Kylie Auldist's new album feels like the good news we needed this week.
The latest from the Melbourne artist, dubbed This Is What Happiness Looks Like, does pretty much what it says on the box - brings a whole lotta happiness and some big funk, disco, soul and pop inspired tunes.
"Some albums are written fast, some take a long time, some albums experience setbacks, become beset by creative blocks and personal issues, and can generally be a whole lot of hard work which makes you question why you even bothered to start it in the first place - this was not one of those albums - hence the title This Is What Happiness Looks Like," said Auldist of the album.
Check it out below.
What they're saying...
Auldist and songwriting collaborator Warren (Waz) Hunter share an exclusive track by track look at the making of the album.
KA: This album was mainly written between the homes of Waz and myself as well as the spaces our family lives allowed - hotel rooms, airplanes, rehearsal studios and of course, the car! Trying out lyrics at the red light means you can really get your sing on! This album from start to finish was such a joy to make and I think the songs reflect that.
WH: This album was equal parts scary and amazing to make. Scary because I was given the chance to work with such an awesome vocalist and icon of the Australian music scene and I didn’t want to stuff it up. Amazing because I got to work with so many incredible musicians and human beings who were so supportive of the process from start to finish.
WH: This was the second song that Luke Saunders and I wrote together - Kylie and I flew to Sydney for a weekend to write with him - from this session came Everythink and another track called Flow. Luke was the real architect of this song providing the main form which was a gorgeous mishmash of what a George Michael & Hall & Oates collaboration might have sounded like. I love the chorus from Kylie in this song - 16 bars of non-repetitive lyrics - breaking all the rules and still nailing it! It’s a gorgeous song and was a real anchor point for the album.
KA: I love me some yacht rock and this floats my the boat! The synth lines are so playful and they asked a question I just had to answer! I was writing the lyrics to this song right up to the day of recording. I enjoyed echoing my own vocals and then making my sister Angie sing them! Graeme Pogson (drums) calls it my stalker song - he finds my lyrics 'questionable' at times, which I like! At least he listens! 'Everything you think about' was just too much of a mouthful so I decided Everythink was a perfect compromise - not a grammatical error!
Stay In Front
WH: In hindsight this song would seem really influenced by MJ but when I constructed the bones of the song I was listening to a lot of Mary Jane Girls. Not your traditional song in that the pre-chorus is the chorus but hey - whatever works! Thanks to Mike Pensini for the blinding keys solo! It’s just a good up-tempo banger that I hope will work well live when we can eventually play again.
KA: This is probably the fiercest song lyrically on the album. The music kind of demands it. I really enjoyed how it made me go to a different place vocally. Instrumentally it sounded like running to me, and as the lyrics indicate, it gets harder every year to run and harder to stay in front!
Is It Fun?
KA: The bass and the strings at the end of this track just get me!! The boys nailed the instrumentation so perfectly and made it so easy for me to write over. Gilly's sweet guitar parts and the little break down and key change just spoke to me! The subject matter is equal parts controversial and private. I only say so because I am a mother and daughter and anyone who has been in love for as long as a festival lasts knows that maybe your parents (or kids) don't need to get involved!! Fun can sometimes be mistaken for love which is OK, 'cos if you're doing it right it should definitely be on the same page! Either way, it's good to ask the question!
WH: Luke Saunders and I had already written three songs together for the album - it was the first time either of us had written together (and for Kylie) - the process had been surprisingly fun and easy - unfortunately Luke had been offered his dream job in Sydney (he is also an amazing graphic designer) and had to move at short notice just as we’d started to develop a songwriting flow. Not wanting to stop, I decided to try and develop some ideas of my own; a rainy weekend of enforced indoor time was spent making tomato sauce, listening to D-Train, Kashif and Prince and saw me put down the lead line, verse and chorus for Is It Fun? The key change outro was a nod to Whitney Houston’s How Will I Know and Lewis Moody provided the breakdown middle eight during recording which really helped drive the song home. I particularly love Gilly’s guitar playing on this song also.
WH: This was written only a couple of hours before Is it Fun? I’d been working my way through the Prince back catalogue (having never really gone crazy deep on him before) and had started thinking about the song When Doves Cry, the beat is so iconic that it seems (and for good reason i guess) that no one touches it. After thinking about it for a while it seemed stupid that every other beat in human history gets used repetitively so maybe it was OK to use it as a rough starting point. I think I’d watched Footloose that week for the first time since I’d seen it at the drive-in as a kid and had those songs running around my head so I decided that I’d try and write a song that could have slotted onto the soundtrack. Kylie totally got into the concept and wrote the most outrageously ironic lyrics - I think we both thought it was a bit of a joke song and never really intended it to go on the record - but we played it live once and everyone loved it, so what started as a bit of a laugh turned into a album track. I particularly love the live version of this song and Gilly’s outrageously appropriate '80s guitar solo.
KA: I'm big on self-fulfilling prophecies - think ‘money rains from the sky above’, so writing lines such as ‘he's making twice as much as I can spend' and 'a man with money is a helluva catch' (really just a statement of fact ;)) seemed like a good way forward. Unlike Waz I spent most of my life in thrall to Prince. Although the drums are very When Doves Cry I feel like I wrote more of a tongue-in-cheek Material Girl-style song over the top.
WH: Realistically Luke Saunders needs to take most of the credit for this song - there’s no way I could even begin to deconstruct some of the chords used on this one. It’s a classic '80s slow burner from start to finish with the 808 intro to Gilly’s incredible shred solo over a slow fade outro. I also like that this song pushed Kylie into quite a different space melodically with her vocals.
KA: My introduction to the 808 sound was via Marvin Gaye's Midnight Love album. That album was important in my life for a lot of reasons, although I'm sure it cost a lot of drummer’s gigs. This is one of the only ballad type songs on the album but you can still slow dance to it! The lyrics are less positive than most of the others. They speak to a generation of women who find themselves all of a sudden less important to men and children than they were, and now exist homeless and way below the poverty line. It’s a story about laying low, licking wounds and moving on with strength. Gilly's guitar solo at the end is monumental.
LYB (Love You Better)
WH: Another track I wrote quickly one evening - it was really an idea that came together backwards after Gilly started playing around with it doing his best David T Walker impersonation over the lead hook - the outro section magically appeared and I then went and knocked up the main part of the song to go with it. The only tune I get to play live bass on - it was really a tip of the hat to my UK acid jazz influences. I really hope this song gets a remix at some stage.
KA: I was really feeling Brand New Heavies vs Sophie Ellis-Bextor when I first heard this track! Waz's bad ass bass playing brought it all together - '70s disco to '90s UK soul. Even though I never really went for the high notes in the melody there's a really pretty feel to this song.
I Get It
KA: This is one of my favourite songs on the album. The instrumental demo from Waz had me dancing around the kitchen and the words just became obvious. I wrote a lot of lyrical melodies and it's so lovely to hear my sister Angie sing them. For some reason even though it sounds nothing like it, this track reminds me of the Time Bandits' tune I’m Only Shooting Love. The high synth line is addictive and Gilly plays such beautiful guitar over the whole track. As always Graeme Pogson's beat ensures this track's regular rotation on my kitchen dance-floor!!
WH: The demo for this song was done in literally two mins. Gilly was over that afternoon and I showed him what I’d done - he immediately added some Chic style chunking on it. I sent it to Kylie who was due to meet with me the next day to record some vocals for another song. At the end of that session we had a quick listen to the idea and she ad libbed the chorus which ended up being the final take - crazy. The main issue became that I had an awesome chorus and no song and for six months I was to scared to touch it, not wanting to ruin it. By the time the album was due to be mixed I finally pulled the trigger and wrote the rest of the song. The chorus for me is still the highlight - a good example of how the things you connect with just flow out in a ridiculously quick amount of time.
Just Show Me
WH: This is where the magic started. Luke Saunders and I constructed the bones of this whole track in about 30 mins one afternoon in Perth at our Airbnb while on tour with Kylie - I still have the original version laying around somewhere but the finished product doesn’t sound a million miles away from what the demo was. It really dictated the sounds used for the rest of the album.
KA: I love this track so much. There was talk of leaving out the lush intro for radio friendliness but I wouldn't hear of it! The horns are such a huge part also, the ebb and flow, the way they interweave with the keys are just magic to me. The lyrics are self explanatory, and perhaps a little too obvious! But I like obvious - and only a few people have noticed, which tells me that songs are made of many parts, and that people listen and hear things differently!
WH: We were short a song for the album and I needed to get it finished to meet deadlines. I was telling drummer Graeme Pogson (Bamboos, GL, Mondo Freaks) this and he said you're welcome to have a listen to my MPC - I have heaps of ideas on it - the first thing he played me was an 8 bar loop of a Oberheim DX drum machine and SE1 bass. I said thank-you very much; I’ll take that please. I then went home and wrote a pre-chorus and the BV hook and it was ready for Kylie to add her magic. If only it was always that simple! Damon Grant, who always features in the live band and is the ultimate musical Mr. Fix It, hadn’t played on much of the album and I really wanted to give him a featured part - the outro was the perfect opportunity for an over the top '80s sax solo! EPIC!
KA: The lovely thing about the recording of this song is that you can hear Waz doing BVs! If you listen carefully that is - you won't get that at a live performance! Damon Grant's solo is just beautiful. This is a track that just lets you stretch out and enjoy and is a perfect album closer.
Check out This Is What Happiness Looks Like below.
Looking for more new tunes? The Green Room podcast host Neil Griffiths and The Music’s Jessica Dale have you covered with their This Week’s Releases series. Check out this week’s edition below.