Pirra are a four-piece indie pop and roots band based in Sydney. The group are playing a gig tonight at Oxford Art Factory and playing this Sunday 10th May at the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy Concert so we grabbed band member Jess Beck for a quick chat!
How would you describe your music in just 3 words? Like sand glassifying.
Tell us a little about yourselves, and how you came about as a group? Well 2/4 of our band met in the womb and by chance pursued music throughout their formative years. Another 1/4 met the other 2/4 at AIM (Australian Institute of Music) in Sydney where they bonded over milk and cookies but more importantly the great artists from the past decade. Now with the rhythm section well and truly on the way they began longing for the 4th 1/4. So 1/2 of the the 2/4 that met prenatally then started dating the final 1/4. Ever since then we ceased to be separate 4ths and have become whole (1). We have now been a group for 5 & 1/2 years. James McKendry has been a strong mediator for this family affair. We share a common interest in music, wine, film, nachos and a dislike for decimal places.
Why the name Pirra? We wanted a name that honoured the fact that we are a band. We used to be called Jess Beck. but as the years went on everyone got on board with the songwriting and we decided it was time for a change. We literally asked for some help on Facebook and got a few cool responses. One of our friends Uncle Sammy Butcher, guitarist from Warumpi band, suggested the name Pirra. it means moon in Luritja. Luritja is a nation in the central desert of Northern Territory. It is where Sammy is from and where my grandmother and family are from.
You are based in Sydney but many of you hail from rural communities around Australia including Mount Gambier, South Australia as well as Taree and Bowraville from the mid north coast of New South Wales. Why the move to Sydney? Because the best music courses are in Sydney, and there’s a great music scene.
What type of musical influences shape your sound? Alternative, indie pop and rootsy music. people like ‘Kimbra’ who break boundaries.
You have two EP’s under your belt, and are now midway through recording your next single. what can we expect from this new single, and is there a full length release on the cards soon? You can expect a developed, rooty, raw sound. Our single is called ‘Something Has Changed’. I guess it’s kind of hopefully a modern classic. We are working on an album and hope to have it released in early 2016.
Walk us through your creative process – do you all write music collaboratively as a band? We like to write our songs based on experiences, personal, mundane and random experiences we have together. We love personifying arbitrary experiences. we like writing songs that can be interpreted as light or heavy, depending on the listener.
Last year you worked alongside producer Jerry Spieser (Men at Work) – what has this experience been like for you guys? Yes we released a self titled EP which he produced. It was an awesome experience, Jerry is top bloke and a great mentor too.
You have performed at a number of music festivals including Festival of Pacific Arts, Homeground Festival, Woodford Folk Festival and Spirit Festival. What are the benefits of performing at large scale music festivals? A ready made crowd. genuine music lovers, out for a good time and willing to check out names they haven’t heard of. We also find that the sound is usually pretty darn good and the gear is amazing. Traveling and camping out is all a part of the fun too. We’ve met some pretty great people and stayed in touch.
What advice would you have for emerging bands who want to start getting booked on major festival slots? Just try out for everything. We are still cracking the festival scene ourselves to be honest. We’ve been lucky enough to have been invited to play at a couple of festivals, but there are many more we want to play.
Last year you undertook your first Australian national tour. Walk us through one major highlight and one major obstacle you experienced while touring for the first time? Transport bungles have been a major learning curve. organising hire cars, making sure we don’t miss flights, getting our gear to and from the gig. there haven’t been any major disasters, but there have been some close calls. One time we forgot to organise a designated driver. This resulted in band members sleeping in a forest in freezing temperatures. All that we could make a fire with was with some sheet music. It didn’t last the night. Sharing music with new people is always exciting and fun, but many highlights have been experiencing the unique things that each region has to offer. Namely wineries, bars, sunsets, music, culture and people.
Any tips for a band about to embark on their first national tour around Australia? Would you do anything differently if you were to tour nationally a second time round? Book everything well in advance. Try and hook up local radio interviews.
What is your proudest moment so far as a band? Opening at the inaugural Homeground festival at Sydney Opera House.
If you could collaborate with any Sydney based artist or band, who would it be? It would be nice to work alongside The Preatures or Lior.
What can we expect to see from you in 2015? More and more new music. The songs seem to be flowing at the moment, so we’ll keep bringing them to our live shows.
Where we can we find more about you? pirramusic.com