Pirra's new single, Never Apart, is out now! We caught up with James McKendry to chat about the track and so much more.
Image: Nigel Kippers
Indie-pop four-piece Pirra recently unveiled their new single, Never Apart. To celebrate the release, we caught up with guitarist and synth player James McKendry to chat about the release, their forthcoming tour and so much more!
Never Apart is out now! Read our interview with James McKendry of Pirra below.
Could you tell us a bit about your musical background and how the band formed?
We met in Sydney when Jeff, Curt and I had started a band and were looking for a singer. Curt mentioned that this girl he had started seeing had a great voice so we started playing cover gigs around town. Jess started bringing some of her own songs to rehearsal and then we all started writing together and it gradually evolved into Pirra.
Congratulations on the release of your new single Never Apart. Tell us a bit about the conceptual nature of the track and the inspiration behind it?
Curt and I met up with Sam Littlemore for a beer one afternoon at Opera Bar, he gave us some feedback and shared some of his thoughts and concepts about music. He made a strong impression on us and we were inspired to step out of our comfort zone and write a bunch of music with some of these ideas in mind.
How important was it for you to document that feeling of togetherness after a year of isolation and separation?
Our process of producing the track with Sam was captured by Pedestrian TV and released as a mini-series, it really was a special experience for Pirra. It wasn’t that we had intentionally written the song to document these feelings, but I think it’s probably come to mean that to us now.
How did you arrive at the bright and euphoric sonics we hear on the track?
Sam had a huge influence on the direction of the track. His production chops are next level. Our bass player Curt is also a demon of a producer and he wrote the instrumental track before we handed it over to Sam.
Can you walk us through your process when it comes to conceptualising the clip for Never Apart and how involved are you with the development of the visuals?
As part of our mini-series with Pedestrian we did a live set at the Lansdowne Hotel. We sent the footage to our friend Nigel Kippers from HK Studio Co, who made the clip. We kind of just let him loose with the footage and he went and did his magic, we’re stoked with the result!
What’s one line from the song you find at times could be stuck in your head? Or a line that you come back to?
Probably the chorus, I wanted to make it catchy and fun to sing so even if you didn’t know the words.
Could you walk us through your collaborative creative process when writing and recording your music?
We tend to change it up quite a bit, but generally speaking Curt is the producer of the band and writes tracks, and I write melodies and lyrics, although we often cross over in these things. Jess is a very spontaneous writer, she is known to come up with great melody ideas at the drop of a hat, and our drummer Jeff mostly focuses on arrangements and rhythm parts.
Often we will try out quite a few ideas, and may go through many versions of a track before we are happy with it. The majority of recording is done in our home studios unless we are collaborating with a producer, although when possible we track drums in a studio with a good room and decent gear
Australia has a diverse and vibrant music scene, who are some of your favourite Aussie acts and why?
Northeast Party House - They’ve got some incredible tracks that hit hard, but are also beautiful and sensitive.
Lazywax - These guys are so much fun. They’re a duo from Sydney that love the classic synth sounds.
Telanova - They have great songs, solid grooves and lush textures.
PNAU - They make undeniably great party music.
Rufus Du Sol - They can do no wrong!
What do you have in store for the rest of 2021? Will we be seeing an album or EP, and if so what can listeners expect from it?
We’re definitely releasing new music soon, but we’re still talking about when we should do an album. When we do, listeners can expect it to be in line with the upbeat dance direction we’ve been headed in lately.
You’ll be hitting the road this September for an east coast tour! What can audiences expect from one of your live shows?
If covid allows us to go ahead with these gigs, audiences can expect to see our new show we’ve been working on. We’ll be playing all of our recent releases, plus a few extra surprises.
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?
It’s hard to quantify why people getting together and enjoying music is so valuable. But I think we can all remember a time that we’ve been really immersed in a musical experience. It helps to build community and feel a sense of connection with ourselves and others.
Rufus Du Sol, Kimbra, Northeast Party House, PNAU, The Jungle Giants
Collaborating with Rufus Du Sol would be a total dream for Pirra.
Album that has had the most impact on you?
Probably Lonerism by Tame Impala. I think it’s a really special album I’ve listened to many times.
How do you define your musical style in 3 words?
Indie Dance Pop
Best song of 2021 so far?
I’ve been really digging Catching Smoke by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.
If you could create the soundtrack for any film, which one would it be?
I’d love to do an ambient electronica version of Avatar.
Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus?
Miley Cyrus, she’s a phenomenal singer. Adore You and Slide Away are two incredible tracks that I love.
A song you would love to cover on tour?
Sending Me Your Loving by The Jungle Giants
Album you would listen to on repeat on a road trip?
Butterfly 3000 by King Gizzard. Can’t get enough of it at the moment.
First concert you went to?
Silverchair in Newcastle, supported by the Sleepy Jackson.
First album you ever bought?
Cheshire Cat by Blink 182
Would you rather be a Spice Girl or a Backstreet Boy?
Can I be a Spice Boy?
If you were a Spice Girl, what would your spice nickname be?
I think I’d be Lazy Spice.
Most memorable show you’ve ever performed?
Loch Hardt Music festival
Guilty music pleasure?
Every now and then I have a Blink 182 binge and blast it on road trips.
If you could support any artist on tour, who would it be?
We’d kill to play with the Jungle Giants.
An artist you think has had the most influence on the music industry.
It’s hard to go past the Beatles. It really was a case of the right people in the right place at the right time. It’s incredible how much impact they had in the eight years they released music together.
What advice would your current self, give your future self, for a year from now?
Lay off the potato chips, I know you love them, but they’re bad for you.
The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?
As soon as I picked up the guitar and started jamming with friends. I hadn’t thought of how I would make a career out of it but I was just really in love with making music from then on.
Never Apart is out now! Listen to the track below.