Praise You: A The Reels tribute mix by Andras

Whether it’s making an album on a boat, denouncing Australia Day with a mix of truly homegrown music, or sparking up a conversation with a speaker manufacture to explore the sonic origins of their “on” noiseAndras has never been one to follow the predictable or conventional. The Australian musician and DJ, real name Andrew Wilson, doesn’t go against the grain for the sake of it, however. Each move is carefully thought through and equally well articulated – verbally and sonically, across multiple styles and monikers. So multi-faceted is his output, it’s often hard to keep track of which adaptation of his name corresponds with which sound (maybe that’s the point?) but in Joyful LP – out this January on Beats in Space – we are presented with the first official Andras album. A meeting point of 70s folk and 90s dance music it finds a confluence in styles that is rooted in a particular moment in his childhood and wholly his own. As a key aesthetic inspiration for the album, Wilson has chosen to pay tribute to 80s Australian band The Reels, whose drummer is the father of regular collaborator Instant Peterson and who he eloquently describes as “a synthesizer lead, sarcastic, ‘easy listening’ group pissing in rock’s back pocket.”

Andras – Joyful LP is out 31st Jan – buy from Bandcamp.

Why do The Reels mean so much to you?

I was three years old when The Reels disbanded in 1991, so they mean a different thing to me than what they would to older Australians. With 20/20 hindsight, they seemed to be a beautiful anachronism. A moment of reverie in the back-room of a shitty rural pub. A synthesizer lead, sarcastic, ‘easy listening’ group pissing in rock’s back pocket. Weirdly melancholy sentiments, groovy minimal-pop production and really really incredible songwriting. Stephan Fidock (drummer & more) is also the father of my closest musical collaborator (and former radio co-host) Lewis (Instant Peterson), so there’s a personal connection too.

For those outside Australia less clued up on The Reels, why are they such an important local band?

Their discography is pretty diverse, but they all have cool and clever electronic production. Their pop ballards and waltzes (yes, waltzes) were totally off-centre but still ended up on the telly. That perfect marriage of comedy and self-deprecating humour. Finding their records in shops was like finding a synth in a haystack of guitars.

What makes a record by The Reels so unique?

A slight twist of the orange rind. The short track 茶山姑娘 on the album Beautiful (1982) comes out of leftfield. The Burt Bacharach cover has spawned more covers. It’s all full of (pre-fab) heart. The big hits are there, but there are totally melancholic moments.

When did you first hear their music and what impact did it have on you?

‘Cry’ is the b-side on a cheap and commonly available Reels 7inch single, and became my homegrown substitute for the Art of Noise’s ‘Moments in Love’ at sunset cocktail bars.

What’s your most sacred record by The Reels and why?

“I Don’t Love You Anymore”. My 12” copy is totally destroyed from years of touring. Oscar and I loved the original filmclip so much we attempted to re-make it for our song “Looking Back”.

Have you ever played The Reels in a set? If so, any standout memories of it particularly resonating?

“Silence is Golden” lives in my end of the night folder. Harmonica always lights the way to the doors.

Have they played much of a role in your new album for Beats in Space?

Aesthetically, yes. Despite my general cynicism and sarcasm, I wanted Joyful to be red hearted and bubbly. I feel much safer exploring romantic, melodic and ornamental music after seeing the balance struck on Beautiful (1982); an album that managed to be full of love and sentiment whilst also depressed, melancholy and funny.

How did you approach this mix? What did you want it to say about The Reels and their music?

Some of their singles had chart success and consequently are common on “Aussie 80s” compilations etc, but I wanted to throw in some of the lesser played tracks on Pitt St Farmers and their Media Themes sketches. I hope this mix makes people who might not have heard their music curious. Plenty to have a listen to.

What would you say is The Reels’ biggest legacy on Australian music?

They gave our pallette some softer colours. It didn’t have to be all dust, rust and beer.

Andras – Joyful LP is out 31st Jan – buy from Bandcamp.

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