THE incredible Sloan Peterson is the latest project from Sydney-based…
songwriter Joe Jackson. She steps out from the Sydney South Coast D.I.Y. scene and, rustling through vinyl and lost gems, brings an incredible concoction of 1950s guitar-based Pop and staggering jive. After arriving in Sydney (as a teenager); Jackson spent endless hours recording through a laptop and filming homemade videos. She is now twenty-four and, on 22nd September, the Sloan Peterson E.P. will be among us. I ask about the record and how she came together with her band; what themes are addressed – and whether there will be touring of the work.
Rats and 105 are already out there – I Want You has just sneaked out – and it shows Joe Jackson, and her boys, are exceptional at blending vintage Rock ‘n’ Roll with modern flair and production. The inciting and quixotic lead talks about her music past and what the scene is like in L.A. – she has spent time in the U.S. – and whether Australian music greatly differs; who her idols are and, taking a big step in music, what advice she would give any upcoming songwriters.
Hi, Joe. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi, hey; hellooo.
My week has been dandy - incredibly busy but great - thanks for asking!
For those new to your work; can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m Sloan Peterson aaaannnnnnddd, I like to pardy…haha no, but, seriously…I’m Sloan Peterson and I write, play and perform music.
How did you come to form the band? How did you meet the guys you play with?
My bass player was the bass player for my old band and, basically, (just) put the feelers out that I needed some reliable groovers to join my gang - and Oscar and Ben fell into my lap.
It was great.
The music, as you say, is a mix of 1950s’ guitar-Pop and Garage-Rock. There are elements of David Bowie, Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley. Are these artists a big influence and how important do you think icons like Presley are to modern music?
Well. Elvis was not only the King of Rock’n’Roll but made it mainstream - he was one of the most influential musicians of the twentieth century. I listen to so many different styles of music.
I try not to limit myself as it’s where I get most of my influence while writing. It probably shows in my songs - how much they vary in sound.
The six-track Sloan Peterson E.P. is out on 22nd September. What can you reveal about the songs, sounds and themes explored throughout?
All the songs are very different - but they all tie in together somehow.
They were mostly written about love or heartbreak - with just the right amount of upbeat songs to slower, cruiser tunes.
Joe. You moved from Los Angeles as a teen and spent hours/days/weeks sifting through old records and recording on your laptop. It seems like you blend the classic and modern when it comes to music. How important is technology and vinyl in regards your unique sound?
Well. I think the reason the past is so hypnotic to me is probably because everything wasn't as accessible as it is now. I loved that people could still be original: now nothing's original as everyone is influenced by something or someone. Technology, to me, isn't terribly important: I’d love to give away my phone; delete all my socials and go off the grid – but, unfortunately, it's such an essential part of what I do.
There is something so magical about putting on a record in the lounge-room while doing things around the house - I think everybody would agree.
I am a big crate-digger and vinyl enthusiast, myself. Either in L.A. or Sydney; is there a place you go to when you hunt for vinyl? What has been your best discovery when sifting through dusty records?
I generally love looking through op-shops - so many hidden gems and soo much cheaper. There is a great place in Newtown, Sydney called Repressed Records - who always have bargain-bins for records, too.
So much gold there, also.
How does the music scene of Sydney differ from that of L.A.? Are there a lot of great venues and fellow bands around you?
Australia has incredible music/bands happening right now. It’s funny how distinctive the sounds differ between each city, I find. Melbourne and Byron seem to have a lot of D.I.Y. Punk music scenes; LOTS of mullet hairstyles (ha). Brisbane bands have a kinda British Pop vibe, to me, and Sydney seems to be very into Electro-laptop music.
Venue-wise, there are only a couple of standard places that people play - but I generally find L.A. quite similar to Australia…except there are a million more people in that rat race.
105 was the debut single - and made in collaboration with The Strand Arcade. What was it like filming in the same location David Bowie’s Let’s Dance was filmed in? How influential was Bowie’s aura and spirit to the video’s conception?
It was such an incredible experience to film in The Strand Arcade. There was such a great team that I worked with as well. We shot from 6 P.M and I didn't get home till 8.A.M. (the next morning). It was insane!
I actually didn't realise David Bowie had actually shot in there for Let’s Dance but was informed while we were filming - which was pretty amazing, really.
The black-and-white video for the follow-up single, Rats, was directed by Luke Stephenson. What was it like working with him and do you think the concept best captures your love of stars like Brigitte Bardot - and musicians such as Buddy Holly?
Rats was a very quick home-done video. We were kinda running out of time and had thrown a bunch of ideas around - but we were influenced by ’90s Grunge film clips like PJ Harvey’s Man-Size. Rats is a song about hyperactive teenagers who feel kinda lost - while trying to find their way to adulthood. I unintentionally based my performance around that: it was very different to the film a clip to 105 as I wanted it to come across relatable and natural - so no hair stylist or makeup – and, the reason for the ’60s fashion, was because I dressed myself. Haha.
That was also an unintentional fusion of eras.
Basically, I wanted to display the behaviour of an anxiety-ridden, hyperactive teen – so, hopefully, it came across that way.
How is the tour diary looking? Are plans on coming to the U.K. sometime?
For the end of the year, we are playing a lot of low-key festivals around Australia but, hopefully, (we’ll) get some international tour planned out for next year.
PHOTO CREDIT: @mrjeremydylan
What is it like playing with the boys and do you have to keep them in line?! Is there a member of the band who’s a bit of a trouble-maker or a bit of a diva?
I love playing with boys: they are so amazing and usually listen to what I say, straight-up – although, when I asked Jesse to wear a dress recently, he was pretty reluctant at first…but I told him that sex sells and we have to make him at least ten-times sexier on stage. Haha. I think he bought it.
Oscar, our drummer, is pretty young and definitely likes to party; Jesse, our bass player, probably gives me the most grief. He talks back a bit and changes things when playing sometimes - but such a great bass player. He reminds me of the bass player from the band The Jam - ’cause he kinda plays bass like a guitar. It’s incredible.
Ben, my lead guitarist, is just the (most) sweetest thing…
If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would it be and why?
The Beatles – (every album)
Because they are timeless.
The Lemon Twigs - Do Hollywood
Because they are incredible performers and musicians. We supported them in Sydney - it blew my haircut clean off.
Laure Briard - Sur la piste de danse
It’s a dream of mine to sing a song in French! Laure Briard has an incredible album and videos that coincide. She's very talented!
What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?
Have fun but work hard: marketing is key...and look busy always.
Finally, and for being a good sport, you can name any song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Jesse Redwing - Turn Away
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