Opening for BANKS in the United States, touring with KLAXONS all before a debut album is a rare feat in such a saturated music industry. However, Australian ‘shadow dwellers’ MOVEMENT have done all of that, and more. NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION caught them in London – before their last sold-out show – to gather their thoughts about their experiences, staying true to their genre and their definition of success.
You guys have achieved a lot in the past year – being in FOR Festival in Croatia, supporting BANKS in her US/Canada tour, DARKSIDE in Australia, Solange, and a four sold-out shows in London – all these even before your first album…. could you describe your path to what you’re doing now?
Sean: It’s crazy. For us those aren’t even big achievements, because that’s stuff that happens if you know people. For us our big achievements are the fact that people are listening and wanting to listen and we’ve been out playing and selling rooms out and that’s probably our biggest accomplishment. That’s just… that blows our mind. The path though, has been pretty quick…
Jesse: It was essentially the EP that we put out. It was four songs but we didn’t have much of a back catalogue. Since then, tonight is our last show for it. I’m excited for it, but we’ve got a lot of work to get the record done and put that into our live shows.
Sean: That’s the hardest thing about being in a band. Rather than constantly living in the moment, you’re constantly living in the future. For us, our complete physical and creative energy is within our debut album and we’re so excited to get it out.
All this foresight, has it distracted you from the present of what you guys are doing because you have so many shows back to back, and you still need to think of what’s next?
Sean: It’s really hard to be mindful because you’re living it out so much but we’re learning. We’ve done 40 shows back to back with BANKS; we definitely feel we’ve kind of got the idea of what touring is.
Jesse: Touring is also good because you gain perspective on your work because you’re not in a place where you can easily create something. You reflect on what you’ve done and want to do, you’re inspired because you’re meeting people that you really respect, their work and you talk about their work. Touring has opened our eyes on how we’re going to move forward with the record and it’s just a matter of tying up some things when you get home.
Upon entering the music industry for about two years now, what do you think about it so far, and do you have any challenges adapting to anything?
Sean: Everyone knows everyone…
Jesse: It’s smaller than you think.
Sean: You know Six Degrees of Separation?
It’s like ‘Two Degrees.’
Jesse: I would say like the threshold between an established artist and say, a rising band like us is really thinner than you think. You sort of come to the border of it, and you can see where the difference between our level and BANKS is just a matter of a record and the final momentum. The other thing worth saying is artists are generally really great people. We’ve never really met anyone who’ve been sort of… at first we were really shy about it and you get to that point where you know them as people.
Sean: You spend so long idolizing musicians all the time, and then suddenly you’re there… you kind of realize that they’re just humans. The music industry is full on. It’s very selective and…
Jesse: Right from the start when Sean and I began, there was a quote: ‘Success is when preparation meets opportunity.’ I feel the majority of success for most acts is the combination of these two things.
Sean: We prepared so long behind the scenes where Jesse and I wrote and wrote without releasing anything. Then we met Lewis, wrote and wrote, and then released our first single. That was all preparation and then opportunity came along where we were ready for a live show. Our manager heard our song and it went from there. We were ready. That’s what we’ve always lived by. It’s possible to get to that level. It’s all about your music and how good you write it…
Jesse: Exactly. I remember when we first went in, we were like, ‘How does that even happen?’ We’ve only put out one song (Feel Real) and everyone’s talking big, we’re going to have you here doing this and that. At first them saying that we’d be playing music overseas was the most groundbreaking idea to me. From there, you can see how things lead to.
How did your beginnings as music and film students shape the way you compose and deconstruct your music?
Jesse: I think the most important quality about what’s in common is that Sean and I studied film. Personally it’s just my innate ability to romanticize everything… So it’s like romanticizing situations, whether it’s film, or tonight or tomorrow night or what’s happening in my day. That’s probably the most artistic quality that allows us to create music. We write primarily most of our music in the evening, which is neither practical nor logical…
Jesse and Sean: EXACTLY!
Jesse: It’s not like we’re doing it for that connotation. It’s easier to romanticize the situation and what we’re trying to do.
On one hand, artists who’ve released a couple of albums have difficulty selling out shows while you’ve given a taste of what’s to come from you guys with your EP. Has it really been that difficult, or easy?
Sean: It hasn’t been difficult or easy, it’s been just eventful, and everyday, it’s just an experience… We’ve been fortunate with opportunities…
Jesse: What’s fortunate? It can be both. It’s one thing to get it easy to be in this position and we’ve just been really fortunate but at the same time we just work really hard. There are times where we can just be having some drinks, like now, before playing a show like this to a roomful of people in London, which is already more than what we could have imagined. And other times we’re at home and slog away, just trying to get one beat or one particular progression right.
Just a year ago you mentioned that after ‘Feel Real’, you’ve started to take Movement a little more seriously – what sparked that decision?
Jesse: Just people being interested at what we’re doing. It was a catalyst.
And you’ve made ‘Feel Real’ as ‘just a track’ two years ago, are you surprised at the massive reception your ‘sound’ and your EP have gotten?
Jesse: I think so, yeah. Considering that it’s just four songs, there’s a good share of people saying, I mean, like these shows, it’s mind-blowing. We’ve been overseas twice since this EP, I don’t think there’s any artist who’s done that. Or Australia at least.
Sean: CHET FAKER has done it.
Jesse: Did he? Surely he’s done that once.
Sean: Twice. I read that somewhere. A tweet.
Jesse: We’re on the same trajectory, baby.
When I listened to your works, ‘Feel Real’ sounds like the kind of framework you want MOVEMENT to be, and your EP – tracks like ‘Like Lust’ and ‘Us’ seem to go even darker. The only comparison I can think of now is Manchester band HURTS.
Sean: Yeah I see where you’re coming from… We know a little bit about HURTS…
Jesse: They’ve got a weapon of a brand. I feel the EP is not like a logical thing. It was like the ‘Best Of Movement’ at that point in time. It was a total one-off.
Sean: I don’t feel Feel Real was really on that. It was fun because we wrote it innocently and did it, looking back now, we don’t play that at live shows and it’s not something we’d actively try and re-write. It’s something we wrote when we were very young and it was fun.
And it just took off like that…
Sean: It was our first logical step into the music industry. And then the EP came up. To me, Feel Real isn’t a serious song…
Jesse: Feel Real was like almost a joke when we wrote it. Have you googled the lyrics? It was crass…
Sean: …and it was something that was great. We took our production really seriously and we wanted to make it sound good but it was just dumb. But fun.
Jesse: We had nothing. That was just our first time we did a demo together, ever. It’s a ‘let’s just see how this goes’ thing. And then people just liked it and then we wrote more.
Also you’re going in the direction of R&B and soul. What do you think of modern R&B?
Sean: It’s got really great production… however I don’t listen to it very much.
Jesse: As far as R&B goes, for us it’s more relevant. Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder…
What about R. Kelly?
Jesse: Yeah, Aaliyah and all are monumental, but at the same time, I feel like that’s pretty quickly becoming a tired musical sort of situation with bands at the moment. So what we’re doing is trying to do what’s natural to us and at the same time push the boundaries sonically with what we’re trying to do.
You guys seem to have embraced it…
Jesse: Exactly. 100%. It’s the best music.
How do you define yourself from the clutter? I’ve read that you don’t want to have a ‘sound’, but rather evolve it by exploring new things. How has that process changed you guys as a band, musically and personally?
Sean: Keeping it simple. That’s another thing we said from the beginning. All aspects of MOVEMENT need to be simple. The songs, the structure, the production, the live show…
Jesse: And that mind frame comes from a desire to keep things simple and an inability to commit to anything that is dated.
You don’t want to have a defined sound but you want to explore new things.
Jesse: We don’t want to look back in like six months and be ‘I hate the way I was dressing’ or ‘I hate the way how that song was received.’ It’s easier to keep things basic so there’s less to hate.
How has that process of exploring things sonically changed you guys as people?
Jesse: Our primal concern is honesty in music. It has to mean something, not because it’s what we like, but what we’re capable of pulling off. What makes logical sense? We talk about not wanting to find our ‘sound’ but it’s too early to be all, ‘Hey here’s a totally different record.’
You’ve also mentioned that you’re perfectionists too…
Jesse: Yep. Slows the process down.
Sean: We overthink everything.
Your ‘Ivory’ and ‘Us’ music videos intrigued me as they pretty much touched on deep topics. How has that coupled up with your lyrics?
Jesse: Lyrically, as far as those two videos are concerned, are not exactly on point. It’s more for us to work with people who are incredibly talented to have a different perspective to what they think the songs are. It’s more empowering on this level to have a realization of the lyrics themselves.
On ‘Ivory’, the two lead actors talked in French…
Jesse: Because the directors were French.
Sean: Absolutely. They wanted to fuse our music with the screen and have a bit of context and backstory. If they want to do it they just do it.
Jesse: Trusting in other people’s creative ability.
What are your influences, and do you feel like you’ve matched yourselves with them, somehow?
Jesse: Anything that’s really honest. The music we enjoy as individuals is not always on point with what we do, so you’ve got to realize what our band is and what people perceive it to be. We enjoy our own music and also not fuse it too much. We enjoy artists, as they are, not going with the connotations of what is cool.
You’ve also done a DJ set in which Gaspard from JUSTICE was present, and it was your first time…
Sean: YEAH! That was a fun night.
Jesse: We’ve only been on two in our entire career. First was Sean and me we didn’t know how to DJ at all. And it was essentially the day after we got signed. They asked us to do a DJ set for THOM YORKE. It was fun, apart from that we told ourselves that we’re not gonna DJ until we know how to do it. Then we did it again; Sean did it on his own in Paris. It was like Part Two. It was getting better, but I’m sure one day he’ll absolutely murder it.
But you’re the beat guy, Sean.
Sean: Yeah I tried. Writing an album, touring, trying to have any kind of life with your friends and family… you have to try to fit in all that and with other skills like DJing, you have to do it right. You don’t want to mess with it. I really respect the art of DJing. I try to put a lot of time into it. It’s just not a priority. I put it to the side and I found myself in Paris, DJing to JUSTICE.
Jesse: We played a show in this members club called Silencio and Gaspard from JUSTICE came and watched Sean do his first DJ set in the early hours of the morning…
Sean: Yeah fucking hell it was funny.
Jesse: …and it was me and Gaspard watching the show and chilling.
Sean: It’s because I watched him play to 80,000 people and like… I’m DJing. What am I doing?
Jesse: He should’ve given you a hand.
Let’s talk about Australia – I personally was born in Perth and moved back to Singapore when I was 2…
Sean: Nice, Perth is cool.
Jesse: Yeah I can kind of hear an Australian twang…
How would you describe the Australian scene to someone, say, from Europe?
Sean: Different, diverse, not just one sound. You’ve got bands like TAME IMPALA Impala who just blow your mind, you’ve got FLUME, CHET FAKER. Everyone’s doing their thing and they’re proud of it.
Jesse: It’s small. Very small.
What were the major ‘culture shocks’ as it were?
Sean: I can tell you about the crowds.
Jesse: We haven’t been to Asia yet. Europe and America… America is very show based. Europe it’s a radio rotation and Australia’s like… ‘What’s the rest of the world doing?’
You’ve mentioned that you didn’t want to be pigeonholed as an ‘Australian’ band…
Sean: Yeah! We just want to be a band. Obviously we’re proud of where we come from…
Jesse: We just don’t want to be the Australian version of anything.
Sean: Or the Australian version of an international act.
Jesse: I feel that Australia sort of gravitates towards that idea. There can be a tendency across the Australian public to be really late to what’s going on. I’d be irritated if I was a consumer…
Sean: But then you have bands who’re pushing it and being ahead of that wave.
Jesse: People at the end of the day know what’s good. At the end of the day, regardless of what people say ‘Oh this is what will work, that is what would sell tickets…’, people have an innate ability to distinguish what’s honest and what’s crap. For most of the time.
You’ve accompanied various differentiating artistes, FLIGHT FACILITIES, KLAXONS… how have you gained from those experiences?
Sean: We took away some advice and some lessons. Being on tour with Banks, we took away a whole new level of professionalism and entertaining crowds of a certain size. Back in the day when we were with KLAXONS…
Jesse: Just everything is progressively more unbelievable as it happens.
Sean: But we also don’t get so shocked straightaway because we’re so used to it now.
You’re going to work with THE WEEKND’s producer, Illangelo, for your debut album. How are you looking forward to your first experiences working together?
Sean: We worked with him in LA, we were just there and it was pretty special. I think at the moment, we’re not thinking about producers but the album, in terms of us writing it together. We’re very excited to work with someone that’s so talented. However we can’t count our chickens before they hatch…?
Sean: We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. We just want to write the best album we can. The industry changes so much, you don’t want to guess.
Could you give us a little teaser for what’s to come?
Sean: It’ll be out next year. It’s going to be dark.
Sean: Yeah we love reverb.
What does hope and passion mean to you?
Jesse: As far as passion translates in terms of Movement, we’ve been passionate from the start and now we’d be passionate to the end.
Sean: That’s beautiful. And hope is everything we want. And we will never stop hoping ever because we have such big minds and high hopes. We don’t want to ever stop hoping.