The Escapologist

14 August 2013 | 3:00 am | Carley Hall

"I think I’m past that point in my life where I’m embarrassed about the things that I feel or my vulnerabilities and weaknesses."

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Lachlan Nicholson – quickly becoming renowned in music circles as Pluto Jonze – speaks with relaxed frankness about the largely independent process of recording his debut album Eject. What's always apparent is his enthusiasm, bubbling under easy-going banter and self-deprecating jokes; occasionally it brims to the surface, like when he hones in on a simple truth about his musical ethos thus far. “I've felt that in my musical development that most of the time if you want something done the way you want, you've kinda got to do it yourself, or find the right people to do it with.”

That seems like seasoned advice from a relative newcomer on the scene. It's pretty obvious that Pluto Jonze is onto a good thing; loads of national airplay, reviews that scream praise for his support slots, plus a shiny new debut album on the shelves. Such has been the case for Nicholson's alter ego. “They were very flattering reviews,” he concedes. “I mean I don't know if I pretend to agree with everything they said but yeah, there were some very kind words in there. ”

With opening slots for They Might Be Giants, Vydamo and Fun in the bag after only a couple of years, downtime is a thing of the past as the young Sydney native gets ready to take his first long player, Eject, on the road. “I feel like the last few shows we've connected with people out there, even people who hadn't been to our shows before, and our message is coming across the way I want it to. I think we're giving people a good experience and making them forget about life for a bit. We seem to have a good time when we go up to Brisbane. The three dollar vodka and orange juice may have something to do with it.”

Fun times aside, Nicholson's focus on the album never wavered. With hooky electro-pop gems like Plastic Bag In A Hurricane scooping up fans since it hit the decks in 2012, interest was piqued with anticipation for things to come. In shouldering the entire process of writing and recording his new album in his Redfern terrace, however, Nicholson acknowledged the accolades flowing in but without much conscious thought of what was going on outside the recording bubble.I think you do get a bit toey in the studio on your own and, you know, you can start to see things when they're not there and write songs from the perspectives of computers,” he laughs. “So yeah, maybe that kind of environment informs the, I don't know, the escapist feeling. Looking back on it I feel that it permeates the whole record. These are things and elements you see afterwards, but you don't know it at the time. And I think the songs I was leaning towards had the element of escape, like they were reaching for something else. It's all about projecting, you know, about living your life in the world.”

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Unlike his earlier, self-titled EP, Nicholson had some pretty heavy and personal subject matter to deal with this time around that ultimately seeped into the, as he puts it, “schizophrenic moods” of Eject. Musically, it's electro-driven with sunny bursts of retro glam pop-rock; lyrically it's frank and acknowledges past hurts and future concerns. How hard is it to pick at every little gash to expose those wounds to family, friends and exes? “I think it's a good thing,” he offers. “I think I'm past that point in my life where I'm embarrassed about the things that I feel or my vulnerabilities and weaknesses. Sharing in weaknesses and vulnerability is what brings us all together. Music is one thing, one art that can break through that and bring people together over their pain or their longing or whatever emotion it is. It's just life isn't it, to go through a spectrum of feelings? And I like a career where I can indulge in that as a by-product.”

Swept up in the writing frenzy, Nicholson soon found himself with a number of tracks. It then became a difficult task of choosing which belonged and which didn't. “I'm a real kind of schizophrenic when it comes to songs and production,” he concedes. “I'm always about the melody, the hooks, the words ... That's what connects with people. The rest of it, though important, is secondary, or perhaps a bit more than just the icing on the cake. It's certainly not the jelly centre that the song is.”