Interview: SECOND SIGHT at HALF STRANGE FESTIVAL Pop Quiz #1

Words by Lauren Abineri

HALF STRANGE FESTIVAL is nearly upon us (it’s this weekend, quick go buy a ticket, ya ding dong!). It’s a 3-day multi-venue festival showcasing local, interstate and international music of quite a calibre and variety. Curators Harriet Fraser-Barbour and Celeste Juliet have teamed up to create an inclusive, exciting and above all super-fun-time music experience. In the leadup to the big weekend, Yewth chats to some of the artists you can catch at this ripper fest.

HALF STRANGE FEST ARTIST #1 - SECOND SIGHT

The first time I saw Second Sight was on a Halloween night. It was sweaty. It was thrilling. Second Sight has been the solo project of Adelaide to Melbourne-based musician + producer Noah Renolds. The music is anxiously addictive with thudding kicks, darkwave hooks and crispy synth peppered over the top. Now a duo, Renolds is joined by noise-pop artist Freya Adele (Kompact Development, THETA). Here’s what we talked about:

Lauren: Hi Noah! Can you tell me a little bit about Second Sight and how you started?

Second Sight: Second Sight (as a solo project) came out of the need for me to be allowed to create whatever music I wanted without having to consider other members in a band. Although now I've enlisted Freya A to help me add some colour to the mix. We just bought a shit-load of synthesisers so the sounds has basically just regressed to us learning how to actually use them. Computers are much easier, I may have made a big mistake.

L: Nice one. What synths have you been playing with? I personally haven’t tried making anything on a computer yet so I’ve been using some analogue equipment, volca sampler etc. I think because I like tweaking things so much. How do you feel live performance will change with less computer?

SS: Frey got an Korg MS20 (of course) I got an FM synth which can either sound extremely cheesy or really awesome. there's no in between. I think by converting to hardware it has narrowed our options, which I think is the point of using hardware. There's nothing wrong with using a computer, in fact I think it's a good thing, but I found I got to a point where I had so many samples and plugins at my disposal it became impossible to control the urge to just use every sound... ever. Watching somebody perform from their laptop becomes less of a technical feat but more a demonstration of control.

L: Yeah, it’s like the laptop still has that live element, but maybe the limitations of hardware can be fun and challenging, or even a way of distilling, or seeing what you can work with without that 'urge' to play everything. Which is fun also. If any of that makes sense?

SS: Yep for sure. I think having the same handful of instruments for a live set adds some continuity. My live sets were becoming like backing tracks under vocals because each song used different samples and synths. There is also this added sense with hardware that more things can go wrong which is the point of performance in my opinion. Things need to happen that we don't expect.

L: This next part I am curious about and think about it a lot. So far I have phrased it as: electronic music is so vast with all the ‘waves’ and synth-prefixed genres. Do you find some of that language useful when talking about what your music ‘sounds’ like?

SS: Yeah I think if I want people to have some pre-conceived ideas about my music before hearing it I'll use a genre name. It's also inevitable that other people will put labels on your music so you may as well beat them to it. I think Second Sight sits pretty comfortably amongst other darkwave releases although I hope the music transcends that label at least a little bit. Basically I hope people just listen to the music.  
Labelling your own music is also an obvious way to target a particular demographic which you may want to hear your music.

L: Are there particular artists that have influenced/informed your work?

SS: All the time, there is always a bunch of bands that inform my own compositions and it changes daily.

L: Who have you been listening to recently?

SS: Eno, Ike Yard, Lucy Cliche, PJ Harvey, John Zorn, Depeche Mode, Crime, Psychick TV, Duran Duran, Gwen Stefani.

L: Primo lineup.

SS: Oh, Cabaret Voltaire heaps and Killing Joke and I really, really like Jenny Hval's new album.

L: What can we expect from Second Sight at HALF STRANGE?

SS: More improv, bit more tekkers, leather, Anastasia Mannix jewellery, more dancing, more awkward banter between songs.

L: And finally, who is your *pick* to go and see at HALF STRANGE?

SS: Keen to see Goon Wizarrd, have they heard that Friends album from like 5 years ago? I bet they give Quici a big hard on. And of course BELGRADOBELGRADOBELGRADO, Spotting, pretty much everyone from interstate. Locals THETA, Fair Maiden, Deep Red... There's not a band on the lineups I don't love.

Second Sight will be playing on the third night of HALF STRANGE, Sunbury Sunday at the Metro.