Published May 10, 2022
Do you think your music could sound better?
In this episode:
How Bobby Alu became a musician
All the instruments Bobby Alu plays
The making of Bobby Alu's debut album, and Bobby's secret goal for this album (which he's almost achieved)
Bobby Alu's fellow musicians and collaborators
The pros and cons of the home studio vs. pro studio
Bobby Alu's take on songwriting and creative workflows
Creative flow state and getting into the zone
Bobby Alu's tricks on recording great performances
Preparing for playing gigs on the big festival stages
Bobby Alu on touring with The Wailers
Bobby Alu's tips and tricks for a good stage sound
Bobby's take on dealing with a grumpy sound engineer
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Disclaimer: The Production Talk Podcast is independent of (and not related to) my teaching responsibilities at SAE.
Transcript (auto-generated by a robot - please forgive the occasional error):
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Welcome to the Production Talk podcast with me, Yarn, of mixartists.com.au. In this podcast series, we celebrate the modern way of producing music. We want to talk about all things related to songwriting, recording at home and music production. So, if you produce your music at home, this is the place to be.
Please subscribe and recommend this podcast to all your friends.
This is the production talk podcast episode 42.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Welcome back to another episode of the production talk podcast. Before we get into this interview today, I'd like to acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of the country that we are meeting here today, the Arakwal people of the Bundjalung nation and pay my respects to elders past present, and emerging. Good. So today with me is Mr. Bobby ALU. We've been working on this interview for a while, and I'm so glad that you're here today. Thanks for coming.
Bobby Alu: Thanks for the invitation. Really appreciate it.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: It's good to have you. So we're having a cup of coffee going. We just had lunch together. It's a beautiful sunny day, so perfect to chat about music. Let's get into yeah. Where you're coming from and what your history is. How old were you when you realized that you were a musician?
Bobby Alu: That's good. Well, I feel like I've been a musician my whole life, but I think I didn't realize until I was probably 19 or 20.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Hmm. Okay.
Bobby Alu: Yeah. So it was a bit of a late bloomer you could say,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah, you're right. Okay.
Bobby Alu: but yeah, a bit slow to the to to the realization. But I took my time to get there, but it definitely hit with hard, you know? Yes. That this is. You know, I will do for the rest of my life.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: You're calling. And, what instruments did you, did you start with?
Bobby Alu: Sure.
Bobby Alu: Well I think the reason why I didn't realize that I would be a musician. My whole life is because music was always there and available. So my mother's from a little Polynesian country called Sagamore and music is ingrained in the culture. There, they sing. Before breakfast, you know, they basically seeing all the time.
Bobby Alu: So obviously singing was, was always around my mum, constantly singing and family members that were visiting. But then there's also a little Polynesian drum called a parterre, which is a hollowed out piece of wood. And I've been playing that since I was about four or five and also the. That's another instrument that my mum played.
Bobby Alu: So, you know, these, it's just so funny to think about it, that these were like, you know, quotation toy instruments of mine and they've basically become my career.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: well, that's, that's great. And can you just list all the instruments that you play these days?
Bobby Alu: I guess. Yeah, I play obviously Layla and all kinds of drums.
Bobby Alu: I really love percussion. So you know, when I first jumped on a drum kit, that was just such a beautiful feeling. So I played drums as well, and I really got into Latin and African percussion. So do lots of hand drumming as well. And then, yeah, I played bass and guitar and. Yeah. You know, I'll give anything a go.
Bobby Alu: I think what I really love to do is make music. So if there's an instrument that makes a sound, I would do my best in China, make it feel and sound.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Well that's yeah, basically you're an entire band
Bobby Alu: Some days. Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: person. Then I Do play the keys?
Bobby Alu: I don't. I try to you know, like I said, it's got a sound and I definitely try to you know, work it into my recordings in my creativity, but I wouldn't put my hand up for a gig.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Hmm. Okay, good. Yeah. Right. Okay. And then when did the, the artists, Bobby or Lou come to life? Where's that coming from? And you know, when did you start, did you start by yourself or with a band or tell us about the beginnings?
Bobby Alu: Well, it's great that this is a production, I guess you know, about recording this podcast because that is where it was born for me. You know, when I discovered that I wanted to be a musician, I did this university degree, or this course in Queensland called the bachelor of popular music. And basically that degree covered lots of different things, songwriting a little bit of musical theory.
Bobby Alu: It. Covered production and music business, and all sorts of things. Like there was a big umbrella. So I think the purpose of that course was to, you know, encourage young musicians to kind of find a way in. And I think you could even do a year after that to become a teacher, the music teacher. So there was lots of things that they were hoping for.
Bobby Alu: And what I found in that course is that I really enjoyed recording songs. So I it was really hard to wrangle people, to get them to play different instruments. You know your song. So I ended up just doing it all myself. So basically, yeah, I was like literally learnt how to turn pro tools on the first day.
Bobby Alu: And the next day at uni, I was in the studio trying to make music. And then after four years of the degree and this free studio time, I had had 10 songs that I was happy with. And that's the beginning of Bobby.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: okay, fantastic. And that became your first
Bobby Alu: That's the first album. Yeah. So I have a sneaky goal that I want that album to pay for my uni degree.
Bobby Alu: And so far it pretty much almost has.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Oh, that's fantastic. Okay. Oh, that's That's a great goal to have.
Bobby Alu: Yeah. And you know, I'm assuming, like I didn't set out to that. Wasn't my goal during uni, my goal was just to make a
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. And then you kept on going and you release more albums. And did you, how did you produce the next album? Did you record at home or did you hire a studio?
Bobby Alu: Yeah, I worked in a studio. So the first album was all at university or by me. And then I basically used that album to, well, once I, you know, meeting a lots of different people and I met a really good now, a really good friend of mine and collaborator. Called Paulie B, who lives in Brisbane. He's got his own studio and I worked with him on the next album.
Bobby Alu: So yeah, we sort of became a bit of a writing duo and he's a bass player essentially, and I'm a drummer, so, you know, there's a good fit there and yeah. Then I've got some other friends that joined the band. And so, yeah, it was, it was became more of a collaborative effort the next time round.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. And in your opinion, you know what are the advantages of actually hiring studio and, you know, just get into there as a musician for a couple of days and let somebody else do the engineering or alternatively, you know, when you record yourself, Being the protos operator and aiming the microphones.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: But what difference does it make and in your opinion,
Bobby Alu: It makes it, it makes a lot, lots of difference. And I feel like there's lots of advantages and I guess the best thing for me too, to like work with other people was basically just to learn more and you know, to learn, to find. The way that I like, or to know more about me in the studio. Cause I think what I really enjoyed and what was confronting when I first started recording myself was how honest a recording
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Oh, yeah.
Bobby Alu: you know, and it's all there.
Bobby Alu: And I think that's been a really big teacher for me too. To journey through. And then when you throw other people in the mix and a bigger studio and, you know, there's, you know, obviously there's, there's lots of different levels and aspects that come in. Yeah, it's just such a great, I love it. It's such a great experience, but I think moving to a bigger studio, the first thing I noticed was, ah, wow.
Bobby Alu: There's there's I like this too, but there's yeah, I don't have to run everything myself. And there's there's ideas that we can bounce off and, you know, essentially for me it worked. But also there's so many levels. It depends on the people. There's lots of things.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Of course. Okay. Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Right. So it doesn't make a difference for you if you, you know form and also engineer at the same time, do you feel like it's taking from your creative musical flow?
Bobby Alu: Yeah, I, I, I believe it does. I think, but it's, it's interesting because it's also, it's also depends on what you're used to. So, you know, if you're used to kind of running it, the tools yourself and singing, and you've got this workflow going on then and you've worked on that and all of a sudden.
Bobby Alu: You're not in control of that. Sometimes that doesn't feel right. And you know, when you're trying to get a good vocal take you know, you really sort of want to do everything to be in the zone. Yeah. And, and so I think for me personally, I like not running it at the same time because it puts me in a different mindset.
Bobby Alu: However, when I'm writing, I love doing it myself because. Yeah. I feel like it's quicker, you know, so yeah. So there's a, there's a different aspect that is like performance versus create creativity. And, you know, sometimes in that creative phase, you, you do get a take that you can't get again. But yeah, that's, that's just at the moment.
Bobby Alu: That's for how I feel
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: okay. Yeah. Cool. That's great. And you know, who knows? it.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: might change in the future and, you know, we, we all always evolve and yeah, that's interesting to see.
Bobby Alu: And I think that's what I want. I'm really into that, that word evolve. Like, I really feel like experiences in this GDR alter your, you know, what you learn and, and, and your perspectives and, and evolving is such a beautiful thing. So you find out what you, like, you find out what you don't like, and then, then it all just pieces it together.
Bobby Alu: And, yeah. So literally if we have this podcast again in two years, I might have a different answer.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah, I'm sure you will. And I'm probably going to be a completely different person as well. I know I'm a different person than I was two years ago, so that makes, it makes a lot of sense. So from your first album, Bobby aloo, that went via, take it slow and then to flow, which to me,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: you know, that's, that's a record that. I just love it to bids and Then you
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: know, It took it to the next level and release the same album again, without vocals, as an instrumental.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And it works just equally. Well, if not better sometimes. So it's amazing that depending on my mood, sometimes I choose the vocal version and sometimes I choose the instrumental one. How do you write songs that work without vocals and are still So entertaining? how do you come up with ideas like that?
Bobby Alu: Yeah, that's a great question. Well, when we were creating, so my friend and I will Paulie B and myself, we. You know, we recorded flow. We wrote and recorded flow over, you know, it took a good three or four years.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Oh, wow. And
Bobby Alu: like, you know, there were gaps in between. And I think that having that space in between mixes and so forth is really important.
Bobby Alu: It was important for that album, you know? Cause you get so trapped and so consumed by this song and you're in it and you just want to get it finished and you. In it and you, you know, really like deliberating over like, oh, is the tempo too fast? Is it too slow? Is, you know, is there too much shaker? Is there, like, should we put another guitar in you just so in this world have a six month break, come back and listen to it.
Bobby Alu: You've completely forgotten about all those questions that you had. And you're just like, yeah. This doesn't work or, oh, this works, you know, and, and that's basically how we made that album. And what we discovered is, as we were going through these versions is that we really loved it without the vocals, like some of the intricate parts and some of this deep thought that we put in.
Bobby Alu: And then, so during the album creation, we were always. We really need to release this without vocals, because there's so many moods that we created, or we tried to create with just the music that we felt like they stood on their own and they were up for interpretation by our listeners.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I love all these tiny little percussion elements. They're very playful and it takes me a couple of listens to discover all of them. There are so many layers, so it's quite amazing. You know, you have a way to tell a story with your drums. And I haven't seen that too often. So I'm quite amazed by how you do that.
Bobby Alu: Oh, thanks.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: you think about stories when you, when you perform, is there something where you think about, okay, now I need to press the intensity or let go or, or make it.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: feel uplifting or sad? Well, what's going on in your mind when you perform these steaks?
Bobby Alu: Yeah, totally. Well, actually I think the goal is funnily enough is to be like for me anyway, it's to be completely 100% sensitive to everything that's happening, but all at the same time, be a hundred percent relaxed, you know, completely. You know, in Flow, that's what the whole album is about. You know, it's it's about finding those moments and, and the realization that you can't have them all the time.
Bobby Alu: But yeah, I think, you know, for me, lots of those is just responding to the feeling and, you know, when you are in flow, you aren't questioning anything that you're doing. You just. There is, it's almost like there is no reason you just doing it. And I think lots of experiences before this album, you know, really helped me perform it.
Bobby Alu: And one of those was I went to Ghana in west Africa to play drums for a month. I like literally got, yeah, I've tracked down some contacts and I live in. Like for drum masters. And we played drums eight hours a day, every day, you know, in,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Well, how cool is
Bobby Alu: it was like, cool. So it was pretty, pretty dodgy at times, but definitely way really cool.
Bobby Alu: And that was such a beautiful experience. And I really wanted to, I loved the music in Ghana, so I wanted to really get in there and have that immersion You know, and that's just that I think just there's so many cultures that have such beautiful music and thing that I've noticed in that music is it's just that at ease, it's simple.
Bobby Alu: And they're just so in the moment, and I think that's a real I think that's also a trick to being to recording. Having a good take a good performance is just like being in the moment, not thinking about like, whether it's going to sell any well, how many days are you going to sell or, you know, like how good does it sound or it's just sort of like trying to connect with that moment.
Bobby Alu: Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Oh, lovely. So it goes back to something that, that I've come across many times when, when speaking to people on this podcast that, you know, for good takes account, can't overthink, you know, the absence of overthinking seems to be like a common denominator that I get back from almost anybody, everybody.
Bobby Alu: Tireless. It's a strange thing, isn't it? Because, because it's, I dunno. It just, you have to think all the time. So how can you not think that it's, it's strange to hear, but it's also just, I completely agree. It's a hundred percent true. Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So you, you do a lot of music with Holly. You mentioned. Are there any other band members that you regularly work with?
Bobby Alu: Yeah, there has been over the years. Definitely. I really believe in collaboration again for that word, a bowl, you know, I think it's just, you know, there is, yeah. The people that you spend time with you kind of become them and it's the same with music in a way because they inspire you and it's just, there's just so much amazing musicians and music out there.
Bobby Alu: At the moment the drummer I play with. A guy from Sydney called Declan Kelly, really amazing drummer, a singer and multi-instrumentalist and producer as a studio in Sydney. He's, he's a wonderful human being. And so yeah, we do a lots at the moment. Bali B plays bass. I play ukulele and, and Declan plays drums, and that's a trio, which is a.
Bobby Alu: Yeah, quite mighty. It's a, it's a really fun synergy. Yeah. And, and I also actually locally, I play a lot with the guy named Peter Hunt. Who's it, you know, the singer from Cooey and just an amazing song, man. And we do lots of gigs at the new Brighton markets actually, is fantastic. And there's another guy who lives in goonie, Gary, just up the road.
Bobby Alu: Lyndon Leicester basically. And
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: worked with Linden. He's amazing on the base,
Bobby Alu: amazing, incredible player, good sensitive player. And the drummer, I used it from Lennox, head grant Garrity. And so, yeah, there's this just
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Grant's a legend. Absolute legend.
Bobby Alu: There's just so many great musicians around, you know,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yes, you're right. I guess, you know, your standards are probably very high. When, when you look at drummers you wouldn't just work with anybody, I
Bobby Alu: Totally. Yeah, definitely. But I dunno. It's yeah, it's, there's something about, you know, finding that like it's. Yeah, just finding that connection with people, you know, it, I sort of think of it like chatting, you know, sometimes there's people that you can just chat to all day and I don't know why it just, you guys fit.
Bobby Alu: There's a, there's a thing that happens. And then some people who respect and you know, admire perhaps, and there's maybe the flow isn't there and for whatever reason, there's nothing wrong with that. And I feel it's the same with, with music. You know, some people you click with some you don't and that's.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yep. Yeah. Right. So when you produce in the studio and you do basically most of the instruments yourself, then on stage, you have to let go and not allow Other people.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: to perform. That must be difficult at times because, you know, I guess drama will interpret your performance differently and not exactly played like you did.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Is that a, is that something that causes friction at times?
Bobby Alu: great, great question. Because I think when I first started doing that particular thing, it became a friction and it became a weight that you know, I could have carried and then I've since discarded it because I think what I love about lots of these musicians is what they do. And I really always respect other people's flavors.
Bobby Alu: And, and for me, that's, you know, that's just. That's that's life. And I think the colors of different musicians are important. Just for the music, but for them, you know, for like every musician, when they feel like they're doing their own thing obviously we'll play better, you know, because they, they, they love what they're doing.
Bobby Alu: And so I encourage that for sure. You know, there might be parts that I've played, but I'm like, you do your thing, you know, I'm not, so yeah, I'm not so you know, regiment on like, no, no, no. The film needs to be like this, you know, I'm much more into the vibe.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. That makes sense. Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: That's good to hear and found that there is a certain common sound in your albums in all of them. Very beautifully, transparent and never hear the production in any way. It never sounds like
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: you know, an engineer accused something or did something it's just pure. And it's also extremely wide.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: You know, you, you seem to, to pan things, really far I guess more courageous than, than some other people would be. And at the same time, it's also really pure and also warm. I find.
Bobby Alu: Cry it. Yes,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: something that you do deliberately or is it just the way it turns out when you mix?
Bobby Alu: they are definitely deliberate. Everything you mentioned. Yeah, for sure. And like, you know, We've been talking about it's, it's, it's about experience and just kind of doing it over and over and recording and having successes and having failures and yeah, it's just kind of a sound that's developed. You know, just it get developed by brick and you know, lots, lots for me is, is the natural sound, you know, that's, I feel.
Bobby Alu: At the moment. That's what I resonate with. It's it's really like, there's not, we're not really trying to change the sound of the instrument. We're just trying to make it feel good, you know, through headphones or through speakers, which is, which is such a, you know, that's, that's the journey for sure. And you know, I find.
Bobby Alu: Making it super wide can really offer lots of space for, for other instruments. And, yeah, like you said, there's lots of little parts. So it's like finding the balance of the right space to let these parts sing or do they do their do their thing?
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: what always amazes me is that, you know, the songs never feel overloaded, but there's so much in there. There's so many elements, but it's never too much. It's just to, you know, find a Very tasteful.
Bobby Alu: I'm glad.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: together.
Bobby Alu: Yeah. Let's it's I think it's that sensitivity thing again too. You know, you like, you, you hear lots of we've had lots of NGOs and yeah. It doesn't go so well all the time, but
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: can you talk me through the typical. Well, I guess journey offers song from songwriting. How does a song.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: come together? Do you write the songs all yourself or is that a collaboration again? And is it more a sudden thing or does it drag on over a long time and now do the songs end up being in the studio the same way as they were initially written?
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Or do you change the much and then production? Can you share a bit on that?
Bobby Alu: Sure. Well it's first and foremost. I love it. And that is the fuel. So I have this, like, I think, you know, when I realized that I could record on my computer and like, literally it was into like, it was Microsoft record or something. Like, it wasn't even an interface. It was just, I think I'd play it, I'd record something.
Bobby Alu: And then I'd play it in through the speakers and then record the speakers with me doing another layer, you know? And it sounded terrible, but just that actual. Was such a great feeling that I've tried so many different ways to do like to create now because I'm just like, oh, this is cool. You know? And I don't think there's a way that works the best.
Bobby Alu: There's just so many ways. And I really liked to try lots of them. So for instance, lightly What I might do is I usually start with an instrument, like either the ukulele, it's mainly the ukulele, and I'll just kind of like, have it either a chord progression or a. Or a melody, you know, that I kind of feel like is either a good chorus or verse, like, so it'd be like, you know, D
Bobby Alu: and I'll just kind of riff along on that. And then something, usually I wait for something to stick as in, like, I'll do it over and over again. And, and then that usually is, is the start of something, you know, whether I put words to it or whether. I'll record that moment and then like, listen back to it and go, okay.
Bobby Alu: W where are we going here? And then there's so many directions, you know, I could put a beat to it. I could put a baseline to it. I could write words to it. You know, that, that seems to be a way that I use a lot. Yeah, but like I said, that, you know, how long is a piece of string sometimes there's there's I see, I hear a phrase.
Bobby Alu: Yeah, I can see on your fridge address, dress up disco, a great chorus and a, you know, like you can sort of like brainstorm or I, well, we need a disco beat, so then I'll just start putting a disco beat and then maybe like a baseline and then start thinking along those, I love, it's like dress up disco, like there's two DS alliteration, you know, it's like, all right, we'll get, let's get the DS playing on, you know, like it's, it can it can turn into an avalanche.
Bobby Alu: So, and I kind of feel like no ways of the wrong way or a bad. Yeah. You know, it's, you know, because you're dealing with creativity and sensitivity it's it's like, yeah. I don't feel like bagging my own ideas at the start. You know, I feel like there is a time to be critical, but in that initial period of birthing it's like
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Open-mind blank.
Bobby Alu: Totally. Yup. Surprise
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Everything's allowed. Yeah. That's that's really good. Excellent. And how long does it take for you to record? I guess the average song is that a lengthy process. You meant one album took Three years, but there were breaks.
Bobby Alu: Totally. I think. Yeah, it changes. I really actually don't know what works better for me at the moment. You know, I definitely respect time, you know, I feel like in a world that things happen so quickly, like, you know, We've took four years to met that album. And then, you know, in six months, the way that the industry is these days, people are going, okay, where's the next one?
Bobby Alu: It's just like, well, I don't have 4, 8, 4 years up my sleeve, you know? And you know, that is a point that's difficult for lots of musicians. To react to it's like, well, man, I put all this time in and it just doesn't last, you know, like, like it used to, you know, and like that's a whole nother conversation, another journey.
Bobby Alu: But then sometimes when it's on like creatively, you know, I can like, I've been doing these little videos at the moment just to kind of like spark up my creativity, whereas. Try and write a song and an hour, and then I record and film it. And so in like three hours, I've basically got a video and a song, all done, written and recorded, you know?
Bobby Alu: And so like that, that can happen. And. Yeah. And so yeah, three hours or three years, I don't
Bobby Alu: Kind of like and everything in between, so yeah, there's, you know, there's, there is. And I think when I think with flow, the reason why it took so long is because we had a vision and it was really important that the messages of.
Bobby Alu: You know, there's lots of mental health messages in there and, and wellbeing and, you know, being a good human, like we really wanted to get that across sonically and lyrically. So we took our time to make sure that it felt right.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Mm. Yeah. Right. I find that sometimes fast workflows can be really good because it prevents overthinking. If you just know
Bobby Alu: really good
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: too much. In my experience, you know, when, when people record a song, they get excited, but this excitement fades over time.
Bobby Alu: So true.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: the song isn't finished before the end, before, you know, the excitement falls below A certain
Bobby Alu: hundred percent,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: then it gets annoying and you know, it can, you can get caught in a loop and I've listened to a lot of projects from, from friends of mine who asked me for advice.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And they said enough, we've been working on. two years and it's still not ready and you know, what, what am I doing wrong? And then often we just listen to an audio version. It was actually much better,
Bobby Alu: Well,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: know, that, that happens quite a lot.
Bobby Alu: it does. Doesn't it it's demo artists, you know, you
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: demo items.
Bobby Alu: the demo too, and
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: they call it. Yeah, yeah, yeah, That's right.
Bobby Alu: it's a really good point.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: can one break that when you're caught in a one of those loops, Have you ever experienced that?
Bobby Alu: all a hundred percent and I think that's why at the moment I've been doing these quick fire songs because, you know, We're not trying to do the word of cancer.
Bobby Alu: Like we're writing music here. You know, it's not a big deal.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: what's the worst that can
Bobby Alu: Totally. And, you know, I've, I've been on this bit of a songwriting trip. You know, I'm doing lots of, I'm writing a couple of songs a week and and yeah, I've got this whole, just do it situation, you know, it's, it's, you know, just get it done.
Bobby Alu: It doesn't have to be the best song in the world. It just, you know, I really do feel like you have to stimulate your creativity and, and, you know, it's like an old car, like as soon as you stop using. After a year or so, it's all seized up, you know, you've got to get, you've got to get everything flowing and, and creativity.
Bobby Alu: A hundred percent, it works like that. So, you know, whether that's writing a song or being using the studio as a creative tool you know, and that's what I've been doing, you know, for the last two years is, is just getting my creativity, you know, like moving and You know, personally, psychologically it's like, it makes me feel good.
Bobby Alu: So, you know, I've got to go to encourage that.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: That's great. Say, would you be happy to share what your home studio looks like in your words? Is it okay? Yeah. What about
Bobby Alu: Yeah,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: on there?
Bobby Alu: Well. Oh man. So basically. I have two setups. And one set up was actually gifted to me. Well it's on hold. It's a friend of mine who has, it's literally two inputs. It's it's an old Mac book, so it's not It's not connected to the internet. So I think if there's any updates it's like running an, you know, an older version of pro tools.
Bobby Alu: If there's any updates it's going to crash, but it runs fine as it is. And it's got a Apogee, duet, I think it's
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Oh, yeah.
Bobby Alu: So there's two winds. It always works touch wood and I have two SM sevens and that's it. That's I do everything with them. So basically I see. Like at the desk and it's all just with, with a mouse and yeah, I've got the two mikes that are already set up and this basically amps, there's a drum kit.
Bobby Alu: I've got all my guitars and ukuleles to my right, all in reaching, reaching distance. You know, it's a scene after my, like I go in there, it's all clean, you know, five hours later, it's just stuff everywhere. And and then I cleaned up and started again the next day. But that's it, you know, for me, Like in terms of my creativity at the moment, simple is best.
Bobby Alu: I know that it works. And you know, I basically, yeah, I don't worry about spill. Like I'm, I'm, I'm working in the loft of, of my place and, you know, sometimes there's birds or there's fencing going on, or there's like the tote that, you know, there's a garbage truck comes past and yeah, isolation isn't. The golf for me, the goal is just to get these ideas out and to work them out and and then to bank them.
Bobby Alu: So basically it's not spending too long on them. It's just kind of like have them there for reference so I can go back and listen. Yeah. Excellent. So, yeah, that's my that's my go-to setup at the moment.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Well, you know, the Apogee converters, they have got a good reputation. Sorry, I'm getting techie
Bobby Alu: No, it's fine.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: you know, as long as they run, that's use them for as long as you can. They're really good.
Bobby Alu: Yeah. Great.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Nice. Okay. So I'd like to talk about, you know gigs for, for a moment. How do you prepare yourself and your band for, you know, the big festival gigs that you play?
Bobby Alu: Yeah,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: much rehearsals go into that and how much planning do you put in a show before all of this happens on the big stage.
Bobby Alu: that's a great question. You know, I think it changes as the years go on. You know, I remember the first ever gig I had at Bluesfest. I was pretty fresh and we rehearsed like every day for months to get everything right. Every moment. And. Flight, you know, it was, it was a great gig. I can't actually remember how it went, but I remember feeling that I needed to be on top of my game, you know, and completely a hundred percent.
Bobby Alu: That was the first time I'd played Bluesfest. The next time was I was playing drums for Xavier Rudd and I literally met him the week prior. At a party. And he said to me, oh, oh, you play drums. Yeah, that's right. Do you want to have a jam? And I was like, yeah, cool. Sounds good. And we had a half an hour jam at his house and then he said, the next day, he's like, ah, let's, let's play gig.
Bobby Alu: Let's do Bluesfest. And I'm like, okay. And so
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: that would freak you out.
Bobby Alu: Well, it was an hour set and we'd only had a half an hour practice. And so there was, and he's told me to listen to a couple of songs. So I'm like listening to these songs over and over. I'd never used any monitors before and they were, they had set me up within it.
Bobby Alu: So I'm standing side stage. There's like 20,000 people there about to go on. I don't, I barely know the guy. And and I'm like, this isn't how I imagined my first key going in main stage would ever go down, you know? And yeah. And it went. It went great. It was it was amazing. And it was that thing again, of like tapping into trusting the moment and trusting that, you know, like, yeah, I've had lots of different gigs and I did rehearse every day for those Bluesfest shows years ago.
Bobby Alu: So I know that there's there's stuff there. So, you know, I think. Musicians. I feel like we get in our own way a lot, you know, because because we're sensitive, you know, you need to be sensitive to create, you know, and that's not just music, it's just like any creative person. And then at times I don't know how, but you have to turn off that sensitivity because it's not gonna serve you.
Bobby Alu: That's just my opinion. And yeah, just trusting in the moment and yeah. Good point. Great. And then basically, yeah. Then I jumped on the road and for, for five years I was playing drums with him traveling around the world
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Well, what a story,
Bobby Alu: yeah, it was insane, you know? And
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: how did you manage your nerves in this moment before you went on stage? You know, it must have been
Bobby Alu: yeah, I was definitely terrified. But
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: you still have stage fright these days? Does it happen?
Bobby Alu: I do, but I think I'm at peace with it now. I feel like if you get nervous. Then you're doing something, right. It means that you care about it. And it's, so now when I get like a tight stomach, I'm like, I try and like sit in it and I'm like, ah, what's going on here?
Bobby Alu: It's like, what's. And it's just, it's just because it means a lot to me cause I love to do it. So yeah, I welcomed that. Now. It it's hard when you're singing because it makes you. You lose breath, you know? And so like, I think trying to breathe into it is, is a real, is I think, I think that's what I did. I can't really remember, but tem, yeah.
Bobby Alu: In terms of preparing for gigs now, it's, you know, like there's lots of mental preparation, lots of you know, rehearsal, if you, if you need it. And, but I think the main thing is, is like, is breathing through those nerves and just being, being like present on stage. Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: okay. Do you always tour with the same. With the same group of musicians or is that like a, like a pool of musicians?
Bobby Alu: Yeah, it's a, it's a pool it's, you know, and I think I realized that that's what, you know, that is on my side where, you know, I can be versatile. And I think when I realized that, because. You know, it's the music, it's a, it's a hard industry. If it, if you, you know, if you make all these balls, if you put up with these walls or these, like, you know these sort of things that you have to do, you know, if I had to play with the same three people, every gig I did, I wouldn't do many gigs.
Bobby Alu: That's just the realness of it. You know? And, and some people are fortunate where. They can do that. And that's a no deal. That's a, you know, that's a deal bracket for them. And I respect that for sure. But for me, you know, I can do solo gigs. I can play drums for other people. I can do duo gigs. I can do trio.
Bobby Alu: I can do four piece, five piece, six piece, like, and I love it all. And I think that having that flexibility has been an advantage for me, for sure. Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Let's talk about stage sound for a moment, you know, I'm, I'm sure you have experienced all colors of the rainbow, the air from probably a fantastic to also probably pretty poor. What can musicians do from, you know, there's always the sound engineer, which is a bit out of a musician's controller.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: You might have luck or not, but what can musicians do to get ready for, for gigs and make sure that everything is
Bobby Alu: That's a great question. I think technically preparation is. Really important and like, and preparation can be unlike the early level. It can be just. Tracking down who the sound engineer is and having a conversation with them, not on the day of the gig. Yeah. You know, like
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: it re to reach out before and clarify a couple of, you
Bobby Alu: totally.
Bobby Alu: Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: What inputs you need and, you know, so there is no surprises, basically
Bobby Alu: percent. And I think lots of, like, I think one thing that I definitely suffered from growing up is like, you know, I thought it was like, it was unprofessional as a emerging musician to not know the language or not know. You know, I, I would pretend to know, oh yeah, I know what you're talking about, but I think it's actually better or no, it's better to just ask questions if you don't understand, you know, I feel like lots of sound guys will have time of day too.
Bobby Alu: If you ask them a question you like oh, hello know, I'm playing a gig there next week. And they're like, oh, send me a stage plot. And like, you know, Instead of hanging up and then going, oh my God, what's this page for just asking, you know, Hey, I don't, haven't done that many gigs. What is the stage? You know?
Bobby Alu: And then they can kind of share with you their perspective. And, you know, I think San guys get a bad rap. Like lots of people sort of think, oh, they're grumpy. And it's because you'd tell them that you, what, how many inputs you have 10 minutes before? You're about to go on, you know, it's. That's a big thing is, is preparation and conversation for sure.
Bobby Alu: Is one is one side and a, another side is knowing what you like, you know, and I think that only happens through experience and doing lots of gigs and making mistakes. Like I know that I like stage sound low as possible. Yeah. You know, when it gets too loud, then. Then I don't perform well. And I think that, and that, that personal I I've played with other musicians that like it loud because that's how they feel it and they get in the groove.
Bobby Alu: But yeah, and, and, you know, I've only discovered that after, you know, 10 years of, of like, I think after 10 years of like singing on stage, I'm like, you know what? I think I like it. Quiet, slow liner, slow learner.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: yeah, yeah. Right. Well, that has a lot of advantages, you know, we probably have less feedback and not as much spiel, so it probably sounds cleaner as well, so, Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Cool. Have you got your standard sound guy that you always work with or do you experience, you know, a new person, every single gig?
Bobby Alu: For sure. I like to have. I think there's a big strengths in having the same person for sure. That's preference, but it's not always possible, you know? And because yeah, it's another band member to pay basically. But you know, lots of times it becomes a deal. Like it becomes a deal breaker. They become part of the band because you realize how important it is.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Mm.
Bobby Alu: And so I have a guy that, yeah, that I use James.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yep. He was on this podcast before.
Bobby Alu: Of course, what a champion,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Absolute legend big shout outs chains.
Bobby Alu: bounty Butler to the queen Biondi. So I use him as much as possible, but also, you know, like it's not always possible. I do lots of. Lots of solo supports and sometimes they're overseas.
Bobby Alu: And so, you know yeah, like I'll have the house, basically the house engineer every time. And I think what I've observed is that if, if yeah, same thing, if I just approach them, have a good conversation early about what I need and what they need then you know, it goes, yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah, Okay. Communication is the key
Bobby Alu: Oh, totally.
Bobby Alu: Because you know, you think of like when you're stressed, you don't exactly communicate that clearly. And so it just provides a, you know, not such a great environment for, for trying to get a good sound. You know, if you both, if the you and the sound guard, just like yelling at each other,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Nobody wants that.
Bobby Alu: I actually had a, I just had to remember.
Bobby Alu: I remember. Really early on, I was doing shows on the gold coast and I was playing drums in this hip hop band. And then those, the sound got here really, really you know, a huge reputation of being super grumpy and gruff and, you know, like no one liked or enjoyed his company that just like, ah, don't want to play there because of that guy.
Bobby Alu: And I remember realizing and finding out that he's really into.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Oh
Bobby Alu: The game, you know, the sport. And so I started talking to him about cricket every time we had a gig there. And like, he was, he was a really nice guy, actually, he just, you know, and so we just like, you know, we developed this banter and basically, you know, we were friendly time, went on and my very first show at Bluesfest, he was doing monitors.
Bobby Alu: I was, and he was like, oh, I haven't seen you in years. It's so good that you're playing Bluesfest. And he gave us the best, you know, onstage down. I felt completely comfortable in this environment because it was him. And that's one thing about musicians and texts. And this world is like, you will come across them again.
Bobby Alu: So it's like, I think the number one rule is just don't be a dickhead, because expect to see
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: don't burn bridges.
Bobby Alu: these, these shows, they pop up again and again, yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. Say if you, you know, think about, let's say a young emerging band at what stage in their career is a band ready to, you know, hire a sound engineer and, and find a regular guy to tour with.
Bobby Alu: Wow. Yeah. I reckon any stage.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Oh yeah,
Bobby Alu: Yeah. You know, I think like, even just trying it out is, is like, Yeah. I dunno, like if you can't quite afford it, like sometimes it's, you know, you're still learning your instrument. It's like, do you have any friends that are, that are learning to do it's out? You know, it's like do it together.
Bobby Alu: Yeah, exactly. You know? And yeah. It's
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: me of my early days.
Bobby Alu: yeah, right. You know, it's, it's such a thing it's such an important member of the band, you know? Cause it is, you'll find that it is important to you. Like for some people. As important, you know, they've got their, you know, they've got their roll sound and they know what to do.
Bobby Alu: But I think it's good to try out at least, cause then you'll figure out if you wanted it or not. Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: okay, well, so just a couple of weeks ago you played Bluesfest, which was a big one.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And then please correct me if I'm wrong, but you toured a bit afterwards. Yeah, with another big band. Can you shine some light on that?
Bobby Alu: Yeah, sure. I
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: that you played with a weightless?
Bobby Alu: Yeah. Yeah. I supported open for the whalers in Sydney and Melbourne. Yeah,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Please tell me all about it. I made a huge way less fan.
Bobby Alu: Oh man. It was, it was beautiful. You know, it was amazing, like having, you know, had a couple of years of not much activity. And then literally last month I had so much going on and it was, you know, both scary and welcoming.
Bobby Alu: Like it was, I realized how rusty I am, you know, it's like, whoa, that's right. Airport transits.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah, you're right.
Bobby Alu: Just the whole, that whole deal. And so yeah, basically it was a big, I've been doing lots of session drumming for lots of different people and. Like I, I did some gigs with my good friend, Ash Grunwald at Bluesfest, which w which was great.
Bobby Alu: I also was, at the time I was at rocking horse studio, recording drums for some really good friends of mine, Busby Marou. We were like you know, their dislike what what music they play. It's not country. It's like. Good pop music, you know? And and so yeah, that couple of days in rocking horse, and then we supported midnight oil at river stage in Brisbane.
Bobby Alu: Huge, amazing,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I love that stage. It always sounds amazing.
Bobby Alu: Yeah. It really did sound incredible. It was a great moment. And then the next day I had one day rehearsal with Ash for two sets of Bluesfest. Then we did. Two Bluesfest shows. And then I got an appliance and went and did these shows with the wireless. And so that was a solo Bobby ALU show.
Bobby Alu: So I had to, I had a day of like, basically what I call, like my production rehearsal, where I had everything plugged in and I had like my monitors kind of set up and I just sort of ran through everything and, and yeah, went to the venue. Chatted to the, to the tech team there and got my sound good to go.
Bobby Alu: And then, yeah, I did my set and and then the wireless came on and just blew the roof off. It was great. Well, yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: well, Did you get to hang out with him
Bobby Alu: Not too much. Hang out. I, I met like my main thing is that I love the drama, you know, like obviously, and so it was really cool to connect with him Aston Barrett, Jr.
Bobby Alu: So he's actually the original bass player. Sun family man's son. And, and he said his uncle is my favorite dumber of all time, Carlton Barrett, who was the Bob Molly's drummer. And he plays
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: One of my favorites as well.
Bobby Alu: ah, great. He plays just like him. And it's like, it was really. Amazing to see that backstage and to, to see it, you know, a couple of nights in a row, and he's such a chill cool guy as well.
Bobby Alu: So it was really nice to make that connection. And yeah, it was just a like, you know, beautiful experience and to play my own music and, you know, to have that yeah, put that in the back pocket for sure.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: She at the same stage with a way less. That's amazing. Well, what a dream?
Bobby Alu: lucky. Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Amazing. Can you talk about your plans for the future? Are you working on new music? How are you working on tours? Is there anything in the pipeline that you can you spill any beans?
Bobby Alu: Yeah, for sure. Well, I'm on this riding trip at the moment. I'm about to release. I've actually got next month. I'm releasing an EAP with.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Oh, wow.
Bobby Alu: Yeah. So she, as I said, she's Samoan and during COVID I learned some old, some old folk songs from her in language. And so we started singing them together and I literally took two mikes and recorded them around the coffee table.
Bobby Alu: And then I added some steel string guitar and bass and some percussion and a few harmonies and just sort of made a Samoan folk song EAP. And yeah, I'm going to release that next month.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Well,
Bobby Alu: would be great.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I'm looking forward to
Bobby Alu: Yeah. Me too is such a really nice experience to learn these songs. And yeah, I'm in a really creative, you know, it's been creative time for me at the moment, so yeah, I'm going to release a new tune at the end of the year, new Bobby Ali song and probably had to you.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. Yeah.
Bobby Alu: Yeah. For some shows, so yeah. Shows will start up again. So that's basically the year outlook really at the moment. Yeah. Yeah, it is. Isn't it? I know. It's crazy. So yeah, it's good to you know, have like music, you know, sort of the cracks are opening and to come through again. So yeah, at this very moment, I'm literally just writing lots of songs.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And if people want to find out more about you and your music, where can people find you? Have you got a website or social channels that you could mention?
Bobby Alu: Yeah, sure. If you just put Bobby ALU, B O B B Y space, a L U into the search engine, you will find something. Yeah, there's a website there and yeah, lots of, lots of 'em all Spotify, apple music band camp. It's everywhere. So you will find.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. I'll put a couple of links into the show notes. So at the end of the episode, just click the show notes, click the button, and you you'll find Bobby straight away. Well, Thank you.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: so much for sharing all this amazing wisdom with us today. I really appreciate
Bobby Alu: Thank you. I appreciate the good thoughtful questions. Thanks.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Thanks.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: mate. It's a really stands out to me how relaxed your music is, and it's also in your character and your personality.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And it's really nice chatting to you.
Bobby Alu: Yeah, thanks, John.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Thank you so much. Yeah. Cheers mate. Thanks.
Bobby Alu: you.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Wow. Thank you so much, Bobby. This was an amazing interview. I enjoyed every minute of it. So much wisdom. Thank you for sharing. It's really amazing to get this insight into your musical journey and your production skills. So from the bottom of my heart, Thank you so much for. If you want to check out Bobby, I lose music head over to the show notes or right here in your podcast application and scroll down to the links in the show notes where you. will find links to all of OBL Luiz sort of channels and his official website. If you enjoyed this episode, please rate this podcast and give us a little review that would really make my day. And if you want to reach out to me, please join us and the production talk podcast community on Facebook, where you can share with me. If you want to reach out, you can also reach out via my website.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: If you need any help with sound work, especially mixing. Of course, that is a mixed artist.com that I use slash contact. If you need any help for finishing your project. Okay. I hope you had a fantastic time today. I surely did. And I hope to see you again next week. Bye. For now.