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The Wild Things Are

6 March 2013 | 11:05 am | Benny Doyle

"I’m the sort of person that gets inside their head and questions things, but when I realised that I could do just what came naturally to me, that was the best direction for me to take anyway.”

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Although he's been based in the hectic epicentre of cool, Brooklyn, since recording his cinematic second record Nocturne, Jack Tatum is a small-town guy at heart. All the textures and moods found in his celebrated 2012 sophomore LP were sketched out during a stint living in Savannah, Georgia, almost 700 kilometres south of his childhood home, Blacksburg, Virginia. Worlds away from his current location, it's a town devoid of hustle and bustle, the lack of distractions allowing Tatum to concentrate solely on bringing his vision to the fore. He's quick to concur that the tracks paint an honest picture of who he was and what he was feeling at that point in his life.

“I totally would say that [the songs] are representative of me at that time, living in Georgia. We were touring a lot on [2010 debut] Gemini at that time so I was coming back between those dates, back to Savannah, and just chilling out for a while, so I had a lot of time to write and relax. It was very interesting, I didn't really mean to end up there, it was just something that happened; I knew a friend down there and I was in-between places at the time, and I was getting a little bit bored of being in Virginia. I loved growing up there, but I'd lived there for 20 years of my life – I was ready to do something different.

“So I moved down there and found myself again in this pretty slow environment, which in a lot of ways helped me, and has always helped me I think with writing,” he reasons. “Pretty much all these songs I think I wrote while I was there, and there was definitely a certain amount of self-induced isolation, as far as it wasn't about my personality or mood – I was very happy. But I was really able to buckle down and not distract myself with any other things, and to be perfectly honest I didn't really know many people there and I didn't take the time; I was constantly coming and going, so when I was there I was just like, 'Well, I'm going to work on some music'. I think that definitely shows on the album – it's kinda like Gemini, it's an album that is born out of getting trapped inside of my own head.”

The songs that make up Nocturne became Tatum's companion during this time: not girls, not friends, not possessions. The record doesn't have specific points, nor any sort of direct messages; it's a feeling – an overall expression. He was without general goals, left simply with an abundance of spare time to explore his inner workings. What Tatum found was a certain amount of concern in the direction he was heading with music and life in general.

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“I just felt like I was in a place where I wasn't sure where I wanted my music to go; I didn't know what I wanted it to sound like,” he informs. “I was very happy with how Gemini turned out and in a lot of ways it was an experiment for me in working with interesting genres and pulling from all these older indie-pop bands and eras and trying to make my own thing out of it. And it was more so, that record, about trying to fit into that idea of the music I was listening to at the time, and a certain amount of myself seeped into it naturally because that's what happens. But I struggled with that eventually, I was like, 'Do I want to keep doing this? Do I want to introduce other things to my music?'

“Then there was this thing, where from the time I started making music with Gemini, that type of music for that time… home recorded stuff especially, it had this peak and then it fizzled out a little bit. And I was worried where my place was and where I was going to go. But I tried not to think about it too much and eventually I realised it was stupid. I'm the sort of person that gets inside their head and questions things, but when I realised that I could do just what came naturally to me, that was the best direction for me to take anyway.”

Wild Nothing will be playing the following dates:

Thursday 7 March - Alhambra Lounge, Fortitude Valley QLD
Friday 8 March - Oxford Arts Factory, Sydney NSW
Saturday 9 to Monday 11 March - Golden Plains Festival, Meredith VIC
Monday 11 March - The Tote, Melbourne VIC
Tuesday 12 March - The Toff In Town, Melbourne VIC