Brisbane Duo OKBADLANDS Release Breezy Debut EP ‘Tiny Measures’

First turning heads in 2015 with a handful of slick SoundCloud releases, Brissie’s OKBADLANDS (Kate Gurren and Sally Latter) have positioned themselves at the vanguard of local music with the release of their inaugural EP ‘Tiny Measures’. The five-track affair arrives after the pair’s stunning BIGSOUND debut, and is the mesmerising, genre-traversing result of Latter and Gurren’s efforts over the last 12 months to redefine their sound.

Singles “Dust & Gold”, “Mineral” and “Pty Ltd” have already made waves for their lush harmonies and refreshing spin on electro-pop, with the latter being added to Triple J rotation. We caught up with one-half of the duo, Kate, to chat about working with good pal Golden Vessel (Max Byrne) and local beatmaker GXNXVS on the new record, keeping songwriting uncomplicated, and Brisbane’s burgeoning music scene.

Best Before: When did you both start making music?

Kate Gurren: We’ve been making music together for the last five years. Individually, we’ve been making music for a lot longer. I’ve been writing songs since high school. Songs that didn’t exceed four chords and primarily Fleet Foxes spin-offs.

The EP spans a number of genres, from jazzy inflections to dancehall beats – who did you both grow up listening to, and what were you listening to while writing the EP?

I  grew up listening to Van Morrison and Dolly Parton. The EP took roughly a year to make, so I was listening to a lot of different music. My go to for inspiration has always been Hiatus Kaiyote. Nai (Palm) is a brilliant song writer. She captures all elements of song writing so beautifully, and never ceases to amaze me.

How has your songwriting process changed since your initial SoundCloud releases?

Our song writing has always started out as acoustic. I mostly write the melodies over a chord progression, and then begin to flesh out the production and instrumentation. There was never a set process – whatever the song needed, we pretty much just filled in the gaps.

“The purpose of the EP was to bring about a sound and expression that mattered to us.”

Golden Vessel had a big production hand on ‘Tiny Measures’. What was his influence on your sound?

A lot of the beats. We worked together in the same room at the same time, even while he was working on the production. With the three of us putting our heads together, we ended up with a OKB-GV hybrid.

What was working with GXNXVS like?

Lovely! Although we didn’t work face to face, he made it pretty easy to communicate ideas with him. He understood the sound we were going for, and made the process really easy.

Love the EP artwork – how did you come to decide on leaving that to Carla Uriarte?

We actually just stumbled on her work on Instagram — she’s got a lot of really fantastic stuff on there — and loved the piece instantly.

Art by: Carla Uriarte

You’ve said you didn’t want the release to sound too constructed. How did you keep an organic feel throughout the tracks?

I think by writing the songs acoustic before adding any production really helped keep it flowing. The purpose of the EP was to bring about a sound and expression that mattered to us. By following that alone, it kept the writing process pretty organic.

Different events inspired each song on ‘Tiny Measures’. Is there one that stands out in particular?

“Standing Too Close” was a song I wrote for a close friend of mine. She was caught up in a very manipulative relationship and I wrote it when the relationship ended. It was hard to see a friend be oppressed and hurt by someone she cared a lot about. The serious thing about manipulative relationships is, often the person on the receiving end doesn’t realise it’s happening, and I wanted to shed some light on that.

How has Brissie’s music scene influenced your artistry?

There’s a lot of really great musicians in Brisbane. The city has, and still is, developing its own sound. To contribute to that has been a good experience.

Check out ‘Tiny Measures’ here:

Main image by Georgia Hagemeijer.