1992. South Africa

As far back as I can pull my memories into focus I have been told that I am a serious. In a way I am, in others not so much. One of my earliest (clearly formed) memories was on our farm in South Africa with a caretaker explaining that it can take 100 years for wood to break down and ultimately become soil. With four years under my belt, attempting to grasp biodegradation resulted in a 404 Error. That is, page not found.

I recall precious seconds of fascination. Looking toward an unhelpful sky for guidance ready to host some new understanding, yet no understanding came. A dry breeze rustled dryer leaves and Johannes said “… and you know, If you make an ugly face when the wind changes it’ll be stuck like that forever.” My first state of wonder was served learning that my expressions are boldly animated by mental activity.

Just mentioning, as you and I may be unfamiliar that I’m generally happy and like most humans I have countless reasons to be so. The problem is my physiology demands a tense brow for quality output. I tried smiling at my laptop once and caught myself frowning about how hard it is to keep a smile. I’m surely not alone, though beneath the story my face might tell is a man not so serious, just trying to understand.

A friend once told me that the joy is exactly that, not completely understanding. When you know how something works the magic is lost and the moment you’ve packed it away into a little compartment another question is always waiting… True. Yet my problem, is that to love something I need to understand it. Consequently, understanding smothers ignorance and leaves me aware, exposed to the rough surfaces of life and so I become serious for a time. There are problems, personal and worldly asking the best of me and my generation will soon take the helm to preserve or destroy our future. In all honesty we have a lot more to worry about than most acknowledge so yes, this is worthy of some seriousness and that’s totally okay.

1997. New Zealand

My family moved a lot and I’m still not sure why, but I liked it in a way. It felt like progress. It felt brave. Unbound and free to move as we please.

I attended a Wardorlf Steiner School from primary – year three, developing channels of self expression – music, art, writing, personal reflection and baking crunchy buns. Having this output helped build a sanctuary on the foundation of creativity and sealed my ever-present fasciation with the arts. This terrain lay fallow when I later dragged myself through a public curriculum but the seeds were sown and despite general condemnation for lateral thinking, drawing and painting became an essential part of my life.

Around the same time my families collective appreciation for music soon manifested as an electric piano. My Dad played in a band so I’m sure my Mom’s pitch was pretty straight forward.The piano was brimming with sounds, modifiers, vocoders, floppy disk recording capabilities and a host of other new-age treats that allowed me to enjoy some disturbingly experimental jams. Fun Fact: The piano still lives on in my Australian studio and has made various appearances on nearly every early song I’ve written.

A few years later my Dad cam to me with a pair of drumsticks telling me that if I can learn to play the rock beat on my thighs he’ll buy me a drum kit. Thinking back he might have done this for two reasons:

1. He had already bought the drum-kit and needed to justify the purchase before it’s unveiling

2. He was turning my attention from weapons and explosives to a scaleable activity that promotes controlled strength and noise.

The day after Christmas on my 13th birthday I was the proud custodian of a Roland Electronic Drum-kit and conforming to the stereotype, had also managed to lose those previously acquired drum sticks.

2007. Australia

A grumpy year and in ritual with family tradition decided it was time for us to move again.

Welcome to Byron Bay, Australia! Cheer up, slow down and chill out. For the first year it felt more like an extended holiday than a move. A certain haze envelops this area and depending on routine some may experience it differently but what struck me even at 14 was the distorting pace at which things moved. Days and weeks rolled all over each other and in comparison to N.Z. the mild seasonal changes were the only grip I had of passing time.

Without a moments disagreement I was enrolled another Steiner school. It was a big part of why we made the move, or at least how it was justified (not that it had to be given the beaches and lifestyle) I had been through 5 public and 1 private since my art-filled primary days and was excited to be back in my element. Music began to dominate my life with rehearsal spaces after school and during breaks allowing the noise most homes couldn’t tolerate.

I graduated in 2010 through a cloud of smoke and moved to Melbourne the year after to clear the air. New friends embraced and old friends loosened their grip. School cradled a lot of relationships that were stress-tested in the real world and what I still find amazing is how bonds formed over years can be severed in seconds. One sentence wielding the power to discredit countless loyalties.

As can happen in life, things don’t always work as expected. A band grew out of the failure that was my first business and to be honest I think I dodged a bullet. I only recently came to head with the fact that what started as fun project has evolved into a passion project with an opportunity to touch the lives of many. So from the ashes TORA did rise but the sky was high and we were still flirting with the idea of flight.

2015. Europe

Refraining from too much deliberation the preceding years had been difficult. The strength of family bonds were stress tested and prior financial stability was lost. Perhaps each fed into the other and soon I found myself fragmented, chasing success in various jobs and in a state of frequent depression and anxiety. Feelings I used to find a reprieve from within the family home, we’re now exacerbated by it. 

Sometimes in life to run away from adversity is the only sensible option but the act of running can leave ripples of regret as we know ourselves capable of facing, and conquering difficulties. Better then, the gift a of deus ex machina to alter circumstance without the weight of regret. This involuntary liberation came as an opportunity to embark on a world tour with TORA and we readily accepted. 

An eroding relationship ended, family difficulties were left behind and with a bank balance I knew wouldn’t sustain me, we set off. 

The eight months that followed were filled with joy and catastrophe, love and hate, loss and discovery… A truly memorable experience with good friends and a shared musical purpose. I should take the time to immortalise it all but that is beyond the scope of this bio as it deserves more time than I currently have. Suffice to say, I felt important changes precipitate as the journey unfolded and returned to Australia anew. 

Work began on our debut album ‘Take A Rest’ start of 2016, perhaps even a bit earlier as some of the songs had been floating around for while, but a concerted effort was put in when we rented a house in the hinterland of Byron Bay later that year and dived in to push it across the line. Late 2016 – start of 2017 would also mark the beginning of my endeavour into solo music production and while I had learnt a lot creating with the TORA boys, there was a desire to build a project of my own design. 

Sadly, we also lost a key creative mind when Toby decided to leave the band after ‘Take A Rest’ was completed. He offered a welcome balance to the sonic landscape and a unique perspective on the creative process which I often apply to my own work. I am happy to report he’s been cooking away and hopefully will start serving soon. The demos I’ve heard are gorgeous. 

2020. Netherlands

What a time to be alive… All the promise of a fruitful year evaporated faster than I could enjoy any of its juice.

I was in Bali for the New Years sunrise and this is one of the few moments in my life where I might reach for the phrase ‘I had a premonition’ but everything about this morning was wrong. The pan-fried bat wings adventurous locals were offering me at the summit while sipping on a two litre bottle of Captain Morgan’s, a rising sun completely obscured by grey clouds and influencers launching drones into a drizzling fog of false hope. Perhaps I’ve been too blessed with the warmth of good company and wholesome gatherings all the years prior but this experience left me misplaced and pensive for a time.

Upon my return to Australia I was packed and within a matter of weeks landed in Amsterdam with the Tora boys. We had chosen to base ourselves in Europe for the foreseeable future and Netherlands was well located, welcoming to English speakers and opened minded to the vices of the creative process. A few weeks after landing for a year of growth and touring, the shows were cancelled and we entered an extended lock-down.

My mind wandered in and out of delusion, a stranger in a foreign city now victim to my own circumstance. A dream-state of sorts or more poignantly, a limbo painted with fear, collusion, and shifting degrees of concern as I witnessed the COVID-19 narrative unfold. I began to loose a sense of hope for my future and humanity as a whole. We had lost our fire and apparently our ability to reason.

After a few months of searching a music studio in Amsterdam’s East was recommended by friend and shortly after work began on our third album ‘A Force Majeure’. It followed the usual process of collaging old ideas with the some new, while this time adding spice with fresh equipment we purchased amidst the lockdown to capitalise on the boredom. There is a maturity in the finished product that demonstrates our progress as musicians, though I also hear tensions reminiscent of uncertain times both internally and externally that slightly jade the work for me but of course given the circumstances there is no requirement for such critique.

While I did briefly escape Amsterdam towards the end of the year on a horse-riding trip through the Slovenian mountains, and then through the North of Italy it was for the most part a fairly placid year made bearable only by my incessant podcast consumption and a foray into meditation.

2021. Bali & Arriving At Mass Zero