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Writing An Album In Bali

18 September 2015 | 5:43 pm | Claudia Nathan

Music music across borders.

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The Gold Coast’s Tijuana Cartel are a band embodied by multicultural psychedelic sounds that are like nothing we’ve heard before, and it’s pretty damn great.

The duo’s new album, Psychedelicatessen, has veered from their renowned Middle-Eastern sound as they explore music inspired by Australian indie-rock and a '70s Double J psychedelic road trip segment. Tijuana Cartel continue to surprise us with their changes in sound and style, and Psychedelicatessen has been their best surprise yet. We spoke to Paul George about the band, their inspirations and everything in between.

“I started a band with a guy (Carey O'Sullivan) I went to high school with and we’ve been playing together since we were 12. When we first started we were just kind of getting into electronic music and using some Middle Eastern sounds that we’d been listening to, so yeah that’s really how it started, quite a few years ago. Our sound's really hard to describe… I think psychedelic is probably a good name for it; it’s like psychedelic with some kind of electronic influence.

"However, we’ve come to the conclusion that we’re going to try and make every album different. We would just try and make sure each album runs as one piece of work, but we actually want to change it all as much as we can.”

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George is effusive about the cultural influences behind their interesting and incredibly original sound and how they it comes through in their music.

“Even when we were teenagers we liked those sort of exotic scales, they were really fun to work with and they created a certain sort of feel. When I was younger I went to India for about a year, so I did sitar and really got into that kind of music. With our new album I don’t think its as much Middle Eastern sounding, there’s still that in there because it’s almost second nature now, but there’s also influences from a lot of bands we grew up with, Australian bands, actually. Even a few '90s bands like Regurgitator, the Chemical Brothers and Stone Roses. But I guess if I had an album on playing in the background during the time we were writing it, that’s our version of ‘influence’. It’s just in the small details, stuff like the slide guitar and whatnot.”

George and O'Sullivan create music lost across borders, in more ways than one. The pair are constantly travelling, rarely in the same place at once. He agrees that it influences the way their sound is created.

“We start just making noise really, whether it’s on a guitar or synthesiser, and once we like a sound we’ll just start working on that. A lot of the time Carey and I write stuff in different states so there’s a lot of emailing ideas and little parts, and eventually it sounds like a song.          

"Psychedelicatessen was a little harder because we had the idea of a concept album with the radio play. For a while I was living in Bali so I’d spend all day just working on parts, and bits of it that I liked I would upload and send to Carey and if he liked that he would leave it in or sometimes take it out and then do the same kind of thing over there. It worked well, both playing different parts in that way. We’ve always sort of done it separately in a sense, and then we would come together and work on it all. It doesn’t change the flow too much. For some reason I like it, it creates a good energy. I’m pretty happy in a studio by myself quite often, what I do in there is up to me.”

Originally published in X-Press Magazine.