Current Joys' new album Voyager is out now! We chat to the musician about the record, his upcoming live stream performance and so much more.
Current Joys is back with his ninth studio album, Voyager. Serving as a journey to self discovery, the sixtenn-track body of work sees the musician navigate his own feelings and identity, offering up new ways of understanding the human existance.
The musical project of Nick Rattigan, Current Joys frequently uses film as a jumping-off point for songwriting. Taking inspiration from the likes of luminary filmmakers including Alfred Hitchcock, Lars Von Trier, Terrence Malick, Agnès Varda, and Andrei Tarkovsky, Rattigan takes elements from his favourite films that feed into and are relatable to his own life, composing and writing his tracks by fusing the two threads together.
Rattigan is set to host an exclusive live stream, The Phantom of the Highland Park Ebell, to celebrate the release of Voyager. Described as a 'horror-comedy-play-concert-film-experience, the performance will mark the first time the musician will play songs off the record. The live stream will also take on a dramatic and comical narrative, as we join Rattigan as he rehearses for the grand re-opening of the Highland Park Ebell and has a brush with death when an ancient Evil that has been long buried in the theatre is accidentally awakened. Streaming begins at 12PM AEST, May 20th and tickets are available to purchase here.
Voyager is out now! Read our interview with Current Joys below.
Firstly, congratulations on another superb record! It's such a lovely collection of songs.
Thank you very much!
Voyager serves as a journey to self discovery and offers up new ways of understanding your own feelings and identity. How important was it for you to use this record as a vehicle to document all that?
Oh God, I feel like maybe it just happens with every record or a piece of piece of art or piece of music or whatever you put yourself into, you know? They're all kind of vehicles of self discovery, in a way hopefully. If they're not, maybe you're just not digging in the right places, you know? But I think that's just what my music does for me, you know, like being a human being is a very complicated thing and, and sometimes there's not always a way to convey an emotion, sometimes music can be a very abstract way of expressing.
You also take inspiration from the vivid storytelling of filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock, Lars Von Trier, Terrence Malick, Agnès Varda, and Andrei Tarkovsky and more. With film serving as a guiding force where there’s different ways to communicate music and communicate art. You’ve said you take more from what directors do vs. what other musicians do, can you elaborate on this and how it does feed into your music?
Yeah, I think that I'm an avid, avid film watcher, I would say more so than I listen to music. It's just sort of like the world that I put myself in, so that's kind of what ends up inspiring me, is like sort of a visual language. I think it's like learning styles, you know? They're like, are you more of a visual learner or an audio learner? Or like, hands-on? I feel like I'm more of like a visual learner or, or however you include emotions. And I spit it out through music. I've been asked this question so many times I've yet to come up with a good answer.
No, it was good! The album sees you shift from lo-fi home recordings to sessions at Stinson Beach studio. What prompted you to make that re-route on this record?
You know, just growing up, listening to different types of music. I think before when I was doing a lot of like lo-fi recordings, it was more out of like what was around me and my financial resources and, and just kind of like a very stubborn way of creating that I was. I didn't really feel like it needed to sound like anything other than what, what it was, you know? It was also like something to be said about capturing the soul of the song. Like the first time you put it into a recording. And I feel like a lot of my songs, that's what they ended up being. But I don't know, I did a lot. Like you listen to Fleetwood Mac once, and then you want everything to sound amazing. Like 'oh, this feels like I'm sitting in a, in a pool of like a sauna found like so nice to be in this numb'. And now I listened to all my old recordings and I'm like, 'God, that sounds like shit'. So I think it's just, maybe it's maturing, maybe it's just getting less stubborn or more stubborn in different ways.
How much of your reality blends into what you take from the movies you use to write your songs?
I feel like the movies are just like a vehicle, you know? The films are a vehicle like 'okay, how do I want, how do I want this song to be thematically?'. But the context, if you dig deep enough, is usually just like, you know, the reason why the film is impactful in the first place, because it's just a projection of your own life. You know, that's why blockbusters are so successful magically, cause they're just projections of the mass culture. You know they build things that we want to see in ourselves, on the big screen. So once you start getting into more like art house films, or films that are digging in deeper into the soul, like they're projections of your soul and the things that you experienced and how you interpret the world. So I feel like, yeah, just by nature of the creative force, it's definitely got my carbon footprint on it.
Was the experience of creating during the pandemic more challenging, or did it allow you to carve out time and space to immerse yourself completely within composing?
It depends on which month [laughs]. Which eternity I was stuck in at the moment. In some ways, yes. Maybe towards the beginning, like happy go lucky sort of phase after the scary phase, there was a phase like, 'oh, this is nice, but I have time to write and work and stuff'. And then there's like the deep, deep, dark, dark, dark parts where there wasn't really any creation or creativity. So yeah, it depends on which cavern you're digging into, I guess.
It’s been 8 years since the release of your debut album Wild Heart, with voyager serving as your ninth studio album. So what new knowledge and experience are you bringing into the sessions working on the new record, that differs from creating your debut album and subsequent albums?
Oh God. I mean, After I finished an album, I always try to like kill it, you know? Like destroy it in my mind and you kind of have to like have a death to create something else, you know? But also I guess the product of every album is the lived experiences of everything. I feel like with every album I try to strive for something different than what came out before. And this is probably like my most sonically different at least than the earlier stuff.
So is there anything you know now that you wish you knew back when you were making your debut?
Uh, no. I think I'm glad that I was so ignorant back then. With every year you learnt and experienced so much and it changes the way you interact with your world. And obviously, if you're creating things, it changes your relationship with those things. I don't think I could have ever made the music that I made eight years ago with any of the knowledge that I do now. I'm glad I learned things as I go, you know? I think it depends on how much you get into the concept of how much of the university is energetically designed or part of a bigger plan. But I do kind of believe that, so I wouldn't change any thread, you know? Cause they all kind of are part of a bigger web at the end of the day.
Yeah, I love that. Could you give me your standout track on the album, that if you played to someone who hadn’t heard your music, would make them an instant Current Joys fan? And why would that song be the choice?
Hmm. I would say Breaking The Waves because I think that one would catch peoples attention more immediately than anything else.
You’re also about to host an exclusive live stream, The Phantom of the Highland Park Ebell, to celebrate the release of Voyager. What can audiences expect from the stream?
It's funny, I just finished editing it yesterday! So thank God for that. I can wash my hands. We shot it like a month ago. We were prepping for it for about a month, we shot it for a week and I've been editing it for a month and a half. So I just worked on it for like two and half months. It's pretty wild. I think people will be surprised when they watch it, how crispy it is. It's a very intense thing, it's like an hour long. We perform a lot of songs from the record, but there's also this like this like narrative and concept throughout the whole thing. So it's like a movie at the same time. I can't believe we did it. I'm so stoked for people to watch it. I have no idea what, what they're going to think of it.
Yeah, I've heard about the overall narrative that runs through it and it sounds so sick! How did you conceptualise that overall narrative for the live stream?
Well, we knew we were going to have to do a live stream because of COVID and everything, but we wanted to try to make it more interesting. So me and my buddy Gary, we were talking about it and we're like, 'Oh, what should we watch? What concert movie should we watch?' And then we started talking about Phantom of the Paradise and we were like 'what if we just put a phantom in the live stream, that's like sabotaging the live stream the whole time', and it just sort of grew from that. Even when we were filming it, I was like, 'okay, we got to add this whole section where we tell the story of the backstory of the phantom and like how he became the Phantom' and all this stuff. So it's kind of, it's kind of fucking crazy. That's all I can really say about it.
So keen to see it! The past twelve months have taken its toll on the music industry, specifically the touring sector, but also in terms of making that in person connection with audience members and creating a shared feeling and experience. How important do you think live music is not only for yourself as a musician showcasing their art, but also for the audience members who resonate with your music?
I mean, it's the most intimate it can be right? Music is such an interesting art form and how we consume it. Because it's not like a slice of pizza. It's not like something that you are tangibly putting in your body. It's like seeping into your being, it's like straight from soul to soul. When you're listening to a record, you're kind of getting it through this aggregated form of the song. But really the purest soul to soul connection is a live performance of that, in the same room where a persons energy is falling straight into to each other. I receive it as well while I'm playing. I think extremely important. It's definitely been interesting sort of not having that. I realised very quickly that performing is such an important part of my own mental health and having a cathartic release of sorts. Touring a lot with my band Surf Curse, I'm screaming and playing drums every night, getting a lot of it out, you know? So not having that for me is like, 'oh, you're building up a big old ball of something'.
Biggest musical influences?
Lou Reed, Neil Young, Nick Cave .
Machine Gun Kelly.
An album that has had the most impact on you?
First thing that came to mind was The Unicorns Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone.
If you could create the soundtrack for any film, which film would it be?
I'd love to soundtrack a Marvel movie and just put some crazy shit in there. If I know that so many people will be watching it and if you just put in a This Mortal Coil song. Oh, I guess that's what freaking Zack Snyder did to the Justice League movie. But like sneaking in a crazy song into, into a Marvel movie would be fun.
Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus?
You know, I, I never watched the show! I never really got into it, but I'm going to say Miley for sure, because I like a lot of her songs. I love Wrecking Ball. Wrecking Ball is cool.
Best concert you have ever attended?
My Bloody Valentine.
Guilty music pleasure?
Uh, yeah. I really love Machine Gun Kelly. I actually really liked the new Greta van Fleet album too.
If you could go on tour with any artist, who would it be?
Oh, God. I guess like currently I'd love to go on tour with like Alex G or something. Yeah, that'd be awesome.
An artist you think has had the most influence on the music industry?
Oh God. Um, an artist who had the most influence on the music industry. Oh, God. Prince, I mean, just off the dome, there's a lot of them, but I'll say Prince.
What advice would your current self, give your future self, for a year from now?
I probably wouldn't tell myself anything. It's like the web! It's the web, you know? I wouldn't want to mess anything up. I have to be exactly where I am right now. If someone from the future came and gave me any advice, I'd probably fuck it up anyway.
The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?
Probably when I was about six years old, I had this poster of The Who, it was hanging up above my bed and I was looking at The Who and I was like 'wow, wouldn't that be cool to be one of those people'.