They may hail from the flat lands of Palmerston North, but Dunedin has long been the home of darkwave lo-fi duo, Strange Harvest – Justin Walshaw (guitar, vocals) and Skye Strange (keys and vocals).
Since the band formed in 2011, they have entertained us at numerous gigs around town, have released two albums ‘Here Is Where You Are’ and ‘Inside a Replica City’ under local label Lttl Paisly Records, and are recording a third, ‘Pattern Recognition’. This will be coming out in April 2015. They have just released their single ‘Astronaut’ which you can listen to here.
Last Friday, they played at The Crown Hotel, supported by Radio Cegeste and Hologram Heart.
To find out more about this quirky band, we talked with guitarist, Justin Walshaw, who describes their musical style using three adjectives “dodgy, batch-roasted and interpersonal”. Although they enjoy music by American experimental band Gang Gang Dance, Prince, Cappadonna and the Beastie Boys, the Strange Harvest sound is distinctive and unaffected. Instead, Justin and Skye draw on past experiences and the culture they grew up with as influences.
“Musical influences are kind of weird. It’s like how your childhood memories can be related back to a song or a cassette tape of Bananarama that reminds you of eating ice-cream on the beach. And how the second ‘Faith No More’ album seemed really bizarre at the time. And how certain Smiths’ riffs will put a knot in your stomach. I remember when bars first started playing Hip Hop over decent PAs.”
We were particularly interested in some of their song lyrics in ‘Inside a Replica City’ which describe the irony of celebrity culture and our society’s obsession with social media.
“…we should probably log-off. But I love E Channel, and how it can affect people – really badly. CNN can run 24 hours of Ebola updates, and the CIA will continue to enhance torture techniques, but we really need to know who Jennifer Lawrence is sleeping with. It’s absurd. We all know it’s bizarre. Lilo is our spiritual guide. And when she’s gone, there will be a new High-Priestess of Nothing.”
However, their new album ‘Pattern Recognition’ is “spacey”. Justin prefers it to the previous one. “It’s more about technology than celebrity”.
Justin credits band mate and wife, Skye, as the “brains behind the band”. Prior to Strange Harvest, she played in bands ‘Rise Of The City Cat Cult’ and ‘The Autoharpies’. Skye is also about to release a solo EP as ‘Embedded Figures’.
So what keeps this busy band in Dunedin? “We’ve been here about 15 years. So Dunedin is really home now. It’s a good place to be … The psycho-geography is appealing … I like the pseudo-Scottish-ness. And the music scene here is very open and diverse – this tends to happen in ‘Art School towns’.”
Thanks guys, long may you reign here!
Keep an eye out for this talented pair and their new album … watch this space!!