In Purple reminds of us of the time we spent touring the EP playing in small clubs, bars and backyards around Sydney and up and down the east coast.
We used to drive interstate to play shows in a four-wheel drive towing a trailer with all our gear in it. It was cramped with seven of us usually in there, but so much fun just burning around together playing shows on the weekends and back to work for the week.
Many of these songs were written in the garage space we rehearsed in and it kinda seems weird that we are reminiscing about that time considering their humble beginnings.
We owe a lot to the way we still do things now to this EP, and this EP in itself was a serious attempt by us to grow and change from our first release Yellow Mellow. Each body of work became a stepping stone on the way to where we are now.
We all knew each other well before we started playing music together, so growing up as best mates we got to know each other pretty well. We’ve learnt to live on top of one another while we are on the road plus are getting on top of giving each other space when we need it.
Because we are very open with each other, that helps dissolve strong feelings and allows us to move forward together. The first step in breaking down barriers with other people is breaking down those barriers within yourself and realising that no one is perfect and everyone has bad days.
An important part of our writing process involves working space into our arrangements. Since we started banging noise out of the garage we’ve tried to focus on creating a zone for each of the voices in the band.
We are constantly learning about what works when and in what quantity. In Purple felt like the start of that learning – we still write and create music in the same way now but we’ve honed the process, plus the resources we’ve made available to ourselves have allowed us to focus on just writing and playing music. I think that means we’re career musicians now which is what we wanted when we started.
Check out Ocean Alley’s EP In Purple:
When we started playing more shows and our music was getting more attention (around the time of In Purple), we were beginning to build a team around us to help develop the band off and on the stage.
There was apprehension because it was something totally new for us and felt unfamiliar because we were all totally inexperienced. We were initially looking for a Manager, Front of House tech and a Lighting tech, and during this time we had to learn to give up some things we had done ourselves up until that point – but since then we’ve learnt what we need and have surrounded ourselves with a professional team and awesome people.
Just having a team that we could bounce ideas off and were open to suggestions and criticisms has helped us immensely.
Recently, half of the guys moved up the coast and have been spending a lot of time polishing their recording skills at home and getting all their ideas down so we can write from afar.
We didn’t really work on demos early on and it’s something we’ve found useful to be able to come back and rework ideas – the songwriting and feel of each song has a bit more depth. We take time to reflect on everything now, previously we just kind of went in there and recorded, whereas our most recent release Lonely Diamond was a bit more of a well-oiled, thought out process.
The writing and recording is enjoyable and fun but that finished product is most important because that’s what connects us with our audience and that’s the wormhole, the gateway that we can distribute our art to people’s ears.
Finally, we’ve learnt about the importance of having control of your music and control of your brand as an artist. Signing with a label, that was a big goal for us in the beginning, but it’s sort of drifted off our list of priorities – we know we can do this without it now, and it’s become clear to us in this climate of the industry what’s actually possible to do successfully.
We are independent musicians without a record label and it’s a good feeling to know you can just do what you want creatively and there isn’t anyone pushing you in any particular direction. We just tell each other what to do and that’s enough.