• Holly O'Kelly

Coffee Chats With Reilly Stapleton

So you recently released your latest single ‘Cherry Tree’, tell us a bit about this track and what it means to you?

Michael (Reilly’s Bandmate) was just sitting down at the piano and he started playing this little chord progression and I went “Wow, that’s really cool, that’s really unique,” and then I basically started thinking of a story behind it first because even though I love improvising, I like to have a bit of a story when I’m writing just so I know where to go with it.

At the time I was really stressed because I had just changed jobs. I had just moved to the city to pursue music more (which now isn’t working out as much as I had hoped because of all the COVID-19 stuff) and I was loving it but I was finding it all really stressful, it was a lot. So basically it became a song about doing anything for your passion and without having that passion or that drive, it’s really like I may as well be buried, I may as well be nothing.

I found that, that passion and that drive is what really kept me going. It was what kept me pushing and pushing even though everyone knows with music you put a lot of time, you put a lot of energy and there’s a lot of clap back with it. There’s a lot of rejection, a lot of people saying no, just a lot goes into it. Having constant rejection or negativity can really have an effect on people, so without my passion and without me driving forward then I am nothing. So that’s where the ‘just kill me’ kind of thing comes into it.

It’s a bit dark, it’s a bit of a ‘without this I would rather die’, but every one of my songs is dark, so you can’t really expect a happy ballad coming from me.

You recorded this song in isolation, what was that process like?

It was different, to say the least. You really miss that connection and that human interaction with people and you don’t actually realise what an effect it has on the song. Being able to sit down with the boys from ENTENTE music, it’s very much like you get to sit in a room, you get to chat, you get excited, you get different perspectives and opinions coming from everywhere and everyone is just vibing with the ideas that come around the song.

In isolation, you don't get that. You get messages. You just don't get the same human vibe and human excitement out of a message as you do out of conversation with people. I mean we could’ve set up something like this (a video call) but we took it more on the messages perspective. It was very back and forth for a long time just because we wanted it to be perfect. We wanted the sounds to reflect the song, we wanted the story to be captured. Poor Lauren (Reilly’s Manager) is sat there like ‘Hurry the f**k up, we have deadlines!’ and I was just like ‘Sorry! I’m so sorry!’

It was just constant needing to listen and then write down what you think, rather than being in a room and going ‘I think this would be amazing’ it was just lots of listening and replying and listening and replying.

We got there in the end. With an amazing team around you, you can do anything. It did take a little bit more time, but, you’ve got to have that team supporting you and you have to support them, and then you can do anything really. I was really proud of everyone involved, and we got something that we were really proud of in the end.

Cherry Tree is a very moving and cinematic song. If Cherry Tree could feature on the soundtrack of any movie, what would it be and why? (Describe the scene if you want!)

I think maybe a coming of age thriller? I feel like it’s not suspenseful enough for a thriller, but has those underlying tones of someone who’s going through a significant change which usually happens in a coming of age movie. But it’s too dark for your typical coming of age. So maybe like a thriller… not a comedy. Definitely not.

The climactic part in the movie, where you know the pattern in all movies, they’ve been through the downfall and they’ve picked themselves back up, and then they go through a downfall and pick themselves up again and then they go through a SUPER big downfall, and then that’s the climactic part. I think that this song would be the super low point.

I learnt that in year 12 media. There are proper names for these parts, but you get the point.

Everyones missing live-shows at their local right now, tell us about your favourite venue?

I do love Gods Kitchen when it’s packed out. It’s just intimate, and you know people there. But it’s also really cool to go somewhere where you don’t know anyone, so doing little city bars is awesome.

We did this one show in this little venue called the Elwood Lounge and I knew no one but the crowd was so supportive and so open and loving.

I don't care where I play, it's all about the crowd. It’s about the vibe of the people who are there. If they’re giving you their attention, you just want to be everything for them. You just want to be over the top, you want to be so entertaining and larger than life for them.

So you feed off the crowd energy when you play?

I just love crowd energy. Even if you’re just looking! Just eye contact, when I see people who are fully engaged it gives me so much life. Sometimes you go to gigs and people are just like.. On their phones and scrolling and it’s just not the same.

Even if they’re just doing the slightest head movement just vibing to the song it just gives you such an adrenaline rush. It’s like someone has just punched an adrenaline needle straight into your chest, and you just want to be better for them. You want to be just really involved and really in the moment. So absolutely I vibe off the crowd, completely.

You’re known for your captivating and unique vocals, Do you sing in the shower? What are your go-to songs?

I always sing in the shower! That is like, natural reverb. We love a bit of reverb on the voice! When I was little, I’d sing ‘Life On Mars’ by David Bowie every single time without fail.

Nowadays it’s a lot of things...Oh! I’ve been doing BENEE songs a lot in the shower. ‘Glitter’ and ‘Supalonely’. At the moment it’s a couple of TikTok dances thrown in as well. The shower is my audience.

Who’s music have you been binging during iso? Do you have any favourite artists/releases of the moment?

Jessie Reyez. 100% I’ve binged her album, and I already know that my Spotify Recap at the end of the year she’s going to be my number one because her album is unbelievable. The songwriting in it, the experimentation with sound and vocals. Oh my god, she’s my mindblowing! And the way she uses metaphors, you just listen to them and you’re like ‘How did you think of that?!’ It’s so perfect! Just the layers of her songs!

Michael actually pointed out something a little while ago when we were listening to the album, and it was that in a lot of her songs with her verses none of the lines are sung the same, so you’re just constantly like ‘where is this going to take me’ because she is such a storyteller and she uses the way she sings, not only what she says but the way she sings and the way she conveys it to really tell a story. You just feel that emotion instantly. She uses her breath, her signature whiny voice, it’s all perfect. That album, I would definitely give it a listen. 10/10 recommend, through and through, listen from the start to the end and you will feel something. It is amazing.

Do you have a favourite track off that album?

The extended version, so it’s not on her actual album it’s on the extended version. It’s called Worth Saving. She does this live version on youtube of Worth Saving and it’s shot like a music video but it’s a live version, and you have to check it out because that version of Worth Saving is unbelievable.

Anything you can tell us about what’s in store for the near future of Reilly Stapleton? Any plans/goals/new releases?

When festivals eventually open back up when I’m 30 or something in like 8 years, I’d love to play a festival stage. That’s a big goal, that would be awesome. That would be so cool, the energy at festivals is unbelievable so I would love to play there.

At the moment it’s just getting releases out, trying to build up my music base. Even trying to get more covers and things out. Just releasing lots of content and music. I’m trying to just have a big array of music. I feel like I currently don’t have enough out there, even cover-wise. I’m trying to get more things that people can listen to. That’s just a short term goal and something I’m working on at the moment. Trying to get a lot more of that stuff done.

In the future for releases, I’ve got a lot of unheard songs, so who knows! Who knows what you could hear in the future, you could hear a 24 track album maybe? Who knows.

Have you found isolations made it harder to get inspired to make content, or is it more accessible because there’s lots more free time?

I don’t have a lot of time because I’m still working full time, but I’ve been more inspired in other creative aspects. I’ve started drawing and painting clothes, doing D.I.Y clothing. Just to stay really focused.

You know when you’re on the tram travelling to or from work, and you get to listen to an entire album or something like that? I’m able to just sit down and listen to it rather than just having a bunch of people around me. So I feel like I’m able to listen to music more, which has been good.

Not being able to get out of the house and having your own real-life personal experiences is hard. At the moment it’s writing more from a character’s perspective or an emphasised version of what you’ve been through. I’d love to just get out of the house more and do a lot of my own experiences and find my own emotions and things towards situations that spark something to write about.

Some people are amazing. Courtney Barnett I think, she was driving and she saw the back of a truck that had a sign that said “If you can’t see me, I can’t see you” and then she wrote a song about it. How cool is that? That kind of thing I miss, being able to get out of the house and see like little random stuff and be like ‘I could totally write a song about that’ or spin a whole track too. It’s very different, but I’m getting used to it.

Are you a coffee or a tea person? (How do you take your drink of choice?)

A solid mix. I’m very much tea in the evenings and coffee in the mornings. If I was forced to I’d drink tea in the morning, but I prefer a coffee in the mornings just because I’m a slack b*tch and need a bit of a kick up the ass.

I drink my tea black with no sugar, and my coffee as an almond latte. And they’re delicious!

I’m one of those people who thoroughly enjoy soda water as well, and people think that’s just disgusting. Everyone thinks I’m joking, or that I’m just being fake. You know that song I Love It by Kanye, and he says something about sparkling water that’s like ‘don’t act like you were drinking sparkling water before we came here’ that would be me. I always drink sparkling water. I felt personally attacked by that song!

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