For a week in September, Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley becomes the focal point for the Australian music industry as the BIGSOUND Festival kicks off. Hundreds of industry members, punters and musicians assemble to see the next wave of acts perform live across several official and unofficial showcase performances.
Weirdo Wasteland, in conjunction with photographer Jeff Andersen Jnr. and Jet Black Cat Music, put a call out to some BIGSOUND artists we admire to enlist them for a series of portraits taken at Bloodhound Bar throughout the week.The latest shoot from that week features Melbourne group RVG.
Earlier in the year RVG released its stellar debut LP A Quality of Mercy, which is getting a re-release on October 20 through Our Golden Friend. You can pre-order the vinyl here. We spoke to singer and songwriter Romy Vager about the album’s creation and the band’s overall process and inspiration. Check out the chat below, followed by the image gallery.
Take me through the process of writing A Quality of Mercy! I read a lot of the songs started as demos and were built upon by the whole band. How long had you been working on these concepts before they became fully formed?
Most of the songs on the album come from little demos I made on Soundcloud. I wrote most of them in the space of an hour or so and I’d try to record them and put them online as quickly as possible in case I started to hate them. The demos definitely have the intention in them, but sonically they sound pretty sketchy. When we started playing as RVG, we only had a couple of rehearsals until we started to work out how the songs should naturally sound with a band. It was a lot more raw but we kind of knew what we wanted from the beginning, which is a blessing.
What was the difference between the early concepts of RVG’s songs and material you had written for different outfits?
I used to be in a band called Sooky La La. There’s a few things on the internet. It’s good for a kinda grunge band but it doesn’t sound like me too much anymore. I used to have a big defensive wall up, and used to scream a lot more. There’s none of the introspection that RVG has. For lack of a better word it’s quite ‘masculine’ music. When I started the demo’s that made up AQOM it was aiming to be a lot more accessible and poppy. I also promised myself that if was gonna write an angry song about someone it also had to be a bit about me as well.
I thought A Quality of Mercy was interesting in terms of the complexity of its story telling – part cathartic introspection and part empathetic narrative. What sort of ideas resonated and informed the work in a noticeable way?
I guess at the time I was coming to terms that I was trans, and what I was going to do about that. I was rearranging and changing how I felt about everything around me and what kind of person I was, The songs on AQOM were very much like: Well what exactly do I believe in? What is an inherent part of me?
Making those demos were about working that out through the process of songwriting itself. I didn’t want to write another song where I already knew what I believed in and tried to justify it by throwing a bunch of words together.
On that note, would you say there are some core thematic philosophies in your song writing overall?
I’m always interested in exploring the ways that people treat each other. That seems to be a recurring theme. Sometimes it’s a big picture thing or sometimes it’s really small but it seems to appear again and again in the songs I write.
People have had a few months to digest the album now – what are a few things you put down on record that you hope listeners have picked up on?
I hope people appreciate the quirkiness of some of the songs. I hear a lot of people talk about the catharsis and emotion of the record but I hope they get the one or two little jokes that are in there. Maybe I’m not very funny though, I don’t know..
You’ve said in other interviews that the process of writing/recording/releasing the album was akin to shedding old skin. How do you feel as a musician/creative entity and as an individual after this process?
It’s felt really good! I guess it’s a normal thing that people do when they complete a ‘thing’. I’d never gone through the process before so it’s quite new to me. It’s also pretty scary because you finish something and then you’ve gotta think about the next one.
Looking towards the future, are you currently working on new material?
We’ve got about 3/4 of an album that we’re ready to record. We’re holding off on starting the next one until we work out if we can afford to change it up and go into a studio or if we’re gonna just record an album at The Tote again. I’m not super prolific so I wanna get a few more good songs together before that happens
How is it coming together? Are there some discernible differences in process, sound or concepts at this stage?
We did a few demos the other month and they sound much more lush and powerful than the first album material. AQOM was very much us still working out what we’re doing in a lot of ways. We’re a lot more confident and stronger now and i think the next album will reflect that.
What are you finding stimulating creatively these days?
Any strong femme presence in rock music.
Check out the gallery below:
RVG will be touring to support A Quality of Mercy’s re-release. Catch the band at the following dates: