After dropping their ground-breaking first EP in 2015, and touring some of the world’s best festivals since, Australian duo ALTA are back, with their debut album Reasons coming out on November 22nd – and it’s definitely worth a listen.
Self-described as “emotional dance music”, Alta’s sound is undoubtedly unique. Often described as genre-defying, their music oscillates between R&B and electronica to create emotional bangers that have the power to both bring you to tears and make you jump to your feet and dance.
Their latest track “Push” is a commentary on the modern world of dating that sets the tone for the rest of the album. Self-recorded and produced by the duo over ten months at home, on Reasons, the duo’s aim to produce something unlike most other music has certainly been achieved. A distinctive mixture of genres, this album is not one to miss.
We caught up with the pair to discuss their different approach to making music, and the affects living in Australia had on attaining global success…
How does living in Australia influence your music?
We live in Melbourne, which has a great music and art scene, but we get a lot of inspiration from what’s coming out internationally. So we feel connected but kind of disconnected at the same time because when we get excited about an artist or scene we’re often physically on the other side of the world. I think that the isolation of living in Australia is probably the biggest influence it has on us but we also do get inspiration from the people we are close to over here.
Who did you grow up listening to?
My parents got me into blues and rock. Muddy Waters and stuff like that which I love. We’re talking before the internet was a big thing and I lived like proper out in the bush in Tasmania so I’d hear snippets of other things but it wasn’t until I got in my teens and started going out and seeing different bands and digging through music online is when it all changed for me.
Your new song is about the dynamics of modern dating. What inspired you to write about this?
I find it funny the cheeky new games people play online. Leaving people on read and things like that, the whole thing is just so ridiculous. So it’s a track about someone who thinks they’re pulling the strings but they’re tying themselves in knots.
What do you want people to get out of this song and your upcoming album?
We really poured a lot of ourselves into the album, we’ve definitely come out of the process different people. We hope that it resonates with some people like it did with us when we were writing it.
What were you inspired by when making your debut album?
We wrote a lot of tracks that ended up in the bin when it stopped feeling authentic or didn’t sound like something that we’d listen to. There were a lot of songs that we loved for a night but give it a week and we’d have some visceral reaction towards it and totally wipe the session. We didn’t know what kind of album we were making but we definitely knew what album we didn’t want to make. And because we were producing it there were just so many options and ways it could go. Jules pretty much completely stopped listening to other music for the duration to try to create some clarity and not get drawn into other stuff that was coming out
Where did the decision come from to self-record the album?
We write the vocals and the instrumental at the same time, we build up the layers and record the track as we write it. We get a little obsessive and care a lot about the feel of the vocal take, and when we’ve tried we can’t recreate that feel later in a better environment, even though it’s a better recording. So most of the vocal takes are made hand-holding a condenser in a dark room without headphones, because it’s a better environment for us. Which is so naughty and might have secretly caused our mixing engineer George some troubles, but he never said anything and we love him!
Who would be your dream musical collaboration?
We love other artists but we don’t really want to collaborate with other people on this project, which sounds a bit rough, but we just want it to be us two.
How would you define your sound?
We’ve been going with emotional dance music recently when we describe it to people but when we are writing it’s pretty much just what sounds good to us as we are piecing it together, as much of a cop out that is. We try to create a free space where we can play around with ideas and be open with each other, so our sound is all driven by our writing process.
Would you say it fits into a certain genre?
I think there are a lot of groups out there which don’t fit cleanly into a certain genre maybe because everyone is exposed to so much music. I think it could have something to do with the isolation too, paired with abundance of new music. I don’t know to be honest. Maybe our music fits into that. Maybe alt-pop? Please lock in alt-pop.
What’s your 5-year goal when it comes to music?
We’re not really big on planning and it’s all so unpredictable too! We enjoy writing music together and hope to continue doing that.