Interview: Sloan Peterson finds release with her debut LP

Friday, April 19, 2019
Photo - supplied

Last week, Sloan Peterson (the moniker of Joe Jackson) unveiled her debut album Midnight Love, Vol. 2, which is a follow up to her EP Midnight Love. Before it was released, I chatted to her about the album, her teenage years and how journaling helps with her creative process.

So, Midnight Love, Vol. 2 is coming out soon. How are you currently feeling about its release?

I am excited. I wrote the songs quite a long time ago, so it's kind of a strange feeling having all this new stuff kind of in the works. It's almost just like a release to be able to package Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 up and send them out to the world.

I read that you wrote 'Here' when you were a teenager. How did that track change from its original form when you did it years ago?

I actually found one of the first recordings I wrote of 'Here' recently, which I made a little video clip to. It looked more like Beach House, just a little tiny guitar. I had a drum loop that I'd stole from this emo song, a four or five beat, and I just repeated that throughout the whole thing and just added several guitars and it's very washed out and dreamy. Now, it's just an entire production. We recorded it live at Guy Sebastian's studio. I went back and we added in lots of pieces in the studio. I wanted it to be similar to like a Gwen Stefani vibe, kind of when she left No Doubt and became a pop star. That was the vision I was heading towards. I changed it quite a lot, actually, it went from an indie track to a well-produced song.

Were there any other songs on the album that you wrote some time ago and then revisited?

On Vol. 2, only two of the songs are older, the rest of them were kind of a little bit fresher. The older ones were all written when I was probably 17, 18.

Does it make you nervous when you go back through older stuff?

No, I actually think I like it better now. I just think back, and there's an element of being quite naive, I guess. I had only just started playing music at the time. I didn't know many chords. Everything just seems really vulnerable, and I didn't care as much. I just slapped something together and be like, "Oh, this is amazing. I'm a genius." Now, it's like I do anything, and I hate it even though I've gotten so much better at guitar, and I can actually make a structure of a song. And I think I over-analyze it more now that I know more.

And, would you say your approach to songwriting has changed from your teenage years?

Yeah. Definitely. I think that now, I've got a style that I write and there's only a couple of chord palettes that I always end up using. I'll write a song and I'll try to make it something different and I always end up on minors, especially D minors. Always use D minor (laughs). Just a little bit of a melancholy beat to it that I just keep coming back to even though I want to really move away. Whereas when I was younger, I would just strum and scream. I didn't know what I was doing, or how I was putting it together, and I fully gave it my all (laughs). Now it's like I come back and revisit lyrics or think 'maybe this will work better', or 'does there have to be a bridge in this part?'. It's more thought out, definitely.

How did you keep track of your ideas?

It really depends. Sometimes, just a couple of words will kind of ignite something and I'll have to write it down or record it on my phone. I journal most mornings so usually if I can find the time and I'll find out what a common thought that has been on my mind over a period of time and then I'll end up making that into a song. Or if somebody is talking to me and the two words they said phonetically seem kind of pleasing, I'll write that down and incorporate that into a song. Stories, colours, there are many things that influence me. I get very influenced by anything and that will spark an idea. I can usually write pretty easily. I sit down and I'll come up with a little chord progression and hum it out. And then I will get my journals and be like, "Oh. That's cool. write that down." And keep just demoing as I keep going, writing the new lines, seeing if it works in my recordings.

How does journaling help with creating music?

I think it's therapeutic for me. Something might stay on my mind for a month at a time but when you write something down and you're busy, you don't really think about the pinpoint moment or the pivotal things that are making you make these decisions. So it's nice to go back and look at entries. Be like "Oh. That's the kind of a common thread throughout all this. That must be one of the things that is really shaping my decisions right now."

When you were working on the album, and I guess with the EP as well, did you find yourself drawn to other platforms outside of music?

Definitely. In fact, I shy away from listening to too much music when I try to write. I get a bit overwhelmed. I want to make sure that nothing is clogging my brain, so I tend to shy away from a lot of music and listen to more old school stuff or instrumental music. Sometimes I now isten to the radio now because I find that stimulates my brain a little bit more without foggying my mind. It kind of keeps me on track and makes me feel motivated. And then my ideas are probably the purest of what's in my brain opposed to being influenced or inspired by another artist.

For the listener, what do you want them to take away from their listening experience of the album?

A nostalgic energy is kind of what I aimed for. Something that makes them listen to it and they can remember exactly where they heard it, or it can remind them of a certain event or take them back to another time where they felt simular. Like when I listen to the The Strokes, I don't particularly take anything from it, I just really enjoy the energy that they give me.

Written by Amy Smolcic (@amysmolcic)

Listen to Midnight Love, Vol. 2 below:

Live dates:
May 9th - The Landsdowne, Sydney
May 24th - The Tote, Melbourne
Click here for more information

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