Interview: San Cisco on Between You and Me, writing happy songs and isolation

San Cisco are staples in the Australian music industry – you’d be hard-pressed to find an Aussie music lover who hasn’t come across this three-piece Western Australia band.

Their latest full-length album, Between You and Me, follows the recent release of their Flaws EP which housed singles ‘Reasons’, ‘Skin’ and their most vulnerable song to date ‘Flaws’. Drip-feeding fans this collection of songs over the space of two years, their fourth studio album is highly anticipated.

We had a chat to frontman Jordi Davieson about its creation, writing love songs and what he got up to through lockdown.

How are you, Jordi? Where are you right now?

Good. I’m just in our home studio in Fremantle.

Oh, nice. What’s your home studio setup look like?

There’s some acoustic treatment on the walls. Drum kit, a bunch of guitars, piano, couple of synths, drum machine. The room is probably seven meters by eight meters. Big picture of Elvis.

It’s a whole other house really! You recorded half of Between You and Me there, right?

Yeah, we did quite a bit of a demoing and finishing things up. And then we went to Mullumbimby for an intensive finishing off of the record.

This was a long record in the making, right? Almost two years…

Yeah, and yesterday I was actually going through all my voice memos on my phone, which took ages. And there was the beginnings of songs from early 2018.

You released “When I Dream” back in 2018. Is that one of the oldest songs on the record?

I think the oldest song on the record would probably be “Flaws”. But “When I Dream” was the oldest song recorded I reckon, because we didn’t record “Flaws” until we were in Mullumbimby, but I wrote it ages ago… Probably five years ago.

Why did it take so long to release? Was it very different back when you first wrote it?

No, it’s exactly the same. I tried to get them to… We were recording The Water and I was like, “Guys, I’ve written this song. I think it’s really good.” And they were like, “Nah.” And so then I tried again for this record and they were like, “Okay, we’ll do it.”

So you really had to sell this song to them?

Yeah. I think I just needed to be a bit more persistence, just a bit more like, “This song is going on the record.” And I think it worked out well. It ended up getting quite a lot of positive feedback from our record label and other people that are close to us, once it was recorded. But it missed out on The Water record, but made onto this one.

It was also the title of your EP, so that’s got to say something about it.

Yeah, exactly.

 

What was the most recent song you wrote?

I think “Reasons” was possibly. We just demoed that song, just Josh [Biondillo] and I in the home studio, just before we left for Mullumbimby. And we forgot about it. And then we were just looking through the hard drive and we were like, “What’s the next song we should try and tackle?” And we press play on that and Scarlett [Stevens] and our producer, Steven [Schram] was just like, “What? Where have you guys been hiding this?” And then it just really fell together quite quickly. But the last song that we finished recording, not writing, would have been “On The Line.”

We finished that in Mullumbimby. “On The Line” and “Shine” didn’t quite make it onto the record. They never quite fell in the right spot. And we forgot about them and it wasn’t until recently that we were like, “We should try again.” And so we got in the studio here and rerecorded them and took another angle and changed a few bits. They were finished… “On The Line” was never going to be a single and we finished them just before COVID started.

Oh wow, and that one was also your break into the commercial airwaves. Wasn’t that one being played on Nova and other stations?

Yeah. Which is kind of weird. It was quite a shock. So they were like, “Look, we’re thinking this should be the next single.” And I was like, “I don’t know guys.” But I’m very happy that we did it. It’s gone a lot better than what I thought it would.

Who makes your decisions for what your next single is then, if you guys are independent?

Well, we’re signed to a record label internationally, so outside of Australia and New Zealand, a record label called Nettwerk. And so, we definitely talk to them about it, quite a bit. And they give us suggestions of what they think we should do. And then it’s really just what we think and our management and what our friends think.

How important are your friends’ opinions? Do they get to listen to your music really early on in the process? Or do you wait till it’s really polished?

It depends. It really depends. I think if there’s like a song that I’ve written that I’m quite excited about, just on guitar, I’ll play it. I’ll play it to a friend if I think it’s impressive. It’s also really hard to play songs to people when there’s so much still that you need to do, because it’s like, “Just imagine this, but with a guitar doing that, and we’re going to do this with the synth and the chorus will be better.” It just doesn’t work. But, when the magic of whatever that song is, is there, that’s probably when I will show someone.

 

Is Liv one of the people who you’d show pretty early on?

Yeah, I do. I think I show her a lot because she actually knows all the songs and she’s pretty good at… She’ll be like, “Yeah, yeah, no, no. You’ve shown me this one.” But, I would have shown her way early on, when I was just playing it on guitar probably. And then just some of our other friends that I know. Some people you’ll show and you know they’re not going to like it or something. It depends.

That’s fair enough. Are there songs on this album about Liv, because your press release said, “It’s an album two years and at least one sadly remembered love affair in the making.” But you guys have been going out for three years, right?

Yeah. We’ve been going out for three and a bit years. It’s not about… I just write love songs and a lot of the songs about my first relationship. And I don’t write heaps of songs about Liv, because I find it hard to write happy songs and everything’s pretty happy all the time.

“Tell Me When You Leave Tonight” was definitely inspired by Liv, but that was Josh. We were at home and I think Liv was going out and I was like, “Well, just tell me when you’re leaving and I’ll come find you.” And he was playing guitar and he was like, (singing). And then that was the song. And then, “Alone” is loosely based around Liv and missing Liv.

Have you been spending a lot of time in isolation with her?

Yeah, we’ve been spending a lot of time together. Through COVID we went down south and lived in the bush, for three months, in our family shed. My family’s got a shed down there that we lived in. We just locked in, which was really nice.

What did a typical day for you look like then? Did you pick up any new skills?

Well, Liv would just work on her photos and writing and stuff like that. She’d be inside reading and writing and doing all that shit, because I hate that. I was chopping trees down and making fires and building stuff. And going surfing and playing a bit of music.

That sounds primal.

So you’ve still got some tour dates pencilled, what can we expect from those shows?

We’re just going to try and play as much of the album as we can. And we’ve got a five-piece now, which is pretty fun.

Who have you picked up? So you’ve got you, Josh, Scarlett…

A guy called Mitchell Benson on bass guitar. He’s been playing bass with us for a while now and also James Ireland who actually mixed “Skin”, “On The Line”, and “Shine”, did some producing on, “On The Line” and “Shine” as well.

Oh, sick. That’s such a good squad.

Yeah. It’s really fun. We’ve never been a five-piece and it’s a really good vibe and I’m just looking at this tour as just this pretty epic adventure across WA.

I’m very jealous over on the East coast. It’s about time WA gets a little private viewing.

Yeah. But, I don’t think it’s going to happen, to be honest.

You’ll have to just do it virtually.

We’re going to have to do something unless we can play full capacity, then there’s no point in us doing it. So, it’s just a bit sad.

Is there anything else on the horizon then?

It’s pretty funny, our manager will come back and be like, “All right, just had a huge meeting with your booking agent. Got all this shit lined up. But at the end of the day, we have no idea if it’s ever going to happen.” So we’ve got a few ideas in the pipeline of things to do in the lead up of the record, but nothing set in stone yet.

All right, well I’m keen to see it happen, as it happens then. We’ll celebrate all the small successes.

Yeah. One step at a time.

Between You and Me is out now. Pre-order your limited edition merch bundles here.

SAT, SEP 5 | Secret Location | Fremantle, Australia | SOLD OUT
FRI, OCT 30 | Fremantle Arts Centre | Fremantle, Australia | Tickets
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