Alternative indie pop auteurs Pirra new single Never Apart, is a synthy adventure produced by Sam Littlemore of Pnau,. The group, whose namesake Pirra means moon in Luritja, a language spoken by the Luritja people. The band are set to hit the road for an east coast run of dates kicking off at Oxford Art Factory (Syd) on September 3 before moving on to The Toff (Mel) on September 10 and finishing up at Suzie Wongs Good Time Bar (Bris) on September 12. After a year of isolation and anxiety, an exuberant track like Never Apart is a welcome, much-needed release. It’s an irresistible bop from start to finish – synths bounce energetically as lead vocalist Jess Beck’s clever, hooky melodies earworm themselves into the listener’s memory. Drawing upon influences such as Northeast Party House, RÜFÜS DU SOL and Running Touch, it’ll have you singing along even through the first listen. We caught up with James from the band to learn more about Pirra
Hi, thanks for taking the time to chat with Hear 2 Zen, what have you been up to today?
So far I’ve had a coffee, played with my dog and done a radio interview.
Tell us about yourself, how long have you been performing/creating music for?
I picked up the guitar when I was 14 because my friend had just started playing. We immediately started writing songs and started a band.
Who are your greatest inspirations? Why?
I think Django Reinhardt is a great inspiration. He was a Romani-French jazz musician who despite having a permanent hand injury, became an incredible improviser, composer and revolutionary guitarist. He kept on gigging in Paris through the Nazi occupation which I think is pretty badass because apparently the Nazi’s hated jazz.
How do you create music? Are you lyrics/story driven, or does the music/melody come first? Explain your process.
For me the melody often comes first, it might be when I’m out, or unable to sleep and I will sing ideas into my phone. Then I go through my notes to find ideas and make demos out of them before sharing them with Curt, our bass player/producer who always seems to make sound much better by producing and reimagining the ideas. Everyone in the band has their own approaches to writing. Curt and Jeff are often very groove focused whilst Jess is very melodic. A lot of songs also start with Curt writing an instrumental and then us writing vocal parts on top of it.
What has been your greatest challenge so far in performing/creating music?
I’d say money. Making music, film clips, artworks and then marketing it can be really expensive and for a long time we’ve mostly taken the DIY approach to make it possible. I don’t say this to complain but to say making an income and still having time and energy to make music and self-manage is a reality almost all artists struggle with at some point. It’s helped so much for us recently to have a record label and a small team around us to help with these things, and a big shout-out to our good friend Michael Hutchings who has believed in us and helped us from the very start.
Tell us about your new release, how did it come about?
Curt and I met up with Sam Littlemore from Pnau for a beer. The head of our label Cr2 Mark Brown set up the meeting, it was cool because we’d been listening to a lot of Pnau and had no idea they were connected. He gave us some honest feedback on our music and offered some suggestions for things we could try. Never apart started as an instrumental track that Curt wrote before I wrote the vocal parts.
What advice do you have to artists who are just starting out?
Enjoy yourself, feed your passion and learn everything you can. If you get bummed about how things are going, remember things can take a long time and you aren’t in control of all that much, you can always get a buzz from making music if you love what you’re doing. If you’re in a group, keep learning to communicate and compromise. Prioritise your relationships and your physical and mental health. I also need to follow this advice!!
Tell us your favourite Zen practice.
I do a daily meditation. I’ve also started having cold showers for some weird reason. Close enough right?
Set to hit the road in September for a run of shows, these guys have so much happening right now.