Oranges

Music | May 19 2017

Oranges are a young three-piece rock band from Canberra, and we’re stoked to be featuring their debut single ‘Crackenback’! Here, members Luciana, Emma & Shoeb talk about their friendship-turned-working relationship,  their songwriting process, and filming the video for ‘Crackenback’ in a forest.

What is the story behind your formation as a band, and the name ‘Oranges’?

Luciana: Oranges is a project that me and Emma officially started a couple of years ago but we really became a band when Shoeb joined late last year. Before that, it was kind of just me and Emma writing songs and being friends for like 10 years. Before Oranges, we had a duo called Darling Mermaid Darlings, but people always got the name wrong so we decided to start something new. We like Oranges as a name cos it’s catchy, fresh and only mildly acidic like our tunes. It also references the Jeanette Winterson novel “Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit” which appeals to us because our lyrics often explore sexuality and gender diverse themes.

How does the songwriting process operate as a three piece?

Emma: Usually one of us will bring a sketch of a song in, like a melody and a bit of a riff, or sometimes something more fully formed, and then all of us will work on it. We are pretty open to trying each other’s ideas and talking about what we think works and doesn’t work in a song. Luch and I knew each other in high school so we have been developing a working relationship since then. Now that we have found Shoeb (who we have dubbed our ‘meaningful life drummer’) it feels like everything has fallen into place. We just started messing around with electronic beats too, which is super fun!

What is ‘Crackenback’ about?

L: Crackenback is basically one long pun about feeling like someone is walking all over you in a relationship. When I was a kid, I really loved this picture book called “The Sleeping Giant”. In the book, they are looking for the sleeping giant but don’t notice that the giant has become a ridge covered in trees and plants and that they are walking all over him the whole time. The imagery of those illustrations really stuck with me and I’ve always loved picking out forms in mountain ranges. When I wrote the song I was feeling pretty powerless and it also felt powerful to compare my body to a strong, enduring mountain. The song uses a kind of dark country vibe to explore the feeling of wanting change and building resilience – the mountain’s limits just keep rising.

Who music did you grow up listening to? Do your early influences inform you now?

E: I grew up listening to a lot of classic rock with my dad – The Kinks, The Beatles, Badfinger, Elvis Costello, UK Squeeze, The Pretenders, Blondie. But he also loved harmony and there were some great female vocalists in bands like Voice of the Beehive, The B52s, Do-Re-Mi and Vika and Linda Bull. As a teenager though I was definitely not very cool and have always had a lot of love for pop – I was obsessed with Shakira for a lot of my teen years.

L: The first single I ever bought (on CD) was “Blue” by Eiffel 65. I’m not sure how much long term influence that has had on me, I just feel like I should own up to it. As a teenager, I learnt to play a bunch of covers by Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Nirvana, Led Zepplin, Jeff Buckley and the Beatles – just like most people who picked up a guitar at that age. I think I’ve always loved sad chords and catchy vocal lines, regardless of genre. When I was at uni, my tastes evolved a bit and I fell in love with the music of Sufjan Stevens, Bon Iver, Cat Power, St Vincent and Joanna Newsom among others.

Shoeb: I first fell in love with Neil Finn and U2 before finding more esoteric noises and sounds on Fenella Kernebone’s late night Sound Lab slot on Triple J’s old Artery program. I switched on to noisy indie rock through My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth and Magic Dirt around the same time before the real turning point as a musician was when I discovered The Slits and The Pop Group – the idea of freedom in how to play yr instrument so I think that “out-sound” flame is now fairly intertwined with the love of classic pop melodies and trying to smear it all together into a world of sound.

I love the video for ‘Crackenback’. Tell us about the experience of shooting that – where was it shot (that forest!) and who else was involved?

E: We shot it all in one day.

The forest is just out of Canberra in Queanbeyan I think. We were working with a great director Luke McGrath, who makes a lot of music clips in Canberra, and his wife Lou was helping shoot. She was very heavily pregnant and was just jumping over these logs like a boss. We were not very far from the road but it still felt really secluded and no one was around so we could go nuts. The first part of the clip is filmed in Gorman Arts Centre’s kitchen, which was really nice because they let us shoot there when we had no budget. In terms of the people and idea, we just really honed in on a stylistic joke about having a lot of orange in the clip and then built up a crazy bank of material just shooting different things with duos of friends we thought looked interesting paired together, kind of like weird mirrors of us or something. It was a fun day, my favourite bit was when the beagle came in! There was a lot of material that didn’t make it because we shot so much, there was a very good interpretive dance in a unicorn suit that might make it out as a Easter egg one day.

How do you all fit music into your lives – do you work or study?

E: I work freelance jumping between a lot of things. I am a theatre-maker and also do some work developing programs for kids both in theatre, music and in museum settings. I worked at Girls Rock! Canberra last year too, which is a program encouraging female identifying youth to start making their own music. We all do a lot of things so organising practice time and trying to make time to be together, not just preparing for a gig but just to play around and try new stuff is important.

L: I work full-time as a music teacher as well as playing in a few bands so music pretty much is life. It can be hard to juggle everything sometimes – particularly to find time to write new stuff but having inspiring band mates like Sho and Emma definitely makes it easier to find the time.

S: I’m lucky in that I am able to work on music most of the time and that helps me out with the bills as they come in. I’ve got a lot of projects on the boil and as Emma and Luch can tell you, pinning me down can be a pain but playing with and starting on the album proper with them is pretty exciting stuff so there’s always time for Oranges in my life!

Who are your music/film/tv/popculture muses of the moment?

E: I am really loving Cate Le Bon, Priests and Jade Imagine right now. I just saw Patti Smith perform which was amazing – I love her music and Just Kids is probably my fave book. I recently saw the play The Homosexuals or ‘Faggots’ at Malthouse Theatre which was great, Declan Greene is a killer playwright! I went to GOMA’s Sugar Spin exhibition which was amazing. Contemporary Art Galleries are my happy place. I am binge watching Adventure Time and am excited to see Get Out soon!

L: I watched a really beautiful film called Lovesong the other day. It was bittersweet with excellent female leads. Most of my TV watching is of daggy british murder mysteries or the “rainbow films” section of SBS on Demand. I’m not proud.

I’ve been really loving Ngaiire’s music recently, I saw her last year supporting Sufjan Stevens and she was awesome. Also, that stripped back version of “I Can’t Hear God Anymore” that she did for Pilerats is phenomenal.

S: I’ve been revisiting my fave 90s films – so far, my wife and I have made it through Reality Bites and Pump Up The Volume, I think we’re doing Heathers tonight. My three fave albums of the year so far are by Twin Earth by Aphir, the Kelly Lee Owens debut and Where Are We Going by Octo Octa though I’ve got high hopes for the new ones by Slowdive, Ride and The Charlatans too.

What are your dreams for the future – both for the band and personally?

E: I think our immediate dreams are to get our first recording done and then tour some of that material. We are also super keen to get that stuff down so we can focus on writing new material. We are also always excited to work with and support young musicians especially female and gender diverse young people!

Where can we see more of you?

We play mostly in Canberra at the moment. You can catch us supporting Moaning Lisa at the Phoenix on May 6 and at the Polish Club for the Amps Not Camps fundraiser on May 26.

Find Oranges on Facebook and Bandcamp.

Credits

Video:

Directed by Luke McGrath
Performers: Luciana Harrison, Emma McManus, Tara Bromham, Nicola Menser Hearn, Eloise Menzies, Millie Menzies, Guy Leedon, Cat Leedon, Ted Conrick and Sullivan the Cheezel Eating Beagle.

Audio:

Luciana Harrison – lyrics, chords, guitar, lead vox
Emma McManus – back-up vox, bass
Jordan Rodger – drums

Recorded and mixed by Jordan Rodger

Mastered by Andrew Edgson at Studios 301

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