Stephanie Mee tunes up with aussie muso Athron. Photo: Dean Hammer.
ATHRON, let’s start singing.
Well, I’m Australian and from the first time I picked up a guitar I was really into it. At 17 I left home to join a band . . . as you do . . . and since then I’ve been working and making music constantly. I’ve been in Bali for five years, and for three of those years I’ve just been focused on making music.
How would you describe your music?
Acoustic, bluesy, folksy, and a bit of rock.
Can you tell us about your latest project?
I knew for a long time that I wanted to make another album, but I just didn’t have the funds. One day I was talking to my cousin, who is a really close friend of mine, and he said “mate, you’ve got to do crowd funding”. At first, I wasn’t sure about it. You know, it’s a bit strange to just ask people to get involved, especially financially. But eventually, I went for it and set up a campaign on Indiegogo.
How did that work out for you?
It was really tough on the ego at first, because I don’t usually like to ask people for things. I really only expected to reach half my goal of $10,000 AUD, but I was blown away by the support. It’s been absolutely amazing – I made the goal and then some. I think when you do it like this, people can really get involved, and you can share not just the finished product, but also the whole journey. It also inspires you to do a better job, because you feel like you’ve got so many people invested in your success.
So how long have you been working on the album now?
My band and I started recording in Antida Studios in Sanur in December of last year, but we really started going hard at it about two or three months ago. I’m so grateful to have such talented musicians to work with. We’ve got Deny Surya on drums, Edi Kurniawan on bass, Ian Stevenson on electric guitar, and me on acoustic guitar and vocals. Ian is also a producer, so he has really helped forge the album forward.
What’s the story behind how you met your band mates?
I used to come to Bali a lot on holiday, and I attended Rock Fest one year and heard this band doing some really cool Radiohead-type stuff. I got talking to the singer, Ian, and thought that I would really love to work with a guy like that one day. Later I was at a Single Fin event and I turned around and there he was. Ian and I became great mates over the years, and now he’s been truly instrumental in making the album what it is.
Sounds like you’ve been rocking the music scene in Bali for a while. In your opinion, how has the scene changed or progressed over the years?
The live music scene in Bali was really stuck for a while. There were so many DJs and clubs, but not a lot of musicians doing original stuff. Over the past few years there has been a huge influx of young expats and fashionistas, plus a new swell of musicians who are activating the scene and pushing it forward. That’s why we’re seeing more places like Deus, Single Fin, Old Man’s and Pyramid promoting live bands, and more people are appreciating the amazing local and expat bands that are out there. The scene is really changing, and we need that.
What can we expect from your album? Will there be any Balinese influences?
You know, I used to live in Seminyak, but it really got to me, so I made the move to Ungasan and just spent a lot of time by myself writing songs. So you might hear some of the songs and think, “wow, that guy has spent a LOT of time alone”. But it’s great to just be surrounded by local people and have that space to be creative. So in that way Bali has influenced the music, but in terms of the sound it’s pretty Western.
Do you have any advice for other musicians keen to make an album?
First of all, get to know your songs inside and out before you go to the studio. Really know what you want. Then record yourself and demo your music to see how it sounds. Once you’re confident with what you’ve got, find someone to produce it and get their advice. I was lucky to have Anom Darsana at Antida Studios and Ian to give me input, which helped me immensely. It’s so important to get someone else’s perspective.
What does the future hold for you?
Well, we’re about six weeks away from releasing the album, so that’s exciting. It’s called Escape Into Fiction, and it will be available in hard copy and downloadable formats. And of course, we’ll have an album launch party here in Bali . . . something fun. In addition, I’m really trying to work on getting the band over to Australia. We have many events like the Sydney Festival where people have a lot of appreciation for bands doing their own thing, especially multi-cultural bands. I think it would be good for people to see that collaboration between Indonesia and Australia, especially considering how sensitive the situation has been between the two countries lately. As for myself, I’m thinking about checking out New York City or San Francisco in the not-so-distant future. I really want to put myself in that big city space again and see where the music scenes are going there. But I know I’ll always be tied to Bali, so even if I go somewhere else, I’ll always come back.