Updated: Jun 13
The humble piano has been under threat in recent years. It may still take pride of place at stadium rock concerts and in tiny jazz clubs, but in the heavily populated middle ground - namely, the indie pop scene - it's an endangered species, overrun by guitars and synthesisers.
It's not done yet, though. And Adelaide's own Orelia are very convincingly proving there's still plenty of life in it.
Some pre-pandemic time off gave way to a lockdown songwriting reunion for the duo of Chelsea Turner and Troy Benson. Now they're back with extra band members and their biggest dose of piano-pop yet. Volume 3 of Island Life joins the band as they work on the second song of the bunch - the recently-released Parachute - which will appear on their upcoming sophomore EP.
Check the video out below, and an extended interview with Chelsea below that!
You've reinvented yourselves over the past year - and although the piano is still front and centre, there's new bandmates and a bigger sound overall. How does it feel for you being in this incarnation of the band compared to the pre-pandemic one?
It feels incredible! Troy and I started Orelia as a two-piece, and we are very lucky that two of our close friends are amazing musicians and love Orelia. Working with creative and passionate people pushes you to bring the best out of yourself. In Orelia, there is room for everyone to shine. Ellen and I blend together beautifully harmonically, and mixing violin into our jazzy alternative indie rock sound has added an orchestral component that is very powerful. Heath’s bass lines work perfectly with Troy’s drums and transcend every song with incredible musicianship. When people see him live they are in awe. He is very very, very good at what he does.
What did you learn about your creativity - and maybe even each other - from the process of jamming and writing over a webcam in lockdown?
The world has changed so much in such a short space of time. We are all more consciously selective with what we do and how we spend our time, because at any moment it could be taken away. For me, it’s quality time for myself and my family, and no matter what, make sure I make time to be creative. Some days it’s making music, some days it’s drawing or painting without any intention, but mostly it’s writing lyrics and fitting them like a jigsaw with melody. I write so many songs. They come out of me everyday at anytime. When I get excited and bring something to the band, I know it’s a good one when they are immediately like, yeah, this is great, let’s get to work! A lot of the time, it has been an idea that I’ve had and I’ve sent it over chat to everyone, and they video back a bass line or a harmony part.
Lyrically speaking, Parachute and Wake Up Call both sound like they emerged from quite a personal place… can we expect to hear more of that writing style on the new EP? How would you describe it thematically?
It’s very personal. Across the whole EP, there is an undercurrent of the state of the world and finding our place in it. It’s written in such a way that speaks for everyone, and thematically it’s playful, and hopeful, like yeah, the end of the world could be right around the corner, but I’ve just gotta go have coffee with my ex and sort my life out ok?
Now flipping to the instrumental side…what's gone into the arrangements of these new songs, and what's it been like collaborating with Joseph on the production?
We love working with Joe! He gets the vision, he stays true to what we want to achieve. He is patient and not afraid to try something, whether it’s his idea or ours. When you have a producer who is also an amazing musician AND songwriter, he is in tune with the fine balance that production plays on the arrangements of songs. For example, in Wake Up Call, it’s a three verse, three chorus, two bridge song. It’s long, driving and repetitive. We had this idea to make the middle section lo-fi, bring it right down and shift the attention to the piano and the lyrics before building it up again to the outro. Those changes that we can make during the production side of things, sitting beside Joe, give the songs more dimension and emotional impact.
Lastly, you've played some fun shows here in Adelaide to launch the singles, so we assume there'll be an EP launch to continue the trend! Are there any plans you can let us in on yet?
Well, our first EP launch was a big Carnival party with magicians, photo booth and face painting… how about an End Of The World Party? Bring a bag full of your most important items you couldn’t live without, and prizes for best apocalypse outfit? Maybe? Whatever we do, it’ll be fun. We love to have fun at gigs, so when we put on our own, we want it to be unique and everyone to have a great and memorable time.
Check out Parachute on Bandcamp,
and watch out for the new EP!
Thanks to the band for sharing studio photos and footage