Obscura Hail began as a way for Sean Conran to preserve memories, Sean began meticulously recording and releasing a prolific amount of music – mostly via Patreon. The project has evolved from then into a pretty fantastic band. Balanced out by Tamara Issa (bass, vocals) and Kaelan Edmond (drums), Obscura Hail combines biting guitars, beautiful harmonies, atmospheric acoustic percussion, loops and drum machines to deliver something dynamic and existentially curated. Should you be in the right place at the right time; you might also witness an accompanying set of home-stitched visuals that translate the themes of these seemingly optimistic songs in a way you cannot unsee.
Released last year, the Zero EP saw Obscura Hail looking inwards and focusing on themes including mortality, personal values and a touch of hopelessness. As a counterbalance to Zero, the forthcoming Siren EP is Conran’s words “is charged with an optimistic, though anxious energy… A fight or flight response to the instability of our modern world at this time.” The EP explores the external environment we are in and Hi Fi Way finds out more about this great band.
How hard is it pushing your way through this health crisis and contemplating releasing new music?
It’s difficult to see an end to it, and to be hopeful. I can say Tam and I are lucky to have a lot of creative tools and entertainment options at home to pass the time. I’d say I’m used to a kind of self-quarantine re: song writing, and conditions are almost idyllic now, with everything slowing down a touch. We were already building up for the next release, but we had enough warning to change the way we did it, a dedicated team behind us, and the focus track Doomer definitely feels 500% more topical haha.
It is really hard, like it is for all of us right now, but putting music out into the world for people is very energising, and has been a big mood lifter through this time.
Do you think people are more or less inclined to be chasing new music
Probably more than ever. We’re all stuck in our own bubbles for a while, but music makes great company, and there’s enough out there, new and old, that gives clarity to, or provides escape from what we’re going through now. New music can become like Pokémon sometimes, but as soon as you find something that speaks to you or makes you feel things, it’s time to relax into it and stop chasing.
Do you feel optimistic about the situation in Melbourne?
Sean: I don’t think things will go back to how they were. We’ll be stuck in this long enough for our routines/ priorities to change, though I’m optimistic we’ll see new ways of thinking, creating, and sharing emerge. There are so many people in my community alone who have been hit really hard financially and mentally, but I guess I’ve always been more suited for the home life, so I consider myself lucky to have my creative endeavours nourished with extra time and focus.
Kaelan: I feel lucky to be living in Melbourne, and despite the flaws of our community and our leadership, I am confident that we will pull through.
I know everyone who works in and enjoys live music is absolutely bursting to get back to live music, and I’m excited at the prospect of gigs being special again.
How have you passed the time? Learned a new skill?
Sean: Daily discord chats with old friends while we play video games, adapting the home studio for live streaming, getting cre8ive in the kitchen.
When Tam isn’t traversing the COVID scape as an essential worker, she paints and now knows more about colour theory than art school could teach me. We go for walks with Lana, our doggo, and just before all this shit went down we adopted a kitten named Dobby; a reminder that living indoors is fine and totally doable.
Kaelan: Video Games, Playing and listening to lots of music (thank the gods for PBS and Triple R), and finally getting through my film list and watching the original star trek series, has been strangely comforting.
What’s the story behind the lead single Doomer?
Doomer was written the moment we returned home from our NSW/QLD Coopers tour road trip last year during the fires. We saw the apocalyptic
blazes up close and felt the fear that people like Gretta Thunberg are using to raise awareness of the coming challenges our species face. It’s a call for action born from feelings of futility, but it ain’t a finger pointing blame at those who haven’t addressed their own mortality yet, or their dormant power to address it. Seems like we released it during a catalyst for global social change, and it’s kind of scary to have our voice heard above so many others, but I trust it’s because the song resonates with a shared underlying feeling.
How would you describe this EP sonically?
Fast paced, upbeat, uplifting overall, riding the line between self-assured and paranoid. A little burst of anger and frustration, overcrowded with melodies and harmonies out the wazoo.
Are you building towards an album or another EP?
All the time. Just a matter of reuniting sibling tracks, ironing their uniforms, scrubbing their nails, and making sure they leave the house with a full belly.
Are there any significant influences for this EP?
Thematically it’s about cognitive dissonance, from the macro social currents to the individual struggle to comprehend purpose, rubber banding through nostalgia, paranoia, and nervous energy. I was listening to heaps of Black Marble, Lightning Bolt, Alex G and Joao Gilberto, among other Brasilian Bossa-Nova titans, so there’s a taste of all that in there.
What’s your next Obscura Hail?
Morphing our performance style into a more intimate, intricate, cinematic experience that has a chance of sounding closer to the production you hear on past and present releases. Streaming with our home studio setup might give more insight into the way we compose and arrange tracks, too.
How much are you looking forward to touring resuming?
Neither here nor there, we love playing live and we know we’re totally used to the road life, but at the rate the worlds dealing with everything going on, maybe the scarcity of performances will make live music a little more special. I shamefully didn’t go out that much to see bands live, outside of the shows we played; being a fan of the recorded music the most, but I’d go out of my way to see something outside of the standard gig format, and we might see more creativity in that field.
Kaelan: This question is like asking someone who really needs to pee if they are looking forward to going to the toilet! I think i can speak for a lot of people when I say I am bursting to be able to play live again.
What is something that people don’t know about Obscura Hail?
Most people don’t know that I’ve been doing it for over a decade, so there’s heaps of music under the surface that I release to a few people on Patreon. Much of it is so different to what you hear in the open, and will never be released officially, but there’s heaps of old independent releases that I’ve been gently hassled for, along with demos/experimental tracks/binaural loop nonsense serving as markers of the song writing process.
Interview By Rob Lyon