Melbourne duo Big Scary are well and truly back from their Vacation; the two-pieces last record which earned the band a Triple J Award ‘Album of the Year’ award nomination (as well as being amongst Richard Kingsmill’s personal Top 10 of that year) as well as allowing the outfit to make in-roads overseas at Texas’ SXSW, their first headline show in New York, and representing Australia at Mumbai’s Music Connects conference in India.

Since then, the pair have been steadily working at their new studio-come-headquarters Mixed Business on a brand new studio album, Not Art, which is due for release in Australia and New Zealand at the end of June.

But now in the lead up to the release of the highly anticipated album, the Melbourne outfit today announced they will be the first Australian act to sign with US label Barsuk Records, home to Death Cab for Cutie, Menomena, Phantogram and Ra Ra Riot. The multi-album deal will see the Seattle based indie represent Big Scary in North/South America, with Not Art scheduled to be released in these territories on 17 September, 2013.

“In our 15 years as a label, we’ve never worked with an artist from Australia, since it’s so logistically challenging for them to tour in North America,” said Barsuk Records co-founder Josh Rosenfeld.

“But the music that Tom and Jo make together – its intelligence, originality, and sophisticated balance of complexity and accessibility – it’s just too compelling to let geography get in the way. We’re extremely excited to welcome Big Scary to the family!”

At its core, Not Art reflects upon the relationship between the artist and their art. Stemming from Tom Iansek (vox, guitar, piano) and Jo Syme’s (drums, backing vox) reaction to being labelled as “artists”, Not Art contemplates the artist’s journey, their search for meaning and their interpretation and recycling of other’s art to help them make sense of their own.

“In a nutshell, it’s not that Not Art isn’t art, it’s just that creating art wasn’t the goal of this album,” says Tom Iansek. “Thoughts of creating something artful, even something original or catchy were removed from the process.”

From the first tracking to the final master, Not Art was nine months in the making. Recorded and produced by Tom Iansek, and mixed by Grammy Award winning Tom Elmhirst (The Black Keys, Adele, Amy Winehouse) at Electric Lady Studios in New York, Not Art took shape in between travel, work and touring Vacation – their triple j ‘Album Of The Year’ nominated album which saw the alt-pop outfit tour the globe playing to sold-out audiences across Australia, US, Canada and India.

Continuing in a musical direction only hinted at on their seasonal EPs and debut album, when discussing the album making process of Not Art Iansek offered, “In a lot of ways I wanted it to be the opposite process to making Vacation. I (initially) wanted us to control the entire process from start to finish. I didn’t want the constraints of having a certain amount of time in a studio and I wanted to begin recording unfinished songs to let them develop in their own time throughout the recording process.”

While hip-hop has been cited as a major influence on Big Scary’s song writing and production on Not Art, an homage to Bruce Springsteen, DJ Shadow and Kanye West can also be heard on the LP. With contributions from guest bassists Ted O’Neil (The Vasco Era) and Graham Ritchie (Emma Louise), gospel choirs and musical genius Tom Elmhirst, the amalgam of sonic influences has resulted in a stunning sophomore release showcasing Big Scary’s unique sound.

The news follows similar international deals from a number of Australian acts over the past few months. Strange Talk recently announced a deal with Wind Up Records, joining The Griswolds who also signed to the label. Melbourne songwriter Vance Joy also recently signed a jaw dropping five album deal with Atlantic Records.

Big Scary’s second album Not Art will be released in Australia/New Zealand on Friday 28 June, through Pieater/Inertia.

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