Expectations are high for the debut album from Perth duo Mosquito Coast.
Since winning triple j's Unearthed High competition in 2015, Naomi Robinson and Conor Barton have been tinkering with their guitar strumming sounds, creating the perfect, beach-inspired release.
After spending 2018 recording in New York City, Mosquito Coast have returned to Australia with a sun-soaked energy and a racy new single, Sweet Talking, to match. Georgia interviewed the guys about their new track, a 2019 tour and the impact of winning the Unearthed High competition.
Your band name comes from the 1986 film with Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren. Excluding that film, who’s your favourite Harrison Ford character and why?
Indiana Jones is probably my favourite, only because I like that he's a shy professor that gets caught up in saving the world. I love him in Blade Runner too!
Mosquito Coast was introduced to the wider world when you won the Unearthed High comp in 2015. How has your writing process changed since those early days?
Although I think while our writing has matured, our actual process is still similar to the early days. Most of the time Naomi comes up with an initial idea whether it be a vocal melody, guitar loop or synth line and we'll build instrumentation around that. There's a lot of adding and removing different layers. The difference now is that we've built up a lot more gear – we use drum machines and keyboards a lot to rough out ideas. Similarly, we use Ableton a lot more, making it easier to send each other tracks all the time.
Are there any up-and-coming artists that you’re into at the moment?
We love Two People's new album at the moment. We saw them live at BIGSOUND and they were a real highlight. Out of Perth, Ben Aguero is making mind-bending beats and visuals and Airline Food and Hair Care are both making great psychedelic pop. Hi OK Sorry are a duo making live electronic music, they are incredible live!
You’re heading off on a national tour next month. How do you look after yourself while you’re touring?
We usually try and have pretty quiet, wholesome days and then do lots of stretching and warm ups before shows. Everyone in the band is super keen on cooking, so whenever there's a kitchen available we always take advantage of it. Mitch makes the best curry! Coffee is a must and we don’t drink too much. How did ‘Sweet Talking’ come together?
‘Sweet Talking’ took a while to come about. Naomi had the initial guitar loop for a while and we had the basic instrumentation done but it wasn’t until we got into the studio that it really took shape. The idea for both vocal parts was totally improvised – it didn’t feel right to have Naomi's usual sweet vocals so instead we tried something more hard and fast. While recording it was definitely on the fringe of what we were comfortable with, but I think that’s what makes it exciting – a creative risk!
You’ve cited Unknown Mortal Orchestra, David Byrne and Kim Gordon as inspirations for ‘Sweet Talking’, but it also evokes Courtney Barnett and her semi spoken word verses. Do you think it’s possible for younger bands to avoid comparisons to their influences, or should you lean into it?
It can get really annoying as a young band to be compared to others, especially if its something that they hear a lot or don't personally hear. I feel like Naomi and I have been lucky to escape a little of that because our influences are so vastly different. ‘Sweet Talking’ is an anomaly in the fact that its pretty obvious you can hear what we were going for. But when people do use comparisons, you just have to take it as a compliment, they mean well. Referencing other musicians is always super important and people should feel okay trying to emulate a guitar sound from one place, a drum idea from another etc. As long as you aren’t getting all your ideas from the same spot!
What should we expect from your album later this year?
A wider and more complex array of songs. There are more synths, more thoughtful vocal arrangements and just a lot of fun intricacies that pop out. Each song explores a relationship, whether it be romantic, familiar or friendly. We've really tried to be more open and honest with the lyrics so hopefully people understand a little more what we're talking about.