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INSIDE STORY He writes the songs and sings them, plays the guitar and piano parts, and records and produces the records – New Empire’s Jeremy Fowler is one very busy young artist. Michael Smith caught him on a break.

“W

e’re lucky enough,” Jeremy Fowler begins after chuckling about how he’s “all over” New Empire’s third album, In A Breath. “I own my own studio so we decided to do most of the record there. That’s kind of my background – I have a degree in audio engineering and music production, so it kind of made sense to do everything in-house. It was a big job,” he admits with another chuckle, “a lot to think about when you’re doing so many different roles as the one person, but I’m really happy with it in the end.”

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Even the olds have heard at least one song from the Cronulla foursome: One Heart/Million Voices, courtesy its selection for the 2012 Summer Olympics on Australian television. The rest of us have been hearing New Empire tracks on triple j since they released their single, The Summer Sky, in early 2010 – they’d released a album, Come With Me Tonight, in 2008, three years after forming at high school – which was followed by another nine singles, the latest, 2013’s Say It Like You Mean It, the teaser off the justreleased In A Breath.

“Because the songs [for In A Breath] were written over a two-year period,” Fowler explains, “you go through different seasons in life in that time, as a band and individually as well. We went through some pretty difficult trials, and just growing up and trying to find out who you are and finding out how to love basically. So it really does feel like the album’s a tapestry that shows that journey over the last two years for us.” The album opens with a track titled Tale Of Jonah, and Jeremy sees some small parallel between the biblical story of Jonah and the whale in being “in the belly”, so to speak, of a band rising in the music business. “That’s always been a story I’ve been intrigued with and loved the imagery that comes with it, and I guess there are some similarities in Jonah’s life and in my life, so we really wanted to take a modern twist on something that’s one of the oldest stories ever told in human history. “You can feel like you’re surrounded by the unknown a lot when you’re in a band. For us, you have to get used to not knowing what’s around the corner, what opportunities are coming next – you don’t know what country you’re going to be in in the next two months – so in many ways it can feel like you’re in the belly of a whale,” Fowler admits with another chuckle. Actually, there’s no mystery about what’s next. First there’s an east coast tour to launch the album and then it’s off to the US for their third tour. The only unknown is if they then head for Europe. WHAT: In A Breath (Permanent/Shock) WHEN & WHERE: 7 Jun, Old Museum

VOICE OF UNITY Sick of hearing negativity within the black community, Kevin Mark Trail is looking to make a positive change with his music, writes Benny Doyle.

“I

t feels like I’m at a point where music’s cool, but I want to do music that has a message and has a purpose,” says singer, producer and multiinstrumentalist Kevin Mark Trail. “And it’s not that it’s contrived or anything like that – it’s just who I am – but I think there’s enough negative... I don’t even want to say the word, but there’s enough of the N-word, there’s enough of the B-word in black music and culture, and I just don’t want to be like that, I don’t want to be about that.” After some whirlwind years as a vocalist for The Streets, Trail is now standing on his own two feet and revelling in the artistic freedom. He calls in from northern New South Wales, an area he’s clearly enamoured with, talking of trees, snakes and black cockatoos. The self-referenced “boy from London” is soaking up the natural beauty found in this part of the world, and it’s seen him take on a whole new direction with his latest LP, The Knight. Having just dropped exclusively in Australia, The Knight sees the 33-year-old exploring more cinematic sounds while analysing society’s current obsession with consumerism. Going against this trend, Trail has found inspiration in Australian Indigenous and New Zealand Maori communities, and after being encouraged by working alongside children in the bush, he’ll be giving his profits from this upcoming east coast tour to the Music Outback Foundation.

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“I’d like to see a Bob Marley of our generation, I’d like to see a Tracy Chapman, a Dylan, another Joni Mitchell, Public Enemy y’know,” Trail enthuses. “I’d like to see that arise, or maybe it’s there and I just ain’t seen it? I was really inspired by the Damian Marley and Nas record they did together [2010’s Distant Relatives], and just talking sense, common sense. I really like the whole ghetto mentality – that is real. Some of my family have come from that, but it’s how you depict it and how you talk about it. I just want to inspire people; I just want to say something different.” Flexing his musical versatility, Trail will

perform solo and with a full band on this tour, taking the opportunity to experiment on stage with his new songs and explore more electronic elements, toying with beats and loop pedals like another personal hero, Reggie Watts. And having written, recorded and produced The Knight himself “out of necessity”, he knows the music inside out. “I believe that the more you can do yourself the more powerful you are, and we’re at an age where artists can do a lot themselves, so if you can, why not? Just not having boundaries, I feel like I’ve got that more in this part of the world. I’m not just this artist or that artist; I can make music and just put it out, so I’m really excited about this phase of life.” WHAT: The Knight (Independent) WHEN & WHERE: 7 Jun, The Loft, Gold Coast; 8 Jun, Dowse Bar

The Music (Brisbane) Issue #41  

The Music is a free, weekly gloss magazine of newsstand quality. It features a diverse range of content including arts, culture, fashion, li...

The Music (Brisbane) Issue #41  

The Music is a free, weekly gloss magazine of newsstand quality. It features a diverse range of content including arts, culture, fashion, li...