As one half of electro music act Naysayer & Gilsun, things were going great for Sam Gill. But then he and partner Luke Neher started making music that felt different to anything they’d done before. Instead of relying on their previous moniker’s success to release new music, the duo created alter ego Ara Koufax. With a new found freedom of a blank slate the duo have just released their first Ara Koufax EP. We caught up with Sam after the release to chat about the birth of Ara Koufax and how it doesn’t mean the end of Naysayer & Gilsun.
Previously you were making music under Naysayer & Gilsun but now you’re using the moniker Ara Koufax, why’s that?
To be honest with you it kind of came out of a few different things. For the most part we found ourselves with a lot of material that we were writing that was sort of split down the middle between two different moods and directions. We felt like we wanted to start a project that was completely fresh and didn’t necessarily have any expectations attached. We formed something that would be an outlet to one half of that material that didn’t seem to fit with the Naysayer & Gilsun stuff.
Was there a certain freedom in letting the Naysayer & Gilsun moniker go?
It just felt more comfortable. To clarify we haven’t necessarily stopped one to start the other, we’ve just split it in to two separate things. I guess it can be confusing because it’s still just the two of us. It felt like once we sort of split some of the material down the middle and also started writing new stuff separately it made sense.
How does the music-making process work for you with a duo? Do you split certain elements?
It comes back to some of the lead up to forming the new act, in that with Naysayer & Gilsun pretty much all of our process was writing individually and then finishing things off together and working off a hive mind. We both kind of know the other’s taste and we share the same love when it comes to how we write. It can be a slow way to do things so for Ara Koufax we very deliberately have pretty much written together in the same room. Most of the Ara material that’s already out was written in one weekend away where we forced ourselves to just do it. This is the first time that we’ve done a live setup so having that setup and having something that allows room for improvisation means that we can also jam together and come up with ideas.
Your film clip for Converge is really simple but effective; all it features is the two of you jogging in slow motion. Can you explain the concept behind it?
We labored over what to do with it and I think the idea came from us talking the director about how people watch music videos now. We’re conscious of the fact that a lot of time YouTube and videos in general are on in the background and people are using it to listen to the track if anything. We didn’t want to do anything that was really narrative based so we went for something that was a little more visually ambient.
We were thinking about a lot of dance music videos and how some of them can inadvertently end up being the same concept, like dorky nerd turns out to be an incredible dancer or a male producer dancing with a group on incredibly beautiful women. In response to that we thought it might be funny to do something that makes us look ridiculous and was all about our bodies being under pressure and not looking cool in anyway. We wanted something stripped down bare, but still a bit tongue in cheek.
In the clip you’re running the whole time even though it’s in slow motion, are you a really physical person?
We both try to keep fit. I’m happy to do another article where I talk about my top five tips to get abs. [Laughs.] No, but we’re fairly physical. We filmed that at like 5:30 in the morning on a three hundred-metre track and we did it around five or six times in a row. The one that’s in the video is the last one so we were absolutely cooked. We were definitely cooked at the end of it, which was perfect for the clip. After we were done I had to go off and play a game of soccer after that so you can imagine how the legs felt that night.
A few musicians have mentioned how important physical activity is to switch off out of that musical mindset for a while. Do you find that it’s a good escape?
Yeah I find that for a lot of things. It’s amazing for getting out of your head. I’m a fairly anxious and stressed person a lot of the time and one of the most helpful things has always been being able to play sport or exercise. It’s pretty imperative for me to be honest.
What have you guys got coming up?
Well we just released our debut EP for Ara Koufax so that’s out online. We’re looking at some more dates for shows as well. But other than that we’re just going to be writing more.
And you’re sticking with Ara Koufax for a while? Or if you write something and realise it’s more Naysayer & Gilsun will you flip back?
That’s definitely happening. We’re just figuring it out at the moment. We’d love for it to ideally work in cycles but basically every time we commit to a date to catch up on Naysayer & Gilsun stuff we keep getting pushed back by various things. We can’t wait to give it another go. The last few months, I guess actually closer to a year, have been nice and refreshing but we’re keen to give it another crack soon and start putting some new material out.