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Meeting Stars Backstage & MacGyver-ing Out Of Trouble: Yeo Plays 'Two Truths & A Lie'

4 December 2018 | 11:11 am | Uppy Chatterjee

"Sometimes I really can’t help myself and get a little too suck-uppy you know?"

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In the depths of today’s social media environment, sometimes you end up following someone’s life/career/social activities for years, without ever having met them. This was my first connection with Yeo – through Twitter. We’ve followed each other forever, with tons of mutual friends in common, but it was only for this column that he and I actually spoke properly for the first time. And he totally pulled out all the stops with these stories.

The Melbourne producer makes sleek indie pop (cop his newest single The Comments, an R&B-flecked slowjam that’s written about those keyboard warriors we all hate), with a new EP on the horizon for the new year. Lately though, Yeo’s been on the road with Mojo Juju playing bass and keys. Elsewhere, he’s collaborated with Fractures, Benson, Asta and more. Back in 2016, he nailed a cover of Japanese Wallpaper’s Forces on Like A Version.

Either way, Yeo’s is a voice we need in the Australian music industry and I’m super stoked he shared some of these (super funny) stories with me.


Truth

Yeo: Do you remember Future Music Festival?

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Uppy: Hell yeah I do, it died a death!

Y: Yeah, so back then I was just there as a guest of Operator Please.

U: Yeahh I remember them!

Y: Yeah, Just A Song About Ping Pong! Yeah they brought me along and I was just hanging out with them and then they had to go and play and stuff, so I went to go watch them side of stage and this Scottish dude comes up to me, and Operator Please did a cover of a Gwen Stefani song…

U: Oh yeah, which one?

Y: Can’t think what it was…

U: Was it like Hollaback Girl or older?

Y: It was that era. It was one that Pharrell produced. I’ll come back to you. Anyway, this Scottish dude comes up to me, and he’s like, ‘what song is this?’ and I’m like, ‘it’s Gwen Stefani, these are my friends!’ And he’s like, ‘are you playing today as well?’ and I’m like, ‘oh no, I’m just hanging out’. And then I was like, ‘are YOU playing today?’ and he’s like, ‘yup.’ And I’m like ‘which band are you in?’ and he goes ‘My name’s Alex, and I play for Franz Ferdinand.”

U: Oh WOW. Shit!

Y: And we shook hands, and he was just really, really nice. And he went back in the artist area, he was just mulling around getting hassled by heaps of people, because everyone wants to talk to the star. You know?

U: Totally.

Y: And he used me as an out! I was walking past, minding my own business, and he was like ‘Yeo!’ I’m like, ‘hey Alex!’

U: [laughs] We’re friends now!

Y: And he’s like ‘have you had dinner yet?’ and I was like ‘naaah I was gonna head out and eat, because I don’t have a food voucher thing’, ‘cause you know how the artists get food vouchers?

U: Yeah, yeah.

Y: He’s like, ‘oh I have a spare, you should have dinner with me!’

U: Oh my god!

Y: And me and Alex Kapranos had a meal together. So he could get away from all the riff raff.

U: Dude.

Y: And we exchanged nuuuumbersss, I still have his number saved on my phone and I see it all the time because he’s ‘A’.

U: Oh man, that’s sick! And thank you for starting with a backstage story, that’s the dirt I want! [laughs]

Y: It’s a nice one! It’s totally warm.

U: That’s so cool! Have you talked since?

Y: Nah, I haven’t. I don’t even know if he still has that number, because he was touring recently and I sent like a ‘big love from Australia’ message, and it got delivered! But I dunno, no response. It might not even be his number anymore! But when we were having a chat, he was the loveliest dude. So humble. Wouldn’t even think that he’s a superstar.

U: I think they really love the odd instance when someone doesn’t recognise them and actually talks them as a human, rather than as a superstar.

Y: Yeah I agree. I think they would. And that’s why whenever I see someone famous, I just leave them the hell alone!

U: Yeah yeah, it’s hard! Like you might be a superfan and want to have that human connection with them, but innately you’re like, ‘oh no, I’m a fan and I know subtly it’s gonna come across that I’m a fan.’

Y: [laughs] I KNOW! I know. Sometimes I really can’t help myself and get a little too suck-uppy you know? Like, ‘ohhh you’re so cool.’

U: It’s the eternal struggle.

Y: And you must meet so many bloody famous people.

U: Yeah, I can’t remember the last full-on fangirl moment I had – I haven’t met anyone IRL that I’m super super obsessed with recently. But it’s hard because I’m like, I wanna be chill and be a friend… but inside I’m freaking out so I know I’m not acting like a friend.

Y: [laughs] That’s SO true. You nailed it. That’s exactly how it feels. You’re just like ‘playitcoolplayitcool uhhhh what do I say…’

U: Also, my inner interviewer comes out and I start asking questions and I’m like ‘shut up! Just be normal!’


Truth

Y: My second truth is not celebrity-related, but it’s a funny story about the most recent tour that me and my team went on. We had an AirBNB in Perth and this AirBNB had a very, very, TINY balcony. Like, I dunno… 1 foot x 6 feet. So it can fit like three people standing up on this balcony.

U: Alright, so it’s like one of those Juliet balconies?

Y: Is that what they’re called? Oh yeah, yeah, I see what you’re saying, YES but possibly even smaller. This thing was tiny. Three people standing room only, that’s all that could fit. So we’re giggling about it, look at this dumbass balcony, why the hell is it even here? Why didn’t they build a window?

U: [laughs]

Y: Then for some reason we thought, why don’t we all go out on the balcony? So there’s three of us just standing on the balcony, and then my sound engineer Corey, he goes to shut the door. It’s a sliding door, right, with a latch. I’m like, ‘Corey, don’t shut the door.’

U: Uh oh…

Y: I’m like crapping myself already.

U: Was it like claustrophobia for you?

Y: Yes, claustrophobia, and we’re also like four floors up or something? We’re up pretty high…

U: And it’s tiny…

Y: And it’s tiny… and traffic was just flying down past below and… [sigh] Corey shut the door. And I’m like, ‘oh it’s fine, it’s not like it’s locked.’ …it was locked.

U: Nooo! Of course it was! [laughs] And you couldn’t get it open again?

Y: We couldn’t get it open again, not initially. We tried and we all tried it. And Andrew, my drummer, is there and it’s the three of us standing on this balcony.

U: Nah, it’s all on Corey.

Y: [laughs] My lie is about Corey as well. But I do love him. He’s definitely still a big part of the team and he’s excellent at his job. But anyway, so he’s about to redeem himself in this Truth. So we’re up there, I’m crapping my pants, I’m telling him how much I hate him, I told him not to do that and he went and did it. We tried lots of things – tried to pick the lock, credit card out, I’ve called the AirBNB host and he’s like ‘you guys, what are you doing?!’ He’s like, ‘how am I supposed to help you with that? I’m so far away right now!’ He’s like ‘I’ll be there in two hours.’

U: Oh god.

Y: So Corey finds this little Balinese lantern that was sitting up there? That you put a candle in. He basically wrenches this metal tab off it and picks the lock and gets us back inside.

U: Wowww. MacGyver right here.

Y: Yeahhh and I was SO relieved, so thankful and so angry all at once. And yeah, we were laughing and crying and yelling at each other. It was intense.

U: So how long were you stuck out there?

Y: I think we were out there for a good half an hour at least, full of panic. Like, ‘We have a show to play tonight! What the fuck! We’re not gonna make soundcheck because we’re stuck on this tiny balcony!’

U: Imagine if you had to wait two hours and it sounds like there wasn’t even room to sit down!

Y: We didn’t! We actually didn’t. We have video footage of it, we just had to stand there and anyone walking past would’ve been, ‘what are those three idiots doing on that balcony?’


Lie

U: Alright, let’s take down Corey today.

Y: We are taking down Corey. Only ‘cause I love him – he’s just become a dad, he’s a big part of our family and now there’s a little Corey running around which is great!

U: Cuteee. He’s gonna read about these stories about big Corey and go, ‘hmm, dad was silly.’

Y: Yeah, so we were playing a show in Brisbane, this was a couple of years ago. We did our Queensland leg, and it was during our Queensland leg. Basically we have these little devices that plug into a projector, we call them critters. They basically listen to the sound that’s being put out on stage and create visual patterns that move in time to the sound.

U: Oh cool, like a visualiser?

Y: Exactly. It was a visualiser. Anyway they’re these tiny boxes about the size of my fist, and there’s two of them. We tour around with them and a projector and that’s how we do our live show. So we did the show in Brisbane and Corey was driving us to our next show in Sunshine Coast, and we’re getting all our gear out for soundcheck and stuff and he’s like, ‘oh bro… someone’s taken the critters.’ And I was like, ‘ahhhhhh no!’ He’s like, ‘well, remember how we left all our gear in the storage room when we had a drink, well I reckon someone’s gone through and taken the critters.’ I’m like, ‘what the fuck.’

U: Are they exxy?

Y: Kiiinda exxy, like they’re worth a couple hundred bucks all together. But they’re hard to get here, you gotta buy them online.

U: Right, right.

Y: So I’m like, ‘WHY would they go through our stuff?’ They’re worth a couple hundred dollars, there are thousands of dollars worth of stuff that people would actually recognise. Keyboards and stuff. So I’m like, ‘Duuuude… alright. Can you call the venue?’ So he calls and the venue is like, ‘we have them.’ [laughs]

U: Okay good. [laughs]

Y: So the thief took them… and then left them… at the venue. What a good-hearted thief! So we finished our soundcheck and I’m like, ‘Okay Corey, are you gonna go get them?’ so he did the three-hour round trip to get them. When he came back I was like, ‘be honest with me man, did you leave them there?’ [laughs] And he’s like, ‘I took them out to show someone who was asking about them, and I forgot to put them back away.’ And I was livid, I was like ‘COREEYYYYY!’ Classic Corey. But again, he redeemed himself. I was just like, ‘please don’t lie to me ever again, just tell me the truth and it’s fine, we all mess up.’

U: At least he went and got them – accountability! And honesty! All we ask for!

Y: It’s a joke among the band to this day – ‘someone stole the critters!’ Every time we can’t find something, ‘someone stole the critters!’

U: That’s funny. Also someone listening to you talk would be like, ‘do you have little squirrels in your pack?’

Yeo’s latest song, The Comments, is out now.

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