Not yet one year on from their fateful unearthing, teen sensations Snakadaktal are kicking some serious life and career goals. This includes but is not limited to becoming high-school graduates (with the exception of one – vocalist Phoebe), releasing a highly acclaimed debut EP, and selling out not one, but two previous national headline tours. Fresh from a national tour as the highly coveted support slot for fellow Triple J darlings The Jezabels, the boys and girl that make up the dreamy shoe gaze pop quintet from the outer suburbs are getting ready to do it all again. With news of a debut album in the works and yet another sure to be sell-out national tour fast approaching, Snakadaktal are growing up and quickly moving away from their pesky high-school wunderkind label by preparing to take on the big bad world, one hit single at a time.
Having written and recorded the material from their current self-titled EP from the comfort of their homes, Sean (vocals/guitar), Phoebe (vocals/synth), Barna (drums), Joseph (guitar) and Jarrah (bass), are well and truly examples of the natural talent spawned from pure enjoyment. Getting together to play two years ago, Snakadaktal were primarily a band for pleasure that has since turned into pretty big business. It’s this relaxed, home-grown attitude that has seen the band and their sweet, swoon-worthy tracks Air and Chimera catapult them to instant indie-star status and highlight their knack for penning tunes all about fantasy, youth and love. Common themes for most, Snakadaktal’s genuine innocence and ability to be playful in their song writing has yet to put them a foot wrong. Now facing big changes and developments in their personal life, with vocalist Phoebe battling through her final year of high school and the boys now free from its former holds, the band are collectively thinking forward to the writing of their debut.
“Our ideas are always changing, just through what we’re doing at the time or what we’re thinking about,” Sean relates. “We always try to have fun songs and try to have written a happy album, but then I guess we find what works well with us is being more sad lyrical writers over nice melodies, which sound very sad. I guess we kind of do that too much.”
Dance Bear, their latest single, and a track from their upcoming album, is of a different breed though. Incorporating heavier guitars and louder synth, Snakadaktal appear to be leaning towards more of a grown-up rock sound. “That song was always, when we made it, a much rockier song, but we definitely developed it into a more poppy tune. We recorded it with Malcolm Besley from Northeast Party House, who’s a good friend of ours. He really helped us along the way and taught us a new way of looking at it and recording, and that’s why it’s really clean, and a really good recording.”
“All the ones we’d done ourselves beforehand was the way we were so used to doing it, but his [method] is obviously a lot better quality than ours, so he had a lot of influence on the recording of the track. A lot of us are listening to a lot more electronic music, and we’ve all got very different tastes in music, so I guess we’ll kind of always change a bit when we’re doing it as a group.”
Change, perhaps, but don’t call it maturing – that’s one thing Sean sees as irrelevant in music. “I think all sounds and all words, they’re timeless things and I don’t think with music you can say what is mature and what isn’t – it’s all basically just sounds. It’s like art – you’ve got little kids drawing these paintings that are worth thousands of dollars, but it’s not about skill and maturity, it’s about the moment and the meaning.”
The opportunity to work alongside more established people within the music industry has also helped with the growth of the band, particularly having toured with the likes of The Jezabels. “That was an amazing experience and opportunity to be given,” Sean recounts. “The whole crew and everyone involved were absolutely delightful people to know and to have met and be travelling around with. It taught us so much, just what’s in them every night – huge performers, so professional about everything. We really watch that and think, ‘whoa, we’re going to be like that one day if we work a bit harder.’”
Snakadaktal are definitely well on their way, having just booked a fresh run of tour dates across the country to celebrate the launch of Dance Bear, with three shows in Melbourne alone. With these kinds of numbers it’s hard to argue that the young band have an expiry date. “We’re going to have longer sets this tour with a lot of new songs that are going to really change people’s opinions of us – they can either really hate us or decide that we’re not a one hit wonder,” Sean says, with a hint of trepidation. “We really just want to prove that we can be around for longer than a year.”
They needn’t be worried. While a quick rise to the top of indie music ranks can more often than not mean a quick and fairly brutal fall in this fickle business, Snakadaktal are gradually growing into their own and shaking off any ill-informed judgements.
“I guess we’ll not always want the high-school band label, just because you want to be known for your music, not really your age. It’s probably something we’d definitely want to lose in the future, but we’re really grateful to have had that publicity about us to help us in our music life.”
BY TEGAN BUTLER
Snakadaktal play The Corner Hotel on Friday August 17 and Saturday August 18 with support from Sures and City Calm Down. They’ll also play a special under 18 matinee show on Sunday August 19.