Australian Electronica has been growing at a rapid pace and some seriously talented artists are starting to make waves on the international scene. Two Sydney artists with seemingly different approaches to electronica and experimental music are gaining attention with their wistful, original and sometimes, soulful music making.
One such artist is MK Grands, a highly talented Sydney based music producer and vocalist who also dabbles in music videography. MK Grands (Daniel Cartisano) recently had his debut solo single, Thrones featured by GQ Magazine on its weekly playlist alongside CHRVCHES and Die Antwoord. Daniel Cartisano is the music maestro behind MK Grands and he happens to be friends with another unique artist, J.Rojas (Julian Rojas).
J.Rojas, another Sydney-based producer creates ambient, RnB influenced sounds. He has recently released his third EP, You Know How It Seems, which was co-released by Moose Records and Future Sound (a label he has also co-founded). His music has been played on Triple J and featured on Triple J Unearthed Radio.
I had the chance to meet with both guys to talk about their music, their paths to success, Sydney’s hipster suburbs and their guilty music pleasures.
Keep an eye on these guys, they’re doing interesting things.
K: How would you describe what you do?
J + D: We both write music.
J: Yeah and I find I do a lot of writing when I’m procrastinating.
K: What are you avoiding when you procrastinate?
J: Washing clothes, cleaning my room, hanging with people I don’t wanna hang with (points at Daniel). Also, I write a lot when I’m tired.
D: Sometimes it works better when you’re tired …and sometimes it doesn’t.
K: How would you describe your genres of music?
D: Chillwave! (laughs)
J: I want to say ambient but there are a lot more things that are more ambient than my music…
K: Like what? Monks chanting?
J: Rainforests but then there are often rainforest sounds in my music.
D: I would say electronic.
J: Yeah electronica but I also have R&B influences in my music too.
K: That’s right, Julian I have heard that you like Mariah Carey?
J: I do and Miguel.
K: How long have you both been into music in some way, shape or form?
D: Since high school. I remember when you were younger you liked anything with guitar in it, so you listen to lots of rock. I used to be really into sport but then soccer was replaced by guitars and girls.
J: We have a similar story actually. We were both playing rep soccer and then moved towards music.
J: I used to listen to Metallica when I was into guitar and practicing hours and hours of the day. I used to go to the back of the class and they had these books with exercises when you play really fast.
D: I did the same thing with guitar but I looked it up online and used to practice for stupid hours.
How do you guys know each other?
J: Through friends, we have a lot of mutual friends.
D: It was inevitable that we would have met eventually.
J: You could say that it was a delayed friendship.
Where are you up to in your music careers? You’ve both just finished your music degrees, right?
J: Careers! (laughs) I am almost finished my Bachelor of Music but that’s got nothing to do with my music career.
K: Why did you do it then?
J: It’s all I could get into …I got a really poor ATAR and then it was an audition based entry to the degree, so being a wanky guitarist I thought I would just improvise and it worked.
D: I play the same way – I’ve never played solo note for note either.
D: I’ve finished my Bachelor of Music and teaching but I am only going to teach casually. Eventually, I want to start my own label but right now I just want to get my music out there and release some sort of EP. I would like to have a good band set up and perform again and tour. That would be awesome.
J: I’ve had a track played on Triple J. I released my third EP with a label I co-founded with a friend called Future Sounds and we are doing a co-release with a French label called Moose Records. I have been a fan of this label for ages. I emailed them my demos/links to my EPs but I didn’t hear back initially. Then I had a friend who knows a guy… who is friends with one of the people running the label and that’s how Moose heard my stuff and liked it. I’ve always known that’s how it works but it’s so weird when it finally does happen.
D: It’s how it works – it’s very rare that a cold call works or an email because these labels get so many every day and don’t have time to look at them. It usually takes someone to know someone. You need a network of good people.
K: What do you enjoy about music? Why do you make music? I know that’s cheesy guys.
J: I think a cheesy question, needs a cheesy answer. Whenever someone asks me, I always fall back on [the fact that] it’s an outlet and it’s something you can always go back to.
D: If I don’t make music, I go insane. I start getting edgy. To be honest, I just don’t see another option. If music wasn’t there, I just wouldn’t like life.
J: That’s the thing, having all these thoughts and things and being able to express it through sounds and notes is so good.
K: What’s your secret favourite song that you wouldn’t want your friends to know about?
D: Probably, Craig David’s album, Born to Do It … it’s a guilty pleasure. I wouldn’t necessarily say I am embarrassed about it.
J: When I was a kid, I used to really like Simple Plan.
D: That’s a context thing though – when I was growing up I liked Sum41. I sometimes jump on YouTube and look up Five songs.
K: Surry Hills or Newtown?
Both: Surry Hills.
D: I like both but Messina is in Surry Hills and one of my favourite restaurants is in Surry Hills, some of the best pubs are there. I was there for three years when I studied music.
J: I had a good cheeseburger at Newtown Hotel recently.
D: Some people in Newtown and Surry will talk to you about their beards. I’m not referencing anyone right now (looks at Julian).
K: What’s your favourite meal of the day?
J: I would say lunch because it’s in between, you can have something breakfasty like and then if you’re feeling like something….
J: Yes, lunchy. You can have that.
D: I am not too fussed like people have cereal for breakfast and I don’t understand that. I wake up and have fried rice for breakfast if it’s in the fridge. I’ve had like an oily meal for breakfast. It’s food. I don’t understand but I have fruit too.
Image: Courtsey of J. Rojas