Sunday, 7 October 2012

DIGITAL WORDS / Splashh Interview

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Splashh are a band that are going places fast. Initially comprised of friends Toto Vivian and Sasha Carlson who began writing together in the idyllic surroundings of Byron Bay last summer, the duo then relocated to East London in February to make some bedroom recordings of their dreamy, frayed-around-edges indie-pop. With tracks like 'Lemonade', 'All I Wanna Do' and 'Headspins' to their name interest picked up quickly and Splashh were booked to play their first gig in May. Just one problem – they actually needed to complete the band line-up; cue drummer Jacob Moore and bassist Thomas Beal joining the band and making a solid live debut. As a band based on firm friendship, fun and irresistible fuzzy guitar hooks, Splashh’s success feels certain. Ahead of the release of their next single, 'Vacation', the young, giggly quartet sat down with IDOL to talk about their not-so-distant past formation, their swift, instinctual work ethic and their plans for the future.

Can we talk a bit about how you guys came together? Toto and Sasha, you two started writing together, so how did Jacob and Tom come into the fold?

Sasha: Tom was kind of always there from the start. He played in Toto’s old band.

What was the name of your old band, Toto?

Toto: [Laughs]

You don’t want to mention that?

Toto: No.


Toto: Well anyway, when we started writing after a couple of weeks someone asked us if we wanted to play a show. It was just the two of us at the time. We were like, ‘Why not? Let’s book it,’ in order to pressure on ourselves to start playing live soon. So then we were like, ‘We need to get people to play with us.’ So that’s how Tom came into the equation. Tom was there early.

Jacob: And I’ve known Sasha for years and years. We’re both from Auckland. Maybe a week before the first gig they told me they needed a drummer.

That’s quite a commute. Didn’t it take you a day to get to London?

Jacob: Yes, it did take me a day to get here. I had my last gig with my old band on the Saturday and I came over here on the Sunday.

That’s dedication.

Toto: He came straight off the plane to our first rehearsal. And then two days later we had our first show.

How did that first show go? Did it go well?

Sasha: Yeah, we had loads of friends there who were dancing at the front. It was a really good night and really good fun. We were quite nervous because there were quite a lot of people but it was fun.

Do you still get nervous when you play together or are you over that now?

Toto: Some shows, yeah.

Sasha: We played a Dazed & Confused party with Primal Scream recently and I was most nervous, I think.

Toto: There are always pre-stage nerves but once you’re on there you just have fun.

Tom: You just have to get on with it!

Toto: Listen to the rock god over there!

Tom: Well you have to get on with it otherwise nothing gets done, does it?

So now that you’re all together has that changed the creative dynamics of how you go about writing songs or making videos?

Sasha: Well making the videos, I guess, because there are two extra people now.

Toto: I guess the way... When we started writing it was so easy because we just do it at home and the process worked so we’ve kind of kept that.

Sasha: I think, like, maybe after the first record we’ll start doing everything as a full band.

Jacob: Too many cooks spoil the broth... [Laughs]

Toto: With our new single ‘Vacation’ it’s the first song that we’ve recorded together as a band. It’s coming out in November. That’s the first time that we’ve all been in a studio together.

You said that a lot of your friends came to your first show and you’ve previously spoken about your circle of creative friends. Do you friend this to be an enabling environment and s there anyone in particular you want to name check who works with you? 

Toto: Errol Rainey who I actually live with and is a close friend of all of ours. He’s made all of our videos. He’s always popping his head around the corner and into the room like, ‘Hey, that’ sounds cool.’ Victor Vauthier the photographer is a good... umm, comrade. [The rest of the band are amused by the use of the word ‘comrade’]

Jacob: It’s was him who came round with the convertibles. We were just hanging out at Toto’s house and he brought round the convertibles we used in the ‘Need It’ music video. He just rolled up like, ‘Hey do you guys wanna go for a drive?’

Toto: There’s also my brother Cosmo.

Sasha: The artist Leif Podhajsky as well, which is cool. It’s all more art and photography based.

Jacob: Leif has done Tame Impala’s artwork and covers.

Sasha: He does trippy stuff. He’s really good.

Toto: It’s inspiring having a taste of stuff that’s not just music. We’re always seeing new pictures that Victor has taken. It keeps your idea cohesive if you continue to work with the same people.

Your first release was a cassette via Kissability. You’ve said you prefer a physical product to something out on the internet. Is that something you plan to continue with for future releases?

Toto: Yeah, we will definitely always be releasing vinyls. It was cool to do that as a first release as a band.

Sasha: We weren’t worried too much and we didn’t think about that one too much. It kind of popped up and we liked it. It was a good introduction.

Toto: It’s very niche, cassettes.

Your last two singles and your forthcoming track ‘Vacation’ have been released by Luv Luv Luv. How did that come about and are you planning to stay there?

Toto: A few labels popped up as we were starting out.

Sasha: Yeah, there were a few.

Toto: We were interested in singles labels and it’s nice being part of a small team.
Jacob: They wooed us with a tasty barbeque.

Toto: Mairead Nash was in New York and she said that she wanted to come see us rehearse and play. So she came down, we met, had some margaritas and that was it.

Sasha: They’re just all really nice people and we try surround ourselves with people that we feel comfortable with.

Toto: We like the other bands that they work with as well. They’ve got a real cool vibe going. 

Before you were in Splashh you were all in different previous bands, which some of you don’t want to talk about...

Tom: Well it’s just that we only did two gigs!

Toto: [Laughs]

Sasha: We’ve all been playing music, like, since we were fifteen. I have and I know Jacob has... yeah.

Are there any lessons that you’ve taken from your previous bands or solo work and brought to Splashh?

Jacob: Yeah, work with people that you like and not the people that promise you everything.

Toto: Also, don’t sit still wondering about what one guitar sounds like all day. Just go with it. And if you don’t like something then just leave it. That’s one of the biggest things that I’ve learnt with Splashh. We’re pretty in the moment. If there’s something and we like then we just go with it and leave it in. You work a lot quicker and you end up with a product that you like.

Jacob: We’ve also learnt to enjoy things as they happen. When something’s really cool and you’re thinking, ‘This is great’ you have to stop and register it.

Are there any particular milestones you’ve achieved then that have made you stop and think, ‘This is working’?

All: Yeah.

Jacob: We played with Primal Scream last week.

Sasha: All of it has been pretty good so far. We enjoy it all really. It’s just fun really, playing and hanging out with your friends.

Jacob: There’s the prospect of going to America next year as well.

Toto: I guess I’m just more excited about the things that we can achieve. Plus the album is where it all happens, I think.

It definitely feels like things have moved really fast for you guys. Does it feel that way to you? Are you worried about having enough time to develop or do you like working instantaneously?

Jacob: I think it’s a bit of both and it’s been good. It kind of helps

Toto: It keeps you on your toes.

Jacob: It keeps you running to stay ahead of the tidal wave and to keep releasing things.

Toto: We’ve got to a stage now where we’ve forgotten how fast it’s moving. It’s calmed down a bit now and it’s grounded a little bit more. Now we’re taking our steps a little bit more carefully.

You’ve spoken about wanting to get an LP done. Do you have any set plans for this?

Sasha: No set plans yet but we’re writing and recording at the moment. We’re demoing, I guess, and it’s all sounding really, really good.

Is it in the same vein as what we’ve already heard from Splashh?

Toto: Yeah. A little bit.

Sasha: It feels a little bit heavier, maybe. It’s gonna be, you know, [in air quotes] “Splashh.”

Toto: As I’ve said, as all the demos have been done at home you can’t really tell until you get into the studio how it sounds.

Sasha: And when you have a producer as well.

Jacob: Yeah. maybe not so garage-y.

Sasha: A bit more hi-fi.

Toto: We like the balance between sounding like... I don’t like the word lo-fi, but just not polished.

I heard that you don’t like the term ‘garage’ being applied to you.

Sasha: To be honest, I don’t even know what it means.

Toto: Everyone just uses that word these days.

Do you think it’s too easy a label to put on you?

Toto: Yeah.

Jacob: It’s just like every band starts off practising in a garage, whether it’s a reggae band or a ska band, you know?

Toto: It’s the process, I guess, that we do. It’s more DIY than garage.

Is it true that you’re hoping to record the LP somewhere sunny like Spain or California? Is that the kind of atmosphere that you think you need to nurture your sound?

Tom: We don’t need it but we would definitely like it!

Toto: If somebody would send us there we would happily go. I guess it’s part of the whole song writing process. Like, when you’re in London and you’re stuck here so you write songs about the sun.

Sasha: If we were we would just record the ocean with some distortion and a drum beat behind it, or something.

Toto: It’s every person’s dream to always be somewhere sunny.

Sasha: I think we were partly joking.

Jacob: But it does help!

You have a lot of shows coming up. You’re going on tour with Spector and you’ve got your own show in December at the 100 Club. How are you feeling about going out on the road?

[All answer at the same time. The general consensus is that they’re ‘excited.’]

Toto: I was in bed going, ‘Oh I must enjoy my time while I’m at home.’ I’ve never done a proper tour so I’m really excited to be doing it.

Jacob: I think it’s like fourteen shows and two days off. And then it’s four shows then one day off. And then six shows and another day off, and then another four shows.

Toto: Woah!

Sasha: It’ll be alright.

Toto: The way I see it is that we’re just gonna get really good at playing live. Plus we’ll be playing bigger venues with Spector and I think we’ll have a good time as well.

Are you rehearsing yet?

Toto: No. Not at all [laughs]. We’ve just been trying to focus on demoing more songs for our album as it’s kind of creeping up. By the time we’ve done the tour we won’t really have much time to go to the studio.

Sasha: I’m really looking forward to the 100 Club. It’s a legendary venue and I think we’ll do a banger of a show. We’ll make it quite an event.

I have to ask each of you who your idols are and why. Let’s go around the circle.

Toto: Oh no!

Jacob: Homer Simpson because he’s doesn’t know exactly what he’s doing but he always does stuff for the right reason.

Toto: What am I going to say?

Tom: I’m going to say Toto. He’s everything I want to be [laughs]. He’s my idol.

Toto: Oh I hate this question.

It’s mandatory, I’m afraid. I have to ask you.

Sasha: I’m going to say John Lennon. We’ve got the same birthday actually and he was a good songwriter, wasn’t he?

Toto: I have no idea.

Jacob: Come on! Who’s the first person you think of?

Toto: Okay, Batman because he can fly.

Batman can’t fly. 

‘Vacation’ will be released on 5th November 2012 on Luv Luv Luv Records. 
Splashh will be playing the 100 Club on 3rd December 2012.

Interview by Kate Allen
Photography by Samuel Bradley
Written for IDOL

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