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WIP Project Feature Profile - toyēr





Describe your past year in one sentence...

For introverts and sensitive souls like me, a year of lockdowns and working from home was really good and healthy for me. I got so much done without the worlds usual distractions. I launched my business Broad Records and did mixing and mastering for a bunch of incredible artists. It's so good to see them performing shows now with the music we worked on last year. I'm not quite ready to come out of the solitude yet so I'm knuckling down now to finish a large body of music work.

How did you end up as a part of the music industry?

I don't really ever remember not being a part of it. I played instruments before I even started school and began writing songs as a child. I was a very unsettled kid and my parents put me in as many classes as possible before and after school to tire me out, so I had years of guitar, piano and double bass lessons. I was always around musicians and bands and went to underage punk shows at Ukraine Hall in Essendon as a teenager. Then in my early 20s, I was a singer-songwriter and performed at plenty of bars and open mic nights around Melbourne.

Tell us about your sound...

A lot of my music has obvious influences from the indie-electro era of the early 2000s. Artists like The Knife, yeah yeah yeahs, Gossip, Ladytron are still heavily on rotation in my house, and this synth-heavy 'darkness' is paired with 90s house beats which I'm sure comes from the amount of gospel, funk and disco I was exposed to from my parents while growing up. I could always tell what mum was cleaning depending on which record was being played. Aretha Franklin meant a chill ironing session was about to occur, and Eurythmics meant it was time to vac and mop at warp speed. So, I have this euro-electro sort of sound. It's kinda cheesy but I love it. There's nothing more satisfying to me than a soaring emotional vocal and a drop. Work-wise, over the past year, I've been mixing and mastering for some really incredible Melbourne artists and an artist in the states who I'm producing an album for. I totally get off on them getting radio play or going to their shows after we've spent months on their music. It's a really good feeling. Mastering is probably the most common service that I do at Broad Records and the one service I find most enjoyable.

Do you have any new work coming out that you'd like to tell us about?

Ugh! yes...There's a bit of a rebranding going on. I've been using my full name for a while, and as we grow as artists we change and should change, so with the new releases I'll be retiring the old title and going under toyēr in future. I actually have so much music that is finished and unreleased. It's coming I promise, I just don't know when exactly just yet. The next single will be out by spring for sure though and I've used my own vocals for this one too. It'll be a little different to what you'd expect from me, it's pretty 'pop' but still very 'euro' and a total ode to artists like The Knife and the Robyn/Röyksopp collaborations. Following that, I have a more upbeat track that was a collab with an American vocalist who's doing really well for herself right now, and we'll drop that a little later in the year.

I think there's a mild beauty to music not being seen as a viable career path. It makes the music industry full of all these amazing people who are resourceful and multi-talented. You'll be in a room full of accomplished artists sometimes and you find out that on top of all the art they do, they also have full time careers in something highly juxtaposed.

What are your predictions for the future of dance music and the industry? Any changes you would like to see?

I'm hoping to see more smaller labels doing dance again (for all genres really). As #metoo starts to shine a light on how unsafe it is to be with certain labels in Australia I think it tells us there's space for us to create safe environments for artists. We need women, trans and nb led labels, agencies, publishers and management groups to start emerging. Branching out my studio Broad Records into a label and publishing is something I'd love to do in the future.

How do you practice self-care?

I spend a bit of time alone. I need to. After being around others at work or going to lots of events I feel pretty wrecked so some quiet time is required. I also try to be really honest with others about how I'm feeling. I think self-care is a lot of the time just speaking up when you're not in the mood for something or if you're having a bad mental health day and it's too hard. Self-advocacy for the win!!

Do you have any tips for artists in the final production stages?

Always mix your track pretty quietly and as your ears get tired after an hour, play your track on repeat and listen from another room while you make your lunch or a coffee from the kitchen for example. It's here that you'll hear what's too loud and what's overshadowing your vocal or other lead parts.

What is your most memorable performance/release to date and why?

I'm not a huge lover of performing, it terrifies the fuck out of me. Before lockdowns, I was being invited to play some festivals but like everything, they got cancelled. The last major show I played that I quite enjoyed was Gaytimes 2018. I had dancers with me the Uncut Diamonds and Rya Park joined us to perform our song Madness This Love. We closed the stage on Friday night to a full audience. I was so adrenalised by the crowd's enthusiasm for it, I just laid on a blowup flamingo for about 45 min after the show to pull myself together.

What’s your favourite record at the moment?

I think one thing that has touched me recently is listening to Simona Castricum's album Panic/Desire. It's incredibly powerful lyrically and does 'space' really well in the production, you are taken to her world when listening. There's a 'future' and a 'nostalgia' feel to it. When looking at my struggles with gender and my queerness I feel a sense of being held by this album and validated in my discomfort with the current status quo in social politics. It was a great soundtrack to how I'd been feeling.

How do you deal with creative roadblocks?

I let the block run its course really, I just write really shit music for a while and that's all I can do to get through it. Eventually, I get back on my good stuff and my world is at ease again. There's also lots of swearing, self-doubt, annoyance, and a whole bunch of other feelings that swirl around with it. I guess I just sit in it. It's okay to have time off too. Months even. Just because the industry pushes us to think we need to release music constantly doesn't mean we have to. That pressure just sucks the joy out of it.

Check out toyēr's WIP Profile Page for more!