whatever.
So, what I wanna ask is when did you come to Ireland, then? I know you said your folks…well, your mam is from Ireland.
Yeah. So, mum and dad are in Sydney. So, I only moved here five months ago. I moved here five months ago, but I used to come over nearly every year when I was little, because mum would come and see the family and obviously because dad is from here as well, they’d both be able to come over together and do their family stuff. And then a bit less when I was a bit older but then I came over when I was 18 and travelled Ireland, backpacked around Ireland, saw some family. I did the UK as well. But, yeah, it’s only been five months. I was travelling with some friends, and we were in America, and then I was going to go home to a nice little… – it wouldn’t have been a nine-to-five job, but it was close, it was events or something – and I was like, “What the fuck? Why am I…?” Like, I’ve never lived anywhere else, I’ve got an Irish passport, my family’s in Ireland, there’s lot of music, I was like, “I’ll just move somewhere different for a while.”
Was Ireland a big culture shock from Australia or do you think the two cultures are very similar?
I think if it wasn’t me – I came over a lot and I feel very Irish – I think if it wasn’t me, it was a shock. Like, I had some friends over on the weekend and we went up to Donegal and there were some experiences that I’d seen before kind of, like a private bus driver we had to get to get to Derry, dropped us to a public bus that then stopped to fuel so we didn’t have to pay the expensive fee. It was like, “Well, that’s Country Ireland 101.” We got mooned by some guy because my friend’s from Bangor and, you know, he had the Northern accent, so he mooned us, and these Aussie girls were like, “What the fuck is going on?!” And then we got given poitín by a neighbour the next day and I was like, “You guys got an experience,” but I grew up with it. The culture shock this time was probably I had never been here this long for winter, so that was…I understood the drinking culture because it’s the only place that’s warm. What else was there? Culture shock, culture shock. The slagging. I haven’t experienced that…I went to school here for three months when I was younger, and I forgot about that. It took me like a month to kind of get used to that humour and then I got it and even now I’m not very good at giving it back. That’s nice though, I really like that. It keeps everyone humble, and also if someone’s slagging you, it’s almost a pat on the back. If someone’s like making fun of you, they’re like, “You’re alright!”
Is shittalking not really a thing in Australia?
There’s a bit of shittalking. The older blokes…the older Aussies are a bit more shittalking, but there’s a lot more kind of staring at you and not shittalking, like they don’t speak their mind maybe as much. But in the young people, nowhere near as much shittalking. The young people don’t do it because they’re worried they might offend someone.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Whereas here, yeah, they’re just fucking shittalking whoever [Both laugh] about something. So, that was a culture shock. Everything else…It was a culture shock to realise how Irish I was, I think. Because in Australia, I always felt weird speaking to people and them just not speaking much back and then I was here and I was like, “Whoa, shit! It’s because I’m Irish!” Like, everyone just kind of interrupts each other and talks, talks, talks and talks, and you have to be like, “I’ve actually got to go somewhere!” [Both laugh] You know, like?
“I’ve got somewhere to be!” And then the culture sho…Oh! The big one is trying to organise plans.
Holy fuck! That’s ridiculous!
[Laughs] Everyone is so flaky!
Oh, my God! Because everyone…someone said to me, I didn’t realise why it was, and then it was because everyone says “Yes” to everyone, and they have to pull out on someone.
Yeah, there’s a big guilt in saying “No” here.
Yeah! The girls again that I was with on the weekend, it was meant to take us three hours to get up to Donegal, it took us like five-and-a-half hours. We kept stopping, we kept doing something else…the next day we were meant to leave at like one o’clock, we left at like five because we were like, “Oh, let’s go get some breakfast at a café,” everyone was like, “Cool, we’ll leave in half-an-hour.” Fifteen minutes later, everyone’s eating eggs on toast and the girls are like, “I thought we were going to get food somewhere?” “We’ll go in half-an-hour.” Everyone’s having fucking coffee at the house. And then we – two hours later – go for café and they were like, “When are we going back to Dublin?” They’re like, “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe tomorrow, who knows? We’re in no rush, are we?!”
That’s kind of the way we do it, yeah, I don’t know!
But I like that. So, I was like that in Sydney, and my Sydney friends…everyone in Sydney is very much like, “I’ll see you in the pub at three-thirty. If you’re like half-an-hour late…,” you know what I mean? “We’re waiting here,” and you’re like, “Oh, I don’t know. I’ve been doing shit, man. Like, I’ve got other stuff more important than a pint but now I’m here with you, so relax.”
Since you’ve been over here, I know you were talking earlier, you said you do bartending and stuff. I’m assuming that’s evening shifts, so how’s that going to play into gigging and stuff like that?
I’m super lucky that the bar is staffed well now and has a manager and he likes music as well, which is cool. And I told them when they hired me, I was like, “I can do…every now and again I’ll have a gig, so I need a Friday or Saturday off,” and they’re fine with it. Like, I feel a lot of bartenders prefer to work the weekend nights. Like, one of the girls, she says, “It’s because I don’t spend my money.”
Yeah. Better tips too.
Yeah, better tips too, exactly. So, it works out fine. The nights are good because I can write during the day and finish and like mix, because I record and mix my own stuff, so I can go into my room and just sit down and have a coffee and do that sort of stuff. The night time’s good for writing creatively, but not, like, sit down, working, kind of finishing off shit that you…like, a song that you don’t like anymore, trying to get that finished. And I’m also lucky that I’m like the longest-serving bartender at this pub. It’s been four months because everyone left over Christmas and stuff, so…Yeah, I got lucky. I got lucky with this bar that I’m able to ask for days off and stuff, which is nice to have the days off and work the nights.
Do you think the relative proximity of Ireland to the UK or to mainland Europe offers you a benefit where perhaps maybe at some point you might tour Germany for a week or go to France or do a UK tour or something like that, versus Sydney, where maybe you could do Melbourne and Adelaide and stuff but even somewhere like Perth is like, you know, is way…is like way further perhaps to even us to Paris or Berlin. Or Canberra or whatever, you know what I mean? Do you think that’s a benefit too?
That’s a big one. That’s one…no, no, not one of the reasons I moved here, but one of the bigger realisations when I was here. Like, I always knew that and then I was like, if I’m able to get…if I’m able to get something going in Ireland…yet you got the UK. Ireland’s, like, overlooked almost. There’s so many musicians here actually, it’s crazy. But then they go, leave, and go to London or go Europe or, you know, eight hours from New York or whatever. So…
I think it’s even less. I think it’s only like five by flight.
Yeah! It’s crazy! Like, exactly what you’re saying, in Sydney, like I know people who have been doing it for five years, which is fine, like people do it…but you tour the east coast for years, like, and not that it’s a bad thing, like to get from Sydney down to Melbourne is like a ten-hour drive, so that’s a big commitment for a tour. Like, to bring a whole band down, ten hours, and then going down into Adelaide is even further and then Canberra’s around there, like, that’s a big thing. And then Queensland…and it’s kind of the east coast. And to get to Perth, it’s like, well I don’t know how long the flight is, but you might as well fly to somewhere in Europe, you know? So, that actually is a big thing that’s really cool about being here and would be something that I’d like to try and do, would be to get more shows in…eventually. It’s a long-term thing, to get over there, but right now I’m…
I think also, you have the benefit – you were mentioning you have an Irish passport – of like being able to go to the UK and Europe and not have any difficulty, where I think for other people sometimes for other people…sometimes people who might, say for example, have a German passport, because of Brexit, have to do all this shit. Where you can kind of just tour basically the entire continent free of trouble! [Laughs]
That is…Again, lockdown. Didn’t travel. And then me and Jack, my friend, were travelling, and it was so strange just to go, “I can just move here. I don’t have to worry about it.” And then the Irish and American relations are really good but even for him with the Aussie passport, the Americans don’t mind the Aussies, but going through Dublin to get into America is a lot easier than going from Sydney to get into America because it’s such a common travel path I think, between New York and Dublin, and they like the Irish, and they even have the precheck in Dublin before you go to New York, they do the border here, whatever it’s called…But yeah, it’s like you got the whole world, it’s quite strange. The goal would be to be able to do summer here in Europe and do summer in Australia. I mean, it would be kind of expensive but if it became a thing where I could book it, to get a job, but that’s a long-term, long-term…
Do you have any particular sights on any festivals or venues that you’d like to play? Like, long-term or short-term?
Yeah, I mean, I just wouldn’t mind playing any of the Irish festivals, they just seem like a lot of fun. Trying to get that sorted but, again, I’m so new here, there’s so many up-and-coming bands that they probably want. But Body&Soul seems like a really nice one; Electric Picnic obviously seems like a nice one; any of those Irish…that’s really cool that the Irish festivals really support up-and-coming artists. Like, in Australia as well, you have to…to even get your name in the small print on those festivals, it’s all run by the top-down, so…especially because they can get…there’s so many more people at the festival, they can afford to get bigger acts in and fly them in, but it’s also top-down run. It’s like Triple J will book all of the stages, whereas here, apparently, it’s like stages are run by different people, right? Like, Hot Press would run one or…
It depends on the festival.
Yeah. But that’s really cool, that they support up-and-coming artists like that.
So, if someone wanted to play, like, Big Day Out or something like that, they’d have to have a certain amount of established appeal already?
Yeah, you’d have to have a booking agent and then probably heaps of factors I don’t know. Definitely a booking agent and then you’d have to be still reasonably…like you wouldn’t have to be massive, but you wouldn’t have…I mean “followers” isn’t a good way of putting it. Like, I think Harry Fennell, he played Electric Picnic last year, I think. He’s got a fair few followers from busking and that, but there’s no way he would be playing a festival in Australia. Not because he’s bad – love ya, Harry! – but, like, compared to the follower thing, it’s like there’s no way that would happen, just because I think the festivals are so much bigger, they can get someone bigger on the smaller stage.
One kind of cool thing I always thought about the Australian festival scene, as an outsider looking in, is that you guys do the touring…like, nationwide touring festivals. So, that kind of reminds me of the Lollapalooza back in the day or something like that, or like the Warped Tour, where they would get in a van and bring the festival to each city. Australia seems to be the last holdout still doing that. That’s kind of a unique perspective, I don’t know if you’ve ever attended one of those or anything like that or have an opinion on that kind of thing?
They what? They would move the festivals?
Yeah, I forget which ones specifically, but they would still do touring festivals, where they’re like, “This day it’s in Adelaide, this day it’s in Sydney…”
Yes, they did do one. I think they only do one. There was one they did last year, and one of the big acts got cancelled. I can’t remember what festival it was. I’ve never been to one. I’ve only been to one festival ever, that’s Splendour in the Grass, and the year where it was muddy. Did you see that on the news?
I think Splendour in the Grass tours, don’t they? I could be wrong. [Editor’s Note: I was indeed wrong]
No, they don’t. No, no. It’s always in Byron Bay. I went…that was my first festival, and if you look it up, the mud was, like, thigh-deep. They didn’t prepare for it at all, it was really dangerous though. But I actually really…everyone was annoyed with it, and I was like, “This is sick!” I was like, “This is great! It’s so chaotic!” And I liked it as well because all the people that would dress up really nicely for the festival couldn’t, so everyone was in…it felt like maybe what a British festival would feel like, in the rain. This is like everyone at their worst, people pissing on the ground and stuff, and I was like, “This is sick.”
Yeah, yeah! You would definitely like Electric Picnic, then! [Laughs]
Yeah, yeah, yeah! Cool, cool!
Talking about your music then, I noticed there’s kind of a concept going on with the music videos you’ve released so far for your three singles released at the time of us talking – obviously by the time this goes out, there will be more – but there is kind of a thematic concept going on. It’s kind of a guy – this is how I read it – but through “Snowflake,” a guy in the wilderness just kind of waking up and kind of…it seems like an evolution of man becoming civilised almost.
And that theme kind of continues throughout the music videos for the others. They were shot in Australia. Now that you live here, I mean, how would that kind of influence the theme going forward, or is that just its own trilogy and you’ll just stop with them?
I should have…when I was in Sydney, I probably should have incorporated that theme more after the release; that’s something I want to work on in the future, if I do have a concept – that’s what I realised at the show the other night as well – if I do have a concept, I want to be more professional about it, even if I’m sick of it. Just because you’ve done three shows with it, doesn’t mean that everyone’s seen the show, like…Anyway, it was mainly those three videos, then the EP that’s coming out has “Self-Pity” on it, which is quite different from the other three singles, and that video is quite different, and that’s kind of more showing my fun side I guess, or my self-deprecating side, and then the other single on it is on the EP, but it was mainly those three videos. So, those three videos are the first ones that I finished, and during the lockdown, me and Jack were just coming up with ideas for it and he… – we were scouting locations – and he said “Watch Wake in Fright, the movie.” Have you watched that movie?
I haven’t seen it, no.
You should watch it, and you’ll realise what the suit I was wearing is. I, like, had to find this suit to copy him. And so, the concept came from that; it’s about this guy who just goes on a bender throughout rural Australia, and just like loses all his money, and is shooting kangaroos, and it’s a weird movie. And we’re like, “Let’s copy that, get the suit and pay homage to it.” Yeah, so it’s pretty much what you said. It’s more about, the first video he goes and is with his mates and they all disappear and then suddenly…that’s why you don’t see any people until the end of the vi…until the end of the three videos, because then he’s back to…it’s like he’s gone on…you don’t know whether he’s on a real trip or it’s a daydream. But we just came up with the idea and the album cover and then we just kept chipping away with it and then it was really fun shooting it. It was really fun shooting it.
When it comes to the music videos, do you have a say? Do you kind of go, “Here’s my concept, here’s what I want,” or are you content to just work with the director and go, “Whatever you like”?
With those three it was…So, my friend Jack, he’s like almost like a…he’s part…he’s like my best friend probably, and he’s pretty much part of Euan Hart; he’s like one-half of Euan Hart. So far. Until we have an argument. So, then when we did it, it was all…I came up with this picture that I thought, of having a living room, like, in the middle of nowhere, and then from there we kind of bounced off each other, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. What was the idea? There was one idea that we were going to have a dummy, a guy…like a papier-mâché person that I picked up on the way on that trip, and he would be my friend on that trip, like I talked to…and I’d be talking to no-one and he’d be there and he’d be on the roof, or…[Clears throat] So…I’m a bit…I’m quite…No, I’m a control fr…I’m more…I definitely am really heavily involved in all the planning; like, I did all the scripts and the shot lists for all the music videos, and the concepts were there, and then Jack helps me chip away at that. They don’t…the shot lists don’t really…it’s like terrible sketches and stuff, but, yeah, definitely them. In the future, I’ll probably be…probably take a bit more of a step back, just help come up with the concept and then hand it over, but it’s always more expensive.
Sure. Your music is self-produced and self-released. I was wondering was that – because you were mentioning a lot of this being in the lockdown – was that a necessity of the times or was that how you always wanted to do it anyway? Like, do you have a history of producing or anything prior to this?
Well, when I was with my old band, Last Thursday, we would…I would only write the basis of it, then we would write together, then we would go to a studio and record it. But then kind of when I was in… – I think I used to mess around with GarageBand a bit – and then, when I was in the studio, kind of when I was a bit older, I was a bit more wanting to have more creative control over the recording of it, but at the same time I didn’t know much about it and then the band…it was OK because there was the band and the producer, so it was all collaborative. And then I guess…yeah, I guess during lockdown I started recording in my room a lot more. Yeah, now you say that, actually. I didn’t think about that. It was probably because I couldn’t do anything else. And then it became a thing of, like, I’d get up – and I was at uni – but I’d do uni and then I’d do music and then I got really into Battlefield 1! Like, I haven’t played Xbox since lockdown, but I’d play Battlefield 1.
I’ve played that game, yeah. [Laughs]
Oh, yeah! From like from 10 P.M. or 11 P.M. until two o’clock in the morning every day, and I fucking haven’t played a video game ever since the end of lockdown. But it’s a routine, as you were saying, you know?
So, yeah, I think it must have been a sign of the times, now that you say that. Just recording and messing around with recording stuff, and then I was like, “I can do this.” So, then I would record it and then I was able to get…send it off to a drummer and they record real drums. And then my mate who has a better bass guitar and is a really good bassist, send my bass parts to him and say, “Just copy this but make it your own.” Same with drummer. And I did that, and I was like, “Oh, shit! This is like…I can do this! This is so much cheaper than going to, like, a studio as well for like three-hundred euro a day, or whatever it is.”
Yeah, because I noticed a lot of people that I talk to had that similar experience, where it’s like lockdown forced them to have to become a producer, like they had to kind of learn how to EQ and shit. Yeah, was that difficult for you or did you kind of adapt to it quickly? Because I notice everyone – every single person I talk to – has their own unique style, and sometimes that’s very antiquated, sometimes it’s very cutting-edge, it varies from person-to-person, but it’s almost like there doesn’t seem to be a “right way” to do it anymore; it’s just whatever works for you. As long as you get the results you want, you can kind of do it at a professional standard in your bedroom even if you don’t really have the experience. It’s wild.
Yeah, it is. Especially if you’re using something like Logic and not Pro Tools, the presets kind of sort you out. Now, in saying that, I would mix things to a point where they sound good to me, not that they’re technically sounding good. So, the stuff is mixed by Alex L’Estrange, so I’ll be like, his sound is kind of where I want everything levels-wise, like I want the trumpet that loud and I want the piano that loud, but it sounds muddled, and it doesn’t…it’s not clear. And then he will go and properly EQ it, properly compress it. Like, I’m just using…originally, I was just using stock plugins, not messing around with things much, but to learn kind of made sense to me. Logic is kind of user-friendly, so it wasn’t too hard. I don’t think it was too hard to learn and I wasn’t too technical about it. Now I’m a bit more, like, listening to my stuff that I’ve released and, like, doing my recordings now, I’m a lot more like, “Oh, OK, that sounds like shit. I need to learn how to EQ things a bit more, and how to use a certain compressor.” But I also think that buying really expensive compressors and EQs…I’m sure at some point I will, when my ears get more tuned to it, but it’s also like the stock stuff is fine.
So, that should not be an excuse not to record your own music. Like, at all, you know?
Talking about your new EP – your new self-titled EP – I’m not being coy; I legitimately don’t know anything about it, except that it releases next month – April 12th, I believe – and it’s self-titled. Beyond that, I don’t know anything: how many songs are on it, which songs are on it, except for “Self-Pity.” So, yeah, tell us about that.
What is there? There’s “145,” “Holding My Hair…,” no. “145,” “Sold,” “Snowflake.” So, “Sold” is a new one, it’s like a little short one that was written and then it was in the key of “Snowflake,” so they kind of…I guess kind of linked to “Snowflake.” “Snowflake,” “Hold My Hair Back,” “Self-Pity Part I” and “Part II.” So, that’s split into…that will be split into two songs, but you can…if you were playing them, it would go through into…it would sound like it’s one song, kind of. Then there’s a little interlude song at the end, which is just from “145,” and it kind of loops back to the start. So, that’s it. Most of it…there’s only really going to be one unheard song on it. Em…it’s been taking a while because “Self-Pity” took a while to record. I was trying to record that like I did the other ones, but because it’s got that big live section, big thrashing section at the start, and I couldn’t get that from just plugging into my computer, then luckily a guy, Charlie White, he works in a studio and he works in like a commercial studio, doing like adverts. He writes music, and he was, like, wanting to do more writing and recording with not commercial stuff, and he just said, “Come in,” and I got the band that I was playing…and I just had the Sydney band. We played a few gigs, so we like arranged the song for live, so it sounded good and then it was like, “OK. Well, let’s just put that into the studio” and it worked out really well. So, “Self-Pity” is different in that way; it was not…that was not recorded in my room. The demo was recorded in my room and written – I wrote it, all the parts – but then we recorded it in the studio.
Yeah. So, yeah, like was there any kind of thematic concept? Because, like I was saying, when I was watching your videos, there seemed to be a lot of overlap. One thing I noticed was a kind of theme of herbal tea. Like, repeating stuff.
Yeah, yeah. It’s true.
Is there a connective tissue on the album or is it just kind of each individual song is their own thing?
There was definitely…I think the herbal tea thing came up a lot because of lockdown and trying not to drink cof…like, all…everyone…I think everyone got into, like, health heaps and, “I shouldn’t drink much coffee; I should drink green tea. I should…” And I also find the concept of herbal tea fucking hilarious. Like, people…it’s nice that people like it, but I don’t really understand how people drink just tea that doesn’t have anything in it apart from, like, berries. I do get it, I do get it, but I just still find it funny. It’s like a remedy to help suppress sadness but then people don’t go for like a run! [Laughs] You know what I mean? So, that came up a lot. And then it just came with the videos, like, “How are we going to connect this? How are we going to connect the videos?” and all that, and I just found a really nice teacup and saucer, and I was like, “Let’s just do that,” because that…I say it in “Self-Pity” as well. I think I say it in “145.” I think the theme really is between those three videos and then “Self-Pity” is almost kind of…it comes off it.
Will there be a video for “Self-Pity”?
Yeah. So, the video for “Self-Pity” was just filmed the whole time that I was travelling with Jack. So, we just had a camcorder, and we were just like, “Let’s just film the music video while we’re travelling.”
So, it’s a lot more gonzo?
Yeah. A lot more gonzo, it’s just kind of clips of…which I’m kind of glad about it. It’s very different to the trilogy. The trilogy was quite serious, and I was always saying how I’m not serious, and then the videos are all serious, but on my social media I don’t think I’m that serious and then it’s like, “Well, why don’t we just do the videos where it’s me being me for the video?” So, that’s what we did.
Perfect. And is there any plans for further releases beyond this or are you just like, “I’m just getting this EP out.”
Oh, yeah. This EP is, like, done. It’s been done for a while, except for waiting on…we were waiting on the mixes for “Self-Pity.” But, yeah, next…I’m working on another album that I want to have done in the next…I want to have all the demos done in the next couple of months. Maybe three months, probably two months, I want to have them all done. I really just need to get that shit [finished]. And then, the next one, I’ve got another album that is kind of rough demos that I really need to…really need to get sorted, because that one I’m really excited for. So, the next one will be funny, that will be a big rebrand. I want to do some videos and photos in Ireland before I leave, if I leave, I don’t know what’s going on. That will be a bit more funny and a bit more personality. And then, yeah, so there’s another album. And then I’ve written some songs while I’ve been here and travelling here. There’s going to be an album next year or…I’m just trying to get heaps of music out because I don’t think I’m going to be happy unless I do it.
On top of digital, is there any plans to do, like, physical releases or is it all going to be digital?
I’ll probably do… I’ll probably do. I’m just going to get some water; I’ll be back in a second. [Euan leaves and comes back. Yada, yada, yada] Em…physical? I don’t know. Once I know people are going to buy it.
Yeah. Because I know some people who do vinyl releasing and stuff. Self-releasing is an absolute nightmare. I was talking to one guy, Conor Miley, who’s an indie musician. He’s doing his own thing and he’s like, “Yeah, like everything’s backed up here for months in Ireland.” So, if you want vinyl, you kind of have to go to England and stuff, and it’s just like apparently a huge nightmare at the moment…
Yeah. There’s one in Glasnevin, I think, is the one that’s super busy.
Yeah, all of them seem to be, domestically. I don’t know what’s up. So, yeah, but would that be something that would interest you?
In the future. Well, I’m not a big vinyl person. I think if I was to record stuff on tape, if I was to record analogue, I would be interested in releasing it analogue, on vinyl. I’m recording it heaps of it digital, I’m kind of like I don’t know what the point is, because the quality you get on your phone, I think, is really good. CDs, maybe. I mean, I just like CDs a lot. And maybe some funny…I like the idea of doing a tape because I like how they look. Definitely, I’d do vinyls at some point, but I’m not going to do it unless I know people are going to buy [it].
So, for the meantime, you wouldn’t be thinking of like, “Here’s where I’ll split the A and the B-side” or anything like that? You’re just like, “No, this is just the album”?
No, no, this is just the album. Yeah, it’s true actually. No, this is just the album. The next album though, actually…that’s actually kind of interesting because I was writing out the next album on a piece of paper yesterday, like how I would release it, and there was a definite split. So, maybe that would be something that I would do for the next one. And the songs…the album is like old-timey. It’s like an old-timey album, kind of. So, maybe I should do that for the next one. It’s just expensive. Like, I don’t know how much it is to print vinyls, but I could think about it.
Yeah, I mean a lot of people are doing, like, limited runs and stuff, but I don’t know. Even just for your own prosperity, like, “Here. Here’s something that I have.” The other thing that I just wanted to ask, kind of wrapping up, is would you be interested in signing with a label or anything like that, or do you just want to self-release everything yourself?
If…so, I go through a distributor now and they…they’re really good, and if my music does well, I think they’ll give me some…I might in the future get some funding off them. The only reason I would think…I would have to go to the label…I would have to see what the label would offer. But I don’t think I would ever go fully-fledged label signed because I just know so much choice would be stripped away. Like, so much of my creative control over the project I think would be stripped away. I think it depends what label you go with. Like, Andy Shauf’s labels and Father John Misty’s, like they’re Sub Pop and I think ANTI-, they have good agreements. So, the reason I would go with the label would be…
So is Weyes Blood: Sub Pop.
Yeah. But even if you look at their Spotify notes, it will say, “Andy Shauf,” “Weyes Blood” “…with Sub Pop.” So, they must have some agreement. So, definitely, at some point I would like to partner with a label that I really trusted and went with because of the opportunity to let your art go further. Like, of course.
It would also be cool to be like, “I’m label mates with…,” you know, whatever. Cool people.
I think a lot of artists now are realising their…the importance of owning…self-ownership and sometimes there are deals where it’s like, “We retain the rights after, like, five years” or whatever. It depends on the contract; everyone’s different. But I think every artist now – whether it’s authors or filmmakers or what have you – they…I don’t know. They seem to know that they have to get the rights back at some point because I think we’ve had decades where the power imbalance has been in favour of the labels or the studios or whoever, depending on which medium you’re working in. I think now they’re starting to realise like, “OK, we have to start giving them leeway a little bit,” you know what I mean?
Yeah. I think the biggest appeal of it, of having a label, is you’ve officially got a job. [Laughs] You know?
Yeah, but I mean even for the things you were talking about – about distribution or getting vinyl pressing or anything like that – I mean, a lot of those weights are lifted off your shoulder a bit.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Exactly. Like, you’ve finally got someone who can help direct you and you can not worry about working another job or if you want to you can or you can live like a bum. That would be nice. That would be super nice. I don’t know. I guess I’ve just come around. I’m trying to be more internal recently, and just go, “All I can do is try and write the best music that I can and release it, and then, like, send it to people and try and get people to listen to it,” and then if they like it, that’s great, and then we’ll see what happens, you know? But, yeah, I think…I don’t know. No idea.
Yeah. You’re just kind of taking it as it is?
Yeah. Taking it as it is. I might reach out to a few for the next album and stuff, but I don’t know. There’s one album that… – not the next that’s old-timey, but the one after – that I’m definitely going to…that’s probably one that I’ll send around to people to be like, “Hey.”
So, for the meantime, you’re just kind of building your profile? Getting the gigs out, getting the music out, and trying to establish what your fanbase is, I guess?
Which I think is kind of the aim of any artist, really.
Yeah, and a catalogue. Like, an interesting catalogue. I think…like, the next one will be very different from the stuff that I’ve released and the one after that will be different from the next one. And I think…I was like thinking, “Oh, it’s gonna be a bit weird going from this to that,” but then I was like, “No, because if you fully commit to…” I was like, “Oh, I’ve got to fully commit to a rebrand.” Like, an alter ego almost. Like, I’ve got to fully rebrand…like, commit to it because then I can fully commit to the next one. If you’re kind of just swerving a little bit in-between, it’ll get confusing. But if you’re like, “Hey, new stage” and…
David Bowie style almost, a little bit?
Yeah. Which is nice, you know? And there’s no harm in having more albums under your belt than less.
Yeah, of course.
You know what I mean?
Yeah. But I kind of get the impression from talking to you that perhaps you get interesting concepts, then bored of them quickly, too?
So, would you ever worry about that like if, say for example, you had to tour for a year on the same thematic thing that you came up with a year prior, where you’re like, “I want to do this new shit”? Do you ever worry about that kind of thing?
Yeah, I do. That’s what I worried about kind of the other night after the show. I was like, “You’re getting bored of…,” I was like, “I’m getting bored of things too quickly.” But that was a good realisation because then I went, “Well, too bad.” Now I’ve got to make sure that I treat that part of it like a job, because you can keep interested in other ways. So, I think that’s something you just kind of grow out of. I think. I think, I don’t know. But I think if I was going on tour, doing it ever night, having fun…I think also if you’re on tour and doing a theme, it would go so quickly that you wouldn’t feel like you were doing it for two years, you know?
And it would also make you more dedicated to the bit, because you’re not going to haphazardly go, “Well, maybe I’ll do this,” because you have to picture going up on stage every night, doing this on a three-month tour or something.
Yeah. I think also if you’re going to different places, it’s like a new show for everyone, every night. Whereas, what would happen in Sydney especially – I only played, like, three shows in Sydney under my solo name before I left – and even by the third show, we changed the setlist, you know? Whereas, the first two shows, the setlist was great. The setlist worked really well, but then at the third show I was like, “Oh, [it’s] probably the same people that came to the first two shows, so I got to change the setlist.” Which is true to an extent, but also there was probably half the crowd who had never seen the show before, so why did I change the setlist? You know what I mean?
But do you also look forward to – as we were talking about earlier – potentially travelling around and maybe seeing, like say if you went around Europe, seeing how, “Well, the Spanish react to my show like this. The French react to it like this. The Germans like this. The Italians like this,” whatever, wherever you happen to go? Is that something that intrigues you, to see how different nationalities react to what you’re doing? Because I think it’s interesting how versatile everyone’s music taste has become. I think in a lot of ways it’s down to streaming culture perhaps and just in a lot of ways there isn’t the commitment to music that you had to have at one point, whereas maybe you hoped a song would be folk because you needed to sell folk or whatever it may be. Where it seems like now, everywhere in the world seems receptive to weird and kind of avant-garde shit. Like, even mainstream music is getting very avant-garde and experimental and about bigger themes beyond just sex and, you know, having a good time.
You know what I mean?
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Do you look forward to seeing how other places will react to your music, beyond Ireland and Australia?
I look forward to…So, yeah, some of the stuff that I was writing when I’ve been here, when I was travelling, I would really like to do more collaborations and have some…Because it was kind of some…a lot of the songs were about travelling and I’d love to have, like, a French singer on one of the songs. I listened to a lot of Serge Gainsbourg at that time as well, so I’d like to see how they reacted with that stuff and incorporate some other cultures into the music. But, yeah, with my music, sure. I mean, I’d like to…I have a few people listen to my music in Madrid and Lisbon and stuff and Spain and, em…I guess I would be interested obviously. At the same time, I’m kind of in the headspace of trying not to care too much what people think of it, live. Like, obviously I want everyone to have a good time, that’s what I’m there for, but at the same time…I don’t know. Of course, I’d love to travel and see how people react to the show and if they do react, if people come. That would be great.
So, you’re still the same showman selling fake tickets since you were a kid?
Yeah, yeah! [Laughs] Yeah, sick!
Hey, that’s still kind of who you are! Perfect, is there anything you’d like to add just before we wrap up then?
Em…the single’s out 15th of March. EP’s out the 12th of April, you said? I don’t even know. I forgot that.
Yeah, I think that’s what Meghan [Mc Kenna, Euan’s PR manager] told me. [Laughs]
Yeah. It’s out soon. Like, six weeks or something.
Yeah. This will be coming out somewhat sooner to that release, I think.
Thank you very much for coming to the show so far. Thank you for speaking to me. It’s been very nice.
Euan Hart’s self-titled EP is available to stream and purchase from this Friday. You can get the EP here and keep up with Euan here.
Aaron Kavanagh is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Post-Burnout. His writing can also be found in the Irish Daily Star, Buzz.ie, New Noise Magazine, XS Noize, DSCVRD and more.