Fraser A. Gorman is often classified by his Americana, Dylan-esque sound despite his Australian home. The distance between our continents doesn’t matter when listening to Slow Gum, his most recent release though. Gorman’s influences, Bob Dylan and Lou Reed, are there in his sound despite the thousands of miles that separate where the three artists come from. With lyrics that are reminiscent of old photographs in their stark, head on beauty, Gorman’s music seems much older than he is at 25. You could place him right next to Dylan in a set and no one would ever know that he is a relatively new artist. Recently, I sent Fraser a couple questions about the Melbourne scene, his influences, and being part of the community at Courtney Barnett’s Milk! Records. Here are his answers.
GMN: If you could describe your sound in three words, what would those words be?
Fraser A. Gorman: Wordy, Groovy, Country-ish (music).
GMN:Your sound seems to reference and reflect those who came before you. One striking comparison in my mind seems to be Bob Dylan or even Lou Reed. Who are three of your biggest influences from the past? What draws you to these artists?
Fraser A. Gorman: Lou Reed and Bob Dylan are my two favourite songwriters, so thanks for the nice comparison (Townes Van Zandt is 3rd). I am not entirely sure what draws me to anything. It’s probably just seemingly fearless lyrical exploration that all of those artists managed to show over their careers. I started listening to those guys when I was 12 or 13 and I often today still get blown away by some of their lines. I often get asked to explain why I like things and it is sometimes difficult to put my finger on exactly why I like it. Maybe I can escape reality through the music that these people made, I’m sure it’s a number of things. Music is incredibly powerful, I’m sure you’ll agree…
GMN: If you could collaborate with any artist living or dead, who would it be and what would that collaboration look like?
Fraser A. Gorman: To be honest I feel rather privileged to have been able to collaborate with the musicians I have already worked with, most notable amongst Americans would be Courtney Barnett who is a very close friend of mine, but also Davey Lane from the incredible Australian rocknroll band, You Am I and Dan Luscombe of an equally amazing band, The Drones. I’d like to meet Cass McCombs one day, he’s definitely one of my favourite American songwriters and if I ever got to collaborate with him that would be even more amazing. I also have been listening to Kevin Morby a bit lately and I like what he does.
GMN:Your most recent release Slow Gum is so strong in its lyrics, the images are stark and beautiful. What is your songwriting process like? Do you draw from real life influences or more fictional ones?
Fraser A. Gorman: Slow Gum was a record mainly written about my own experiences from my early 20’s. Some of it was quite emotional and some of it I was more poking fun at myself. I tend to lean more towards darker lyrical content, but I’m also a fan of keeping the actually music reasonably optimistic. I’m not a super dark character, I like to have fun and be positive and I hope that shines through somewhat in my music. My songwriting process is predominantly a thing I do on my own. I wrote Slow Gum sitting on the end of my bed in a really shitty share house in the inner city of Melbourne. The ceiling of my room leaked often and it was very dank. Maybe they influenced the sound record a bit or just made me feel perpetually ‘sick’ all the time
GMN: How has your trajectory as a musician changed from when you were younger?
Fraser A. Gorman: When I was young I used to play in a garage rock band called ‘Revolver & Sun’ with my friends Stu and Cook from a band called King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. We started playing in pubs when we were 15-16 around Melbourne and Geelong and although we were pretty scrappy we had fun. It was probably a good preparation for things that would come later on. My trajectory in music I guess is similar, I just make it because it’s what I am immersed in completely and haven’t ever looked back…. except I guess I have some great management and labels and whatnot so things are a bit more serious. But the love of it is still very much there.
GMN: You are signed to Courtney Barnett’s Milk! Records which is such a strong international showcase for Australian music. For those outside of Australia, what are the essential things to know about the scene there?
Fraser A. Gorman: The Australian music scene (in particular, the Melbourne scene) is something that I am quite proud to be apart of as there is so many amazing bands, great indie labels and venues to play at. Especially considering our population is so small and we are so far away from everything. I could rattle off the names of all the awesome bands that exist around the corner from me right now but I’d probably be here forever. It’s really exciting that breakthrough artists like Courtney Barnett, Tame Impala, and Eddy Current Suppression Ring have sort of opened the gates of the international music community and shined a bigger light on our little scene. Being associated with Courtney has allowed my music to travel a lot further than it may have done without her so I’m eternally grateful for support. Plus she’s a total legend and a really great friend so it makes me so happy to see her killing it all over the world.
GMN:And lastly, since we are a blog with a focus on covering music from a youth/young adult perspective, if you could tell your younger self one thing about making music/life/art, what would it be?
Fraser A. Gorman: I would just say don’t worry about what anyone thinks of anything and make music for your own enjoyment and artistic pleasure. And if people dig it then that’s really cool but if they don’t dig it that’s also cool! It’s something that I often try to tell myself daily. It’s nice to get accolades and whatever but as long as you are proud of your own work then that’s all that matters. I’d also say have heaps of fun with everything you do because as soon as you aren’t having fun you should really look at yourself…… Something like that anyway.