“I don’t really stop for a second and think, ‘They said something cool, let’s settle at that.’ I just want to focus and push myself further.”
A smartly-dressed Michael Zabolocki sits opposite me – a young man very at home amidst the weekday buzz outside La Moka café on Peel Street. Zabolocki, perhaps better known as one third of the Adelaide-born electronic trio SKIES, speaks humbly of the project.
“I think we’re doing good things, but in saying that, it’s whether the songs that we’re writing actually translate to bigger and better things.”
The unique trio, made up by Zabolocki and bandmates Dusty Lee Stephensen and Micah Cearns, takes its inspiration from a broad array of music, with front man Stephensen hailing from a rock background.
“Micah and I are more from electronic backgrounds… [Dusty’s] main contribution to the writing is definitely vocals and really cool guitar lines. We draw a lot of influence, especially in the production stuff, from someone like Bonobo or Floating Points… as well as Jai Paul and even Ben Khan.”
SKIES will be hitting the stage at Fat Controller tomorrow, Friday 15th of April to launch their brand new single, ‘Speed Boy’, which has already had a great deal of exposure on Triple J Unearthed. The trio will have support from local band Hunt and the North East Party House DJs, along with another special guest to be announced soon! SKIES single launch also kicks off a new Friday night theme at Fat Controller: ‘All You Can Eat ‘– a ‘buffet’ of fantastic local and international acts including the likes of DMAs and Ball Park Music!
Collaborating with co-producer Steven Schram—known for his work with Paul Kelly, San Cisco, The Cat Empire and many more—SKIES have taken on quite a tangent sound on ‘Speed Boy’. Schram’s creative influence on the track is clear as the song has a sultrier, almost deviant, back-room vibe in comparison to SKIES’ previous work. The ethereal, echoing vocals provided by Dusty Lee on ‘Speed Boy’ punch right through the throbbing, catchy synths, complimenting a raunchy bassline.
“His vocals are just, I think, very iconic to SKIES. In terms of post-production, Dusty is on the track the same as he is live – if anything, he’s even better live.”
Having received attention on Triple J, from the likes of Zan Rowe and KLP, as well as winning Best New Artist at the South Australian Music Awards, one could excuse Zabolocki and his counterparts for having their heads in the clouds ahead of their upcoming show. This is not the case, however, as they remain quietly ambitious with their feet firmly on the ground.
“I look at the negatives, and try not to get too settled in the way that I am. The way I see it… KLP or Zan Rowe might be giving it a good review, but I see those four stars, and I want to make them five stars.”
The Friday night launch will be SKIES’ last show in Adelaide for quite some time as May sees the boys take their show on the road, jetting off to the UK. Zabolocki also hints that we might be treated to some other new material as well, teasing the possibility of yet another new single or EP.
“I’ll probably be sampling some stuff live… You’ll hear some new songs – some new songs that we may never release, and some new songs that we probably will release. We’re thinking we might release something either just after or even before we come back from the UK.”
After some deliberation as to whether the brontosaurus actually existed, and SKIES having supported local starlet Tkay Maidza in 2015, Zabolocki seems to think that if his trio were an animal, it’d manifest itself as a koala.
“I think [our music would be like] a koala… I know koalas can be aggressive, but at the same time really cute, and maybe a bit emotionally satisfying.”
The official ‘Speed Boy’ video directed by local film talent Mitchel Tuul is out now – watch below!
When: 15th April 2016
Where: Fat Controller
Images: Daniel Marks