Today (February 18), Coconut Cream have released their second EP, ‘What Kind Of Music Do You Like To Listen To?’, as well as a music video for the track ‘More Time’.
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The six-track collection follows on from the quartet’s debut EP ‘Out Of Touch’, which was independently released back in 2019 less than a year after their formation. That EP got them on the radar of Joji Malani, Gang Of Youths’ former lead guitarist, who announced last year that the Sydney-based band would be the first signees to his new label Broth Records.
Malani also enlisted Middle Kids bassist Tim Fitz to work with the band as a producer on what would become their second EP. Having already shared its emotive and endearing singles ‘Your Drug On Computers’ and ‘Safety Net’, ‘What Kind Of Music…’ looks to further expand on the band’s own approach to the grey area that lies between indie pop and indie rock.
Half of Coconut Cream – lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist Astari Mudana and drummer/backing vocalist Jasmine Tan – took some time out of their Valentine’s Day to speak with NME about school days, band democracies and Glebe Markets. Watch the band’s brand-new music video for ‘More Time’ below and read on for the interview.
Was there anything in particular that the band as a whole wished to achieve on ‘What Kind of Music…’ that you felt you weren’t able to on the ‘Out Of Touch’ EP?
Jasmine Tan: “What you’ve got to take into consideration about that first EP is that we did that entire thing while we were at uni – like, not just being uni students, literally at the uni. We recorded it all ourselves at the uni’s studios, and Oscar [Saran, lead guitarist] did all of the mixing and mastering. It’s very much a product of its time. There were so many more avenues to explore, recording with Tim. Not only was the equipment better, he was very hands-on with helping with the songwriting as well. I would easily say it was a better experience all ’round.”
Astari Mudana: “Definitely. There’s quite a big gap between that EP coming out and this one coming out, and I would definitely say that we’ve used that time in between to find ways for us to naturally progress our sound. There’s a lot of change on this EP, and we were definitely influenced a lot by having Tim around.”
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How did Tim Fitz get involved, and in what ways was he influential in the creation of this EP?
Mudana: “We were introduced by Joji. He’s been friends with Middle Kids for years, and he was adamant that our band would gel really well with them. He was right, of course, and Tim ended up being the perfect person to make this EP with.”
Tan: “I think he brought out a lot of things in us by challenging the way we were doing things. He’d maybe say something like, ‘I don’t know if that works there – what do you think about this?’ Or maybe we’d rework this idea that we had because he was like, ‘It’s really cool, but I think it just needs that little… zhoosh’. [laughs] I think he was really good at that – bringing the best out of us, as well as adding some cool flavours from his own experiences with making music.”
Take us through the timeline of the EP, considering how long it’s been in the works.
Mudana: “The earliest song on the album is one called ‘Parking Ticket’. It was written at the same time that we wrote [2020 single] ‘Fairy Bread’, which we released a year after we wrote it. I remember it being around the time just before COVID hit. We were on tour with IVEY, a band from Queensland, and we were playing it just about every single night.”
Tan: “That was during the time Astari was writing most of the songs that ended up on the EP. We were already demoing them by that point. The most recent one was two years ago, was ‘What Kind Of Music Do You Like To Listen To?’ That feels crazy to think about, but some of them just feel a little more new because we haven’t played them to an audience as much. It’s kind of a mix in that sense.”
You mentioned Astari writing the songs – are the songs generally brought to the band fully formed, or is it more of a democratic process?
Mudana: “The songwriting process was different for all of them, but for a couple of them we would workshop as a band. We’d go up to Oscar’s house – he lives a bit further out, and he has a studio and recording space there. We would basically write them as we went. Take the song ‘What Kind Of Music’. Someone would have a cool bassline, and then we’d have this lyric to match this part and then want the guitar to play into that. We kind of took inspiration from each other.”
Tan: “Astari usually comes up with the chord progressions and the melody, as well as a rough structure of the song. When she comes to us with that, we can always be like, ‘We really love this, but I reckon it could be faster’. Or slower, for that matter. It’s about us being like, ‘How can we bring our little things together to make this into a song that sounds good to all of us?’
It’s important to have every Coconut Cream song be reflective of the four of you, then?
Mudana: “I think so, yeah. Like Jas was saying before, I do write the songs from their beginning stages with the lyrics and the melody. I think what makes it interesting, though, is having everyone’s spin on it. Oscar brings more of a shoegaze-y, super-cool guitar sound that’s pretty unique. Jas will bring her specific drum sound, and Chad [Kennedy] has his own kind of way of playing bass. I think that makes it way more interesting than me just saying, ‘OK, you play this and you play this’.”
Tan: “I definitely consider it an important thing especially with regards to decision making, as well. We decided from the very start that we did want this to be an even thing between us – there’s a really nice bond we have, and we’ve got some really good ideas that we can bounce back and forth. I think that’s really important to us.”
Lastly, can you tell us a little about the band’s connection to Glebe Markets?
Mudana: [laughs] “This was one of Joji’s ideas! He was selling off a bunch of his pedals and guitars, and he suggested we come by to sell our merch and just have a chat with people… We brought – what are they called? A mobile CD player?
Mudana: “Yeah! We had the EP on these burnt CDs and were just like, ‘Hey, do you want to have a first listen to it?’ We just asked people walking by, and they were mostly just kind of like, ‘… Sure’. [laughs]
Tan: “We had the funnest people coming up to our store. They were happy to listen, and happy to be there. A lot of them ended up really loving it, and some people even said they were gonna come to our next show in March, which is really exciting.”
Mudana: “We completely sold out all our merch. I think we literally have one shirt left. We were all like, ‘This is a really cool way to talk to people and sell our stuff’, because we obviously haven’t been able to sell merch at gigs. Maybe it’s just about looking at ways we can do things differently.”
Coconut Cream’s ‘What Kind Of Music Do You Like To Listen To?’ is out now via Broth Records