Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Evelyn Morris (PIKELET) Interview

In some kind of fate twist, Evelyn Morris’s brainchild and rapidly expanding Melbourne institution Pikelet would never have existed had she not succumbed to the usual teenage angst and pressures of trying to be cool. Dreaming of a life as a concert pianist, Morris studied the instrument throughout her childhood only to turn to the drums in high school attempting to break away from the stifling constructs of classical music. From here she branched out, dabbling in varying media and styles from hip-hop to punk. It was in punk music that Morris found herself a home as drummer for local exponents Baseball and psych/punk brain melters True Radical Miracle, amongst numerous other collaborations including a spot in Japan’s Boredoms ‘Boadrums’ performance at last year’s International Arts Festival.

Pikelet is about as far removed from any of this as imaginable. With its inception very much a bedroom project, Morris as Pikelet weaves delicate beautiful textures through varying instrumentation and a loop pedal. Not so much raging against the frenetic aggression of her other musical couplings, Morris explains that Pikelet arose as a mechanism through which she could explore the more beautiful aspects of the world. “I’d tried everything,” she says. “What I found was that when I enjoyed [music] the most was when it was really hard and really fast so that’s how I ended up playing in punk bands. Then the Pikelet thing was just a big reaction to that cause I felt like there were other things I wanted to try that were kind of quiet and more melodic. I wanted to do more of a singer songwriter thing so I tried it using a looper. At the time I was going through some soul searching because my mum was sick so it was like a reaction to circumstances. It occurred to me that there was nothing I could do about it so there was no point being angry. It was more about finding a way to look for beauty in it and making something that was healing.”

Frustrated with the limitations of what could be achieved live with a loop pedal, Morris enlisted the services of a few friends to help out. Through the necessity of these unions, Pikelet has now become a bona-fide four piece. With a Soundclash grant allowing the band to recently engage in an intensive song writing period, Morris explains the forthcoming third album will be a markedly different beastie indeed. “It sounds more grown up or something,” she continues. “The right people came along, so it just made sense. They were the inspiration to get the band together, like the Blues Brothers or something. It wasn’t a calculated thing; it was [again] a reaction to circumstances. There was a lot missing from what I wanted to do live. When I recorded at home it was thick and layered with heaps going on and I couldn’t present that how I wanted to live so I thought it was time to get a band. It hasn’t been totally smooth but any creative process has some bumps in it. You have to navigate people’s ideas and different places that they come from, it’s been really interesting.”

Signed to Chapter Music upon presentation of Pikelet’s first demo, Morris credits the label’s creator Guy Blackman as a driving force in the continuation of the project over the years. Further to this she believes that it’s people such as Blackman that make Melbourne a great place to live and work as an artist. “If he hadn’t been around in terms of emotional support, I don’t know if Pikelet would be around anymore,” she adds. “In Melbourne there’re so many people doing so many different kinds of music that you never get caught up thinking yours is the most important. It gives you the freedom from your ego to explore your music without too much of a grandiose idea of what you want it to be.”

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