Dorsal Fins’ truly wonderful new album Digital Zodiac is out now; we spoke to Lim McGorry about how the whole hot thing was crafted.
Q1/ There are numerous cross-overs between other bands amongst your members. Does material ever drift sideways?
Yeah for sure; it happens occasionally. On this album, Precious Hands started life as a jam I brought in when we were rehearsing up songs with Saskwatch to record for Sorry I Let It Come Between Us. The fortunate thing for me, with our friends who are singers (Ella, Jarrad, Nkechi to name a few), is that they’re exceptionally talented and have unique voices which give the songs such character, so even if it was a Saskwatch or Dorsal Fins song originally, they bring their own thing to it and push it in another direction.
Q2/ The rhythms are so integral to these tracks – they’re impossibly jangly, like Primal Scream. Do you ever start with beats and build from there, the hip hop way?
Yeah, that’s how we do it with the Fins. I’ll write the music first and send it to Jarrad or Ella (or a guest like Tim Karmouche, Nick Vorrath, or Tim Nelson and Cub Sport, on this album) and they’ll come up with the melody and lyrics. Then we jam it with the band. We love a lot of funk, disco, beats and of course Primal Scream. Music that really lifts you up.
Q3/ The end of When It All Comes Down To Love has an epic Arcade Fire feel to it, with just enough noise to feel completely free. Is it possible to layer too much, so that everything gets murky – kind of like how if you mix all the paints together it comes out brown?
Of course. I feel like recording with Dorsal Fins is really about throwing everything at the wall, seeing what sticks and then peeling back eight or nine layers, because we got really carried away. It’s a really tough balance not to have it turn out ‘brown’, but I think we’re getting better at it.
Q4/ The album sounds like you have had more time to distil exactly what you wanted from each track (compared to Mind Renovation) – was there a careful effort to allot brain power to each stage of the process?
Yeah, that’s exactly right. Mind Renovation is perhaps a bit more chaotic a record, and people have said to me that each song sounds like a completely different band. I guess going in to this record, we wanted to get the feeling of a journey (as I think we did with Mind Renovation), but to make sure that the band sounded a bit more like Dorsal Fins and not 10 different bands. We also wanted it to reflect the live band a bit more in terms of instrumentation, which has been great.
Q5/ Your album cover shot is at Parliament station. What does it mean to you, other than being a good Melbourne meeting place?
I think to me, Marcelle’s [Bradbeer, photographer] shot was really apt for the cover, in that the name Digital Zodiac is referring to movement, searching, travel and finding your way. I feel like where we’re at now, compared to where we were a year ago (releasing Mind Renovation and starting out as a band) is a world away, and we’re still travelling and learning together. It’s great.
Digital Zodiac is out now via Remote Control.