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Interview: The Walking Who On New EP & Cannes Glory

Cover Art for Upcoming EP mr.Cornelius. Photos provided by Rohin Brown.

Originally stalking the streets of Wollongong, The Walking Who have taken refuge amongst the faraway spires of Prague, Czech Republic. Travelling there before the pandemic, lead maestro Rohin Brown took to film to express the weird world around him during The Ronies outbreak. The film quickly evolved from a simple music video into a lens to capture the changing landscape, with the upcoming mr.Cornelius EP & accompanying film of the same name being born. On the suggestion of a friend, Rohin entered the mr.Cornelius film into some film festivals. And before you know it, he's sweeping up awards and nominations at the (very) prestigious Cannes Film Festival. Out of nowhere, this son of Wollongong took home the awards for Best New Wave / Post Modern Film, Best Indie Short Director & Best Soundtrack, with a nomination for Best Experimental Film sitting in his back pocket.

Prior to this, the band had done multiple Australian tours, and headlined 2 UK/EU tours to date. The EP was 18 months in the making, taking shape in an old abandoned German army tunnel, deep below the streets of Prague. Rohin was given access with a backdoor key from owner of Studio Faust Records, Faust Mader. He had 24-hour uninhibited access, on the condition that he "make nothing normal, nothing polite." And he made anything but.

We were lucky enough to reach Rohin across the globe and talk everything film & music:

Tell us about yourself! Let us know who Rohin Brown is, and how The Walking Who got started. How long have you been doing it?

"Good question... I think if I was to refer to myself in the third person my idea of “Rohin Brown” these days would be that of a multi-modal artist; an identity that grew up fast during the time I was both locked out of Australia, and locked down in Prague.
I’ve been doing ‘The Walking Who’ for roughly 10 years now... It started in Wollongong at the time I was completing my Music and English Lit bachelors.
The project since then has provided me a creative platform that’s not particularly interested in attempting to tie itself to one genre, but instead promote a DIY lifestyle that makes interesting work through unusual circumstances.
In other words, it’s a Psychedelic rock band you can see live, and an ongoing contemporary art project you can count on to never be short of a boisterous foot note."

I hear you won in 3 categories at the Cannes Film Festival, that’s very prestigious. Which categories did you take the gold home for? Tell us about your film and how you got into film-making and the videographic side of things?

"Best New Wave, Post Modern Film (Winner), Best Indi Short Director (Winner), Best Sound Track (Winner), Best Experimental Film (Nominee)
Thanks, it feels fairly pretty special. I am in the process of finishing a Q & A with Emilie Saada from the festival. Emilie used to work with Stanley Kubrick (whom is one of my favourite film makers). As you can imagine, talking to someone like that about film making is quite surreal and an honour to say the least; I can’t help to feel a little bit underqualified on it all sometimes. Nonetheless, I am taking it in my stride, and see film making as a very similar process to making music. In film, the same concepts apply as far as I’m concerned, and all I had to do (which is never all I have to do, because you can never get it all done!) was learn the respective software, and technical language around the ideas I wanted to bring to life. For the most part the environment did the talking, I just facilitated the capture of it."

Your ‘Mr Cornelius’ EP is about to be released. What can you tell us about it? When is it dropping? What themes did you want to explore? Where did the inspiration for these incredible tracks come from?

"Thank you, I am stoked you find the songs incredible. If I was to call them anything, I would call them a reflection of my life in Prague to date, and a very unusual “capturing of sound” for an Australian psychedelic rock outfit.
The Ep ‘Mr. Cornelius’ came out on the 11th of March 2022 and it’s the better half of the creative binary I’ve been constructing over the past 18 months.
Living in the Czech Republic throughout the lockdown was not a tame lifestyle.
I wanted to document the music, as well as the inspiration from my experiences of a city steeped in centuries of fractured fairy tales.
The relationship between the urban and natural environment here is truly remarkable, and for me, that was where the inspiration came from.
The music was captured at Faust studio -4 levels under the city with lots of unique gear, but I did a lot of the legwork outdoors, and wrote a lot of the music/lyrics and concepts by walking up abandon train tracks, and through alternate routes in the city. One of my favourite tools was to take in the passive inspiration of the intense native/ urban environments happening at any given time. Striking polarities, like a graphited old 1940’s Nazi train, covered in a blanket of pink cherry tree flower vines, and a medieval club interpreting medieval battles under the iconic Charles Bridge every Thursday morning. Absurd sites like these were the core inspirations- On the ‘Mr. Cornelius EP’ I was obsessed with the passive effect of the environment as a whole rather than a specific style of music I was listening for at the time."

I hear you were living in Prague during the pandemic, and I was wondering what that was like? It sounds eerie and alien to me. The owner of the Studio Faust, Faust Mader, seems really cool. Tell us about your time in Prague and the people who influenced the film & music.

"Yes, I have been living in Prague since the start of 2020 when the Pandemic kicked off. It became impossible to go back to Australia for a few reasons, the main reason (besides hotel quarantine) was because my visa application had been lost in the chaos of the border closures, and I couldn’t legally leave the EU because of the mix up. Actually, I could have left but it would have been with a 10-year ban, and a $20k fine.
That first 12 months was like a fruitful purgatory, during which I backed up to the studio every day, religiously.
I think you can hear that kind of cathartic pressure/ madness in the music as a whole, and also in the film. It was quite frightening, and I was feeling a bit delusional.
I really couldn’t have focused this energy if it wasn’t for Faust. I met Faust in 2017 when we were on tour in Europe, and we stayed in touch over email. He is possibly one of the most interesting guys I’ve ever met, actually, I just got back from hanging out with him (as I write to you now) he was telling me about this punk gig he went to in Moscow in 1984. The penalty attached to such a gig was life in Prison- of course he never got caught.
Anyways, I mention a story like this to offer a snapshot into the kind of ruthless creative I get to draw wisdom off on a regular basis.
I have to say that overall, there is a very complimentary polarity going on here between a Australian and a Central/Eastern European people.., it’s a kind of a “connection clash” if that’s a thing- I really get inspired by people so brashly creative- it’s helped me to become less precious about my ideas, and more intent on pursuing them. The people/ culture as a whole are less considerate, more honest and don’t let political correctness get in the way of a good story, I like that."

Do you think the music industry is bouncing back from the pandemic, and what do you think it means for the future of music? Will things simmer down and go back to normal? Will there be lasting societal changes?

"I think 100% the music industry will bounce back… Will it bounce back in the way we remember it? Probably not. I think things will get back to normal on the live front, but if the times have taught me anything as a musician, and, as an artist wanting to succeed; it’s that I am to keep searching for opportunities that build on my creative and find new experiences through disposition. Polarity as a creative tool is fairly fresh for me, I currently feel like I am making my best work and so want to follow the artistic recipe further."

What will you be doing next? What does The Walking Who have planned for the next year or more? Any releases, ideas or tour plans?

"I have just started producing up the next Walking Who record which I am going to try and have out in the next few months. I have grown tired of waiting around to release stuff. There’s a saying here that “the best ideas are in the graveyard” … so too, there is a lot of stuff on my hard drive which I’d like to start ticking off whilst I have 24/7 access to this amazing studio in Prague. There is never a day that goes by that I don’t appreciate the gift of time and space I currently have. It wasn’t very long ago I got a brick through the window in suburbia Enmore for recording too late. I don’t get that here, and it feels pretty liberating."

This one’s a fun question. But if you could work with any musician alive or dead, who would it be? And if you could do a whole movie, what would your dream feature-length film be like?

"I would love to work with David Lynch- Figures like him and Stanley Kubrick interest me because they were able to master the two disciplines of film and music simultaneously. Because it takes so much time to learn each discipline, I’d love to do some kind of collaborate apprenticeship with a figure like David Lynch. I love the idea of learning by doing and why not (in a “fun” sense) try and manifest such a fantasy."

This Faust character just becomes cooler and cooler, the more you hear about him. A huge and reverberating thanks to Rohin Brown & The Walking Who for giving us this opportunity, all the way from the timelost streets of Prague. Catch their latest album on all them musical platforms, and the mr.Cornelius film is premiering in May, and you can keep up to date with its release and the band on their various social mediums. Be sure to keep an eye on them for the Film That Launched A Thousand Accolades, and also that sneaky upcoming record release. Thanks again to the film wizard & musical troubadour Rohin Brown. Prosper in Prague, and keep finding trains and tunnels.

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