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Trick Mammoth

Trick Mammoth

Interviewed by
Sam Valentine
Tuesday 21st August, 2012 4:44PM

After three years releasing beautiful lo-fi folk EP’s via bandcamp, only to delete them hours later, It Came From the Attic, conincides with a flux of creativity from the man behind Trick Mammoth. One of Dunedin’s best keep secrets, Under the Radar sent long time friend Sam Valentine to talk the constantly smiling enigma.

Hey man, how’s it going?

Going to Sydney tomorrow so I'm excited. Aeroplanes are great.

You’ve been loosely making music under the Trick Mammoth moniker since early twenty-ten, but It Came From the Attic will be the first time your music will see a wider ‘formal’ release. What was the motivation to finally share yourself with a wider audience?

I'm hoping some people might like it! Please like it!

Is the prospect of sharing your art something you find quite daunting?

Kind of, just because I'm a really closed person and I feel really exposed when singing. Not really because of the lyrics or whatever because they're not really that personal. To be perfectly honest, I'm just not a big fan of my voice and the songs I write are usually extremely focused on vocals. So yeah, that makes it hard for me to share stuff.

What kind of art influences you wholistically? I know you’re a bit of a cinephile.

I'm influenced mostly by music unsurprisingly. I listen to a lot of girl groups. I like soul music a lot, like Sam Cooke and Otis Redding. I listen to a lot of embarrassing pop music. Sixties bands I guess like The Zombies and stuff. Also, I really like Rowland S. Howard's projects. The Birthday Party and his solo albums are real cool and dark. David Bowie is the greatest. But yes I love film! Sam I sat beside you in film class! I'm not really a cinephile though. I just like pretty shots and stuff. I use film references in the artwork and the song names. Though I'm not sure if that translates within the actual music. I don't really think too much about all of that when I'm writing. I kind of just try and write the best song I can, I'm not really aiming to fit a certain mould. I think there is some sort of aesthetic but I don't really think about it. Just happens that way. I hope I answered the question.

Have you been involved any other musical projects?

Dainiel Blackball Alexander (the guy who put this compilation together) and I have a two piece. No instruments involved really. I just sort of choose an ABBA album and he does interpretive dance. Lots of candles, incense and lots of rose petals scattered on the floor. He is really good. He really loses himself in the music. The only word I can use to describe it is 'euphoric'. Yup, be on the look out or ask Dan about it. He's always really excited to talk about it. It's kind of endearing.

I know you often post poetry online, are words important to you?

Oh right? I'm not sure if you can call that poetry! Usually whatever I end up writing makes no sense. I like the way certain words sound when they're placed together. Lyrically I'm awful. I have nothing smart or profound to say really. I do attempt to write things that are image heavy though. Like a little more abstract? I don't know. I think it's because it's the only way I know how to write.

How did you get involved with the Attic?

I just went up there heaps because they let me use the internet. Now I have a studio space there. It gets really cold at night because it's winter. It's a nice environment. We need more plants, however. Flowers and stuff. Than it would be like Jumanji? I don't know. I always thought it would be cool to have a forest in your house. With lions and stuff. Getting off track but yeah. Lions.

Is It Came From the Attic something you’re pretty proud to be associated with?

Yeah I really like Muzai. I really like The Attic. Super thankful for the opportunity.

What’s your favourite song on the compilation, excluding your own?

That's kind of unfair! I really wanted to pick my own. Hah no, that's a lie my self confidence is crap. Umm, I haven't heard all of them yet but the ones I've heard I've really enjoyed. I'm probably not going to answer this question. However, I think Astro Children's track is cool, Entire Alphabet is awesome, Space Bats are really wicked, Ostrander are amazing, Fat Children are great. Those are all the tracks I've heard so far. Brown and Kane Strang always write amazing songs though so yeah lots of positive adjectives. I think people are excited now.

What’s Dunedin (in general) like as a space to be creative?

I like living here. People are friendly and helpful which definitely encourages creativity. I reckon if you're given the time and the opportunity to be creative than it should be easy. Dunedin definitely offers you both those things. I haven't tried to create anything anywhere else. So not sure if I can give you a good answer.

Tell me about your song Himalayas?

I was watching Melancholia. I wrote it about five months ago. It has nothing to do with the Himalayas. I kind of just tried to write a very pretty, sort of strange, bewildering thing. Melancholia the movie has some really nice imagery, especially the intro. Not sure about the actual movie itself but it is most definitely eye candy.

Your usual process is to record solo with a singstar microphone. What it the same here?

Yup! I'm just sort of making demos at this stage. Singstar microphone gets the job done so I'm happy.

I understand you’re planning to release a series of demo tapes alongside your track on It Came From the Attic?

Oh right yes! It's just sort of like a little project for me. I've got around sixty songs I've stored up over two years or so. Well I've got more but some are really, really horrible. But yeah I'm sort of recording them chronologically from earliest to latest and releasing them in demo tapes. Each demo tape has three songs. I've shared two so far, I'm planning twenty in total. You can get them from I'm going to release about two a week. So come and embark on a lo-fi journey with me. Yes all of you! I'm sort of lonely at the moment. I don't mind if it's out of pity. Pity can be heart warming when it includes my music and you listening to it.

Plans for the future?

Wow, not sure. Film school I think.

And finally, in typical UTR fashion, what are your thoughts on the New Zealand music scene at the moment?

Umm, I'm really out of the loop. But there are always good bands. New Zealand definitely has a lot of talent. I think it's really cool that there are heaps of younger bands and musicians really going for it. It's actually really inspiring to see. Like Lontalias, Males, Astro Children, A Distant City, Kane Strang. I wish I could mention everyone but that's just from the top off of my head. I also don't know a lot of bands. But yup. I think the New Zealand music scene has a bright future.


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