A Chat With…Summer Flake

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Summer Flake is the solo project of Stephanie Crase. With a new EP out tomorrow, we decided to throw some questions her way.

Your last release was 2013’s “You Can Have It All”, and in between working on a new album, you’ve put together this forthcoming EP “Time Rolls By”. On Facebook you said you were “impatient and ran off an EP”. How important is it to be releasing new music (somewhat) regularly? You know what, the frequency of release isn’t important at all. Sometimes I am a productive and write a bunch of stuff, other times I’m working, recording, traveling, lying on the couch; downtime is fine. Mind you, lately I’ve felt flat out!

I wrote songs for an album last year and spent the first half of this year recording, anticipating we’d release the album this year, but then that didn’t happen. The artwork, vinyl pressing, a bunch of things take ages and it was pushed back and I saw a stretch of 6 months in front of me with nothing to do – and it’s no biggie, I can still play Summer Flake shows, and do other bands (I’m currently playing in Fair Maiden, Joel Carey’s Songs of Devotion, Avant Gardenrs, Lady Died). But then Jules (Rice Is Nice) had a suggestion for an EP or something, she suggested if I had anything else floating around we could release it digitally, keep it simple, no delays, and I work well with deadlines and motivation i think. Jules is sneaky that way.

Listening to the EP, I feel as though it could be a nice introduction for the forthcoming album. Would you say the EP is an extension of the album? I’m kinda happy they feel like separate projects, even if only to me! Both the EP and upcoming album were recorded with Geoff O’connor and in pretty quick succession. I spent a long time working on the album, it’s not as clean and light and country-sounding as this EP. I really have no perspective on all this- too soon!

The first single ‘The Sun Won’t Shine’ was premiered on KCRW by none other than Henry Rollins. He’s a fan of the older tunes, but what was it like getting the nod of approval for this new material? Yeah it’s great! There’s a WTF podcast episode where Marc Maron interviews Henry Rollins and it’s pretty cool, he seems like a very interesting, strange and intense guy! It seems like there’s a lot of support for Australian music all over the shop at the moment, heaps of bands are touring all over and the world is becoming a smaller place. When I played in Batrider and we lived in London and booked tours around Europe and the US mostly through Myspace, posters, word of mouth and blind faith. That was less than 10 years ago, but pre-smartphones. Anyway. It sounds like Henry is enjoying a lot of Australian stuff, and I’m grateful.

When it comes to live performances, do you play mostly solo? I haven’t played live too much this year and when I have it’s mostly been with a band. I like playing solo, but I always fall into playing the same type of songs, for better or worse. I think the EP songs work nice solo. I’ve always had live band members come and go, it’s a big ask to say to a pal “here’s your part, already written, can you learn it and come to Sydney in a month?” But that’s kind of how it’s gone. Since moving to Melbourne I’ve mostly had James Mannix (Peak Twins, Old Mate) on drums, and Sarah Chadwick (Sarah Mary Chadwick, ha!) on bass, but also Esther Edquist, Kynan Lawlor and Joel Carey stepping in. It’s hard when everyone works and plays in other bands! Sarah’s retiring to focus on her new stuff, and Mannix is busy as hell so upcoming shows will be with my old buddy Tony Bourmas on bass and I DON’T KNOW YET on drums. Should be interesting because I have gone ahead and booked some shows….

Can you tell us about your favourite Melbourne acts? I’m a sucker for anything I see frequently really, I like seeing my pals play. I’ve seen Stacey and Rani from Terrible Truths play in bands since they were teens and they are spectacular live. They new album Sarah Chadwick is working on is terrifyingly good, like next level songwriting. She’s recording with Geoff this week so I’m getting to hear her rough mixes. Esther from Superstar has a new solo thing called Sweet Whirl; she just plays bass with octave pedals and does nice low slow singing, it’s really simple and engaging. A new band called the Shame Brothers played at Sarah’s album launch earlier this year, made up of Tim Dean-Freeman, Sam Featherstone from Batrider on bass, Marcus Hobbs from East Brunswick All Girls Choir on Guitar, and Pat Telfer from Old Mate on drums, they were really good and they’re playing a show with me in November.

And Melbourne venues? I go through phases of going to one place repeatedly and I go through phases of being broke and lazy. I live right near the Tote and I need a lil rest i think! I really like seeing little gigs at Dane Certificate’s Magic Shop, Longplay is a tiny cinema and bar can be good for certain stuff. Basically if I’ve got some friends there, then any venue is fine.

Like others, I think it’s important musicians/bands are surrounded by a supportive team – be it management, booking agent or label. You’ve been with Rice is Nice for a few years, how have you found working with them? It’s definitely been nice for me having Julia and Charlie and all the Rice Is Nice gang in my corner. I think it works for us because Julia and I have become buddies and we’re just honest goobers and it’s easy. We want to support each other in whatever we do and we enjoy making and releasing music. I don’t have management or agents or anything, I work fulltime in a shitty job, and we just book our own gigs and play with friends or whatever’s happening, so you gotta enjoy it. I just like feeling like part of a community of likeminded people, and with Rice Is Nice and Matt Banham and old buddies in Sydney, Format Collective in Adelaide, new and old ones in Melbourne, people I met at Camp A Low Hum in NZ, and similar gangs around the place from touring etc. It’s nice.

Can we expect a Melbourne EP launch in the near future? Yup, I’m 2 minutes away from confirming shows for early and late November, lemme get back to ya.

Summer Flake‘s upcoming EP ‘Time Rolls By’ is out Friday October 9th through Rice Is Nice Records.

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