February/March 2013

by Westley Holdsworth

On Foreign Soil: Splashh

by Westley Holdsworth

On Foreign Soil: Splashh

According to the Chinese calendar we’ve just entered into the year of the snake. According to most music critics we’ve also entered into the year of the guitar. So it’s no wonder that Splashh‘s jangly guitar pop has been pricking the ears of music fans around the world since they first started dropping tracks online early last year. Balancing somewhere between American psych/surf rock and ’90s UK brit pop, the band have earned themselves high praise both from indie blogs and established gatekeepers such as NME and The Guardian. Westley Holdsworth caught up with ex-Checks drummer Jacob Moore to find out how he managed to find his way into one of the most hyped bands of last year and what motivated his move to London.

So who is Splashh and where are you all from?

Splashh is Sasha Carlson [vocals/guitar] and myself from New Zealand, Toto Vivian [lead guitar/synth] who is Australian and Tom Beal [bass/falsetto] from the UK.

I hear a lot of brit pop in your sound, what would you identify as some of the musical influences of Splashh?

My Bloody Valentine, Deerhunter, Neil Young, The Chemical Brothers… so many!

When and how did Splashh form?

Toto and Sasha began recording songs together in Toto’s bedroom in February last year. They put songs on the internet as they recorded them and it got a lot of buzz. Sasha has been a friend for years and we’d been musical co-conspirators before he’d moved to Australia from home. He offered me the chance to come over and join the band and gave me three days to pack up my shit and go. Tom Beal was a mate of Toto’s and that’s how we got together.

You’ve done some tough yards in England before and since been settled into the NZ music industry for a while. Why did you choose to leave?

I was offered an opportunity that I wasn’t going to refuse. I like to think of it more like arriving in London than leaving NZ.

The Checks won the Tui for Best Rock Album at the 2012 NZ Music Awards. How did it feel to win that accolade after the band had split up?

It feels different because you used to imagine winning an award would catapult you up the ladder to some unimaginable rung. Instead it’s more a nice way to wrap it up. I definitely would’ve liked to have been there to celebrate with the boys.

Other than blog hype how did Splashh make such an impact in London so quickly?

Being amongst it definitely helps. You can play around from the underground level too and it’s interesting to soak up a different musical climate. I still think the scene in Auckland has better bands and I’d love to see some of them playing around here in London. I think people thought we were British at first.

Are there any label managers involved and how did they come about?

Our two 7″ singles Need It and Vacation have come out on London-based Luv Luv Luv Records and we’ve recorded an EP which we’ll get out in February. It was recorded at The Square studio in Hoxton. Death In Vegas maestro Richard Fearless is the producer and Finn Eiles, who had just finished recording My Bloody Valentine’s new record, was behind the desk.

The label was created by Mairead Nash. She was a very successful club promoter through the last decade and now manages Florence and the Machine. They heard about us through the London grapevine and liked our music, so we met over some margaritas and the deal was sealed! We also have people interested in releasing us in the U.S. but nothing I can mention just yet.

What do you think are your most valuable skills as a musician?

I know what not to play.

What advice would you have for any Kiwi musicians currently thinking about heading overseas?

Stay true to yourself and your art but don’t be afraid to go out and meet people. They just might be able to help and everyone needs a champion at some point.

Anything you’d definitely do differently?

Sort your visa before you leave!

How does being a New Zealander influence your music now?

I constantly refer back to the music that has come out of NZ because to me, it’s some of the best ever. New Zealanders are perceptive people and can be very critical at times but I think a healthy amount of cynicism is a good thing. It’s what has made our alternative music something to be internationally revered. There isn’t the same potential to become rich and famous from music that there is in the bigger countries so I think New Zealanders make music for themselves for the love of it, or out of a need to express themselves. It keeps us honest.

Since you’ve been living it up in the UK, what have you enjoyed the most?

Last year we had a ball playing about the UK. We played the RayBan 75th anniversary with Primal Scream, rode a boat to our stage at Latitude Festival and filmed a New Year’s music TV special for Japan. We had to go down by Tower Bridge and do peace signs and do a fake count down and everything!

Will you be returning home anytime soon?

Actually I was home over the Christmas period, enjoying the summer and all the silly things I miss about NZ, like Just Juice and my family. I came back to London in January to get back to work.