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Q&A: Sugar Leaves Gives Us The Sweet Life

Updated: Mar 11, 2022

Photo by Leena Orth

Brisbane sweeties Sugar Leaves are back out of the studio with another certified ear tickler. Off the back of shiny debut 'Clear Blue Water,' now they're bringing us another fresh summer slap on strings, with their latest single 'Dolce Vita.' The track comes out neatly packaged on the 10th of March. We were lucky enough to catch up with Sugar Leaves and pick their nose about 'Dolce Vita' and beyond.

Photo by Leena Orth

Tell us about the band, who are the members and what do they play?

"I (Cassius) made Sugar Leaves in 2017 during the holiday period after year 12 and before I started uni. I had always loved playing music, but realised at that time how much I didn't know about the really important things like arranging different instruments and recording. It sucks to listen back to the first few demos because they sound like garbage, but It's funny because it’s such a similar process to how I record all the newest music (I still sing and play all the instruments).
Despite the project starting off solo, Liam Colquhoun (drums/trombone/bass) and Lenny Sumich (bass/percussion/hype-man) colour the sound of the music in their own unique way during our live shows. Which is why now, it doesn’t feel quite right to call Sugar Leaves a solo project. Everyone involved deserves to be recognized for their contribution and artistic influence. Sugar Leaves wouldn’t exist without Liam, Lenny, and all past members of the band including Patrick Ryan, Damo Vincent, and Wilsen Conn."

Photo by Linus Marsh

I heard you’ve got a new track coming out called ‘Dolce Vita.’ What can you tell us about this new track, and when can we get our eager ears wrapped around it?

“'Dolce Vita' was the first song we ever played together, and it's still always the first song in our live setlist. It is probably the most genuinely Sugar-Leaves-sounding song we have, and we really took our time to make sure it was perfect.
I think the Dolce Vita is a place separate from reality, that lacks all the inherent flaws that we as humans deal with in the real world. It's about trying as hard as you can to justify why we exist, and not finding an answer. But then, how to deal with the lack of a clear answer to those sorts of questions. “What is the meaning of life?”, “Why do we exist?”, “Is there such a thing as the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ thing to do?”, “Does any of this even matter?”. It's sometimes hard to take this vein of conversation seriously, but it's something that I think bothers us all whether we know it or not. It's fun and relaxing to imagine a place where there is an answer to all those existentially dreadful questions that we can’t escape from.
And yes, I first had the idea when watching that Mac Demarco documentary when he mentions “Dolce Vita” by Ryan Paris - what an amazing song and concept. Also Mildlife mention dolce vita in the lyrics of Zwango Zop and they’re so inspiring to me. I’ve learned recently that there's also a restaurant in Milton called Dolce Vita which is hilarious. It's like I wanted to make my own version of this concept because it felt like I was hearing the phrase everywhere, It felt right.
Photo by Leena Orth

I heard in the ‘Clear Blue Water’ music video that you walked from the Boundary Hotel in Westy, all the way to Parliament Skate Shop. And I noticed the sick skating at Mt Cotton Skatepark in the ‘Crimes’ cover video, as well as some of the Paddo boys & Fast Times crew in the Populace video. Do you guys skate, or do you keep it more to the filming side of things?

"Yes! I’ve skated since I was young and have developed some of my strongest connections with people through skateboarding. It’s such a big part of my life that it felt natural for Sugar Leaves to be recognised by skaters before anyone else. Indigo who shot that video for Clear Blue skates as well, and our ideas just clicked perfectly during those days of filming.
It makes me so happy to give my friends a new shirt with my band name on it and then film them skating in their element while wearing it. Most people who recognise Sugar Leaves on a t-shirt and ask me about it think that it's a skate brand, not a band. But that's cool! I guess it could be both! Brisbane skateboarding has such a great culture of talented and lovely people who support each other, and I’m so grateful it exists. (PS. If you love watching skate vids the 2 best latest videos to come out of Brisbane skateboarding currently is “BNE3” by Pat Gemzik and “FILE 008” by Populace)"
Photo by Linus Marsh

I know you do a lot of filming & direction. I was wondering how that all started, like did you study it or fall in love with it at an early age? Your videos are actually sick!

"I have never studied film, but for some reason I love the art form so much. The most exciting and rewarding thing for me is to convert an idea from my head into reality as accurately as possible, and I find that I can do that more easily with music, or a camera, than other art forms (if that makes sense). I also love going to interesting events, or cool band shows and bringing a camera, because it's so cool to be able to capture strong moments for people to see and enjoy after the event is over.
So I love filming in the documentary style as well as the “creating vision” style. I don't even know what I'm talking about really. It's probably clear I didn’t study film by the way I describe these things hahahahaha. I guess by now I actually have studied film and media and music and these things I love, but in my own freestyle way. This method of learning has been more effective to me than the method of learning I experienced at uni. I like being obsessed with something and learning everything I can about it, and finding the answers to my own questions instead of being lectured."
Photo by Leena Orth

'Dolce Vita' is the existential psych bop you need for your next strut down the street. Be cock of the walk this March 10th and fill your greedy little ear gobblers with Sugar Leaves' sweetest offering yet. Until then, be sure to follow them on all their socials, so you can keep up to date with the bongo brothers, see when they're playing live and get on top of that sweet tooth. I knew the guys could shred on a board, but I never knew they could SHRED. You're gonna need a dentist after this.

Sugar Leaves are playing at Back Dock Arts on 12th of March as part of the Emergence Art Festival. Be there or be square.

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