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Interview & EP Review: The Money War Prove They're Thicker Than Water

Cover Art for 'Blood'

The Money War have released their latest EP, Blood. Hailing from Western Australia, husband & wife musical duo Dylan and Carmen Ollivierre have stunned audiences yet again, this time with a stacked deck of 5 aces up their sleeves. Produced in their home studio and mixed by Dylan, the EP encompasses everything from smooth brassy tones to schralpy guitar solos, with a drop of storytelling to taste. Ever the busybodies, “The EP is a collection of songs that bookmark 2021 for us. We’re always writing, but these were the 5 songs that rose to the top and we felt that we needed to record,” the pair explained.

The first of the five tracks is the titular 'Blood,' the last single preceding the EP. The song is about relationships, love & family. Parents themselves, The Money War touched on the song:

“It’s written about the complexity of family relationships and bloodlines, and delves into the nature vs nurture debate I suppose. The character in the song has a very tricky relationship with their parents and they’re reflecting on whether they will become like them or learn from them. I think having a kid makes you think about things differently and we’ve been watching our song grow and change, with different characteristics starting to show through from both of us. It’s a topic that both of us have been thinking about a lot”

The song starts off like something Kasey Chambers flavoured, before whizzing us off to the slippery slopes of Mt Guitars-more, with a sultry little smattering of solo and a wholesome family-friendly outro.

'Miles Away' greets us next, with a flourish and a tap dance. This one starts out dreamy and breathy. Uncertain & questioning, we're seeking guidance and groping around. Disconnection & isolation are the themes here, with some velvety sombreness shooting out of a golden sax. The star here really is that trip to The Brass Age, smoking and forlorn. This is a song to listen to while the world goes past through a rainy bus window. My top pick for the album. That saxophone could cure the sky's blues.

'Lost in the Rhythm' is number 3 in their hand, and they're dealing us a curveball. Off the back of the decadent melancholy of 'Miles Away,' we get a vibrant, pulsating dreamscape with 'Lost in the Rhythm.' Dylan rocks the mic this time, amongst glistening layers of glittery synth pillars. The song is a mantra for introspection and overcoming yourself.

The clock strikes four, and we get 'Zoom.' Immediately it grips you with The Return of the Brass, and the slow strum of the strings. It details the pain and isolation of a relationship hard-pressed between The Ronies and the screen. A digital love affair, brought to life with the warmth of instruments and Carmen's voice reaching across oceans of time. A candle-lit dinner for one, this song reminds us that we're not alone.

Rounding out the EP is another interesting song, perhaps my second-favourite. It would certainly be number one easily, if not for the phenom behind the valves & mouthpiece in 'Miles Away.' The final song is a little ditty I like to call 'Man at the Station,' and this one delivers a heart-punching, string-pulling tearjerker. It runs on a railway track of acoustic guitar and lyrical bardism, weaving us a tale. The journey takes us on a locomotive trip with an assorted cast of characters & friends to meet along the way. This folk-tale is both touching and relatable, with the final notes leaving us in disarray, caught in a loop of perpetuality.

We were actually lucky enough to catch up with the W.A. power-couple and have a parent-teacher interview on the EP and beyond:

I know that you produced the Blood EP in your home studio. It’s been a wild ride, these recent years. What processes went into creating the EP, and what was it like working from home over the course of the last year or two?

"Having our own studio was hugely beneficial because it meant things didn’t need to change a whole lot when the pandemic started. Luckily, here in WA we didn’t have too much time in full lockdown but it was great to have the flexibility when things were a bit uncertain. We collaborated a lot over the internet as well and had some instruments recorded remotely and sent to us."
"The biggest change for us was having a kid in the mix because life has become a lot busier with Jack around. It also makes it harder for Dylan and I to both be in the studio at the same time. So I’ve had to learn how to engineer and comp vocals and things like that so that I can be in the studio by myself - we did that quite a lot with this EP and I’m glad I’ve learnt some of those skills."

Who plays the saxophone on ‘Miles Away’? It might be my favourite track on the whole thing, simply because of those INCREDIBLE brass tones. Has the way you approach song writing and genre changed over the years, as you mature as artists?

"Glad you like it! Our friend Hugo Lee is behind the sax on both Miles Away and Zoom. He’s in Melbourne so he just recorded a bunch of takes and sent it over to us - we’re very grateful for his input because it really made those songs come to life."
"I don’t think our approach to songwriting has necessarily changed, but I do think we’ve become a lot better at it and a lot better and getting a clear message across. We’re also becoming more collaborative, with each other and with other artists too. We’ve been doing a lot of co-writing since signing a publishing deal last year and that has naturally broadened our creative process and we also write songs with other people in mind - like songs that wouldn’t necessarily suit The Money War. I always find genre a funny one, because so many songs could be a pop song, or a country song or even a rock anthem - it really just depends on the way it’s produced to me, and who sings it. It’s been really interesting working with other artists because sometimes having a different voice to sing a song can completely change the feel of it."

‘Man at the Station’ is so touching, and the storytelling is topnotch. Are these characters & events based on real-life happenings, or are you simply master story crafters?

"Dylan wrote this one, and as far as I know it’s not directly about any real-life happenings but I suppose it’s all based on things that he’s seen over the years. He says he always feels this instantly sobering effect when he gets on the train after being out late at night, like everyone all of a sudden has to face up to all of their problems. He’s very good at creating a scene, and I always have very clear visuals of all the different people on the train when I listen to the song."

What sort of music have you both been listening to while recording this album & recently? I’m very curious to hear what kind of music makes you tick.

"Well, our son has almost completely ruled our Spotify account recently. He loves music so much and seems to attach himself to certain songs or artists and requests them all the time. He loves The Beach Boys, Neil Young, John Lennon - his taste is actually quite good. So we have listened to a LOT of that over the last year or so. In terms of music that I directly choose to listen to I would have to include Bonny Light Horseman (listen to Deep In Love - incredible), Fruit Bats, Sharon Van Etten, Maggie Rogers."

Going into the end of 2021 & 2022, do you have any upcoming plans for gigs or releases? I know you balance a family life & children, but what can we expect moving forward?

"Not really sure, we usually let the songs guide us - that sounds really cheesy haha but we try not to force things these days. We’re always writing songs and creating music and when we feel like something is worth recording we just go for it and then work out what to do with it afterwards. I don’t think we’ll ever stop making music, it’s really part of our lives now. We’d love to do more collaborating with other artists though, so maybe something different will be on the horizon for The Money War next year."

I personally think their son has sick taste! Thanks again to The Money War for opening up to us, and delivering such authentic & in-depth answers.

The Money War's Blood EP has many highs and lows, with deep exploration of self, family ties and the people around us. It is a fascinating artefact, examining the hardships of the pandemic and the perseverance of the human spirit to buckle against the current times and stay connected to each other. At the end of the day, we are social animals. We unite and help each other up. Family & kinship take centre-stage and walk the boards in this humble offering from Western Australia's finest bride and groom.

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