WAM INTERVIEWS: Diger Rokwell
With applications open for the WAM Song Of The Year comp, we spoke to psych electronica master Diger Rokwell (Ash Hosken), who was a #WAMSOTY finalist in 2013 and 2014. He is also getting ready for his live set at RTRFM‘s Distant Murmurs, happening Saturday 16 January at The Rosemount Hotel. We chatted to Ash about his year in music, his experience in the industry and his tips for creating great tunes.
As one of the co-founder’s of The Community, tell us your highlights from 2015, and where The Community crew are heading in 2016?
Our 2015 highlights were seeing the process of Mathas releasing his sophomore album Armwrestling Atlas and releasing our first vinyl records. In 2016 we are continuing to move more into the label direction: the collective thing has run its course and it is time to deeply embed a good business model in order to do justice to the music. We will be relaunching the website in early 2016, continuing to develop a solid roster of artists, helping artists release and market their music, plus doing the usual gigs and efforts to support the local scene.
You’ve recently become a dad – what are the best and worst parts of being a musician and a father?
The best part is definitely having a beautiful baby boy who is happy and healthy. Music making is still happening regularly and I seem to be more productive than ever. Also having a family is something very special and it is great to feel connected to something bigger than myself. It puts things into perspective. The only worst part is the lack of sleep. It definitely gets you into a routine and your own time is really precious so I try to maximise it. I am very lucky as I have a wonderful partner who lets me tour, gig and lock myself away for a period of time in order to pursue my music. Life is really good.
How lengthy was the process behind making your latest E.P Sprouts and what has the general feedback been like?
Seeds and Sprouts contain relatively older tracks, that I rerecorded, reworked, mixed etc etc . The tracks were around three years or so. The feedback has been fantastic for both releases from near and far. I have received a heavy flow of Double J play, along with lots of independent radio play around the country and a few mixes and blogs aboard. So super stoked with the response, as they are completely different sounding releases and people seem to be catching the vibe of diversity that I envisage for the EP series. It is great to have creative freedom and release the music I want to, and have all sorts of different people love it and give such as positive feedback.
As the winner and a nominee of a number of WAM and Song Of The Year awards in the past (entries now open), can you give fellow songwriters five tips for winning songwriting?
1. Be yourself, express your sound.
2. Stay true to the original idea, do not over-think music.
3. Write music for yourself.
4. Get tactile with your music, use anything and everything to create sound.
5. Transmit something positive or empowering that will make the world a better place.
Apart from your fellow Community brethren, which WA artists most inspire your own music, and why?
Benjamin Witt is a real character and is a pure talent! I admire him as a person and as a musician as he experiments as well as writes damn good songs. A good mix of both realms of thought.
Abbe May, her grind is relentless and she has a great ability to reinvent her sound and get good crew on board.
Felicity Groom is a beautiful human who writes fantastic music and she is a super positive person, who lives and breathes her craft.
Greg Packer is a dude who has been around for ages and he seems to be able to reinvent himself whilst being world class. For a lad from Craigie, he has done good!
When did you become a presenter on RTRFM and what shows do you present?
I started in 2007 on a show called ‘Down Underground’ exploring the world of Australian independent hip hop and beats with Mathas, Sibalance and Nick Sweepah. It was on hell late on a Thursday, so I would often go to work blurry eyed. It was a huge honour, and still is, to host a show or two on RTRFM.
Speaking as an artist, how important do you feel the radio station is to the local music industry?
Local independent radio, like RTRFM, is pivotal to the scene. It is its life blood: without RTR, Perth culture would be uninformed and backwards. It gives local musicians an opportunity to have their craft heard and appreciated. Independent radio is so important to get alternative and grassroots opinions out to the community.
Who are you most looking forward to seeing at Distant Murmurs in 2016, and why?
Shy Panther are a seriously underrated band, that had a bit of a break in 2015 and I saw them at a gig at The Bird, and they were awesome! World class! I am also keen to see Phil Stroud and how he plays his music live, as he is a super nice guy who makes some awesome tunes. All round it is a great mix of new and more established acts. RTRFM always curates fantastic live shows with the intention to give all bands or artists played on the station a chance to play.
What else is coming up for you?
I am currently recording, sequencing and mixing a disco flavoured release that will be the final release in the series of EP. It’s got really cosmic-tinged disco rhythms that I am having a whole heap of fun with. It’s filled with strings, claps, and bleeps. The four EP series will form an album of the best 10-12 tracks that will be released in mid-late 2016 digitally serving as a introductory tasting plate to my developing, less-sampled sound, since 2013’s ‘Innersense’ EP. So it will be a very diverse electronic yet organic album of all the singles and lead tracks from the four-part EP series plus some other tracks thrown in.