Bag Raiders play Circus Paradise Music Festival on the Gold Coast in March.
“Happy New Year,” Jack from Bag Raiders proclaims. “2019 will be the year for Bag Raiders’ new music. Come see us for a party and a boogie – it will be big fun.”
'Big fun' would certainly be applicable to the Australian electronic music, DJ-producing duo. So might ‘extended play’. In demand around Australian clubs and festivals that also expands to Bali’s shores and across to LA, Sydney boys Jack Glass and Chris Stracey know how to sustain a long-playing career.
With only one album, a batch of singles and a cluster of remixes and collaborations to their name, 2019 will see the handwriting on the music wall for Bag Raiders. This is due to the big announcement they’ll be joining the Circus Paradise Music Festival line-up, with promises of a new track and the long-awaited release of their second album.
Yes, it’s all happening. But if there’s anything of value we can take away from Bag Raiders, it is they remain a tribute to staying power; a phenomenon in a high turnover industry of expendable easy-come, easy-go.
While it has almost been a decade since Bag Raiders released their self-titled debut album, their music has endured in the most fortuitous and unpredictable manner. In today’s modern, digital world where music is increasingly manufactured to become more homogenous and formulaic, this brave new world finds tracks easily downloaded and just as easily discarded.
Bag Raiders, however, manage to defy the norm of the new, disposable music age. While their signature track ‘Shooting Stars’ was released and charted in 2009, it took until 2013 to fully reach its climax Australia-wide.
And then in 2017, ‘Shooting Stars’ received yet another injection of new life in an entirely new format, hitting the World Wide Web to garner international attention as virulent memes featuring Harambe the Gorilla all the way to Lady Gaga. “It’s been an interesting journey,” Jack muses.
“It’s like that song is going to live on forever. Anytime we think it’s run its course, it seems to explode back into life. We’re really happy about it because we get to play it around the world and introduce new people to our music. And because of the memes, there’s a whole bunch of new fans out there waiting to hear our new stuff. So, it’s a really good feeling.”
Whether sung live with a guitar in an unplugged environment on national TV, played across club dancefloors or as a meteoric YouTube clip, ‘Shooting Stars’ will forever stand as an eponymous Bag Raiders song. But it is as much a reflection on their songwriting and production talents as it is on the single’s abilities to endure through an array of formats. And no wonder, given Jack and Chris’ music artistry and principles.
Classically trained multi-instrumentalists, Jack and Chris can easily create and record a band between themselves. Renowned for their DJ, production and remixing prowess, they freely turn out keyboard, drums, vocals, guitar and violin live and in the studio.
In a pre-digital, pre-YouTube era, the duo attended Rose Bay’s Cranbook School school together, playing in the orchestra and forging new beats on ProTools from the music technology room. Their classical training certainly offers a solid foundation to their music. “It’s been an advantage in some ways,” Jack acknowledges.
“One thing it does, is help us communicate in a language sense that makes making music easy. It may not work with people who haven’t had that kind of background and can be a stumbling block in a language sense. We have had that training, and it’s given us a good ear. For me, it’s important. For us, it’s important. But can you make good music without it? Yes, of course you can.
“For the new record, we play live rather than letting the computer do all the work for us,” Jack says. “With our training, it makes sense to put our live skills to use. And we’re always trying to challenge ourselves as songwriters. We try to write meaningful songs that come from the heart.
"The last few years has been a real journey of highs and lows. We’ve done a lot of travelling, lived in LA, grown up a bit, matured a bit. The new music is a bit more serious and introspective. It’s a really new feel for us and [has] been a long time coming.”
While Bag Raiders were able to establish their sound a decade ago with synth-pop house textures and an indie electronic vibe, they are an undeniable fixture on the Aussie dance music circuit. And having endured in the music industry for the last 13 years, Jack and Chris have seen the many vibrations of dance. “Dance music always goes in cycles,” Jack reflects, “not just in Australia, but worldwide.
“It always swings between festivals and clubs. It can be happy and open and party and fun, or darker, more serious and underground in both senses of the word as club music. It moves back and forth between the two.
"There’s nothing wrong with a sweaty, dark club at three in the morning but there’s something magical when the sun is setting to a whole field of people. Dance will keep swinging back and forth between the two forever, as all styles of music do when they oscillate around.”
While they’re looking forward to the upcoming Electric Gardens tour, Bag Raiders are particularly keen for the Circus Paradise Music Festival landing on the Gold Coast. “It’s a sick line-up,” Jack enthuses.
“It’s always good to catch up with Motez, but we’re definitely keen to see Leftfield DJ. As I was growing up, they were a big influence – and it’s always cool to meet your idols. Our sound also lends itself to that festival environment,” Jack states. “It’s big, it’s open and has lots of joyous moments. We’ll be aiming for a big field, full of smiling faces.”
Fri 18 Jan - Flemington Racecourse (Melbourne) Sat 19 Jan - Belvoir Amphitheater (Perth) Sat 26 Jan - Centennial Park (Sydney) Sun 27 Jan - Serafino Wines (McLaren Vale) Sun 10 Mar - Circus Paradise Music Festival (Gold Coast)