FROM DANCE FESTIVALS TO CHURCHES, CLYPSO'S MUSIC IS UNAPOLOGETIC FUN
Words by Christopher Kevin Au // Images by Chris Loutfy
When you listen to Clypso, the sounds practically jump out of your speakers. Not only that, but they’ll form a conga line and march gleefully into your earholes. Clypso’s music is a colourful montage of effervescent electronica, hip-swinging Afrobeat and a multitude of other sounds, where she handles both vocals and production in equally lively fashion.
Clypso has just wrapped up her own headline ‘Cameo’ tour, and it’s just been announced that she’ll be hitting the road with Touch Sensitive throughout April. When we visit Clypso, things are slightly more low-key: We’re in a church, where she handles organ duties and also plays at weddings across Sydney.
But whether she’s playing sweat-drenched dance festivals or spending Sunday morning in church, Clypso delivers unapologetic fun. We chat to Clypso about her sun-soaked songs, incorporating childhood musical influences, and the Australian classics she’ll never take off rotation:
You just stepped off your first headline tour. How did it feel to play those gigs, especially coming off sizeable support slots for Pnau and What So Not?
Support slots are great, especially for productions like Pnau and What So Not. You learn a lot from just watching them and their crew, night after night. My headline shows were special and a memory that will be with me until the next ones. I used to love organising school discos as a kid, and this definitely brought me back: Decorating the venue, practising choreo with the dancers, testing out lights. And also having a room of people who actually know your songs and are singing along to them, such a vibe.
You're already doing a lot in your live show, from vocals to keys to drum pads. Is there anything else you would like to incorporate into your live show in the future?
One word... pyro. Ideally a lot of smoke machines, aerial stunts look cool too. For headline shows at the moment, I have dancers and a live VJ too, it’ll probably stay that way for a while.
'Strange Behaviour' features an Indian oboe, a sound which became familiar to you as a child. How else do you think your upbringing has influenced your approach to music?
Yeah! I’ve also got another song on the EP called ‘Beyond Desire’ which features the insanely talented Bobby Singh on tabla. I don’t really plan or go out of my way to make a track that has South Indian influences in it or whatever, but I think it’s just a byproduct of sounds that I was surrounded with growing up. That included a lot of world music, Australian dance music classics, acid jazz, the occasional tamil pop; lots of different music that I got hooked on to.
Sometimes I lay down a topline for a song and I’m like, “Hmmm, the intonation I used there seems very familiar.” It would remind me of my Aunty who babysat me a lot, she had been a student of Carnatic music and she used to sing a lot around the house. It’s funny how little things like that seep into your subconscious.
You said that in track 'Enter', you were “envisioning a little tribe marching closer and closer.” Who is this tribe, what do they look like, and where are they going?
It’s the Clypso tribe! They’re a diverse, quirky bunch marching towards a happy dance den.
Your music really does feel like a warm summer's day. Do you think you would have made similar style of music if you grew up in, say, Poland?
Haha, I actually have a few Polish friends and know more about their DIY music scene than I should. But no, from the intel I’ve got, Clypso wouldn’t exist in it’s current summery pop form. It would be a techno or IDM project... who knows?
Being a Sydneysider, it's not an ideal time for musicians because of the uncertainty around live venues and festivals. How do you think we can balance the safety of patrons with the need for a viable nighttime economy and music community?
It’s a horrible time, with decisions being made by people who know nothing about festivals and nighttime economy, and refuse to listen to people who actually live and breathe them. When decades of hard work and experience to build things up gets thrown out by bureacracy, it’s very very aggravating. Consultation and listening needs to be key to this.
Can you name five Australian tracks which will forever live in your music library, and why?
Gotye, ‘Eyes Wide Open’ - I think that melody in the topline is one of the best. And it’s one of those great songs to drive along to.
The Presets, ‘Anywhere’ - This is my go-to song if I need to get really amped about something. Amped about something, can I get more vague?
Raave Tapes, ‘2 U XOXO’ - Why this song isn’t a world wide smash is beyond my understanding.
Pnau, ‘Wild Strawberries’ - I vaguely remember a festival or gig or something and I think a strawberry fell or like tripped and it had these teeth and I was laughing so hard, so whenever I hear this, I’m like “Man, why do we take things so seriously sometimes, why can’t we all just be a wild strawberry.”
John Butler, ‘Funky Tonight’ - Also another festival memory, I was part of the green team (picking up recyclables) and remember John Butler rocking hard to this one and it was such a massive vibe.
Fill us in on what we can expect from Clypso for the rest of 2019?
New music and unapologetic fun.