How Nick Littlemore's Life Changed After Meeting Elton John

20 April 2015 | 2:42 pm | Kate Kingsmill

"He’s amazing."

Back in the ‘90s, Littlemore formed a band in Sydney called Pnau. He moved on to Empire Of The Sun, but somehow in the meantime, Elton John heard the Pnau track Wild Strawberries and gave Littlemore a call to tell him he loved it. The call changed Littlemore’s life completely. “Ever since we met Elton it’s been a kind of weird world we’re living in,” says Littlemore, down the line from his new digs in West Hollywood. “He’s amazing. His music is a conversation, and he speaks so fluently. Music can affect your whole life, and I never would have dreamed of having had the last seven years that I’ve had; it’s crazy.”

The latest project in Littlemore’s broad musical CV is White Shadows, a project he has put together with his brother Sam La More and ex-The Vines singer, Craig Nicholls. The whole thing came about because “Craig had said he’d always wanted to make an electronic fantasy kind of record and I make electronic fantasy records, so I was like, ‘That would be really cool, we should totally do that’.”

The trio met up and Nicholls shared a stack of demos he had sketched out but didn’t quite know what to do with. “Sam came up with some really beautiful chords to go with his melodies. It was a really interesting way of working, we had this beautiful gift of the 12 melodies and we crafted a whole different world around them.”

"Music can affect your whole life, and I never would have dreamed of having had the last seven years that I've had"

They organised more than 30 players to record the album at Studios 301 in Sydney. “There were about four percussionists and drummers, about five guys on synthesisers and about six guitarists all in a line, and there was a string quartet. So it was really great, it was a real little Sydney festival recording thing that all happened really naturally.”

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During 2010, Littlemore worked as a composer and musical director for Cirque du Soleil: “We had 15 or something people and gypsies, and all sorts, all playing madly on all these crazy percussion instruments and I enjoyed that so much I wanted to replicate something like that.” It’s the kind of musical mayhem that might freak a lot of people out, but Littlemore’s approach was pretty laidback: “Just start making sound against sound and when things collide in colour and beauty, just go with it, you know. You just kind of keep swimming until you find another island.”

Nicholls has a reputation in the media for being everything on the spectrum from difficult to genius. “He’s an incredible person capable of creating such incredible beauty,” says Littlemore, “and I think sometimes when you have the ability to do that to such an extent that maybe you lose sight of the real world to the point… If there’s a balance to the universe then I don’t know…” At this point Littlemore drifts off. “There’s a massive raccoon in my backyard, it’s staring at me… Henry look at this, see the raccoon in the tree?” Distracted by the raccoon he forgets what he was saying about Nicholls, but it seems he could almost have been talking about himself.