After an exhaustive 2018, Rackett’s Rebecca Callander entered the new year eager to retreat from live performance. After parting ways with her band mates Ally Gaven, Kat Alaya and Astrid Holz, Callander spent the year widening her tastes and experimenting with new sounds while also going on a journey of self-recalibration.
Stream ‘Machinations’ below:
The unfolding stylistic transformation is informed by Callander’s newfound love of contemporary pop music that goes against the grain of calculated pop formula, exemplified by artists like Sophie, Charli XCX and Tyler, the Creator.
Tone Deaf spoke to Callander about Rackett’s stylistic update and her plans for the future.
You took a lengthy break from live performance to deconstruct the Rackett sound. This involved listening to a lot of music you’d never heard before.
Did your existing tastes no longer match your creative impulses?
Bang on. I was listening to pop, PC pop and experimental A.I. music towards the end of my last shows as Rackett and I felt disconnected. Now I feel my art and my taste in music is living in harmony.
You’ve described the new music you discovered as “pop that sounded more like punk.” What were you listening to and on what level did it speak to you?
I was listening to Charli XCX, Sophie, Tyler, the Creator, Dorian Electra, The Garden, Peaches, CSS, Poppy and heaps of Japanese artists. I could hear the innovation and push back against what pop was supposed to sound like.
It was more punk to me than punk, because the punk I had heard and played before had become mainstream and predictable – cymbals, bar chords, yelling about getting pissed et cetera. The synthetic abrasion and lyrics and production I heard when I discovered PC music sounded more badass to me.
Producer Dave Hammer has helped redesign the Rackett sound. Experimenting with new sounds can leave you feeling exposed. Has Dave been an encouraging presence during this process?
Dave has been there by my side the whole time throughout my reinvention and before. Dave and I shared a vision for Rackett 2.0 and love for pop music.
We’d stay up sharing music and lyrics and usually end up in some infinite conversation about the meaning of life. He is very much in these songs.
‘Machinations’ wastes no time revealing its melodic and rhythmic extroversion. Were you keen to return with something really bold?
All the songs I’ll be releasing over the next 12 months are in your face. This was actually one of the tamer songs from the new collection and I thought it would be a soft segue from my old stuff. From a storytelling perspective, I wanted to release the track that made sense chronologically.
I went out of my mind and had to scheme a way out into Rackett 2.0.
What does ‘Machinations’ tell us about the rest of the new music you’ve been working on?
It’s a good palate cleanser between what I’ve done in the past and what’s coming. Everything has been designed to dance to. Actually, when Dave and I were refining BPMs we’d be dancing in the studio to test the danceability.
You’re currently on a comprehensive tour of Japan, playing 14 shows spread wide across the country. Is this tour something you’ve been pushing hard for?
I needed to see neon. I needed to go to a place as close to what I imagined my new music to be – quirky, compact, energetic.
I want to show my music where it was born. In my mind, there is a neon-lit, digital future with synthetic fruit and I think Japan is the closest place to that.
I’m a D.I.Y operation, so yeah, I pushed hard to make connections and try and figure out the live music scene in Japan.
You’re bringing a new live show to Sydney and Melbourne in mid-to-late November. What can be expected?
All new songs. I’ll be performing most of my releases at both shows, so if you want to hear what’s coming out over the next 12 months, come to the show. It’s a totally new live show – no old music, a new set up, same attitude.
Rackett – ‘Machinations’
Rackett ‘Machinations’ single launches:
Sat 16 November
The Chippo Hotel – Sydney
Fri 22 November
Pride of Footscray Community Bar – Melbourne