Tornado Club's debut EP, Reset, is out now! We caught up with the duo to chat about the release and so much more.
Image: Mitch Lowe
You always hope that when two of your favourite musicians team up, the result will be golden. That is exactly what we're received from Elle Graham (Woodes) and Danny Harley (The Kite String Tangle) collaborative project, Tornado Club.
Making their debut earlier this year with their single Something Was Missing, the duo have today unveiled their club-ready debut EP, Reset. The collection of songs tells the tale of heartbreak and inner change, ultimately moving forward from the darker emotions of a breakup into a more peaceful mindset filled with reconciliation.
Reset brings the musicians together in perfect unity, extending the sonic world of their own individually established sounds, and finding a new middle ground where experimentation and innovation runs wild. Graham and Harley's vocals are a euphoric match, floating above dreamy electro-pop sonics.
Having worked together on Woodes debut album Crystal Ball, Tornado Club offers a new musical playground for Graham and Harley, extending their collaborative efforts into an unfamiliar and exciting experience that begain in 2019. Finishing the EP remotely online throughout 2020, the pair documented the creative process in a mini documentary.
Reset is out now! Read our interview with Tornado Club below.
We’re big fans of both your respective musical endeavours! What prompted this new collaborative project?
ELLE: Thank you! We’d talked for a bit about the idea of doing a duo together, i think mostly because when we collaborate together it happens quite easily. We have a lot of shared influences, with both the music we grew up with and the music we listen to now. Having been solo artists for a while, it’s been refreshing to do a duo together where we can bounce ideas off one another and celebrate the highs together.
DANNY: Yeah it also came from a place of ‘grass is always greener’. We both had frustrations with being solo artists and I think it’s nice to get to share the workload sometimes. Especially when we work together so well and have had a bunch of writing sessions to be confident in our writing as duo.
You’ve both worked together on Woodes debut album Crystal Ball, how did creating and working on the collaborative EP, Reset, differ to working on Crystal Ball?
E: For Crystal Ball, it started when we wrote and finished a song in 3 hours and we realised how complementary our processes were. We did a couple weeks here and there writing for my record and a lot of it made it onto my album. When we’re working on our solo projects we have very strong visions. Tornado Club was starting from scratch and is generally more electronic focused. It’s still a fast process. Danny has done a lot of new production techniques on this release, playing around with pedals, guitars and spring reverbs. We went into writing this EP when Danny was processing a break up and it made sense to work through that, so the songs are vulnerable and raw. It kind of found its sound as we created more. Since it was brand new there was something very explorative about it. We just let it evolve.
How important was it for you to document these themes on the tracks, and be as open and honest as possible within your songwriting?
E: Because of this EP being about Danny’s breakup of his relationship of over 10 years, there’s a lot of narrative and back story to it. A lot of personal experience and vulnerability. It was important to try and be direct and let the words kind of unravel in a stream of consciousness and then work out how they fit. Often in those moments music has been the only way to process how I’m really feeling. It pulls out the inner dialogue and brings it to the surface. It was kind of different as a process for both of us & it is scary to be that open, but it was healing.
D: It was definitely really cathartic. I also think the concepts are so universal that people tend to live the lyrics through their own experiences so it didn’t feel too invasive or self absorbed haha.
The release sees you both undertake a new sonic exploration. What drew you to working within this genre?
E: Some of the songs would maybe fit more in a Kite String world, others maybe in a Woodes world, but we found a pocket where everything felt new to us, which was what was important. We found some particular sounds like the re-pitched guitar (operating as a bass), distorted guitar like synth lines on the microbrute and singing in unison which made the songs sound consistent. A lot of the tracks did start at the piano, so I think that did influence the songs too.
D: Yeah I think you naturally find a sound that fits because it tends to be the average of our individual tastes. We just gradually make small compromises on our individual visions until we reach a logical middle ground.
Reset is a raw and emotional collection of songs, that tell the tale of heartbreak and inner change. What prompted you to explore these themes on the EP?
E: Thank you. Danny was going through this in real time so it felt like the most honest and true thing to write about.
D: Elle came over the day after a big break up for me and so it was relatively unavoidable to write about it. We did try to write about other topics but it just found its way back in to everything we wrote. Then as we wrote the rest of the songs for the EP it tracked along this arc of processing and eventually reconciliation.
How did the EP evolve throughout its creation? Are there any songs that you wrote with the intentions of this EP that ended up on the cutting room floor that you think might have a life in the future?
E: We did a few songs that aren't on the EP but will be shared in the future. Particularly some covers, as we have enjoyed using covering songs as a way to experiment with what our sound is. Through this process (both in person and remote, as we’re interstate) we have evolved as creatives, as vocalists and as friends too. The vision for the next chapter is already bigger and we’re already writing new music with uplifting themes and our live show in mind. This first EP was quite a personal, intimate introduction but we’re looking forward to what’s next.
D: There were a few songs that didn’t make the cut but they tend to be abandoned pretty quickly as it becomes obvious that neither of us are vibing with the demo after a week or so.
You've shared some incredible visuals throughout the EP's rollout. Can you walk us through your process when it comes to conceptualising and how involved are you with the development of the visuals?
E: Thank you! The visuals were important for us, we made a lot of mood boards that included styling/fashion and our vision for the live show - but we also added in colour pallets, locations, and textures. Visuals do influence our writing process a bit. I’ve really enjoyed styling and sourcing designs for this, it’s cool creating a new visual identity for something. We have both directed the creative behind this project. We worked with PixelFrame on the video clips and they made them so cinematic and beautiful. Timothy Lovett did the design of the covers and the brief was to try and combine architectural elements with the natural world, to kind of pull in each of our respective solo projects.
D: This is something that is important to both of us but Elle is particularly good at it and, for me, it’s something that really stood out to me when i first discovered her Woodes project, so I’m glad that she’s let her keen eye for aesthetics shine on this project too.
How important are the visuals to you when it comes to portraying the stories and themes present on the songs?
E: I’d say the visuals all lock in with it pretty consistently, and that’s intensional from our side. It’s always been important to create a world around the music and we both put a lot of care and effort into that. It’s awesome to be able to bounce off one another and go even bigger than you would if you were by yourself.
Is there a particular line from the EP that you find is stuck in your head more often than not?
E: “Trust my intuition, cos I think I knew”.
D: One of my favourite lyrics from the EP for some reason is “So you got it off your chest, now it’s just a knot in mine”.
If you had to pick one song off the EP to play to someone who has never heard your music to make them an instant fan, which would it be and why?
E: Probably Intuition. To me it’s track one for that very reason, as it really sets the scene and it was the first one we wrote. Or No Surprise, it’s a goosebumps kinda one!
D: Yeah I’d agree with Intuition. It was the song that really cemented the project for us I think.
If Reset was a piece of pre-existing visual art, which artwork would it be and why?
E: Something by Andy Goldsworthy. For our duo we’ve tried to find a middle ground between the natural and more structured world, and Andy’s sculptures are exactly that. He makes structures out of natural materials like rocks or icicles and photographs them. He’s one of my favourite artists.
You’ll no doubt be hitting the road to tour the EP when restrictions allow it. What can audiences expect from your live shows?
E: We both love putting together an epic live show and have a vision for quite a beautiful lighting aspect. We’ll be playing and singing everything ourselves, but we’ll definitely be beginning the visual world around the EP into these venues.
D: Live shows are such a great opportunity to transport people and to add another huge layer of meaning to music, so we’re really excited to create something special for this. There will be intimate moments but hopefully also lots of considered lighting and times to dance.
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?
E: yeah, I’ve really missed live music - it’s a huge sense of purpose and inspiration. I moved to Melbourne from North Queensland for music and have always been blown away by all of the international artists that visit here usually. You feel connected to the broader web of creators. It feels like a different Melbourne at the moment . It’s been quite difficult for us having released records from lockdowns last year, and now releasing this EP with everything being up in the air still in Australia but we can’t wait to see the community around our music and be able to share these stories live soon. Playing music live and sharing that energy with people makes the music come to life in a magic way. Without it, it feels like something’s missing.
D: It definitely is tough. I’ve had to cancel two tours so far and it really sucks to be missing a whole part of the story for those releases. The silver lining is that I’ve had more time in the studio than usual which has been really great. So swings and round abouts.
E: Films, my family & friends and listening.
D: Aamazing sounds
E: Disney, Hans Zimmer, James Blake, Imogen Heap, Jonsi.
D: Brian Eno, Jonsi, Jamie XX.
Album that has had the biggest impact on you?
E: James Blake’s first album - James Blake. D: Jonsi - Go Do.
How do you define your musical style in 3 words?
E: Cinematic, explorative, evolving.
D: Left-field, emotive, honest.
Best song of 2021 so far?
E: All Eyes On Me - Bo Burnham or Stranded - Sumner.
D: Jungle - Keep Moving.
If you could create the soundtrack for any film, which one would it be?
E: Lord of the Rings, or a film like 10 Things I Hate About You - literally anything. I want to create soundtracks so bad.
D: Some indie flick, like Garden State or Lost in Translation.
Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus?
E: Miley forever.
D: Miley 4 lyf.
A song you would love to cover on tour?
E: Can’t wait to perform our cover of t.A.T.u live!
D: Second that.
Album you would listen to on repeat on a road trip?
E: Tourist or Sufjan Stevens. Depends if it’s foresty or beachy. Have really been enjoying the Rick Rubin Podcast “Broken Record” and my other favourite is “And The Writer Is”.
D: Tourist is a good call, Dustin Tebbutt is nice for road trips too.
First concert you went to?
E: The memorable one is the AA Living End / Powderfinger tour. They came to Townsville when I was maybe 15? I had never seen LED screens that big in a stage show. It was awesome.
D: I think it was Staind at the Manchester Apollo. Everyone was smoking and it was scary and weird coz i was young but it was a good show.
Best concert you have been to?
E: James Blake in LA. Or Flight Facilities with MSO.
D: I really enjoyed Sufjan Stevens at the Tivoli. And Jonsi and Alex with the London Contemporary Orchestra in Paris.
First album you ever bought?
E: Delta Goodrem I think! Innocent Eyes.
D: First one that was bought for me was the single Lou Bega - Mambo no. 5. The first one I bought with my own money was Papa Roach - Infest
Would you rather be a Spice Girl or a Backstreet Boy? E: Spice Girl.
D: Spice Girl (Sporty or Posh).
If you were a Spice Girl, what would your spice nickname be?
E: Nature Spice.
D: DJ Spicy.
Most memorable show you’ve ever performed?
E: Splendour in the Grass 2018.
D: Mine would probably also be splendour, but I did get to do guest vocals at Coachella once which was pretty unreal.
Guilty music pleasure?
E: MUSICALS. If anyone wants to sing Rent or Les Mis with me, I’m here.
D: Keep those musicals to yourself. I quite like dub step which is probably not the coolest thing anymore. Also Enya and Coldplay, but I have no shame about that.
If you could support any artist on tour, who would it be?
E: For Tornado Club, The XX? For Woodes… Florence & The Machine, Taylor Swift or Harry Styles.
D: The XX or London Grammar.
An artist you think has had the most influence on the music industry.
E: The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Taylor Swift, Radiohead, Sia.
D: The Beatles, Max Martin, Beyonce.
The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?
E: When I heard that Imogen Heap produced her own music in her apartment & when I saw live music in my town, like The Middle East, Missy Higgins & Sarah Blasko.
D: Since I saw the older kids at school starting bands and thinking it was the coolest thing in the world.