Interview: Waxflower Say ‘We Might Be Alright’ With Refreshing Debut

📷 Mitch Lowe

Brisbane's Waxflower has been ever-present within the year of 2021, gracing us with singles such as the thoughtful ‘Not Alone’ and the vibrant ‘Food For Your Garden’. All these works however, are culminating to something much bigger- the band’s debut EP, ‘We Might Be Alright’. Set to be harvested on April 16th, the singles have given us a glimpse into the soon-to-be discovered world of Waxflower- one of hope, universality and an incredibly refreshing, Australian sound.

In light of the new EP, we spoke to Waxflower frontman, Tristan Higginson about the processes, the importance of vulnerability, and their feelings toward the reception and arrival of their EP, ‘We Might Be Alright’.

We've seen a lot of love for your tracks already, I think at the forefront of this are the spins from Triple J! What does it feel like to be receiving this support so early on in the release?

It’s always something that is super stressful coming into any release. You obviously have doubts and never want to get your hopes up too much, but you know what you're shooting for. I think having the Triple J premiere for ‘Food’, our lastest single, was super exciting because it was something we had been gunning for for a couple of years now- and it finally came through for ‘Food’, which is one of, well definitely my favorite track from the EP. I know for a couple of other guys in the band, it's up there for them too! It was really validating to get that on Triple J. The release day blew it out of the water too!

We got a couple of Spotify editorial playlist adds which always takes a little bit of the stress off, and on top of that, people were sending through their thoughts on the song. It's assuring because after a while you get in your own head. With ‘Food For Your Garden’, I heard that song just so, so many times as I demoed it a few months before we even thought about recording, so I just listened to it on repeat before we left.

I've been listening to some version of that song- and I would say it would be well up there in terms of the songs I've heard most in my life! It gets to that point that's comparable to when you say a word over and over again and it means nothing- its the same thing kinda with music; you know that at one point in time, you were certain it was a hit, but then you listen to it one thousand times and then you're like

“okay, maybe I have no idea until we put this out and hear what people say”!

But yeah, it's nice that the single is out with this reception.

I hope it sounds a little different on the radio at least!

There’s something weird that happens- maybe it's a complete placebo, but we always think it sounds way better on Spotify! I’m not sure why, it could be the way it’s mastered. But obviously, tuning into Triple J and hearing it on the radio along with Declan Byrne speaking about our band was super, super cool and was of course something we are incredibly thankful for!

“Not Alone” and “Food For Your Garden” were really emotive and vulnerable singles. Does the writing process act as an escapism from the past and a way of letting go, or does this sincerity make the writing and recording process challenging? Does it bring up some past truths?

That's a great question! I guess it's all kind of rooted in personal experience. When I’m writing, I’m not doing so with any real intention of diving into these past experiences and trying to gain perspective- but it kind of happens in the process. Even then, I could write a song and a few weeks later I could find different meanings in it, and I think that is something that is so great about music in general; people can find different meanings in lyrics and in songs. I think for me, songwriting has been a good way of externalizing stuff that I probably would not have externalized in any other way.

I am a pretty introverted guy, so it's kind of weird that I release these songs and play these shows in front of people, singing about my feelings and breakups and stuff like that. It's been super helpful for me and my journey with anxiety. It’s almost like keeping a journal and being allowed to analyse where you were at certain points in time. I think with this EP that we have coming out, it's definitely a little bit more hopeful compared to the previous stuff because it all comes from where I am at the point of time during the music writing process.

I've had a really good couple of years due to the band and some other stuff that’s been happening for me, so it makes sense that a little bit of that positivity has crept in, and less just emo for emo’s sake!

One thing that I’m sure was challenging, and as much as I hate to bring up the ‘C’ word… but how did COVID challenge the band’s dynamic? Did you find yourselves overcoming any obstacles?

It was definitely hard, and it still is hard. We had just signed to Rude, our record label, before everything happened and even in our initial panic it was a slurry of thoughts surrounding what was coming up, but no one really knew how it was going to affect things like international travel and all that sort of thing. We were thinking that we would be heading overseas really soon, I think we were aiming for the start of this year trying to get on tours within the UK and the US, but international travel shut down.

At the same time, I think we were really, really lucky as we were able to record. We maybe wouldn't have the EP coming out as soon as we do if we had gone touring and that sort of stuff. I guess that's the silver lining for us, we got to record the EP and it's all coming to fruition now and stuff is starting to open back up- even though I’m currently in lockdown in Brisbane- and that came out of nowhere. We were having standing shows and stuff like that, and then there was a case of community transmission, and it was downhill from there. But at least there's the premise of vaccinations rolling out now- so it’s not just complete doom.

Give me that sweet, sweet vaccine, please! Put it in me!

But it's definitely been challenging, but I think we made the most of it and we try not to dwell on the stuff that could've been, but make the most of what we can action. We turned those experiences into an EP and we’re super proud of the results!

Speaking of not dwelling on the past- you recently released your music video for ‘Food For Your Garden’! It’s so vibrant and comforting- how was the process of filming this, how did it work with your creative vision?

I’m so happy with how the video came out! When we were coming into recording that song, we knew the song was super fun and poppy, and maybe a little bit different in terms thematically compared to some of our previous stuff. I know most of our music videos have always leant towards the darker side and I think me and Nick, our guitarist who also shoots all of our videos and basically does all of the thinking and planning, we were on the same page there of wanting something different and making something a bit more colourful, vibrant and fun. He sought out and we hired a nursery in Brisbane and they were so kind. They let us move stuff around to set up all our equipment. It was just a really fun day and a stress-free shoot for the most part.

Everything seemed to work… there's usually something that goes wrong!

We did like one or two takes of the drums- we do our best to make sure that the drums aren't obnoxious, you don't actually have the kick drum pedal hitting the drum, you don't hit the cymbals and you have heads covering a lot of the equipment, but it's still kinda loud.

The nursery was actually right next door to an apartment complex and after two drum takes, this one person was just yelling out; “that's enough for one day”! So we just got drums done, turned everything down and it was fine. I’m super happy with how it came out. It’s very fitting to the song and that’s something that makes me the happiest.

I'm glad to hear that, and I expect the nursery sales to boom after this!

Yeah, I’m sure there will be a Waxflower bump to turn over the profits!