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NewTracks New Artist: Pipsy

NewTracks New Artist: Pipsy

Coming across Pipsy‘s infectious pop-punk track Holiday on the August copy of NZ On Air Music‘s NewTracks compilation, it was clearly time to introduce you to the man behind the music. Originally from Otatara, two hours south of Dunedin, Pipsy is multiinstrumentalist Paul McMillan. While his solo debut album ‘Users’ was only released in July this year, he’s hardly a new face on the scene; his CV is full some of DND’s finest acts of the last decade, including Males, Two Cartoons and the Julian Temple Band.

What other projects might we know you from?

Hmm, good question – I cut my teeth so they say, two hours north of my hometown in the Dunedin indie music scene, playing in guitar-pop bands mostly. I guess most people know me as the drummer for a band called Males. I also played in Julian Temple Band and Two Cartoons, along with a slurry of other bands that were really just excuses to play backyard parties with our friends.

What’s the background story of how Pipsy came to be?

In 2014, Males played this festival called Big Sound in Australia, and we passed through Melbourne to play with the Auckland post-punk onslaught Die! Die! Die!. The trams were funky and the city is full of NZers, so we dug it immediately. I moved here in 2015 to keep pursuing music and started booking gigs with the NZ music diaspora here.

The songs I started working out were mostly ideas I had written on the side while I was still in Males. We played some shows and released a single with NZ On Air called Why Can’t I Get What I Want, For Once?. I started demoing stuff, which turned into a full album. I ended up playing everything myself – drums, guitar, bass, vocals, kazoo – whatever was needed. So I thought, why not release this as the debut? That’s how my new album ‘Users’ came about.

How did you come up with the name Pipsy?

So there’s a band in Dunedin called Left or Right, this killer dub/reggae/rock band, and my friend plays bass for them, and one auspicious night he bestowed on me the name ‘Pipsy’ – it spread like wildfire and within two weeks it was my new name. I’ll be walking along in Melbourne and I’ll hear someone yelling it at me from across the street. Makes me feel like I’m home!

What makes Holiday stand out for you as a single?

Well, I want to make music that makes people feel happy, and this song just makes me happy. The subject matter is pretty dark, but there’s a bit of a feeling of relief I get from the song, so I thought other people might feel that too!

What is the story behind the song?

I wrote the song in a bit of a slump after I finished my PhD – you get a little down after something that long, and jamming the song on my acoustic always made me feel better. I’d play it and kind of daydream about somewhere sunny I could go and relax. It would pull me up from those emotional tailspins.

What’s your favourite moment, musical or lyrical, of the single?

Funnily when I recorded the lead guitar line for the song it made me so amped that I was jumping up and down in my home studio with my headphones and guitar with a huge smile on my face, accidentally stomping on all my pedals.

Who did you write/record/produce the single with and where? Got a fun story about the making-of?

I recorded all the parts for the album ‘Users’ myself, produced the record, and mixed and mastered it (apart from Get Out! mastered by Rick O’Neill). So I had to record the drums for the whole album really quickly during a looooooong day at Richmond’s Bakehouse Studios.

I’d never recorded drums by myself – I normally have a friend engineering – and finishing those felt like a really cool achievement. I only had the day, so what you’re hearing there is a 12-hr long session powered exclusively by Strawberry-Lime Rekorderlig, Burger King, and as much coffee as I could consume without shaking so much I dropped the drumsticks.

Please describe in one sentence what you want listeners to take away from Holiday.

Give yourself a break.

In general, how do you work out what song would make a good single?

Whatever I would want to listen to on the way home from a long day at work, or after I received some bad news, or needed something to bring a little light into the day, that can get you pumped up when you’re at your lowest, that’s the single!

Are there any other musical endeavours you’re working on that we should keep an eye out for, with this band or others?

This is 100% my focus at the moment. I’m heading to the Big Sound festival again this year, so hit me up if any NZ musos out there are going!

Can you please tell us three other local tunes that should be on a playlist alongside your song.

Excellent question! Three is hard to narrow down. But…

  1. Males – Lucky Too (Banga from the last band I was in) 
  2. Ha The UnclearStuck In My Head (Dunedin indie pop mates based in Auckland)
  3. Anthonie Tonnon – Up Here For Thinking (mate and now solo artist based in Auckland)

How many of your previous applications didn’t get funding or didn’t get included on NewTracks? Got any advice for people out there?

Yes, yeah, so my advice would be to just keep submitting, and keep trying to make better and better songs. The people at NZ On Air are really friendly and helpful, and will definitely give you a chance if they like the song. Keep gigging, and writing and playing and it’ll come!

How can we find you on social media?

I’m a big Instagram head – @pipsymusic is the handle. A like on Facebook really does go a long way too, so that would be really helpful if you’re in the mood! I’m @pipsymusic there as well.

Any last words?

Thanks so much for reading! Ka kite anō!