Sydney band Bluejuice have been kicking around the Australian music scene for a decade now, flooring audiences with their unique brand of frenetic energy and catchy tunes. Now lead singer Jake Stone is using his musical expertise to help young musicians through a workshop held by the Telstra Road to Discovery, a program dedicated to fostering the talent of up-and-coming musicians. We had a chat to Jake about the program and Bluejuice’s spot at Conception Day this year.
INTERVIEW Megan Smith
Why did you want to be involved with the Telstra Road to Discovery?
It’s a mentorship program that appeals to me, and also to Stav, because it’s actually fun working with young musicians. I’m doing a lot more production. I’m actually doing some production now, so I’m trying to find a drum machine that will work for the part that I’m using. I do that kind of stuff a lot at home and at my job so I guess I feel qualified enough to talk about it with people… not totally qualified, but a little qualified.
What can we expect to learn from your master class?
It depends on what people really want out of it. I’ll have to respond to people in the class as they want questions answered, so I’m sure they’ll bring their own set of questions. Some of which will probably be, ‘how do I write a single for radio?’, or ‘how do I get my stuff to radio?’ that’s generally a common question and it’s got a complicated answer. Other than that I’ll just talk about process and the way songs develop from the early stages to a finished product and how you can do that for yourself. That’s what I want to talk about anyway.
What’s your personal process for song writing?
Like I said, I’m doing a lot more production with people and co-writing, and developing a lot of young artists by co-writing with them as well. It used to be that I was the primary songwriter of Bluejuice all the time, and I was pushing for that really hard. It changes, your process changes. Mine was initially just to become obsessed with a lyric or music hook and just develop that over weeks in my head, and eventually writing it down and crudely recording it. Then we went through the process of actually demoing and doing studio stuff and that really changed everything. It’s usually when you’re obsessed with something, and you just want to hear it a lot and that drives you to commit to it. It’s good to have something by the bed in case you wake up in the middle of the night with one of those ideas.
When can we expect to hear new music from Bluejuice?
Very soon. There’s a single coming out in two weeks. It’s been a mixed process, just working on it and making it sound as good as we possibly can. Then we’ve got a video clip coming out for that as well, so you’ll see it soon.
Awesome. How do you think your sound has changed since the days of ‘Vitriol’ and ‘The Reductionist’?
I guess back then we had a lot of energy that we needed to expend in any way possible. Those songs were purely energetic; they’re just so straight-ahead. We also didn’t know how to record ourselves as well. All the things that happened early on in the band made me qualified, to some degree, to talk about what that band went through to get to a point where it could record well. I think recording well is so much a part of doing a good job as a modern musician. Your presence is essentially on the internet now, and then you start playing in front of people. In order to maximise that I think being a good producer, and making yourself sound good, is so important. Bluejuice came to that so late, we had to learn that on the fly and we weren’t good at it for a long time. That’s why I always try to encourage young people to learn how to record themselves, which they’re all doing anyway because studio technology is so available.
Bluejuice has been a band for a decade now, have you seen many changes in the Australian music scene?
Yeah quite a lot. The generations of bands that you grow up with and played with a lot go away, essentially, or move overseas, or break up. Some of them are around in a different form, which is kind of awesome as well. Red Riders became Palms, and Palms is a good band. A lot of people do start out in bands, that are still playing in bands, branch out. Like Ned from Dappled Cities is playing gigs for Andy Bull, but is also writing Emmy nominated music for television. People are doing amazing shit now that they’re adults. We still get to play, we’re doing BDO this year and a bunch of other gigs so I can’t complain. It would be silly to complain.
You guys are doing Macquarie Uni’s Conception Day this year as well, what can we expect from your set?
We’ve changed things a little bit. We had to replace our long-time keyboard player Jerry, which was pretty traumatic because Jerry is really, really good. We’ve taken an interesting approach to replace him, we’ve got one guy doing keyboards that’s a very sought after session musician who’s worked with Paul Kelly, he does really good pop stuff. His name is Cameron Bruce, he just has hands that can play and he can do all of the parts, just like Jerry’s in the band basically.
We have another version of the band that we’re trialling which is with our old sound guy, Alex Gooden, who is more of a dance music guy. He’s in a band called Adapt Or Die, and they do really edited dance stuff. He’s also going to fill in on keys on opposing days, but just playing samples of keys and triggering stuff. So he’ll play minimal keys but he’ll use MP3 and trigger shit, more like a dance gig. I’m interested to see which option will work better, or be the weirder one. You don’t know exactly, the next six months while we’re playing, unless it’s a big headline festival, you won’t know exactly which set-up you’ll be getting which I think is exciting. It could go totally wrong, but who cares?
I’m sure it’ll be fine!
Well both of them know the band pretty well, so they know all the songs and shit.
Do you still perform shirtless?
Yeah, it’s just a necessity. It gets super sweaty and it’s the best way to do those shows. It evokes the feeling of the show mostly when I just wear jeans and no shirt doing a gig. It should just be wild. It just seems like a durable outfit.
We’re looking forward to seeing Bluejuice play at Conception Day and we’re looking forward to hearing the new music, is there anything else that you’d like to add?
Just check out our new single, it’ll be called S.O.S so have a look for it.
Thanks for chatting to us Jake!
The Telstra Road to Discovery digital master classes will be live streamed online at telstra.com/trtd from 8pm EST on Monday 9, 16, 23 and 30 September and are free to view. Highlights from each digital master class will also be available to view through the website.
- First Steps – Monday 9 September, 8pm – with Jon Hume (Evermore), George Sheppard (Sheppard) and Jake Stone (Blue Juice)
- Writing and Recording – Monday 16 September, 8pm – talent to be announced
- Getting Social – Monday 23 September, 8pm – Kate Miller Heidke
- Management and Touring – Monday 3h September, 8pm – talent to be announced