We caught up with the musician to chat about his new album KANGOUROU, his podcast series One Guitar, and so much more!
Prolific singer-songwriter Alex Gow recently unveiled the debut album from his new musical project, Perfect Moment. KANGOUROU is a celestial neo romantic offering from the musician, ushering a new era of his illustrious career.
Shifting away from the indie-pop sounds we came to know him for with his previous project, Oh Mercy, the musician leans into more electronic sonics. The hypnotic release places Gow's mesmerising vocals above orchestral instrumentation and scintillating production laced throughout. Across the collection of songs, the musician chronicles a relationship that comes to an end, focusing on moments of intimacy, self-sabotage and vulnerability.
Gow has also launched his own podcast series in collaboration with Mushroom, One Guitar. Gow sets his guests a challenge, loaning each one a Gibson J-45 Vintage Sunburst for four weeks with the intent of writing a song. When they return the guitar, Gow and his string of guests, Australian music royalty such as DMA’s Johnny Took, Paul Kelly, Bernard Fanning, Sarah Blasko and rising star Alice Skye, sit down to discuss their process with Gow.
KANGOUROU is out now!
We've come to know you as Oh Mercy. What prompted this new musical endeavour and why was this year the right time to launch a new musical project?
Oh Mercy is the project name that I used for ten years. I released five records, each different to the next. I’m very proud of that work. As for the change of project name – well, it simply felt like a fun thing to do. 5 albums over ten years of work is a considerable amount of work. A change in name and the creative liberties that come with it were and are attractive.
On a sonic level – I started working on Perfect Moment during Melbourne lockdowns. I can make most of a record in my home but I’m unable to record a convincing drum sound. So, I leant on drum machines. The music I built atop the drum machines felt fundamentally different from Oh Mercy. That difference informed my decision to switch the project name
How do you find it differs writing and recording in a band environment with All Oh Mercy vs solo where you!re completely in charge of the process and outcome? More or less I’ve always written and recorded I’m on my own, so it was a seamless transition.
Your debut album, KANGOUROU, chronicles a relationship that comes to an end, focusing on moments of intimacy, self-sabotage and vulnerability. What prompted this thematic exploration across the collection of songs? I guess I’m interested in art that explores those themes and I wanted to reflect that in my work.
The record marks a shift from indie-pop sounds of your previous project into electronic sonics. What prompted this new exploration of sound? As mentioned earlier, I can mostly attribute the reliance on electronic sounds to a ‘virtue of necessity’ scenario. I couldn’t record analogue drums at home and drum machines filled that gap in my capabilities. Electronic sounds beget more electronic sounds.
You worked on the album during lockdown in Melbourne, how did creating in such a tumultuous time influence your way of making? It was a welcome retreat. I’m really lucky to have space in my living arrangements for my music gear. Drinking coffee and playing piano in the world’s most lockdown city was true solace. And yeah, I suppose I had more thinking time. Thinking time is a songwriters best friend.
How did the album evolve and change as you were creating it, and were there any tracks left on the cutting room floor that you think might have a life in the future? Well, I more or less skipped the demo stage of the writing process. I would write the lyrics into my phone while taking long walks. Then play the piano and sing the words. I’d then set the drum machine up and start to build the track. I made 8 new songs, knowing that I wanted to include 2 from the EP and that was that. The instrumentation I established early on the writing process informed the rest of the record, so it basically didn’t ‘evolve’. I had a singular idea and I relied on that to help me get the work done.
You've released some great visuals throughout the albums rollout! Talk us through your process when it comes to conceptualising the music videos and imagery and how involved are you with the development of the visuals for KANGOUROU... Well, I made the music videos myself. Mostly because I wanted to learn how to shoot and edit video. That was fun. The album cover features a painting by one of my favourite Australian artists, Albert Tucker. I knew that I wanted a painting by one of the Australian modernists on the cover, and I got lucky. Plus, I knew the record was going be called KANGOUROU, which is ‘kangaroo’ in French, so a painting of a dead horse by an Australian great felt right.
You recently launched your own podcast series in collaboration with Mushroom, One Guitar. In each episode you set your guests a challenge to write a song with a Gibson J-45 Vintage Sunburst. Which has been your favourite song written on the series? I like them all equally, and for different reasons. The Paul Kelly song, All Those Smiling Faces was especially significant as Paul had me play and sing along. Lucky me!
Who would your ultimate guest on the show be and why? All of the guests thus far were on the top of my list. But, looking forward, I’d love to have Neil Finn on the podcast. Why? Because he’s Neil Finn.
Will audiences be able to catch a Perfect Moment live show anytime soon, and what would one of your live shows look like? I’m hoping to do some album launch shows early next year. I haven’t really dared to dream until recently. It feels like we’re back, right?
Biggest influences? Go-Betweens
Dream collaboration? I love Julia Jacklin’s writing and the way she sings her songs. They’re so rich. I’d love to write with her. Who wouldn’t!
Album that has had the most impact on you? Dionne Warwick sings Bacharach. It was a weird complication CD my mum owned. I still have it.
How do you define your musical style in 3 words? Tries real hard.
Best song of 2021 so far? Swimming by Maple Glider
What was the first song you loved to sing? Message to my Girl by Split Enz.
The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician? Watching Prince sing Cream on the telly.
KANGOUROU is out now!