Christchurch multi-instrumentalist Pickle Darling is turning heads with his witty, thought-provoking take on bedroom pop. It’s the musical project of Lukas Mayo, an audio production graduate whose sweet and subtle sounds have earned him recognition from NZ to the far corners of the globe.
Beginning his musical journey as a high school student who quickly decided it was too hard to learn other people’s songs, Mayo went straight into writing material of his own, which he affectionately defined as “dumb” and “twee”. After leaving high school he took a pop music course before moving on to study audio production.
“I wanted to be a proper musician and stop being childish, so I decided to stop using my acoustic guitar and put away my ukulele,” he quips. Interestingly it was in the wake of this formal tertiary training that he realised the way he wrote music in high school came more naturally, and began refining his style as a more nuanced and informed version of his younger self.
“I feel like I’m now making the stuff that I’d have loved to listen to in high school!”
Since then the project, now officially known as Pickle Darling, has released two EPs and recently an acclaimed debut album titled ‘Bigness’, which saw Mayo claim Bandcamp’s ‘song of the day’ early in January. The album’s 10 sentimental tunes each posed their own challenges along the way of the two-year recording process.
“It either takes me seven months to make a song or it takes a weekend,” says Mayo, citing the impressively vast six-minute long Rinse Spin Cycle/ Nicolas Cage as one that had required much more time and care. He has also formed a relationship with cult cassette tape label Z Tapes, who added the act to their extensive lineup of lo-fi artists in 2017.
“It kind’a just happened, there was no serious conversation. Filip from the label just messaged me and said, ‘You’re working on music right? We should do something together.’”
The Slovakian label has since released cassettes of Pickle Darling’s two original releases as well as a vinyl pressing of ‘Bigness’. In considering his music, people are quick to focus on its ‘lo-Fi’ and ‘bedroom pop’ sound. Mayo claims this is not always the end goal and that the sound comes more of necessity and the limitations of recording at home.
“I love the bedroom stuff, but most of what I listen to is actually super high production, Brian Wilson type music”.
Along with working full time, Mayo says he’s already started work on a follow-up album – while still finishing off a number of music videos for tracks on ‘Bigness’.
“My head’s already on the next album, even though I know I still need to promote the current one!”
He is also working on a soundtrack for online game ShelfLife, ‘…a story-driven video game about a non-binary art student who begins to experience flashes into a parallel dimension after becoming injured on their daily commute’. A project that is definitely worth a look over on their very cool online domain shelflife.pizza.
With this work ethic, Pickle Darling doesn’t look like slowing down anytime soon, promising to continue refining his craft with each new release.