FVNERAL’s guide to Sydney’s best songwriters and producers

FVNERAL

FVNERAL is a seven-piece indie outfit from Sydney, and have recently launched their debut release, the anthemic and emotive “GOD DAMN LEDs”. The track is a warm emotive salve, offering hope and optimism during times of difficulty.

It doesn’t take too many listens to pick up on the refined and elegant beauty of the song, and the skilfulness of the production. It comes as no surprise that members of the group have spent years writing, producing and collaborating with acts such as Birds of Tokyo, Middle Kids and Stand Atlantic. International acts they have worked with include Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, The Struts, Neck Deep and many more.

The group is comprised of Ally Turner, Tim Blunt, Carlo Hilton, Zac Olsen, Jackson Kent, Jay Wennington, and Jess Hope.

The video for “GOD DAMN LEDs” was directed by FVNERAL member Jay Wennington and features actors Lauren Clark and Isla Wilson as a mother and daughter navigating heartbreak and grief.

About the video, the band says: “The video begins just after sunrise as they leave the place they parked their van to sleep for the night. Just as the first chorus hits, they catch a glimpse of the ocean through the windshield where they first play on the beach before scattering someone’s ashes on the headland, presumably that of the mother’s partner and the daughter’s father. 

We wanted this video to convey the warmth that comes with having such pure adoration for others, and the closeness that can be found in the darkest of moments.“

To celebrate the release of “GOD DAMN LEDs”, the group have put together a list of their top 5 songwriter and producers from Sydney. It’s a cracking list, beautifully explained with spot-on examples. Read on!

FVNERAL’s guide to Sydney songwriters and producers

1. Phan Sjarif

(Middle Kids, Cry Club, Georgia June, Kimono Drag Queens)
There is no way that we could start this list with literally anybody else. It’s hard to articulate how rare it is to come across someone like Phan. The first day Ally and I had ever been in a ‘proper’ studio, we played Phan the demo we wanted to flesh out and his response was “Hmmm, that chorus isn’t a chorus. Go write one!” While it was terrifying at the time, it’s become such a pivotal moment for us both. We’re so thankful for the way he took us under his wing and treated us with enough respect to give frank and honest criticism.

Fast forward to a few years later and Phan is so deeply involved in our process – giving feedback on early demos, helping us carve out the dynamic contours of a song, always helping to find the perfect emotional sonic space for lyrical content to land in.

Just one example of Phan’s magic touch can be found in Middle Kids’ debut EP. After spending a day having our song ripped apart and pieced back together, I remember hanging out with Tim (Fitz) and showing him what we’d made, and his eyes lit up. A few months later, we were sitting on a train home from the city when he showed me the first bounces of what ended up being the first Middle Kids songs. Aside from making drums so fat and vocals soar, there’s something less tangible about Phan’s genius – his ability to bring out the very best ideas from everyone in the room. Going to also take this moment to shout out one unnamed song that they made in the very first MK sessions, which has never seen the light of day. A true tragedy. IYKYK.

More than anything else, though, Phan is one of the most gentle, kind, empathetic humans we’ve ever been so fortunate to meet. He hates having his name broadcast, but we want the world to know how much we love him and how genuinely brilliant of a producer and songwriter he truly is.

2. Ivana Kay

(Micra, YSKA)
Ivi is someone that Ally and I have both admired for ages, actually having gone to our high school a couple years ahead of us. She and I played together in Rookie, a sort of psych-rock precursor to her current projects, but it’s since the emergence of Micra and YSKA that Ivi’s mastery as a songwriter and producer has become impossible to ignore. Ivi has a way of crafting melodies that get stuck in your head before you’ve even got to the end of a song, alongside these otherworldly atmospheric soundscapes which truly do wash over you. The most recent Micra offering is no exception, with some lovely sax from our very own Zac Olsen.

3. Stevie Knight

(Stand Atlantic, Trophy Eyes, Red Hook)
Stevie is quite literally the lord of pop-punk, emo and heavy production in Australia. Somehow having spare time to write/engineer/produce/mix his own project, The Dead Love, Stevie is one of the hardest working people you’ll ever come across. He cares so passionately about helping to develop bands and giving artists the tools they need to succeed, and he has a pretty unbelievable (and ever-growing) number of wins under his belt. The guy finally got his long-awaited first ARIA nomination for his work with Yours Truly, a sign of many more to come. As well as killing it in his production and songwriting, Stevie is a dear friend. Although our professional worlds have only crossed briefly, he’s someone that means a huge amount to us, giving so much love and support to our project.

Fun fact: the kid in the “GOD DAMN LEDs” video is actually Stevie’s niece, Isla. We’re forever grateful to Stevie, his sister Brittany and of course Isla herself for helping that one come together.

4. Tim Fitz

(Middle Kids, Ruby Fields, Dominic Breen)
Tim is truly one of my oldest friends and the person who I recorded my first ever song with. I remember the day when he texted to tell me he’d bought this thing called Ableton, and that I should come over to mess around with it. I loved being able to watch Tim grow as a writer and producer, from making a handful of genuinely incredible EPs entirely by himself in various bedroom/living room setups to eventually striking a moment of clarity when he started making songs with Hannah. I remember him showing me a song of his that she’d sung on and realising that they had each stumbled upon a goldmine, both creatively and relationally.

Tim has been a mentor to me, both musically and personally, and it’s truly difficult to know where to begin in articulating my gratitude and affection for all he’s done for me and for this project.

He also played the absolutely wild piano part in the pre-chorus and chorus of LEDs, which is buried in the mix but is a perfect example of him at his most virtuosic.

See also: a now closed petition, asking for more Tim Fitz solo music to be released. Maybe we can get it reopened?

5. Chloe Dadd

(Courtney Barnett, Lime Cordiale, Nick Littlemore)
Chloe is the one person on this list who we don’t know personally, but is someone who we’ve admired for a while now. I’m not even entirely sure how Chloe actually came onto my radar, but ever since she did I’ve been completely blown away by her work, not only in helping bring other artist’s visions to life, but also in her solo project. Anyway, I guess this is really our attempt to make a new friend in Chloe, maybe a future collaborator too. Who knows?

Justin Stewart Cotta

You can keep up to date with FVNERAL on their website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Youtube

Header photo credit: Jay Wennington

Bruce Baker

Probably riding my bike, taking photos and/or at a gig. Insta: @bruce_a_baker

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