Paces Admits His Brain Has Hands As He Creates Music That Processes The Different Shades Of Depression

Paces is an Australian artist based on the Gold Coast.
National Music Editor, based in Brisbane, Australia.
'Passionate about true crime docos, the Swannies, golf and sleep, I’ve been writing about music for 20-plus years. What I’ve learnt? There’s two types of music – good and bad.’

Australian artist Paces is using his own battle with depression and the task of maintaining a healthy mental well-being to fuel his continued exploration of hyper-pop, punk, and emo tones.

An established electronic DJ-producer who'd travelled the world playing parties and festivals in most corners of the globe alongside a stack of commercial releases (his own plus collaborations with the likes of Flume, Guy Sebastian and others) the onset of the pandemic elevated his depression to an almost chronic state of debilitation.

However, by using songwriting to help process emotions and trauma, Paces (Mikey Perry) has found himself reconnecting with music but exploring different sonic palettes compared to pre-COVID times.

His latest single 'Brain Got Hands' is like a Fisherman Friend's slap to the face, or diving into a frigid pool of water – a reinvigorating action that stimulates an instant thrill of excitement.

Frenzied hyper-pop meets fuzzy yet crunchy punk-rock that careens along at a wild pace as Mikey sings about battling depression and the associated feelings of hopelessness and desperation.

"'Brain Got Hands' is a snapshot of how I was feeling when my depression was at its worst. It was a pretty hopeless time and despite doing everything to manage my mental health, I just kept slipping further under."

It's an anthem for anyone who finds themselves gripped by such bleak emotions, offering a positive outlet to counter the negative feelings depression brings.

'Brain Got Hands' follows Paces' 2022 singles 'Adrift' and 'Butterflies', the sound harnessed drawing in elements of Blink-182, Yellowcard and Alkaline Trio. The song will also feature on Paces next studio album 'Three Summers' that's due later in 2023.

"In the past I've been focussed on making escapist pop music, which I thoroughly enjoyed doing at the time," Mikey says.

"This album is quite different as it's much more personal plus I'm singing on the tracks, doing all the songwriting, and it's a different direction in terms of genre."

Last time we chatted, was middle of last year and you were opening up about your own struggles with anxiety and maintaining a healthy mental well-being; how has life progressed since then and what do you do when you need a small reminder to just get through each day?
Thankfully I'm in a much better place now. For the first time in ages (maybe ever?), I have good self-worth and am being kind to myself.

I still really prioritise my mental health, I don't think that will ever change, but I'm doing a lot better than last year. For me it's a combination of hitting the gym, antidepressants, songwriting/ journaling, therapy, eating healthy, being sober, spending time in nature, getting enough sleep etc.

I've got my life setup with everything pointing in the direction of my mental health being ok, and that's been working great.

Your love for music; how has that been fostered during the last few years especially given how COVID has forced all of us to reset our daily personal lives?
Well, it's definitely changed my relationship with music. I used to be playing shows every week and I haven't done so since COVID. I had to get a non-musical job when the pandemic turned the industry to dust.

So my relationship with music at the moment is more about making songs rather than performing them. That's been really nice because I really enjoy the process of songwriting and producing music. It's definitely my favourite step of the process.

The switch of gears from electronic music to a brand of emo, punk flavoured hyper pop... how have your established followers reacted and has the move garnered you a new range of fans you otherwise would never have engaged with?
Yeah, there's definitely been people that weren't fans in the past but are into the new stuff, which is nice. I'm sure the flipside of that coin exists too, but nobody's been complaining and asking me to go back to my old sound.

All the music that I made during that time still exists. All the post-Flume, tropical electronic pop is still there if people want to hear it, but that's not where my heart is currently at. So I'm making what feels right to me in this moment. If people want to come along for the journey then I'm happy to have them with me. If not, that's perfectly understandable too. :)

Given what you have been through emotionally and physically, the strength to drill down into those emotions to create new music, build a song; how empowering is that for you simply as a human being?
I love love, and when it ends the pain is really profound.

I've found songwriting to be a really powerful tool to help process emotions and trauma. Way better than punching walls or pretending everything is fine. I love that you can channel that energy into something constructive and turn it into art.

You have new music dropping with your third LP 'Three Summers' slated to arrive later this year; tell us about your new single 'Brain Got Hands'?
'Brain Got Hands' was written when my depression was really bad. I was doing everything I could but just kept getting worse. It was a really tough time and I tried to capture that feeling of hopelessness and desperation in a song.

What else can you share about 'Three Summers' re: the production, songwriting emphasis, direction of the music? Are Zac James (Sinking Ship Studios) and Zac Gooley (Jono's Mate Sheep) still part of the music-making process?
Yeah absolutely! Zac and Zac are friends of mine and have been helping out along the way.

Zac Gooley has added guitar parts whenever it's something that I can't play, and Zac James has a background producing heavy music so he's helped out with some additional production and live drum sounds etc. Also it's just fun to hang out and do music together.

As for 'Three Summers', it's an album of sad-dad punk songs. None of the songs talk badly about my exes or anything; I have love and respect for my exes, I just wrote about my own experiences of going through a tough time. We're all broken in our own ways and I'm sharing some of mine in this album.

The singing aspect you've leaned into, are you enjoying that side of the music exploring your own vocal ranges?
Yeah definitely. I've been really enjoying it. It's something I've never done before, so it's been really fun finding my voice.

Being able to incorporate your own singing into the productions, has that allowed you to be more candid, personable with your songwriting, to embrace all the emotions you've processed in recent times?
Absolutely, that's the entire reason I'm singing on my tracks now. It's all very much from the heart and it just didn't seem right to have someone else sing these songs.

Honestly, I just made them as a form of journalling for my own mental health, not intending to show anyone, but then I ended up liking them so here we are.

You're a regular poster of TikTok vids; how have you found that platform engages your own creativity alongside the socially conscious posts that showcase your human side?
I love TikTok. It's such a creative environment. I don't take it as seriously as you're supposed to in terms of getting your music out there and getting the most engagement and new followers etc. For me it's just a fun outlet and another way to deliver your music to the world/ share a bit of your life with people.


I will not drop ✨ ????✨ new iphone in the creek

♬ Butterflies - Paces

Checking your recent IG posts, I gotta know how much did your 'digital drum set' in the Guy Sebastian Like A Version cost and which Amazon site did you get it from lol? Shoutout to thatsingerreactions32!
Hahaha! That reaction vid was so cool! That guy checks out heaps of Aussie musicians and is the biggest Guy Sebastian stan. I'm so grateful that he made that video. And I have no idea how much my SPD cost haha. I can't remember. :)

When you see stuff like that, where people virally engage your content does that reinvigorate your creative juices given you never know who you'll inspire?
Creating music is more of an inward thing for me lately, where I'm processing and figuring myself out, so I'm really not trying to inspire anyone.

It definitely makes me happy to see when it connects with people though. It's often in ways that you never would've expected. It's like you put so much energy into making a piece of music, so when someone reacts like that it's like they're returning the energy back to you. Same as when a crowd is singing along at a show.

You recently mentored a group of Sunshine Coast high school students with a week-long songwriting workshop; how was that experience and has it unlocked future paths to traverse professionally?
I've been doing some songwriting mentoring as part of APRA's SongMakers programme. It's been the most fulfilling experience ever and I hope to do much more of it.

Seeing the change in the kids over two days where they start out shy and not wanting to voice their ideas, then by the end of the second day they've got this professional quality demo and everyone's proudly showing the class what they made. It's been such a cup-filler and I'm extremely grateful to be involved.

Thanks for your time; anything else you'd like to add?
Thanks so much for checking out the new music, much love. :)

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