Friday Nights at NGV: Interview with Julia McFarlane from Twerps

We interviewed Julia McFarlane from the band Twerps, who will be headlining Friday Nights at NGV on 12 February 2016.

Describe your sound in 5 words or less?
That’s not really my job! It’s like, perception…. a colour’s qualities change with its environment. Is this a cop out? I hope not.

If your music was an artwork what would it look like?
Just like a simple, kinda ‘boring’ portrait that someones worked really hard at, that a fly has done a little turd on.

Do you have a favourite artist/artwork?
Not really, I have a favourite food….. and like a favourite skirt…. I have a bunch of stuff I’m looking at that changes all the time, but if I had to just pick a few artists Ive been looking at or coming back to lately they’d be Colin McCahon, Agnes Martin, Peter Voulkos.. Barbara Barg poems.. ummm I guess Picasso Posters…shiiiit I dont know its too hard. I get stumped when I have to say favourite bands too. Depends how I feel on the day.

What’s your favourite gig you have played to date?
Probably one at a record store called Pop Culture Shop in Paris last year. It was just one of those settings that insisted on improvisation, which I think works for the audience and the band. It was to about 15 people, with a duo from Paris called Colour Me Brittle who I thought were great. I know it’s good to play bigger shows so people can see your band, but fuck! I’m so much more into those tiny ones. I get more creatively from that, like I wanna go home and write more songs immediately or something..

What inspires/influences your music the most?
Other music, lacking skills to do other things, competition, a feeling like you have something important to share but you don’t know what it is yet, attention seeking, constant need for praise, friendship, energy to make things.

What song do you wish you wrote?
Pink Frost by the Chills.

What part of making music excites you the most?
At rehearsal when a song feels like it’s starting to work, having group intuition, stripping ideas back to essentials.

What can someone expect from your live show?
During a twerps show I’m usually just trying to do justice to the songs, or trying to get the audience to get them the way they should…that doesn’t mean being a perfectionist, just thinking through why you are doing the part you are, and meaning it or something…There’s not much in terms of ‘performance’. I think People are genuinely entertained by Martin and Alex’s banter or what ever but that’s nothing that doesn’t happen at rehearsal.

Tell us about the last song or album you created?
The first song we wrote with Gussy on bass is called Loudest Noise. It’s one that I sing in, and it made me feel really excited about where we might go as a band with this new line up. It’s relatively simple, but there’s some brainy simple bass ideas, and Martin and Alex do cool playing in it too. it’s like a quiet but punchy one. I wanna make more songs like that I guess, or just find how to play to our skills and the best way we can interact as different players.

What is your favourite part of being involved in Friday Nights at NGV?
Saying ‘ngv’ when people at your job ask you if you have any gigs coming up, and being at the ngv, looking at the show which i haven’t been to yet.

Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei showcases over 300 artworks that explore the parallels and intersections between the practices of these two exemplary artists. Are you excited about the exhibition?

A large portion of the works included in the Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei exhibition include political or social commentary. Have you been inspired to do this through your music?
Not really. I mean I think there are a couple of songs that hint at something political, but that’s not really how we write for the most part.

Andy Warhol famously said: ‘Art is what you can get away with.’ How would you respond?
That’s one way to look at it. I dig that. BUT I don’t personally care much for these ‘ART IS’ statements. Art is a bunch of things to a bunch of people. Ideas show up in art and music before anywhere else, so getting away with shit is inherently how the medium will be treated. That’s a really good thing.

Ai Weiwei once said: ‘A small act is worth a million thoughts.’ How would you respond?
That’s what is poetic about his work. I’m not sure good at proverbs.

What else are you working on now? Or where are you next touring?
Twerps are writing new songs, and thinking about how to tie that into the next tour.