Words || Emma Harvey

If you take the train to and from uni, you might have noticed a Grapeshot stand at the main entrance to Piccolo Lane. And if you’ve ever stopped to pick up a magazine from said stand (which you SHOULD), you might have even taken the time to marvel at (or puzzle over) its magnificent design.

Meet Spoonty.

Spoonty is something of a Grapeshot icon. A mascot, if you will. For years now, the entrance to the uni has been guarded by his stoic wooden stature, watched over by his wide, asymmetrical eyes. Spoonty is not like the other stands around campus – pretty, patterned, pastel. His exterior is a feverish narrative of primary colours, nonsensical images, and strange, scrawled inscriptions: “I’ll scoot with you” and “please take lots of me”.

For Grapeshot’s final issue of 2017, our throwback issue, we decided to track down the painter of the infamous stand, the creator himself – the real Spoonty. Like the investigative journalists we are, we trawled through the back pages of garageband and old, inactive websites, hunting the name ‘Spoonty’ in what was arguably just a slightly more dignified Facebook stalk. We finally managed to get in contact and I arranged to meet for coffee.

Going into the interview, I picture a person with thick-rimmed glasses, a scarf, probably, and a booming voice that speaks only in muddled proverb. Basically, I expect to meet the human incarnation of the nutty magazine stand we know and love. Instead, the Spoonty I’m introduced to is soft-spoken, friendly, humble. And his name is James.

We start chatting about his artistic influences, which he describes as “80s, 90s video-game-looking pixel art” and “anything that looks like it’s done on MS Paint.” When I ask him to put his own style into words, he gets as far as: “It’s funny. It’s got cubes.” I try to recall if the magazine stand has any cubes painted onto it, but can’t. “Maybe it’s got secret cubes,” he says, slyly.

Despite his love for art, James says he hasn’t done much in quite a while. “I’m sad I don’t get to paint anymore… I have all these unused canvases at home.”

It’s music that James puts most of his time and energy into these days. Under the name Spoonty, he made tracks that he deems “chill, slow house music”, which sampled from instrumentalists on YouTube. “It’s really boring,” he says, then reneges – “Oh no it’s not really boring! It’s chill, I miss it.”

Now, James produces work in a share house in Sydney. Under the alias MELTY, his sound has evolved into faster club music. “But you can still hear my old music and link it back,” he says.

James also creates music as part of the duo Third Heaven, which he describes as “poppy, cute and sparkly.” The pair use VOCALOID, a singing synthesiser, in which notes and lyrics are entered and then synthesised to sound like vocals. In his bedroom is a chunky Yamaha DX7, an FM synthesis-based digital synthesizer which smokes profusely when not turned off at the power point.

When I ask about his long-term plans, James thinks for a moment.

“I’d like to own a luxury store. Selling my own line of luxury items, like sculptures for rich people – it’s so exclusive that you need to have it, but it’s so luxurious that it rules your life. Like a ball that you have to touch every hour or it burns down your house. It would just be funny to scam rich people, don’t you think?”

“My long-term goal is to not have to work at anything that I don’t want to do. It would be amazing to make music and art full time. My problem is that I change my mind so much. During one day, my life goal changes three times. Sometimes I decide I’m going to focus on music, and then I see a sign that I like and I go ‘I’m going to make signs for people!’ Last week I walked past a watch shop and thought – I’m quitting everything and becoming a watchmaker.”

To find James’ music online, it’s a quick search for MELTY 4EVA on Soundcloud, Spotify, and the usual social media platforms. His Twitter, in particular, I can vouch for. You will be blessed with daily wisdoms such as: “It’s been 7000 years, there are no rules, we can do whatever we want” and “All jaycars are connected. Enter Penrith jaycar and u will exit at Erina jaycar.”

My favourite is: “It took two days but I just finished a whole bag of chippies.”

His duo, Third Heaven, also has music available on Spotify, Soundcloud, and iTunes.

As for the Spoonty stand, James has personally requested that it be “encased in resin, or cast in bronze.”

Honestly, it’s the least we can do.