Words by Yeo
Ang Schilling and Lee Hannah make Take Your Time, and they are a breath of fresh air not only in my musical world, but also in my personal world. I live at a late-night suburban K-mart in my imagination with the former, and share a well-loved old house in Northcote with the latter. 'Sleep In' and 'I Feel It Every Day' are two of the smoothest electro-lounge-pop songs ever. The double A-side is out on 7” vinyl through Neat Lawn, a record label run by Japanese Wallpaper. Recently I had a yarn with Ang over some Malaysian food and was asked to flip the egg, so Ang and I dutifully rode our bikes to a quiet café for brekky burgers.
We’ve talked about our mutual love for R&B and pop before. Is there anything from those worlds that you want to put in your music specifically?
I think most of it comes subconsciously… The only thing I specifically think about maybe are the soul sounds. So probably keys, mostly. Lee does a lot of the percussive stuff. I think he probably thinks about things a bit differently, but personally I want to recreate the nice warm soul sound that I love. A lot of 90s R&B stuff has that, but it comes from a lot further back – I listen to heaps of 40s, 50s and 60s soul.
Well I think you can hear it. It gives people something to connect with.
Totally. A familiar song is just that. A good familiar pop song can’t be pinned down to a certain… well you can pin it down, but I think it’s nice when you feel like you’ve heard it before and it feels familiar.
Take Your Time always makes me want to dance, whether I’m hearing you rehearse from my backyard or hearing you play on stage. I’d like to know what dancing is to you.
It’s like, my first priority in life. It’s movement. Sometimes when I’m being emo I think emotions and feelings are my number one priority but then I snap back out of it and realize that dancing is my number one priority! It’s everything. Lee and I both have a mutual feeling at the moment and I think that’s why Take Your Time works and why we work so well together. We know that we want to make people dance.
Looking back to the beginning of your relationship with Lee, how did you come to realise you had a connection musically?
We met on the Internet when I was with Swimming and he was with Townhouses. Actually, recently when I was packing to move from Adelaide to Melbourne, I went through all my stuff and I found this note on a little bit of scrap paper that he sent with a Healthy Tapes tape. I don’t know what it was. It might have been a Townhouses tape actually. It just said, “Dear Angela, thanks heaps for buying this and listening. From Lee.” It maybe said like, “Let’s do something together sometime”. It was so lovely and emotional, knowing our relationship now, and that we’re working together on this thing that is our baby. It was really sweet and really nice.
What are your feelings about leaving imperfection in music? How can you tell if something’s too polished or not polished enough?
It’s hard because I know that we’re both perfectionists. Everything’s DIY. We make all this music out of a bedroom, we’ve never had any money so we can’t afford to use the best gear or have a studio space or whatever, but we both strive for a hi-fi sound. There are a lot of vocals where we leave the in-between bits in because they’ve got nice breathy sounds. You don’t want to clean everything up too much because if you start doing that you might never stop. It’s just instinctual I think. Sometimes imperfections add to it.
And it doesn’t sound natural in the end.
Yeah. We’re both pretty picky about getting good vocal takes as well so knowing that, you’re just going to get to a level that you’re going to get to, and if it’s not perfect but you’ve done your best, that’s all you can do.
I read in an online bio that you both like to leave space in your recordings. I see it as a technique; something you have to practice. How do you treat space musically?
Everything I make, especially solo, is so spacious. I guess Lee and I are a little bit different in that way because he often wants to fill it in and I’m like, “Leave it out,” because that’s how I make music. I love the space and I can’t help it. It is definitely really important consciously to me, because the spaces in between vocals or beats or keys or whatever make a song. That’s what makes you appreciate the sounds. I often have to get pushed to fill it in and Lee does that really well.
It’s a sweet balance between you two.
Yeah, it’s really nice. I definitely bring a lot more minimalism to it. He comes from the other side and we meet in the middle.
I know that you and Lee really like driving. You love the road. If you were to book a tour for Take Your Time without any time constraints, where would you go?
Oh my god. World tour. I would go to Asia. Japan and Korea and South-east Asia, China. It would be so weird and foreign. That’s where I would go.
Would you get a car?
Yeah. In Japan. I think Japan would like Take Your Time.
You guys would nail it there!
I think it would be good. Also, obviously the dream is to go to the States as well and just play a billion shows in a billion cities and just drive the whole country and go to Canada and play a billion shows to no one that knows you. That’s the dream. Just for novelty’s sake I’d go to Japan.
But I think your music would really resonate in Japan and you’d have a great time. Especially with your setup, the shows don’t have to be big.
That’s right. All the Japanese venues I saw, went to or heard about are small and intimate and really welcoming. You’re right, if we did a tour with no money or time constraints, it would be all driving because we like to take our time and just drive around. We’re obviously heaps into walking and looking at things.
Is this your first time with a label releasing something?
With the level of support we’re receiving, yeah. It’s so dreamy! Swimming were with Format, which was super DIY. Lee has a label so he knows a bit of what it’s about, but I think this is a much more positive label vibe for him because we know the people. This is definitely our first foray in which we’ve felt so well supported with people who actually have been through it all; they work with much bigger industry people, and everyone wants to work real close on a personal level.
You’ve done Swimming, Oliver White, Take Your Time and you’re an in-demand DJ being flown interstate to play shows. You’ve learnt a lot about the industry by being in it. Is there anything about the Australian music industry that you’d like to see a change in?
Or tell me something that you love about it. Like how we all support each other or…
I mean, to me, there is two sides of the industry. There’s the world that I’ve been involved in which is very community based and everyone’s helping each other out a lot. No one has any money. We’re all, y’know, working three jobs and really doing music for the love of it. And there’s the industry-industry side, which I’ve only… which we got a glimpse into. There is a big separation of those two things, and as much as it would be good to get a bit more support from the bigger side of the industry for the smaller side, it’s actually nice to have that small community vibe and know that we don’t have to worry about that industry side.
I actually like the separation.
Yeah. If the industry wants to be like that, that’s fine, we’ve got our crew and we know we’re going to get support. There’s a big gender disparity which is a big thing for me and it’s getting better with groups like Listen and bookers that are actually under the pump now. There are a few venues in Melbourne now that have to have females on the lineup otherwise they won’t go ahead with the show. There’s a bit more literature on it now. People are writing about it and stuff. A few journals and books have been published…
So it’s like a hot topic academically…
Well, not heaps academic, just people writing articles and bringing it to the forefront so that people in the industry have to take notice. So if we could keep going on that it would be really nice because it’s actually one of the reasons it was easy to leave Adelaide. I felt it so strongly and I was sick of it. We were involved in a very DIY community but most of the bands in that community were boy guitar bands. We didn’t really sonically fit into that crew. The crew that we fit into was a much more commercial sound and that commercial sound really has a long way to go booking women because most of the electronic producers in Australia, the people that get booked for shows and are in the limelight, whom people see as electronic producers, are male.
It’s a stereotype. A typecast.
Yeah that’s right. And if you’re female you’re the female vocalist for a male producer. DJs as well. I was playing a lot of DJ sets and there are incredible female DJs in Adelaide and Australia but that’s just not what people think of or look for or they just, know their bros, who DJ. It became really personal and I didn’t like that, so it was easy to move to Melbourne because Melbourne has a much better… still a long way to go, but they have a much better outlook. Just fuckin’ booking anyone no matter what gender you are and being really aware of it. That’s something that needs to be addressed. It is being addressed but there’s still heaps to do.
Even the way you’re talking about it now, you’re highlighting these things that you think should change, you still sound positive about it all.
Oh yeah, because the music that I naturally love comes from females. Always. Even most of the soul I listen to is female and all the R&B that I listen to is female, mostly. I’m so in tune with it – what it means to be a female musician and the history of it. I feel really positive about it because the people I surround myself with are on the same wavelength. The first person I made music with properly is my sister so we were always in it together and music with other females was where I started.
What was the first and the last vinyl record that you added to your collection?
Oh my god. Oh shit. I don’t know what the first was. I can tell you that my first CD was Hanson. I just told someone that last night. I don’t know what my first vinyl was. I can’t remember at all! It would’ve been like a soul compilation or something that I picked up for a dollar from the op-shop. The last one that I added was… I bought a few at the same time. I bought Aaliyah self-titled (which was the most money I ever spent on a vinyl), Kelela and Cassius Select. The one that came out on the London label – the one with Crook on it.
What’s next for Take Your Time?
Our launch is coming up on December the 3rd at Belleville in Melbourne. We want to just keep playing shows and being excited. Probably start writing some music soon. Everyone’s been really busy and away and stuff but for the next couple of months we’re back in town so we’ll probably start writing some new stuff.
Thanks for your time Ang.
That’s okay. Thanks for the coffee.
I hope this wasn’t too painful.