For many artists, working the press can be a drag. But for Brooke Adamo it’s just a relief to be out of the studio.
Adamo made hay in late 2010 and 2011, releasing a brace of critically acclaimed EPs during a hectic nine-month period under her Owl Eyes moniker. A feature for Illy and sold out shows followed, as did a tour with The Wombats. And then, silence.
Adamo had talked in the press about knuckling down after the Wombats tour for an album to be released in October of 2012, but the end of last year passed without any record. Indeed, it took until Friday just past for ‘Nightswim’ to finally be unveiled.
“It’s exciting,” she says. “I was writing the album for a long time, I didn’t do hardly any touring or anything like that. So you start to get nervous: ‘Is anyone going to care about this coming out?’ Things like that. But I think just in the last few weeks, since the single [‘Closure’] was rolling out and I’m just doing a lot of interviews and it’s been really great.”
Adamo has just stepped through her hotel room door from a Rolling Stone photo shoot, so the wired excitement in her voice is understandable. But the 22-year-old sounds like a totally different person to the relative up-and-comer who spoke to Scene in mid 2011. Then she was shy and reserved; now you can barely get a word in.
“There are always going to be delays when you do something creative. Or there are always going to be some hiccups along the way. I think I just wanted to get it right and just take my time with it and not rush something that I wasn’t proud of. You’ve always got to set yourself a deadline, otherwise you’ll never get it done, but I’d rather put something out there that I’m proud of and not worry about the dates. There was a little bit of heated discussion with the team, and I was saying, ‘It’s not ready yet. I’m not putting it out.’ I stood my ground and I was really assertive, because at the end of the day it’s my thing, my creative process and I just needed a little bit more time before it was ready.”
Adamo’s confidence is reflected in ‘Nightswim’. It’s a bold record, building on the slick indie electro pop of her EPs to reach for something that carries plenty of conviction. But she confesses to finding the process of compiling an album harder than she first anticipated.
“It was definitely harder, and I think in the beginning I made it harder on myself just by having a freak-out thinking, ‘How am I going to get this done?!’ Because obviously at the start you have a deadline and you have to be finished by then. You work yourself up because it’s an album. And then once you get over that you think, ‘This is what I’m here for. This is what I want to do.’ And you just get it done.
“And it kinda changes and it grows and it evolves. It’s a great experience. It’s a bumpy ride, but it’s worth it. I’m starting to get a lot of great feedback from people who have the album, so that’s really nice.”
A hallmark of the early Owl Eyes EPs was Adamo’s close work with Jan Skubiszewski. And while the Melbourne producer played a major part in ‘Nightswim’, the delays in recording meant he had to move onto an upcoming Cat Empire record. Enter Stylaz Fuego and Cameron Parkin, who brought to bear their considerable experience and contributed to the record’s wide scope sound.
“It’s a really important chemistry you have to have with a producer,” Adamo says. “I met Stylaz and instantly we had this musical connection. And I wanted to latch onto that. And I also want to be inspired by them. He was on the same path as me: we had the same vibes and we liked the same music. It was a great start and we didn’t look back.
“And then we bought in Cam and he was much like the icing on top – our go-to guy – ‘Listen to this. Do you think that’s good? What do you think we should add to it?’ We formed this relationship via email, but Stylaz is very close to him … So yeah, I loved surrounding myself with a great bunch of people who I’m inspired by and have the same views as me. Because if you’re in the studio with someone who’s not on the same wavelength it’s not going to work, obviously.”
The more you talk to Adamo, the more you realise what a labour of love this LP was. The concept of creating a longplayer is on the industry back burner in 2013, record labels preferring to focus on singles and other shorter projects. But releasing an album was a childhood dream for Adamo.
“A lot of people just buy a single now on iTunes, and it’s so easy to access one song. And that’s why record companies are pushing for singles. I think for an artist it’s really important … It’s this idea of something that you want. I don’t know, but I really felt strongly about making an album and going through that process and pushing myself a little bit more than just putting five songs on a CD. I wanted to create a story and play with different sounds and bring it all together. And I think it was good for me to go through that process.”
Now the process is taking these sonically vertiginous songs into the live arena. Ask Adamo if she and her band are ready, and she laughs.
“Not ready just yet. Throughout that process I’ve been trying to deconstruct the songs and making them fit the stage and making them alive. It’s hard to take a song that you’ve recorded in the studio and put it onstage. You’ve got to pull it apart and find the bits that you like about it. That was the part for me. You can play around with it and if you get bored with it you can always re-jig it. It’s really fun and really interesting trying to learn them or trying to get the guys to learn them. You get to think about things and I’m hoping to have back-up singers, which will be really exciting. For me, personally, it’s going to be really exciting and it’s all new music for me.”
‘Nightswim’ is out now. Owl Eyes plays The Zoo Friday May 10.