INTERVIEW: Light At The End Of The Tunnel For Slum Sociable

Slum Sociable’s debut album combines electronica, psych, hip-hop and everything else good. The self-titled record is a late, but serious contender for album of the year. Although, just six months ago, Slum Sociable’s Miller Upchurch and Ed Quinn were unsure whether the album would ever see the light of day. Now, the light is at the end of the tunnel for the Melbourne duo, with the album being released this Friday, 24 November.

In October, Miller posted a letter to the band’s Facebook, detailing his struggle with depression over the past year. Depression is always unexpected, but upon meeting Miller, it’s particularly surprising, as he’s one of the most upbeat and joyful individuals one could ever come across. It may be because Miller has become accustomed to putting on a front to everyone around him since dealing with depression.

“One of my main problems with dealing with that stuff was not addressing it at all and hiding away from it and the people that offered to help. My coping was not up to scratch. Just saying it to so many people knocked down the walls in a way because I couldn’t hide away from it anymore, as I told thousands of people about it with a good intention to set an example,” Miller explained.

Adversity is generally the cause for artist inspiration – look no further than Slum Sociable influencer David Bowie’s final album, Blackstar, released days prior to his death. However, Miller found it to be incredibly difficult to be productive when it came to song-writing; his main contribution to Slum Sociable.

“It’s an old saying that sadness helps you write music, but I didn’t always find that to be the case. If I’m not feeling one hundred percent, I don’t feel that productive. I like to be in a good mindset and to be positive and productive. I can still write about sad stuff when I’m in a good place, and vice versa. It’s never one or the other,” Miller said.

As a result of Miller’s mental health issues, Slum Sociable’s first album had to be continually pushed back. “I wasn’t replying to a lot of people and there were a lot of things we were preparing for the album and I just wasn’t available to help out. It was pretty difficult but since talking about it, there’s no one that’s scared of talking about it. It’s all on the table now.”

With the issues in the open, Miller has been able to work through his mental health problems, meaning Slum Sociable’s album will finally be released. The full-length effort has been crafted over numerous years, with some songs dating back before the band’s first official release, 2015’s TQ EP.

“We’d written a couple of songs before TQ and then we tried to rejig them after TQ and they didn’t really come together. When we sat down with Russell [Fawcus] who produced the album, that’s when we finally got to solidify those songs properly… ‘A Hearing’ didn’t come together in any other format. We were weighing up whether to have it on the record and it felt right to have it on the record.” Ed clarified.

The album artwork portrays much more than what meets the eye for Miller and Ed. The image, taken in 1957, depicts Ed’s grandfather sitting in a chair beneath a lamp. “We were really struggling for artwork for the album… We didn’t know what it was going to sound like and then as the album came together it became apparent that a lot of the themes were based around relationships and family’s a big part of Slum Sociable,” Ed said.

From playing a few shows such as Copresents Festival, the boys are confident the new album will make an impression, with Miller saying “people seem pretty keen to hear [the new songs].”

“We don’t take any of this for granted because we’ve been in other bands and no one gives a fuck about what you do and you really have to push people to come to shows… We’re just really grateful people are coming to our shows and want to hear the new stuff,” Ed added.

Slum Sociable have already endured a rollercoaster of a journey for a band that is just releasing their debut album. But, now that the extraordinary project is out in the world, there’s little doubt that Slum Sociable’s troubles will be mostly behind them. Their self-titled record is set to bring them critical acclaim and certify the two-piece as one of Australia’s best groups.

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