I Know Leopard talk new music and returning to Adelaide

Words By Nathan King

After a successful 2016 with a string of tours (having recently supported Holy Holy on their ‘Darwinism’ tour), signing with illustrious record label Ivy League Records and having just released their new single ‘Rather Be Lonely’I Know Leopard are looking to make 2017 just as ambitious. Ahead of their headline slot at Gold Fusion Yewth Mag spoke to lead vocalist and keyboardist Luke O’Loughlin on all that has passed this year and what we can expect from I Know Leopard in 2017.

First off the bat, how has the recent tour supporting Holy Holy been?

Yeah it was awesome, such a lovely group of guys. They were great shows and it was nice to play a few new songs as well. Last year was a pretty crazy year and we were pretty much constantly touring while this year we have not been touring much because we have been putting stuff together, recording and looking forward to that debut album. It was nice to get out there again and get a response from the crowds towards the new material we have been writing, nice to be able to try them out on stages like The Corner, The Metro and The Triffid.

I’m very glad to hear that, so how did the new songs go down?

Yeah really well, we were quite surprised because some of the new songs went down better than the previous singles we have had, which was encouraging.

Now your new single ‘Rather Be Lonely’, I heard it when it debuted on triple J but I have since given it a few more spins. It’s very much the staple I Know Leopard sound of Indie-dream pop, but there was a presence of growth on it lingering. You could very much see the evolution of your sound from your early singles to this new one.

Well I’m very glad to hear you got that from the song because I think what we are looking for in the new material is a lot more space. What we are really interested in doing at the moment with music is a layering process, to get three main sounds sounding really beautiful and focusing really on those and the rest of it being quite nice ambient stuff, everything having its place is really important to me at the moment. We are exploring really spacious sonic’s at the moment because in previous singles, EP’s and stuff like that we have tended to go over the top with laying and I love that big wall of sound that you can hear little different elements to on repeated listens. But I have had a lot of influence from the BADBADNOTGOOD record that came out this year that have three or four elements that are done really quite well. It also helps with the overall fidelity of things, I think that ties in the maturing of things with how we are writing and the more I’ve been getting into pop and music that is really beautifully produced that you can turn up loud and it still sounds great. We are getting more and more produced and “pop-y” as we go on, but hopefully we can continue some level of sophistication to go with it.

It’s always interesting to see where bands fall into the spectrum of writing methods because a lot of bands seem to either fall in the camp of lyrics first melody second or vice versa, but it’s always interesting to see what type of writer an artist is. Going on the theme of writing as well for the rest of the album was it much the same?

Well I don’t know, I have been trying a lot of different things for the album but I’m always going to write the way I write, I’m always going to return to those methods. I’m actually in Melbourne at the moment working on some of the new songs and there is this one song that was nearly conceived and finished in nearly a single day. I really like doing those kind of things which you basically just start something and by the end of the day its done, not that it’s mixed or anything, but throwing yourself into something and writing something in the spur of the moment is really exciting for me. I think there has been a few songs in the past that have happened like that and some songs take months to finish whilst others you just spit out and you maintain that level of freshness.

With this new album, correct me if I am wrong, but you are working with Steve Scharm?

With the single ‘Rather Be Lonely’ we worked with Steve but in terms of the album we are not sure, we want to work with Steve but we are not sure what we will be doing. I have been working a lot lately with a guy who I have worked with before on a lot of I Know Leopard stuff, he is a producer form Melbourne called Jack Arentz and he is also a long term friend of mine because we both grew up in Adelaide, but he is an electronic kind of producer. I really love working with him particularly on the production side of things because be just nerd out on synths together and just do stuff like that. So that’s who I’m working with at the moment with a lot of the album stuff, but we like to work with a lot of different people and I dare say we will probably work with Steve again because he was just great at really simplifying a lot of things for us and helping us focus on the most important things of the songs - helping us to not put too much into one song. I think we will defiantly work with Steve in some capacity with the rest of the album, but in terms of slowly shaping the songs and putting them together I’m working with Jack. We are not too sure who we will be working with at this stage, but we want to work with a few people.

Touching on the Adelaide factor here, how does it feel to be headlining in Adelaide? You have toured here before but now with the promotion to festival headliners for Gold Fusion it must be a treat to headline your hometown?

Yeah it’s really good, in saying that we have not played Adelaide too many times, but I remember when we played Adelaide earlier in the year it was incredible and it was so good to see familiar faces in the crowd. It’s great coming back to Adelaide and to headline Gold Fusion, I’m actually going to be heading over to Adelaide for Christmas and just stay here until the show because we don’t have any New Years shows this year. So I’m going to hang out in Adelaide and see family and do some writing so it works out really well. Todd and I really like coming back to Adelaide and that familiarity we have with our hometown is nice. I don’t actually know how many people know we are from Adelaide because it’s been a while now.

Just talking about this year in summary you guys have had quite the monumental year. You have toured a lot obviously, you signed with Ivy League Records which is quite an established label. You have done a lot of paper work there so how does it feel?

It’s great because we feel we really have a good team around us and it feels like everyone really believes in us. The thing with I Know Leopard is that we have been around now for three or so years and it’s been a steady progress, but it’s nice because our team and management really believe in us and love the music. We couldn’t ask for a better team. Ivy League have been awesome already and we feel quite honoured to be a part of a label that has pretty much some of our favourite bands like Cloud Control and Alpine. It’s really quite an honour.

In 2017 you guys are hitting the ground pretty hard with obviously Gold Fusion and then a few dates in February in support of the new single ‘Rather Be Lonely’, so are you looking at releasing new material next year?

We will see because in the past we have said that we will be putting out stuff but I don’t know. It’s hard with us because we are so fussy with music and we expect to put something out, something happens and then we have to delay it. It happens around the other way as well when we don’t plan on doing much and then we just release some stuff all of a sudden. I’d love to think we will be putting out an album next year but as many songs as there are, and there are so many songs we have been working on this last year, but the album is just shaping up to be a real beast of a thing to work on. That’s just the way it is and we are not really going to release it until we think it’s something kind of special, so I hope it will come out in 2017 but I just don’t know. At the least there will be a few more singles coming out next year.

Catch I Know Leopard at Gold Fusion Festival on Jan 6 at Published Arthouse, Adelaide. Tickets available here.