“It’s like a desire to escape the mundane, whether that’s the possibilities of a mundane life or just being a mundane songwriter producer,” Wally De Backer told the ABC’s Leigh Sales about his drive to make music in 2012.
He achieved that great escape with his breakout second album, Like Drawing Blood, which traversed an emotionally and sonically broad landscape.
Before this album, the term ‘bedroom producer’ wasn’t really part of the popular Aussie music vernacular. But this album was stitched together in bedrooms around Melbourne.
It was an important first step for Wally De Backer, because he realised the impact of music he loved as a teen on his own developing musical sensibilities.
“I didn’t realise at the time, but I had been listening to music that sampled other records for years, from Massive Attack, Portishead while I was a teenager,” he told triple j in 2006.
“I mean, I really loved Depeche Mode when I was a teenager and they didn’t really sample old records. But they certainly went through a phase in the mid-‘80s where they went crazy with samplers. In industrial sites, sampling the smashing of glass and hammers on cement and all sorts of industrial sounds and then using that as a gateway to broadening the sonic palette they could use on their records.
“But I guess it never kind of hit me consciously that that was a way I could make sounds and produce albums. So when I cottoned onto that and started trawling through op shops and collecting records to find sounds on, that was the direct impetus to make music this way.”
The album kicks off with what sounds like a hubcap spinning with increasing velocity until it hits the ground. It feels both unexpected and inevitable.
In the record’s first proper track, ‘The Only Way’, Gotye sings ‘No meandering, no more wondering, everything is true,’ in what feels very much like a casting off of doubts and endless second guessing to finding his own artistic path.
“‘The Only Way’ happened reasonably quickly compared to lots of the other songs on the record,” he told triple j. “It felt like the vindication for me of how sampling could lead me to produce and write music unlike what I would otherwise create if I was playing on a traditional instrument or writing from chords or melody first.
“Just the groove and some of the sounds and then what became the lyric content could only have been suggested by listening to lots of random different records and collecting sounds in that process. So I guess I finished that track and sat back and went ‘Wow, I feel great about this.’”
Across the album’s 11 tracks, nimbly crafted sonic adventures are laid out for us. The bleak and beautiful ache of ‘Heart’s A Mess’, the dubby expanse of ‘A Distinctive Sound’ and ‘Seven Hours with a Backseat Drive’, the patient smirk that lingers on ‘Thanks For Your Time’ and the roaring blue-eyed euphoria of ‘Learnalilgivnanlovin’.
Some might say its spreads itself too far and wide to make sense on a single record. To others, it speaks of one guy’s huge love of music and appreciation of how connected the spontaneity of life and art can be and how they reflect each other.
“I love sampling records and cassettes and collaging pieces together, and I love that searching and discovering process which actually defines a lot of the music I've made,” he told Sales.
Like Drawing Blood takes its title from the arduous piecemeal work of sourcing, sampling, splicing and assembly that went into the making of this album.
It’s a great achievement that it feels so light and able to trigger a level of intrigue and a range of emotional responses.
In recent years, Wally’s been taking his time travelling, absorbing and exploring new sounds for a new release, which has no set date as yet. When it does surface, you can bet we’ll be strapped in ready for the next journey he’s preparing to share with us.