Carmen Pepper and Dylan Ollivierre are The Money War. Describing their music as “idea of it feeling like a mood that takes you away somewhere” the band’s travels have had a major influence in their sound and lyrics. Their new EP, Life is Better in Dreams continues that musical journey around the world. Dylan Ollivierre chats to Hi Fi Way about the music, the travel and the new EP.
You have a new single out We’re Alright, tell us what the song is about.
It’s about strength in numbers kind of thing, like it was written with a sense of being overwhelmed and a bit disillusioned and I was trying to write an uplifting song about a shitty situation.
The EP Life is Better in Dreams has also been released. Most of the songs have a very mellow and calming sound to it. My personal favourite is Let Love In. How would you describe your music?
Yeah that’s interesting. A lot of people have been saying that Let Love In is their favourite. Like similar thing to what I was describing about We’re Alright, a lot of the time the lyric is coming from a place or written from a place of some kind of sadness but then there’s an uplifting mood to the music.
I guess the ultimate aim is for it to try and create kind of like an escape and the music be some kind of thing where it’s somewhere to go. I like the idea of it feeling like a mood that takes you away somewhere.
Yeah, your music definitely does that. I found it really calming as well.
Travel has inspired you and affected you which is reflected in your music, what is it about travelling that has opened your perspective on life?
I’m really fascinated by different cultures and observing the way different people live their life. For me it’s given a perspective that we all have a lot more in common than it may be seen from the surface. And I like travelling around to gain a perspective and also remove you from your own situation to kind of like, perhaps to view it with a bit more clarity.
How does that reflect on your approach to making and creating music?
Often when I’m travelling is when I get clarity on a situation because I’m removed from it and then I will write about that situation. Also, it can be particular events that I’m inspired by and things I see while I’m travelling. One of the big ones was when I was travelling to the US and being inspired, not sure if that’s the right word for it but concerned by the gap between the rich and the poor. The most recent travel we did was going back to the Caribbean where my Dad’s side of the family is from. That was connecting with heritage and a totally different way of life. It’s a third world country there and people have slightly different ways of living their lives but fundamentally the same problems.
What’s the process for you and Carmen when writing lyrics to your songs?
We both write the lyrics. I think she comes from a similar place as well usually and obviously we spend a lot of time together. Yeah, the lyrics are kind of nutted out together.
Do you get together to write your songs? What’s the process in creating the songs?
It’s usually like we both have ideas and then bring them to the table. When we’re producing the song, we have our own studio to produce them ourselves. Each of us brings in an idea and its fleshed out from there. Sometimes I’ll sing songs that Carmen’s written and vice versa.
Do you both play the instruments on your songs?
Yeah, we both play pretty much all the instruments on the EP. Live Carmen plays bass and I play guitar and we both sing. We both also play keyboard.
How did you both meet?
We met a long time ago now. We were both playing in different bands at the time in the Perth music scene and met through that. I do producing and produced a song from the band Carmen was in and from there we had a lot in common.
How did the name The Money War come about?
Coming up with the name of a band is harder than creating music (laughs) we went through a lot of names. I think The Money War stuck because it felt like something that was universal but provocative and didn’t really pin point any particular genre. It could be anything. We didn’t necessarily want to have a name that was descriptive of our music. It was something that was kind of open ended.
You’ve managed to play some pretty big Festivals in the USA like SXSW, Southbound and Festival of the Sun. How was that experience? Do you like playing Festivals?
Yeah, it’s awesome, yeah yeah, I love it! Festivals are different to smaller shows where it’s just about the energy. Festivals are awesome because you’re typically playing to a whole bunch of people who that may have not heard your music before and are there to have a good time.
Do you like playing live? Is playing live an important part of your band?
Yeah, we do. Definitely. The Money War was primarily a recording project. That was the way it started but there’s definitely an energy that struggles to be translated on record for any band. Then playing live there’s a lot more intensity and feeling, I think.
Have you been playing and creating music for a long time? Have you been in any other bands?
Yeah, a long time ago. I’ve been writing songs for 15 years or more. I was in a band called Rainy Day Women (after the Bob Dylan song) and Carmen was in The Warning Birds. We’ve both being doing music for ages. We’ve played in a few bands and The Money War is the one that’s been the longest.
You’re based in Perth, there seems to be a real kind of vibrant music scene in Perth.
Yeah, it’s a weird one as we get asked about that a lot. I often wonder what it is perhaps because it’s so isolated for you to be heard outside of Western Australia there has to be a certain quality? I don’t really know I’m just guessing but I think bands have time to work on their craft in isolation as apposed to being the new band. Because there’s not a lot of industry over here as well so bands can exist for a long time without ever really being heard or discovered. I think because the industry’s on the East coast as soon as there’s a band that’s drawing a crowd to their show the industry’s pretty hot on that.
Do you think with streaming services that gives you more exposure?
Yeah definitely. I think Spotify has exposed us to heaps of new fans that wouldn’t have heard of us otherwise. Even as listeners I’ve discovered new bands from all around the world that I definitely wouldn’t have come across by chance.
Is that how they got to know you in the US. And how people discovered the band?
Yeah, I think a combination or streaming services and we had quite a lot of radio play with Triple J and Double J which is super handy. I think the rest of the world pay attention to that kind of thing and then we had quite a lot of play on college radio in the US which kind of kicks things along. I think that Spotify is a massive one if you land in a great playlist or the discover weekly playlists and your music’s getting in front of people that may not otherwise come across you.
Do you think you will spend a little more time in the USA to cultivate that market?
Yeah, we’d love to. We’d love to as we definitely have a lot of musical influences from there and cultural influences. Its just very expensive. We are tossing up whether to relocate somewhere in North America perhaps Canada or the USA, but the visas thing is hard but its definitely on our mind. It’s definitely a market that we want to explore for sure.
So, most of your influences are US based artists and bands?
Yeah, I think so. When I think through them all predominately yeah, like a lot of people compare our sound to a West Coast USA sound like a Fleetwood Mac kinda thing. So, I probably agree with that.
You have some live shows coming up in Australia soon. Can you tell us about that?
Yeah, in a few weeks on this tour we are doing a few regional WA shows then Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane.
What can audiences expect from your lives shows?
A fun time really. I hope people come and just enjoy the songs and kind of forget about their lives for a little while and have a good time!
Interview by Anastasia Lambis
Catch The Money War on the following tour dates…
Be sure to check out their new album…