We Chat To The Safety Word
The Safety Word, comprising of John Rousvanis on (vocals/electric guitar) and Simon Quinn (laptop/keys), exist in an elusive crossroads between delicate euphoric dream pop, dance floor ready synth transmissions and layered textures of warm electronics. They are from Melbourne, Australia.
Hey guys, thanks for chatting to us. It’s a pleasure to get to know you better and hear more about your album ‘Remixed Vol.4’ which dropped yesterday...
So, over the past 7 months due to the pandemic, you’ve been unable to tour, hence why you’ve decided to embark on this ambitious remix project. Tell us about it, who have you collaborated with? Simon: It started with one of my favourite live electronic acts Men Imitating Machines asking us if they could remix one of our songs. The resulting track was just so incredible that I thought that it would an inspiring project to do an EP of remixes. I was initially quite anxious about asking some of my favourite local artists to do a remix but I soon discovered that not only were they into it but word was spreading fast and people approaching me. In the end we worked with 33 artists who have either remixed our tracks or collaborated with us. We decided that instead of just releasing it as an album we could spread it out over multiple albums thus allowing the tracks to have a bit of breathing room. Some of the highlights include collaborations with Spectoral, CITY OF STARS, Leipzig Lab, Houg and Sleeplab. On Remixed Vol.4 we had the pleasure of working with artists outside of our own country Australia for the first time. The internet has really opened up the pathways for international collaborations which we are really excited about!
You work across multiple genres - post rock, synthwave, indietronica, downtempo and synth pop - who would you say your inspirations are?
John: Mine would be life, I liked a lot of 80s music and anything with electronic ambience to it, where you can really hear a world or space being made in the music, there is too many to think of at this moment, as music is endless but lately I’ve been vibing on artists like Satin Jackets, Washed Out and Booseeka. Simon: Yes I love these artists too, in fact one of our absolute favorite things to do is share an organic bottle of red with a charcuterie board and play each other music that inspires us. Some of the music that has been really grabbing me lately is Cubsport, Oscar Key Sung, Bob Moses, Active Child and Crooked Colors. In addition to this lately I have also been really inspired by grooves found in reggaeton and Columbian music. Sometimes it’s just the two of you and other times you work with collaborators, on this record. What’s your philosophy when it comes to music making with others? John: Usually we make the music ourselves, but if we are collaborating we might have something that we initiate or if another artist has something then we will do what we can to make it the best and purest it can be, for us it really is a beautiful thing to collaborate and allow the songs to take on multiple incarnations which is out of our control. Simon: We love the idea of it just being us as the core duo as it makes releasing music easy. I’ve been in too many bands where years go by without much music being released as it’s too hard to get four people to all agree on a collective sound and the music looses it’s purity. Sometime too many chefs can spoil the broth to use a cliché. However we absolutely love to bring in guest collaborators in for special occasions when we feel that they could add something special to the mix. We definitely have a taste for it now! We will often invite guest musicians to join us for select songs when we play live shows.
How did you start ‘The Safety Word’? John: I was always originally attracted to Simon as an artist and would see him play in a few different bands, I was always intimidated to ask him to jam, but I got to know him when He mixed and mastered some of my solo music, and at the time I had a semi successful band that was touring around the world so I had the courage to ask him to jam.
Simon: It just started as a side project for both of us as we both had pretty major projects going on but within the first couple of months we both knew that we were onto something pretty special. We spent the first few years refining our sound and working out our dynamic. We have now got it to the point where the music almost writes itself whenever we are together; there are lots of magical moments. What’s the first record you each bought? John: My first record was Micheal Jackson Bad, but then I got the Prince Batman album a month or two after that and was spellbound by that album because it just resonated with me so much, Prince did that album by himself and did all the beats arrangements etch which meant you don’t really need to be in a band to produce an album. Simon: Nevermind, Nirvana – this album just blew me away. It was a game changer!
John, how long have you been singing for? John: I’ve been attempting to try and sing for 13 years now, I don’t consider myself a singer but I do my bit. And Simon what about your production? Simon: I’ve been producing for about 15 years, I feel that I have really stepped up my game in the last two though. I am always learning and refining my technique as well as reminding myself that sometimes you have to trust your gut over what you have read in a text book.
The lead single from the album is the magnificent "Undergrowth”. Tell us about who’s featuring and how you went about writing this one. Simon: This one started as a splurge (which is pretty much just jamming out and idea as quickly as possible in a single session) I’m a HUGE fan of this method and it keeps the art of making music and exciting for me. Of course the finished product has usually been labored over for hours but it’s that initial spark of creation, capturing that moment when you first have that rush of a song forming. It’s kind of like taming a beast before it devours you. There was something about this particular track that made me think of Benjamin Forestal from the band Sleeplab. I sent him the track and he just really connected with the music and come up with something pretty amazing for it. Because the track had a really cinematic quality to it we brought in our good friend Alexander Taylor to add some of his haunting violin and finally John added some of his signature atmospheric guitar. We also recorded a film clip for this song whilst we were all in lockdown, with each of the contributors recording themselves in their homes and sending me the footage to splice together. Another highlight from the album is synth-wave extraordinaire Zak Vortex’s remix of Saw You In A Dream. We can hear 80s influences for sure, right?!
Simon: Yes this track is pretty much as 80s as you can get. So put on your 1986 Nike Dunk, your old Members Only jacket, your Ray-Ban Aviator glasses and get ready to travel at 88mph in a Testarossa 512 TR Ferrari! In fact this remix turned out so well that we are currently doing a second collab with Zak Vortex which will be releasing later in the year. Your logo is interesting, featuring an anchor, crown and an eye. What’s the significance of that symbolism? John: That’s a secret, for now that’s the symbol we use but I wouldn’t mind changing the eye to skull and cross bones, it has lots of meaning for us but we might divulge that publicly in the future haha! Simon: Yes we spent quite a bit of time looking symbols and what we wanted the band to represent. It’s definitely eye catching and looks awesome on our range of printed t-shirts and hoodies (insert shameless merch plug here – lol) Have you learned anything about yourself and/or others during this ongoing world pandemic? Anything positive? John: Yes I have learnt that the human heart is very resilient and very difficult to break as it always heals, I think the simple things are often the best and not to over complicate things or live in fear. Simon: I think the various lockdowns have allowed people time to slow down and take a look at their life from a different perspective. Usually in this fast paced society there’s no time to stop and assess what you really want out of life. I believe that a lot of people have said no to going back to jobs that made them miserable. I think that lots of people have rediscovered their passions from yesteryear and given them time to get acquainted with their soul. Above all it has shown the average joe just how important the arts really are because when your trapped inside music has the power to lift your mood, take you away from the mundane and can even change the way we perceive the world.