We introduced you to The April Maze the other day, the Australian duo from Melbourne who blend the sound of 70s folk music with a modern twist. Since then we’ve had a chance to chat to them – about their name, their music…and where the Maze is taking them – beyond April.
EP: For anyone who isn’t familiar with The April Maze, how would you describe yourselves?
AM: We call it Alternative Folk. Acoustic guitar and cello with male/female harmonies. Think Mumford, Florence and the Machine, Fleet Foxes and First Aid Kit stripped back with a cello.
EP: ‘The April Maze’ is an interesting name. How did you decide upon it?
AM: There were a few serendipitous reasons…when we had started playing music together we wanted a name that would work for a duo or a full band and, for some reason, Sivan kept mentioning Felix the cat… Eventually she dropped the whole Felix thing and we came up with April Mays – as Sivan’s name is a month of the Hebrew calendar (we thought it was around April/May) and my surname is Mayhew. Then Sivan said why don’t we go with The April Maze…. I got instant butterflies as I LOVED it – many of our favourite bands were out of the 70s and it had that feel. The next day I went into work and typed it into google and the only thing that came up is one of the first Felix The Cat Films called ‘April Maze’, AND it was animated by an Australian…
EP: As a duo, who makes the decisions, is one of you the boss, or are you fairly equal?
AM: All decisions are shared, Sivan is definitely the ideas girl, and I’m the encouraging enthusiast. She will wake up in the middle of the night and shake me saying “Todd I have an idea” and I will roll over and be like “ok I’ll put the kettle on… this better be good”. We both recognise that our music will only ever work with the two of us sharing the drive.. so overall it’s fairly equal.
EP: Your music has a distinct folk sound, do you have any folk heroes?
AM: Neither of us grew up with traditional folk music but together have acquired a growing love for it at many folk festivals over the years. However, we have many folk revival influences including Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel. And we both grew up with and share an eternal love for The Beatles, Bob Marley, Carole King and The Kinks.
EP: You were received very well here in the UK, did that come as a surprise?
AM: We actually wrote a song about the England Football team for our first UK tour in case we were having trouble winning over the crowds… but it turned out we didn’t need it! The crowds really seemed to have a hunger for our music and it made for superb shows with lots of encores – often people screaming for us to play The Bishop Who Ate His Boots… we’d say “but we just played it” and they would scream “play it again!”
EP: Your new album, “Sleeping Storm” is due to be released on the 4th of May. Can you tell us a bit about it?
AM: It is a collection of the best songs we have written together over the past few years, which makes for quite an eclectic album. There is a lot of cello, male female harmonies and we recorded it with an incredible drummer and bass played in Studio 301 Sydney which is seen as Australia’s equivalent to Abbey Road studios. We worked with an incredible producer (Tim Carr) and we are over the moon with the performances and the sound quality.
EP: Do you each have a favourite song on the album?
Todd: Sparks, It’s my favourite recording on the album, listen out for a few distant piano notes played by Sivan that add an ethereal feeling. (Our producer, Tim Carr, and engineers surprised us by setting up a beautiful Grand Piano in the middle of studio 1, the studio which is often used to record orchestras, they then put one mic in the distant corner of the room… Tim asked Sivan to play random notes… the result was magic.)…
Sivan doesn’t have a favourite song but she loves ‘Scout Hall’… we put a lot of time into the arrangement of this song and Sivan loved playing the banjo.
EP: The album has been crowd funded, what are the advantages and pitfalls of taking this route? Does it make it special to know fans have invested in your music?
AM: Crowdfunding the album was amazing… we have such a committed fan base that it really worked. We raised 20 grand, which meant we could go into the best studio and work with the best people… and because we did it ourselves, with no label, we were able to keep our artistic integrity. It is a really special feeling to know that people care enough about our music to actually get involved. I guess the pitfalls are that running a crowdfunding campaign is a lot of work – and we did a lot of it while we were touring – looking back it was pretty crazy!
EP: Do you have similar or differing tastes in music?
AM: We have mostly similar taste in music, but when Sivan isn’t home i crank up 90s grunge music really loud, mostly Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Sound Garden. I have a feeling that when Sivan is home alone she cranks up the Backstreet Boys – but don’t tell her I said that… apart from this she has pretty impeccable taste in music… no one is perfect.
EP: What are your hopes, ambitions, and plans for the immediate and distant future?
AM: We will be touring the new album in England during July and August and then return to Australia to continue touring. We have more songs and stories that we are currently writing… We are thinking maybe a few digital EPs next year… And we are writing a few screenplays – one around Todd’s Great Grandfather (The Bishop Who Ate His Boots)… We will be pitching some ideas to some movie producers, so who knows where that will take us… We are on an incredible creative journey, so I can honestly say that we have no idea where we will be in the distant future.
For more information about The April Maze and details of how to purchase ‘Sleeping Storm’ visit their Official Website.