Singer and songwriter Vidaus has just released his deeply contemplative, atmospheric new album Don’t Check My Arms Pt.1. We caught an interview with him to find out more about the project, its underlying themes, and his aspirations as an artist. Here’s the conversation in full.
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Hi Vidaus, thanks for the interview, and congrats on the new release. What can you tell us about this album – did you come up with the title concept first, and were there songs that didn’t make the cut; if so, how did you narrow it down?
Thank you again for having me around! Actually the original title was just Epilogue for a long time since The Flower That Followed was supposed to come out this year… This obviously didn’t happen sadly, so I just kept the subtitle. Funnily enough Part 1 doesn’t have any left overs and in fact Never Seen Snow and Every Single Night were made in 2016! A very close friend of mine wanted Every Single Night available even though I grew to dislike it so I had to dig around for that. I think initially the concept was moving on from a long strung out pain but it just happened to change.
The title conjures up certain ideas and images, which aren’t explicitly explored in any of the songs – at least not in a blatant way. What made you choose this title?
I’d love to answer this concisely, but I think Part 2 has the complete answers on this one. Can’t ruin any surprises, sorry! I will say this however, you should be checking your pulse not just for your heart but on your soul too.
On a similar note, many of the topics you engage with are presented in a somewhat cryptic manner – and then there are some that are far more clear-cut. How do you write your lyrics, is there a poetic intent, is there an editing process, and do you ever worry about pouring too much of yourself into the stories or is it more a therapeutic process than an intent to reach an audience?
Gees that’s a great question. I usually write after a long draw out process of listening to the instrumentals and trying to gauge what I’m going for or sometimes just think of the title. Usually in the moment it’s all stripped away and what I think works just comes out. I’d say 40% of the time I have to rewrite because I’ve hit a nerve and think I’ve just gone too on the nose maybe too pretentious.
I think in all honesty I stopped caring as much about what what’s considered too personal as long as it has genuine feeling, and once that take is recorded there’s no going back. Thematically; I seem to have accidentally focused on the importance of the women in my life who’ve supported me throughout this long drawn out saga.
Which of the songs would you recommend to new listeners who only have time for one?
I think if you listen to Mother and Sister that’s probably the entry point for my entire work.
What do you hope people take away from this project?
Honestly, I can’t really say. Just enjoying it as a whole is enough for me. Maybe reflect on the people in your life who take care of you.
Will you be performing the songs live, and what’s the live scene like where you are right now?
Sadly, I don’t think I will. Where I live unfortunately the live scene has been decimated by DJs and producers, no disrespect. I’d really love to but I think I lost the opportunity.
When did you first realise your passion for music?
I was never truly passionate until I picked up the guitar at 14. Metallica is solely to blame for that.
Is your musical style directly reflective of the experiences or feelings you’re currently going through, and if so – is your sound likely to evolve over time? Are there any genres you’d like to explore that you haven’t yet?
Another zinger! I think my raw expression relies on the one instrument and it’s hard to translate that into something different. I think when I’m in different moods I do change how I create music but when I analyse it, not a lot is actually different. If I kept going I couldn’t do the same old ambient guitar stuff I’d end up going insane so change would be a requirement. I would love to do something really out there like I Trawl The Megahertz but at this point in my life I’m not sure if that’s on the cards.
Are you a full-time musician?
It must be obvious, but no. I’m stubborn and can’t deal with the compromises that the music industry requires in order to hold your head above water, at least where I live. In my mind it’s either you cover songs the entire set or you sign your life away to a label.
I know I’ve asked before, but I’m interested to know if anything has changed. What’s your main aspiration or goal as an artist?
I’m actually very happy you remember! I’d say it’s still the same, pure uncompromising expression. It’s my dream to go down as a cult classic but I suppose time will tell. Maybe I’ll just have to deal with being the local artist’s favourite local artist.
If you could sit down to lunch with anyone at all, who would it be, and what would you ask them about?
Daniel Johnston around about 2015 and ask him how he keeps his head up so high. God rest his soul.
What would you change about the music industry if you could?
I’m tempted to say everything but I don’t feel that’s true. I hear a lot of stories about artists throwing out their opportunities but we hear even more about labels tainting artists. Everything these days is data driven and there’s been a reliance on trends even more so than “the old days”. I think genre-bending is a consequence of people who are a little afraid to fully commit to a new idea because of the data and trends and it’s either something old or something old but new, no disrespect. Maybe someone out there should just take a very large risk and see what happens.
What’s something about you that most people don’t know?
Massive, massive car enthusiast. It’s a stupid, expensive and boyish hobby and I’m not big into the community anymore but I can’t help it. Maybe a sign my inner child is still alive.
What do you have planned creatively for 2020?
I’ve started up a group called Wartime Dogs and we’re hoping to release some new era type music. Essentially the plan is to get laughed at by Skeggs bands.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
The new era is around the corner, get your heart into season.
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