Singer Stephen Docker talks about self-producing the group's debut album and bringing electronica to a rock label.
Stateside fans of stylish alt-pop acts like Empire of the Sun, Cut Copy and Royksopp will be getting very familiar with Strange Talk over the next six months. The Australian quartet's fizzy single "Climbing Walls" is bubbling under the Alternative airplay chart with 8,000 downloads sold to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and the track previews the group's engaging debut album, "Cast Away," due out in late 2013/early 2014, following years of supporting artists like Foster The People and the Rapture on the road.
Bursting with ornate synthesizers and warm vocals, "Cast Away" will be released by Wind-up Records, a label best known for boosting the careers of mainstream rock artists. But Strange Talk frontman Stephen Docker tells Billboard that partnering with Wind-up, which re-released their self-titled 2011 EP last June, gives them a unique opportunity to blaze new trails for the label.
""The great thing about Wind-Up is that they're really trying to start branching out," says Docker. "They're quite a 'rock' label -- they've got Creed, Evanescence. I think they're trying to take a different path to more electronic crossover [music]. I guess you could call us the guinea pigs of that experiment, but that's a great thing. It's something that they're determined to make work, and we're determined to make it work too."
Strange Talk partnered with Wind-up after performing at the CMJ fest in New York last October, which came in the midst of their first run of U.S. clubs. The group self-produced "Cast Away" (Tony Hoffer was brought in to mix the majority of the album) because, when they formed in 2010, it simply didn't occur to them to recruit an outside studio whiz.
"We actually didn't know there was any other way of doing it," Docker says of self-producing the album. When he and bassist/keyboardist Gerard Sidhu first began collaborating in Melbourne, Docker -- a classical violinist -- taught Sidhu about writing melodies, and was given insight into the creation of dance beats in return. While Strange Talk (which includes guitarist/keyboard Gillan Gregory and drummer Travis Constable) is happy with the production of "Cast Away," Docker says, "Make no mistake: we're going to be wanting to get in the studio with some phenomenal producers at some point."
Strange Talk kicks off a string of four California performance on Monday night (Aug. 19) in San Diego, and Docker says that a more extensive U.S. tour is coming in November, after another run at CMJ in October. The singer and Sidhu also plan on staying in Los Angeles to write new material through the end of the year, and possibly into mid-2014.
"I guess it's 'goodbye Australia' for us for a little while," says Docker, "but having the support of the label and having an album coming out… for us, we might as well pounce on that and strike while the iron's hot."