10 Quick Questions with Dirtywings

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I got the chance to ask Bec from Gold Coast band Dirtywings a few questions about pop music, competitions and being and the Gold Coast music scene. Here’s what she had to say.

Can you walk us through the beginnings of the band?

The band started off as my own project. It was basically me sitting in my room with a guitar, writing songs and imagining other instrumental parts in my head. I did some demos at Uni (I studied a double degree of music & creative writing) and wound up meeting Ross (Dirtywings guitarist) through his girlfriend at the time. Two years later, Ross showed up on my doorstep and we began jamming together. We began as an acoustic duo, then took Paul (Ross’ friend) and Luke (a friend of Paul’s) on. Paul ended up leaving the band to do other stuff, so we advertised in Rave and found Jay. And here we are today…

I read that the name ‘Dirtywings’ from the Nirvana song ‘Polly’ – are there any reasons behind choosing that particular line?

It’s funny because if you know “Polly”, it’s quite a sad, even disturbing song. But “dirty wings” always struck me as a hopeful phrase. Like everyone, I’ve gone through some really difficult times in my life, and somehow “dirty wings” reminded me that however ‘dirty‘(damaged, or broken) you feel, you can always find a way to shake it off and (metaphorically) use your ‘wings’ to fly again. Also, at the end of the day, I just liked the way the words sounded together.

Your lyrics aren’t like anything I’ve heard before – what are your main influences when writing lyrics?

Aww, thanks! Well, before I got into music to the extent I am now, my ambition was to be a novelist or a poet. I did writing at Uni and I’ve always had a love of wordplay and interesting turns of phrase. Although I consider a lot of modern pop music really catchy and musically appealing, the lyrics often turn me off when they’re too simplistic and use the easiest possible rhymes all the time. I think lyrics are a songwriter’s chance to really show their individuality, and I try to put things in an interesting or quirky way so I don’t bore people to death.

How do you feel being labelled as a pop band, despite your image suggesting otherwise?

We’re fine with being labelled as pop; we kinda realized when we made this first album that it was very much within that genre. We have tried to see it as a positive – it kinda sets us apart because there are a million and one indie rock sounding bands around (many of whom we happen to love though!). All of us in Dirtywings have very diverse musical interests, from death metal to prog rock to cheesy 90s dance. On our next album we will embracing that and stretching our (dirty) wings to encompass some more diverse sounds.

What do you think makes a good pop song?

A successful pop song will usually have a strong vocal melody, an ear-pleasing chord progression, distinct sections (verse, pre-chorus, chorus, bridge) and, often, a fair bit of repetition. We are a little bored of this standard pop ‘formula’ after our first album though, so expect us to mix it up a bit with our new material!

How do you think the Gold Coast music scene differs from that up in Brisbane?

It’s worse! Haha, just kidding. It’s hard on the Coast because it’s such a touristy, transient place. But there are some great creative people down here, particularly in the council and different arts collectives, who are doing their best to pump up the local music scene with festivals, competitions and more live opportunities. I find that a lot of musicians down here know each other from doing the course I did at Uni (bachelor of popular music production). We somehow have the feel of a small town here even though it’s so big. All Gold Coast musicians are in the same boat, so I think we tend to bond over that.

Do you ever feel less advantaged not being in one of the capital cities?

Sometimes we do, yes. We have had the thought of relocating to Brisbane. But there have been a lot of great opportunities down here too, and we’ve started making a name for ourselves on the Coast. Building a fan base and local awareness first is important. So we will see how it goes. Sometimes I wish there was more to do down here culturally.

I’ve noticed the band has been entering all sorts of competitions this year. Can you walk us through some of the main ones and how well have you been doing?

We have been so lucky this year. We won an international comp called the Blackbird Song Contest, for which prizes were digital distribution of the winning song (Superglue Myself), and a .com website design & maintenance for a year. We were the QLD winners of Nova Radio’s “I’m With the Band” comp, which has allowed us to get national Nova radio play & perform at Nova events alongside awesome bands like Operator Please, Amy Meredith & Bluejuice. We also won the Gold Coast’s “Music to Market” band comp which had wicked prizes – a music video, a pro photo shoot, airplay on the Gold Coast’s Hot Tomato radio and export advice for the band. And the most recent comp we won (the Catapult Song Contest) has won us album cover design, a printup of 1000 physical copies of the album, a band iPhone app, distribution of our album AND 2 days recording time at one of Sydney’s best studios (Studio 301). We are so excited about all these prizes and it’s going to allow us to get our album (plus a music video!) out this year. Were even still entering competitions (we are up to the grand finals in the Gold Coast Uncovered comp right now!).

How beneficial are entering these competitions?

I would definitely advise any band member reading to enter their band in everything & anything…the payoffs can really be worth the effort. Any exposure to the public helps. Plus winning awesome stuff like distribution and music videos can only aid the band by cutting the cost of having to do it yourselves.

When can we expect an album from Dirtywings?

It’s up to the fine folks at Catapult, so we haven’t got a definite date yet. But it will definitely be out before the end of 2010! Watch this space!

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