Former Oh Mercy guitarist, Simon Okely has released (9 June) his sophomore album under his solo moniker Slow Dancer.
Entitled 'In A Mood', the record follows Simon's 2014 solo debut 'Surrender' and is a nostalgic love letter to the classic sounds of '60s and '70s R&B.Originally the guitarist for Oh Mercy, how did Slow Dancer come about?
[Simon] I wanted to make a pillow fort in a world of expectation and compromise. I wanted to create songs for me and me alone. I don't pay much attention to trends or market demands. I just write songs I like to hear.What can you do as a solo artist that you weren't able to in a band?
So many things. You can change your band whenever you like. You can play all the instruments yourself and take as much time as you want. You can blame no one but yourself for your failings. It's wonderful!
Tell us about your new album, 'In A Mood'.
Like a good photo doesn't speak to you about photography and a good story allows you to forget you're reading, I wanted to capture how a mood can wash over you, envelop you, shape you, change you, without the listener being aware of what frequency the egg shaker is in or thinking 'did he use Pro Tools or a tape machine?'.How does the new record compare with your debut album as Slow Dancer?
I struggle to draw comparisons. I try to write cohesive records. I hope they stand alone as explorations of a theme. Like a good Jim Jarmusch film, I don't feel like I need to spell out the meaning of everything to the audience nor do I feel they need me for that.How are you feeling about the tour?
I am feeling wonderful. I look forward to seeing my friends in each town we visit. I look forward to travelling with my friends in the band. I look forward to making new ones. I love playing my guitar and singing, it's actually outrageous that people show up when I do. It's the best job in the world like that.Are you planning a national tour for 'In A Mood'?
I consider my Australian tour, a national one. Admittedly there are places we won't get to visit. I hope there will be more touring of Australia very soon though and we can cover some more ground.
Can you explain your theory about writing love songs?
Ok, so my theory is the writer subconsciously curses the very love they are trying to immortalise in song. It's not been tested using a scientific method. I would do a thesis on it though if a uni wants to pay me to write one. I'm only talking about the grand ones here like 'Have I told you lately?' or 'I will always love you'.
I think it's the subconscious of the writer saying 'Hey, you're trying too hard to like this person, to look at the good things under a microscope, you should be on the couch watching 'SVU' and eating pizza with this person not in your studio dissecting love'.Your music encapsulates the warm sounds of '60s and '70s rhythm and blues. What about this style attracts you?
I love songs that are dripping with intention and feel; heaps were written in the 1960s and 1970s. Songwriters were sitting at pianos and guitars and capturing their vulnerability. Groove was also of huge importance during these times. Think about a song like 'I'd Rather Go Blind' by Etta James. It moves its listener on so many levels. That is the holy grail of songwriting as far as I'm concerned. Move people and make them move.With the album release and accompanying tours in place, what else have you got planned for this year?
I've got a little holiday to South Korea planned. I haven't had a rest in a few years, so I'm really looking forward to relaxing with friends in a metropolis twice as populated as mine and enjoying some stadium pop concerts attended by thousands and eating smokey BBQ in tightly packed restaurants. Funnily enough, my idea of complete relaxation.'In A Mood' is available now.
Slow Dancer Shows
Thu 6 Jul - The Gasometer Hotel (Melbourne)Fri 7 Jul - The Milk Factory (Brisbane)Fri 14 Jul - Oxford Arts Factory (Sydney)