Wonderland.

NEW NOISE: SHEPPARD

The genre-bending group talk us through their third album, Kaleidoscope Eyes and how they’ve already started on their fourth.

Kaleidoscope_Eyes Sheppard's third album
Kaleidoscope_Eyes Sheppard's third album

While Fridays mean the start of our weekend and bidding goodbye to our laptops for a short two days, it also means the influx of new music and today we’ve been blessed. And Australian pop hitmakers Sheppard are making their entrance onto our playlists with their new album Kaleidoscope Eyes. Two years in the making, this album marks their third full-length release, and it’s impressive to say the last. Drip-feeding us sonic joy over the past year, the pop group takes us through stories filled with loss, love and heartbreak, richly told over thumping basslines, calming melodies and folk-inspired rhythms. A truly shimmering kaleidoscope, the 16-track album showcases the group’s growth over the years, as they reinvent their sound and shift between euphoric dance-pop and modern electronica.

Kaleidoscope Eyes is an album dedicated to the wonders of love, in every form,” band member George reveals. “With love, the world is a more colourful place. Spread it, make it, give it, feel it, appreciate it, and do your best not to lose it.”

With their album produced under the shackles of lockdown, we caught up with the group talking the inspiration behind the album, how their sound has evolved and what they’ve got planned for the future.

Check out the interview below…

Hi guys – how have you been during this uncertain time? How has it impacted your music and creativity?
COVID has been quite an interesting time for us. It’s been strangely bittersweet. Obviously, the constant threat of lockdowns and having the global music economy fall off a cliff has been a real bummer. Also, not being able to play live shows has really taken its toll – but on the other hand we’ve managed to find some really amazing benefits. We were able to invest alot of time into writing and recording this album, we released a new single every month of 2020! We also got to enjoy a tonne of time at home with our friends and loved ones without having to leave for months on end, so that aspect was really nice. Some other strange positives – we got to play a live-streamed show on an airport runway as there were no flights coming in and out, which was surely a once in a lifetime opportunity. We also managed to score the AFL Grand Final Halftime Entertainment spot, which is probably the biggest show you could ever dream to play in Australia. As far as global pandemics go, I feel like we’ve actually been very fortunate!

How has Australia influenced you sonically? Who were your musical heroes growing up?
Australia is an amazing country for music. We have a thriving music scene and have certainly produced some world-class musical acts. Funnily enough, though the music we make isn’t very “Australian”. We grew up in Papua New Guinea, and our parents used to listen to older classics such as Fleetwood Mac, America, Elton John and Cat Stevens. That timeless, classic style of pop songwriting is something we grew up with and I think we’ve certainly been inspired by those vintage artists than we have been by the music released today. In terms of heroes, we’re massive fans of Coldplay and that euphoric sense of grandeur they capture in their music.

What was the moment you guys decided to come together as a band?
We actually started as a university assignment! My sister Amy was studying music at uni, and she was given an assignment to write and produce a pop song. We ended up working on that together and realised that we really enjoyed writing music – also our voices worked nicely together, so we just kept writing more and more songs. Eventually, a long time friend, Jay Bovino, came on board as a third songwriter/guitarist, our younger sister Emma decided to learn how to play bass for the band – mainly cause she didn’t wanna miss out on the cool stuff we were starting to do! We then went hunting for a good drummer, found a great one in Dean Gordon and before we knew it, we had ourselves a band!

How would you describe your genre?
I guess technically we fall into the category of ‘pop’, but we don’t like to box ourselves in – we’ve released songs in all sorts of different styles. We’ve even got ourselves a full-on rock song on this album with “Catalina”. For the most part, a lot of our songs are quite uplifting and catchy – they have this anthemic, singalong quality to them. Then other songs are on the more airy/dreamy side. Either way, our songs are big, fun, lush and full of colour!

Congratulations on your forthcoming album Kaleidoscope Eyes – why that name?
Thank you! We had a few options for the album title, but we eventually settled on the opening lyric from the first track, ‘Die Young’ – “In a world that’s colourblind, we see it all through Kaleidoscope Eyes.” The underlying theme of the album is love, in all forms. Love for your partner, love for your friends, love for yourself. The title itself is a metaphor for that feeling of being in love. When you let love in, the world around you becomes a more rich, vivid place. It’s almost as though it’s turned up the saturation on the colours around you. Even if the rest of the world is grey and bleak, you see it through rose-tinted glasses – or, kaleidoscope eyes.

And it includes your new single “M.I.A” which is filled with this urge to break free from monotony, and live a life less ordinary – what inspired it?
This was one of the “self-love” tracks! We’ve all felt that need to break the monotony of life, to get away and be free from real life’s responsibilities for a little while. I felt this need when I was diagnosed with a vocal injury back in 2019 and had to undergo surgery. It stressed me out quite a bit. The idea that this job was hurting me and that I could potentially lose my voice did my head in. So before the surgery, I took a break from “real life” and went on a solo songwriting trip to Sweden. It was something of a soul-searching getaway, something I’d never really done before. Anyways, this was the first song I wrote over there, and it kick-started an amazing few weeks writing in Stockholm. That trip was a life experience I’ll never forget.

And the music video is this feel-good, tongue-in-cheek look at breaking the rules – what did you want to evoke with it?
We know that a lot of people around the world are in lockdown at the moment, which means life is a little slow, boring and monotonous – so we wanted to give people a little taste of living out the fantasy I’m sure we’ve all had where we just get to let go of responsibility, throw caution to the wind and just… disappear for a while. Life is meant to be a grand adventure, so we hope that this music video will help people to rethink how they spend their precious time on Earth. Hopefully, it inspires someone to take that amazing holiday they’ve always dreamed about once Covid is a thing of the past!

Love, loss, heartbreak and happiness – your music encompasses a whole range of personal and raw themes – talk us through your songwriting process and how you pick what you want to bring to life?
I guess it’s how we’re feeling on the day. If one of us is dealing with something, if we’re feeling down or if we’re in a particularly good mood, we’ll use it! If there’s nothing going on emotionally, then we’ll start with a musical idea of some sort – a guitar lick, a chord progression, or a melody – and we’ll see what emotions it evokes! We can then use that emotion to dig into our personal lives for a nugget of inspiration of what we can write about. It’s actually quite a cathartic process – certainly cheaper than therapy!

How does it feel releasing new music when most of the world is in lockdown/everything feels so uncertain – what do you hope your music will bring?
It’s a little weird, to be honest. It’s quite nerve-racking when we know we won’t be able to tour it for another year at least, but luckily the internet makes it easier than ever to share your music even when there are no live shows to help promote it. Plus, we know people need music now more than ever, and we’re one of the lucky few bands who have been able to continue making it through COVID. We hope that this album brings someone a little bit of joy for 53 minutes and gives whoever listens to it the hope and reassurance that there’s a bright and colourful world waiting on the other side of all this.

What’s next for you? What are you looking forward to in 2021?
International touring is still out of the equation, but thanks to the song a month challenge, we’ve really streamlined the process of writing, recording, releasing music –  so we’ve already started the process of writing album four and hopefully we’ll continue the trend of consistent music releases. Amy has also been quietly working on a country album which will hopefully see the light of day in 2021. Apart from that, we’ll have to wait and see!

NEW NOISE: SHEPPARD

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