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The moving electronica of Melbourne’s Thrupence, the twenty-one year old Jack Vanzet, quickly attracted a huge following when he released the “Voyages” EP. Downloaded over a thousand times in its first 24 hours online, the production, depth and the pure emotion of the album belies Jack Vanzet’s age and experience, which seems to shock him more than anyone else. ACCLAIM speaks to the unassuming artist before and after his sell-out launch at the Workers Club in Melbourne about his careful and unusual sound, and why sometimes, he wants to escape on a musical journey.

How did you become involved in creating electronic music?

I used to play in bands – like, high school bands – I played drums and my brother Edward plays guitar so we would just sort of jam and had a bit of a band going. But it probably wasn’t until I got my computer – I got a Mac and a music-making program so that I can sort of create music on the fly – you know, as soon as you have an idea you can express it. You don’t have to worry about things like what your guitarist thinks, or the rest of the band, or having the best equipment… it’s just all there inside of your computer but as soon as I got that happening, it all started coming along.

Can you remember who you first started listening to?

My mum listened to a lot of stuff I got interested in. Massive Attack, Portishead, all that really dark, grimy kind of stuff. And that’s what kind of got me into music. But it wasn’t until I was about fourteen when I got a drum kit that I started experimenting with music.

Do you have friends that make music too?

I don’t know anyone that kind of does what I do. I sort of talk to people on the Internet, but none of my friends are into electronic music.

Do you have a clear idea of how songs will sound like before you make them?

Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t… sometimes I’m lying in bed nearly asleep when I’ll think of an idea (laughs) so I get up quickly and try and record it. That’s usually the sharpest time they come out – the rest of the time I’m playing at it. So a bit of both, really.

What are some of the influences you have drawn on to create Voyages – has studying design had much of an impact?

Well, I think it’ s sort of similar – it must use a similar part of your brain when you’re making music and designing something. I studied Visual Communication last year at uni, and graduated in November and music was always such a separate thing and it wasn’t until the last five months that the music and design came together into this one project.

I feel like the music and artwork really fits together.

Does it? I guess it would make sense, you know, you do one thing and…

You’ve said that Teebs has been an influence in your music and artwork… he is known for his particular aesthetic as well as his music – do you think having your own design is important with your music? 

Of course, I think a lot of people have criticised my work to be like Teebs and I’ve gotta accept it – I mean, I love what he does. But I’m only 21 and he’s quite a bit older. I think I’m still trying to find my voice, it’s like my first album and I’m still trying to find my own style and where I’m at. I think to be 21 and to put out an album that you’re so sure of and say ‘that’s it’ – there’s no more, or you’re too concrete in your ways. I mean, there’s so much more than that. The next project, I think will be really different than this one. Just because one album is a bit like this – or a bit like that – I don’t want to shut myself off to everything else.

The EP has such a finished sound for someone that hasn’t been working on a style for a long time – you’ve said that it’s not definitive  –

Yeah, it’s not even mastered. I don’t know anything about mastering! Had I have known that people would enjoy it as much as they do, I probably would have spent a lot more time on it. But I just finished it, and I didn’t really have plan for what was happening – and now I’m just sort of catching up. I don’t know what to do (laughs) I didn’t even think I’d need a strategy, I didn’t even think I’d play gigs.

What about the lead up to the EP launch?

Well, my friend Christie who is studying event management – her last project was to create an event and she approached me and said ‘do you want to launch the EP?’ And I said yes, so, she’s done everything – organised absolutely everything and then the reception’s been great and everyone wanted to come so yeah (laughs) no pressure!

You’ve never played a live show before?

Only to ten or twenty people.

You don’t really know how it will translate into a live show?

Yeah, I’m pretty scared. Like, really scared. It’s a big experiment especially with the guitar – I’ve got Edward playing guitar. I hope people will excuse our mistakes.

So do you feel like it’s happening a little fast?

Yeah, definitely. As soon as I put it out, something like over a thousand people had downloaded it in 24-hours which is incredible. I never expected that. And on top, people are actually paying for it – paying for the music – which I never even thought would happen. So it’s been pretty incredible.

You just put it up for a name-your-price download?

Yeah, on Bandcamp people can pretty much donate whatever they want for the album – zero or infinity. But it’s not for the money.

So you didn’t do any promotion?

Just through my tumblr and on Facebook, I just put it out there.

You’ve talked about the visual dynamic of your music, which seems to be more and more popular – what are your thoughts on that?

I think it’s great that it’s happening – like over the last few years people have gotten bored of the kid on stage with a laptop, and I think now it’s becoming a bit underwhelming for people to watch that. You just look at people like Amon Tombin whose coming to Melbourne, like, he’s a huge name and that sort of thing is a bit down the track for most artists, but I think we’ll see more of that, huge installations and light-works accompanying music. People go to gigs to see a show, not see someone stand behind their computer. Especially for my down-tempo style music, it’s different for dubstep or something like that.

Do you see yourself going in that direction?

Yeah definitely, I mean, my music doesn’t really suit pubs and it doesn’t suit clubs, and it’s not ambient enough for a sit-down show. It sort of sits somewhere in between. I don’t really know venues that would suit it – it’s still such a young project – maybe the next album will dictate where it will sit in regards to live shows.

Your use of samples seems quite sparse, but there’s a particularly sad one that’s a girl crying on the title track – is there a story behind that?

(laughs) It’s from Louis Theroux – and there’s not really a story at all. In hindsight, I think, I probably shouldn’t have put it in.

What do you see happening after the EP launch?

I think I want to spend sometime writing some new music and getting ready to perform it. I think I’m more of a creative behind-the-scene’s person rather than a stage person. That’s why my brothers here – ‘cos he’s more of a stage guy, whereas I think I just like to be more creative about things.

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I like the idea that you’ve said previously that you ‘wanted to create something beautiful’ with the EP – I feel like not many artists are that honest about what they’ve set out to do – is there a particular story behind that?

I mean, a lot people make music to be in the music scene – or make bangers to play to their friends and play at clubs and it ‘gets you popular’ and I’ve never been interested in that. I mean, there is so much of that junk around people just making beats for fun, and that’s cool – I love that stuff, but I didn’t really want to be into that. I don’t really know where ‘beautiful’ came in – we all like beautiful things, right? (laughs) I suppose it was pretty natural to try and make something nice. How it got called ‘beautiful’ a lot I don’t really know.

Was Voyages a ‘closed book’ when you finished it? Or did you obsess over it for a while?

It was a closed book – it had been done for two months before I released it. I wanted to sit on it a bit. I probably finished it in January and it wasn’t released until March – I wanted to see how I felt about it over a month, maybe go back and change things here or there, tidy things up. It was good to reflect on it for a month or so. But I think my music has evolved a lot since then, I don’t think I’ll make another album quite like that again. In that regard it’s a closed book. I think the next album will be different. My life at the time – not to get too deep – well, my life is very different now. There’s a lot of different people in my life and I think the way I live my influences what music I make and, well, things are different now from when I created Voyages.

Is the title of Voyages telling of your music – if so, are you documenting a voyage or reflecting one?

I think when I make music – well, you kind of get taken on a trip, you know? A lot of people say it, but making music to me, is sort of a dream. It’s like dreaming. I wanted to call it a few different things, and a lot of them were taken. I guess it’s a common theme, but Voyages stuck – it’s about going on a voyage, and using the music as the vessel for that.

So was it one whole work to you?

Not really, I guess the tracks kind of stand alone – I didn’t really put that much thought into the order of the songs. I think each song tells their own story, rather than using some tracks as the mortar the side of the bricks of the actual songs. I think they’re separate.

With the titles of your tracks, do you work much on those? There’s like Synchronous Bloom and other kind of poetic titles…

Sometimes I do. With Synchronous Bloom, well, there are two fruit trees, right? And they are at different sides of a field or something and they need to bloom and the exact same time in order for the fruit to grow. I don’t even know how that translated into the song, but I was working on it at the time and someone told me about that – my mum told me I think – I thought that sounds really beautiful. But mostly I don’t think about it too much.

I feel like Voyages is a very peaceful place – it kind of has a calming effect; do they come out of a specific mood you find yourself in where you want to escape to that?

Yeah, it’s like therapeutic thing for me. I’m a bit of a stress-head; actually, I get a lot of migraines. I’m kind of a tense guy. Music kind of puts me in a zone of relaxing, which links back to the title, I suppose. To take you away from your reality or your worries, to create something beautiful – I hope it does that for other people too.

Speaking of other people, you have a very vocal following online, does that ever intimidate you at all?

Like on Facebook?

Yeah – I think I was on your page the other night and you put up a status and I looked at it maybe two minutes later and there was fifty likes.

I was just on my phone, and I saw that the ‘talking about’ number had gone down and I was like, maybe I ought to put up a post – so I just wrote that I was working on a new EP and in like three minutes, ninety people had liked or commented. And they all want something too! I mean, they might want the next project to be exactly the same as Voyages and have certain expectations now. So the following is pretty tight and I definitely don’t want to let anyone down. In that regard, there is a lot of pressure there. But I just hope that the next album, people will be as willing to listen and take it in as they did with Voyages.

What can we expect from your upcoming album?

I want to use vocalists. Like Voyages was entirely made in my bedroom. Just me in total isolation. Probably for the next album I want to do collaborations with other people – vocalists or anyone really. I’m up for anything. It might be a bit more ambient.

You played a new track at the launch

Yes, I wrote that one with my brother Edward.

It was quite a billowing, kind of epic track. 

I don’t even know where that one came from, really, we wrote it the day before the launch, because he was going to be up there with his guitar so I needed to write a song with a bit more guitar.

How did the EP launch go for you? I know you were a bit nervous before…

(laughs) Yeah, It went so much better than I thought it would. I never expected it to sell out. I had to turn away friends at the door, even. It was my first real show, to have it sell out was incredible. I just kept thinking ‘there’s two hundred and fifty people crammed in here – it’s tight and it’s hot and they are all going to be watching me’ and that’s something that I’m just not used to. I can’t thank Christie enough for putting it together. She did everything and I just pretty much just showed up to play.

Did you enjoy it?

Yeah, I had great fun – I think I said before that I’m more of a creating guy than actually a performer. I don’t think I’ll be playing too many shows. Maybe for the next album I’ll be able to work on a really strong, structured performance. Just got to get rid of the laptop.