Close Counters – SOULACOASTA II Sampler EP

Close Counters: ‘SOULACOASTA II Sampler EP’
Name: Allan McConnell and Finnian Rees
Pronouns: He/Him

Tell us a little bit about Close Counters and the history of the project?
Close Counters was formed in our home suburb of Taroona in Tasmania in 2013, which means the project is in its tenth year! We started off producing a variety of different styles of electronic music, but we soon found our groove with house – with our first single Fluctuate coming out in 2014. We released our first full length album SOULACOASTA in 2018, which was the predecessor for the album we’re currently touring – SOULACOASTA II.

Your Record Store Day release is a sample of tracks from your recently released album SOULACOASTA II, how did you select the tracks that made it on to the EP?
The sampler EP is comprised of the four singles we released from the album – SNAP TO IT!, GET DOWN!, THE DON and ONLY ONE ft. IZY. With two spots left we thought long and hard about what other cuts from the album would be best for vinyl collectors and DJs. We ended up choosing the songs TAKE A CHANCE and PURSUIT.

What’s your favourite track on the EP and why?
It’s very hard to pick a favourite! But recently in the live band we’ve loved playing PURSUIT due to it’s blistering tempo and wild chords. This song is heavily inspired by broken beat producers such as Kaidi Tatham and Dego.

Tell us a little bit about the different collaborations and samples on the EP and how the tracks came about
The song ONLY ONE came about by sampling fellow Naarm/Melbourne band IZY and their song Not So Tall. We showed them and got their blessing and decided to list them as a feature on the song as the sample is such a key part of the composition. All songs also feature session playing from our live band members Matthew Hayes on bass and Lucky Pereira on drums and percussion. The song PURSUIT features vocals from Kudu Joy and flute from Erica Tucceri.

What are three words to describe SOULACOASTA II
Cosmic Dance Journey

How was the album recorded?
Bits and pieces of demos for the album were started in several studios on both Finn and Allan’s laptops that arose out of various jams and sessions – but the majority of recording and mixing for the album was done in our studio in Brunswick, Naarm/Melbourne. It’s a small warehouse space that we share with Allysha Joy and Matthew Hayes, that is home to all of our synth and keyboard collection.

Any funny stories or mishaps? Or a favourite moment?
When we play with the live band we wear custom linen boiler suits, designed by Finn under his design moniker Piewack. We had a New Years Eve festival at the local children’s farm, so we dressed up for the costume. However this time of year is notorious for heatwaves in Australia. We sweated our way through the show and Allan narrowly avoided passing out after drinking a huge array of waters that were strategically brought on stage.

What Australian artists have influenced and inspired your sound, and what album/EP of theirs would you recommend to someone who had never heard of them?
A pretty huge influence for us is The Avalanches. Both in their distinct style of music and how they creatively use sampling – but also the formatting of their albums was a huge influence for the SOULACOASTA albums, with each song seamlessly flowing in to the next. You can’t go past their first album Since I left You. The sounds and styles on this album are so fresh it’s unbelievable to think that it’s 23 years old.

Tell us about your live show, the collaborations, the set up, the lot.
Our live show features our close collaborator Lucky Pereira on drums, who as we mentioned has played on a lot of our records with both drums and percussion. For a smaller show we will play as a trio – then for a bigger show we’ll get in extra members for a larger band. In the past we’ve featured both Allysha Joy and Jay Gabriel on featuring vocals to perform our collaborations with them – and the inimitable Matthew Hayes on bass.

Any touring highlights? Do you have a favourite venue to play in Australia and internationally?
In 2021 we were lucky enough to play a co-headline show at the iconic Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne, Australia – alongside another local band called The Murlocs. This is a giant outdoor amphitheatre in the city centre, and hosts a lot of large international touring acts.

After signing with Allo Floride, are there any big touring plans for 2023?
We are currently preparing for a full Australian tour to promote the SOULACOASTA II live shows that will go through June and July. Then we’d love to come to Europe and show off the live show we’ve been working so hard on!

Where is your favourite store to go digging for records? Either in Australia or overseas?
There’s so many good spots that it’s hard to list them all, but we’d love to shout out a few that have both pressed and stocked our vinyls. In Australia this includes Northside Records, Wax Museum Records, Jet Black Cat Music and Aeroplane Records.

We hear you’re playing at the instore at Northside Records on Record Store Day, what can we expect from your live set?
We’ll be playing our live set with Lucky on kit and possibly some special guests – and we’ll be nice and squished in to fit as many people in the store as possible.

Oh yes, tell them about the awesome prize for the best dancer.
Northside Records CEO Chris Gill knows how to incentivise the people how to dance! His famous quote was re-used in our GET DOWN! artwork and press release – “Be a freak but never forget the dance floor”.

Keep up to date with all things Close Counters via their Website and Instagram