Lonelyspeck: our Laneway local

Words by Tom Gaffney / Photos by Jonno Revanche

Whenever Lonelyspeck puts out a song, it always ends up with a different kind of reaction compared to a lot of other Soundcloud releases. They’re less of a ‘this is great, good job’, and more of a, ‘I’ve listened to this every day since it came out,’ and ‘this is so beautiful I can’t remember the last time I felt like this when I listened to something’. The fact that this person – Sione Teumohenga – literally has huge artists flocking to his music (Perfume Genius, Troye Sivan) without any solicitation, only purely with word of mouth and by releasing his bedroom music onto the internet and leaving it there for a little while, it kind of identifies the purity and need of his art in the current world of music.

I only have words to talk about Lonelyspeck in this article, and words aren’t the kind of tool that can give you the experience of him and his music, and I know that sounds really cheesy, like ‘this guy is so good, he’s too good to be described’, but you just have to trust me on this one. All I can really say is that when someone like Sione gets put into a position where he’s the Triple J Unearthed act for Adelaide’s leg of Laneway, it’s only a good thing.

You’ve been a Laneway goer for the last couple of years. Which acts have really gripped you?

FKA Twigs might be the best live act I’ve ever seen in my life. Without exaggerating, it was genuinely like a divine experience. She was incredible. Seeing Majical Cloudz last year was so special, especially since they broke up soon after. Their music has meant so much to me over the past few years and I wasn’t really expecting they’d ever come to Adelaide – and, of course, Grimes that same year.

And this must be your biggest crowd yet, right? Have you been thinking about your slot very much?

Yes, a lot! Mostly worrying all the little things that could go wrong. But I’m excited.

Can we hear something about you as Lonelyspeck that fans might not know about?

I used a $20 headset mic and occasionally my old second-hand Nokia E63 to record all the vocals and instruments for all my music up until last year when I finally bought a condenser mic. The cheapest decent condenser I could find on Amazon, haha.

Who'll you be searching for to meet backstage?

There are actually quite a lot of people I’m not that familiar with so I’ll probably just take it as it comes. It will be cool if I get to chat with other artists, whether or not I know much about them. I did just discover Aurora this week and she seems so kind and sweet.

How do you feel about Adelaide and Australian music right now?

I’ve been thinking recently that Adelaide’s electronic music seems to be developing its own sound that’s a bit different from the East Coast, which is really cool. But I think we’re also limited by lack of diversity because Adelaide is so small. It can easily be discouraging for people who don’t fit a certain mould.

Your latest single ‘All My Skin On The Air’ is incredibly unique. Could we hear about the creation process?

It actually started with me basically improvising words over a PartyNextDoor track to get myself out of feeling so blocked about writing lyrics. I think I was scared of writing about certain feelings, so I just forced myself to be as blunt and inarticulate as I needed to be just to get words down, not worrying about how it’d come across.

I had those verses just sitting there for a long time and didn’t know what to do with them, but I really liked the vibe of them so one day I just made myself write a chorus melody with whatever notes came into my head first. That’s the lead synth countermelody part in the chorus, and the vocal parts and lyrics came easily after that. Pretty much everything in the writing and creation of the song came out of using directness to push through emotional and creative inhibition.

Lonelyspeck takes to the Harts Mill stage at 11:55AM this coming Friday at Adelaide’s leg of the Laneway Festival.

Grab your Laneway tikkos here.