Gear Talks: a chat with HANDSOME about collaboration on Every Second We Try

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Gear Talks: a chat with HANDSOME about collaboration on Every Second We Try

Words by Lewis Noke Edwards

HANDSOME was just one artist announced for September’s Listen Out festival, a well earned spot amongst some of the world’s biggest artists.

While a stellar standalone artist, HANDSOME has announced a collaborative album Every Second We Try under the name HANDSOME GANG. Every Second We Try was informed by the collaborative process itself, while also involving some rising names in the country like Hope D, flowerkid, Lupa J, Jamaica Moana and Chloe Dadd to name a few – all with HANDSOME at the helm facilitating the project. Once recorded (in a home studio!), it was all mixed by Becki Whitton (Allday, Tash Sultana, Touch Sensitive). We spoke to HANDSOME about the release, what the reality of making a collaborative album is, and how it’s affected the overall output.

Read up on all the latest interviews here.

A collaborative album is an interesting concept – what inspired the idea?

Yes! It was so fun to make. I wanted to make something different that brought people together and also created a string of inspiration for others. Working with other artists, seeing their techniques, their methods and learning what inspires their creativity is so vital in honing your skills as a writer and producer. I really wanted to accentuate what a collaborative process can bring to the world, and wow every artist delivered. I think the album is full of so many different genres, so many different stories – and I think each song is wonderful… but also shows HOW GOOD these artists are.

There’s a huge number of great Australian artists – how did you pick who you’d be collaborating with? Some friends and people you admire? Something else entirely?

Many of these artists roll in different circles around me. Some of them – like Chloe Dadd and Flowerkid – I play with in bands. Some of them – like Lupa J and Jamaica Moana – I’ve wanted to write with for years. It was definitely a process in finding all the artists for this record. I think one big wall we came up against on this album was finding artists that didn’t feel like this project would get in the way of their own journey, which ironically was what this project was supposed to show – that collaboration can only enhance and not take away from this. However, the artists on this album feel cohesive and it is such a phenomenal bunch, I couldn’t be more proud of being connected with each and every one of them.

What was the creative process like – did you write songs and invite collaborators? Or was each song a total team effort from the ground up?

Each song was different! We wrote in my studio with Eora based artists – Jamaica, Kavi, Chloe, Olive – this was all in person. And was lucky to find time with Hope D (Meanjin based) and Lupa J (Naarm based), just a day here and there. Other songs were written over email and calls, which I think shows that you can collaborate with anyone, anywhere in the world, which feels exciting!

Most of the songs I produced an idea and brought to the artist, some songs were produced by others and we worked on it together, it was so different each time, which always felt exciting.

How and where did you record the album?

It was all made in home studios! Long live home studios! 

How did the album get mixed and mastered for an ultimately cohesive sounding record? I.e. one mix engineer or multiple? One cohesive brief for the mixer/s?

The whole album was mixed and mastered by Naarm based artist Becki Whitton, in my opinion the best in the bizz! It was a massive process for her, because of so many different genres! Haha, sorry Becki! But we had a brief to work to around the first couple of songs – aiming to keep in the same sonic space. She smashed it!

Handsome Gang Every Second We Try

Any standout pieces of equipment that helped make this album happen?

I used my iPhone to record a bunch of sounds, some of my home piano also – which is so special on the title track “Every Second We Try”. Software wise, I found Splice a godsend. I love starting in the studio by listening to songs, listening through the sample library and finding sounds I’ve never used before. It feels like opening presents on your birthday.

Have you got any grand plans about performing this all live? In the absence of every contributor, will you have backing singers and/or samples? Both?

Would love to create a whole show for this album in the future, yes. If we can get all the artists in one state for one night we HAVE to do it. If we can create a National tour, that would be even better. Plans are being made my friend.

Wrapping up such a big project must feel very validating, can you see yourself taking on something like this again?

Yes, definitely. This is HANDSOME GANG #1 in my eyes. This kind of project should be lifelong in my eyes, and hopefully other artists see what we have created together and feel inspired by collaborations. It’s fun, it’s inspiring and it’s so worth it to grow as an artist!

Keep up with HANDSOME here.