The first time I heard Can’t Get Better Than This was early one rainy morning on triple j. There was something strange and a bit magical about the track, with its spooky, repeated vocal hook and propulsive house beat; it was one of those rare moments in which you find yourself jolted to full attention, turning the car stereo right up in the hopes that you’ll catch the artist’s name. The single turned out to be the first – and at the time of writing, still the only – official release from Parachute Youth. The duo, comprising friends Matt K Von and Jonny Castro, are one of the hottest prospects in Aussie electronic music right now. Presently in the midst of a national tour, they are contemplating a debut album, but would prefer to just get the next single out first.
“Myself and Matt have been mates for a few years,” says Jonny. “We actually met at Botanic Bar in Adelaide, we were just sitting down having drinks. I was playing synth in a band called Def Starr, and he’d been DJing for a while as well. We spent a while talking about music that we liked, and he said, ‘Hey, I’ve got a studio at my house if you want to come over and make some music some time,’ and it pretty much went from there.” As musical pick-up lines go, that’s as straight-forward as it gets. And it did the job. “We started catching up more frequently and became good mates after that,” Jonny continues. “We made three or four songs we really liked, one of them being Can’t Get Better Than This – and yeah, that’s how it all started.”
Parachute Youth are presently playing shows around the country and will appear at this year’s Splendour In The Grass, but unlike other electronic acts who tour as DJs while refining their live show, they are first and foremost a live band. With only two officially-released tracks to their name – the other being Awake Now, the B-side to Can’t Get Better Than This – the pair play sets full of all original material. “Somewhere down the line, we’ll be doing an album,” says Jonny, “and eight or so of the songs from the current live set are likely to feature on it. We’re pretty much using the live show to give people a taste, a sample of what’s to come. We’re looking to see which songs get a good response and which ones don’t.”
It’s a risky thing, with only two songs released, to play a live set full of new material – but the response has been great. “We’d done a lot of studio work in the background for ages before we released anything,” Matt tells me. “We’ve got the formula down, even for the songs that are slower jams, and we’re very particular.” If he and Jonny don’t think a song is really, really good, then they simply won’t use it.
“If it doesn’t have that same sincerity as Can’t Get Better Than This, or whatever quality it is that makes that song so good, then it doesn’t go in the show. It’s been good to test the songs in the live setting, to get that feedback. We’ve mostly just had really positive responses thus far.”
But crowds never react quite the way you think they will. “There are certain tracks in the set that people respond to even more than Can’t Get Better Than This,” Jonny says, “which is weird, because that’s the only song people really know at this point. Doing it this way has definitely made us think about what tracks might be singles down the line.” One big surprise was a track called The Little Prince.
“That’s one we were never expecting to take off as much as it has,” Matt says. “It’s kind of got more of a slow-jam feel to it – it’s a slow, half-time sort of song. The response to that has been way better than expected; people at our last Melbourne show especially really got into it.”
The big question now is when we might expect a Parachute Youth album. Certain folks at Sweat It Out, the duo’s label, have suggested that there might well be something out before the end of the year – although the guys themselves are not so sure. “We’re actually going to take our time with it,” Matt says. “We’ve written a lot of tracks already, but Jonny and I are really maturing as songwriters and producers so, you know, we’re going to bide our time and keep writing.”
The most that will be out in the near future, they tell me, is a four-track EP of their favourite songs from the live show, which will be available in the coming months. “We’re probably going to release at least two EPs before the album. We realise people want new stuff, but we want to release good stuff,” Matt says. “I mean, you just have to look at Flight Facilities. They’ve released something like one track a year, but they’ve all been really good.”
BY ALASDAIR DUNCAN
Parachute Youth [AUS] play Prince Bandroom on Saturday June 23. They also play the sold-out Splendour In The Grass at Belongil Fields, Byron Bay, which takes place from Friday July 27 and Sunday July 29.