Interview: Winter People
Words by Marco Zande - Published on January 22, 2013
By Cam Wilson
September 2012 saw the release of the debut album from Sydney-based 6-piece, Winter People, which led them on a tour of the US and to multiple appearances over this summer’s Australian festivals, including Peats Ridge and Pyramid Rock. Scenewave caught up with lead singer Dylan Baskind before Christmas.
Your debut album, A Year At Sea, was released in September, tell me about your experience since then?
Well we got to do some really cool, validating things. We got to go on tour to the US and play all those shows. We got to play on the Harvest tour which was really great. We’ve seen a lot of beautiful sights and it’s, I guess, a nice product for all that work.
Does the band prefer the festival vibe that you have been doing of late, or the smaller, more intimate gigs?
The smaller intimate gigs are only good if the composition of the audience is right. It’s not nice playing a small club if it’s really noisy, or if the feeling in the room isn’t very good. If you play at a festival and the feeling in the field isn’t that good, it’s normally fine and it’s still a pretty fun gig. I’d probably prefer a festival tour.
Do you find it hard to replicate your sound on stage?
Well the album is pretty different in terms of richness of the arrangements and the orchestrations. You know we’ve only got 6 people in the band… Only 6 people haha. We have to basically play a translation of the record, so vocally I think it’s pretty much the same. Texturally, I think there is just a million things that we just can’t or don’t have enough hands to do on stage.
Do you have someone that you are most looking forward to hanging out with or meeting at the festivals? Have you made any new friends along the way?
Well it seems like everybody who plays music is going to be up at Peats Ridge, so I’m sure that will be a bit of a big hang out. It’ll be nice to see Gosling and all those guys, who we were on tour with a while back, and all the people just from around town, it’s always a nice party vibe.
You guys were at Harvest Festival like you mentioned earlier, where were you guys when shit hit the fan and Brisbane’s sky collapsed?
Haha… that was pretty crazy actually! That was one of our most crazy band series of events. We weren’t playing luckily, but there was lightning going off and we were all being moved around. Actually when the big part of the storm and lightning passed over we sitting in a backstage in a metal box, and our guitarist was telling us that he has a fear of lightning. I was thinking it might be a nice footnote in history that this band named Winter People got fried inside a box.
Do you have a favourite song to play live?
Ohh.. It fluctuates. It’s hard to say. We’ve got some reliable ones. “My Town” I always like playing, and “Wishingbone” and “Gallons”… I don’t know really, they’re all fun and they’re all nice for different reasons. “My Town” sort of calms people down and “Gallons” is big number so it’s always a bit of fun to play.
So do you think your sound has changed over the years?
No, I don’t think we really have a sound. I think more philosophically it’s always really been the same, which is kind of a marrying of tradition with modern sonic pallets.
You mentioned your track “Wishingbone” earlier, that song was mixed by Peter Katis, who you said is one of your audio heroes. He has produced some big name bands (The National, Interpol, Jonsi, The Grates, The Get Up Kids). Did Peter mix the album or just this track?
No, actually Peter mixed 2 tracks for us then unfortunately he ran out of time. The guy who finished the album, is kind of a bigger name than Peter in his own way. A guy named Rich Costly (The Shins, Foster the People, Bloc Party) – yeah he’s done everything! So we had 2 extremely talented people who were kind enough to take interest into what we were doing and offer their services.
Did you travel lots for your recording process or were you based in Sydney?
The recording was all based in Sydney, mostly at PJB with a guy called Tim Whitten (Augie March, The Go Betweens). All the vocals were recorded at my house, with a bit of percussion here and there and then I went to LA to finish the record with Rich.
What is the band dynamic like on the road? Are you all best of friends, or do you need your alone time? Do you sit and read a book or do you get out and party?
Well I’ll tell you what, I think the band has aged together. When we first started there was a lot of partying, but in the past few years or something… Well maybe I’m underplaying it. We did party in the US and sometimes we still do, but not like we used to where ever show was a party. But the band dynamic is really good! I don’t know why we’ve been lucky in that respect, we’ve never had any kind of internal fights so I guess we’ve been blessed in that regard.
What was the most unusual thing you’ve drawn inspiration from?
I actually very rarely consciously sit down and think I’m going to draw from this. Every song… Any song… If you could give me the lyrics, I could probably walk you through the origins of where that particular phrase came from.
How about the lyric: “fix us a drink… or 10” (from “Two’s Company”)?
That I’d have to say, came from Tom Waits somewhere down the line. That kind of night in the den aesthetic. In fact, more specifically, from a song called “9th and Hennepin”, on the album Rain Dogs. It’s just got a particular feel about it which I think I was into at the time.
Tomorrow is the end of the world (21/12/12), and if you could choose one place, festival, pub, mountain, etc. where would you play?
Well me and our violinist Jane, were once in Edinburgh and we saw this stage, that was covered in snow beneath the Edinburgh castle, and we thought that would be really cool. So we thought if we could do one final show, it’d be there. I’d hope everyone turned up as it was the end of the world but.
What are two things Winter People would take on to a deserted island?
An atomic reactor and a 3D printer!
Marry bang shoot: Oprah, Tom Cruise and Elmo?
Well obviously I’d shoot Tom Cruise…. I’d marry Oprah and I’d bang Elmo. I’m not even sure if Elmo has any orifices so I’m not sure if that’s a trick question haha.
Simpsons or Southpark?
I think I’m a Southpark kind of guy!
Favourite band at the moment?
We at scenewave put up a weekly playlist of songs, would you recommend putting up an M.Ward Song?
Yeah you could put up any song of his. There is this one song I’ve been listening to lately though, it’s a song called “White Foxes” by a girl called Susan Sondfer. It’s just a great song. It’s not of a genre that I would normally be involved in, but it’s just a wicked, wicked song.
What are your views on Spotify, Rdio and the like? I can say for one that I discovered your music on Spotify, and now I’m a huge fan!
It’s the future. There’s no point standing in the way of the future. Some industries turn over and die, some of them reinvent themselves and some of them don’t. But I don’t think that creativity in general is not going to go away just because you can’t make a million dollars doing it. So I think it’s silly to try and stand in the way of the steam roll of the future.
And it’s good to spread your music around as well?
Yeah that’s it. I want people to hear it. I’m happy to work my job if people hear my music.
Check out Winter People’s album A Year At Sea, for charming-harmonies similar to a blending of the sounds of the Rubens and the Freelance Whales! Definitely worth a listen! You can also vote for their tracks “Gallons” or “Two’s Company” on the triple j Hottest 100 for 2012.