05.05.2019

Five Melbourne acts that shape Nathan Cavaleri’s scorching blues rock sound

The rising songwriter gives us the lowdown on the artists that inspire his music.

Rya Park

I had spent a full day in the studio mediating an argument between head and strings as I built my first-ever solo set supporting Keb’ Mo’. Well and truly beyond the law of diminishing returns, I decided to throw in the towel and crank some of my favourite records in an attempt to slap me out of the funk I had ended up in.

Nothing worked. Not even Soundgarden’s ‘Down On The Upside’. I remembered that a good mate had sent me a link to new Melbourne artist Rya Park’s track ‘Act Your Age’ – a seriously dirty, sleazy, sexy, yet fun and quirky number which is somewhere between Arctic Monkeys and Stevie Nicks. The production is insane, the lo-fi fuzzy guitars are a tick and so are the fat drums.

She’s got a velvety hot voice that can both talk and sing. I must have listened to this track ten times and much like Alex Lahey, Rya Park has found a way to tell a story without being folky while her songwriting abilities transcend her age. Watch Rya Park conquer. This is hot.

KAIIT

Kaiit makes me want to listen to more neo-soul. Lush blissful jazz chords resonating spaciously over a simple hip hop strut beat. Her smooth and cool mic skills have her sometimes singing, sometimes rapping yet I don’t even notice the shift. Her attitude is soulful and cool yet spiced with just enough attitude to communicate her points.

From the first lyric of “OG Luv Kush, pt.2” I was hooked. “You had the audacity to leave your menthol cigarettes on the kitchen floor”. The way she uses silence as a creative tool shows the sophistication of her writing skills. This is an artist I’d love to collaborate with one day. Big fan.

Shaun Kirk

My EP Demons called for guitars outside of my collection. So I hit up the only mate I would hit up in this situation – Diesel. Out of the five guitars he lent me, I fell in love with an old ’60s bright red Harmony Rocket. The only guitarist in Australia that I’ve seen play one, is Shaun Kirk. It wasn’t until I met him that I realised he was just as influenced by Diesel as myself. I knew in that moment, we’d be friends for life.

There aren’t too many solo artists that can hold the attention of a crowd for longer than 30 minutes, but there is just too much colour, too many stompers and bangers to ever get bored with Kirk’s set. For me, swamp/stomp blues/folk never gets old. Especially when it’s done well. On top of all that, he is such an awesome dude. I look forward to teaming up with him when I get to Melbourne and Geelong.

Mojo Juju

One word – courage. Adversities can either crush us or empower us. With lyrics like, “I don’t belong inside your narrow definitions” and “Wherever I am, I’m always the other”, it’s not hard to get an idea of what those adversities are/were. Yet, Mojo Juju’s attitude and songs trigger inspiration and strength rather than sadness and sympathy.

The likability of her art doesn’t hinge on the messages she preaches. Musically, I love how many creative yet non-self-indulgent ways she leans out from soul and R&B. In some songs, I hear synth-pop, and others I hear undertones of Brit-rock. Her voice is undeniably soulful and commanding yet cool. Whether you identify with lyrics, beats or melodies, Mojo Juju has something for all music lovers who want to feel something.

The Teskey Brothers

Anyone who follows me on socials is sickened by the love I have for The Teskey Brothers. The last time I wrote about Teskeys, they were pulling 200 people at The Landsdowne but nowadays, they are packing theatres around the world and only just fit into the “up-and-coming category”.

Not only do I love their production, songwriting, and fusion of styles, I also like that they haven’t allowed the pressures of being “different” to influence their creative decisions. In a world of recontextualisation, it’s so easy to get swept up in creating something unique for the sake of delivering something new and fresh. But is it always better? No.

The Teskey Brothers have taken all the good parts of our favourite classic blues, soul, country and folk records and made it their own. When I listen to their songs, I forget that I’m a musician because I’m not following it with my mind, I’m listening to it with my soul.

Check out Nathan Cavaleri’s new single ’29 Gold Stars’ via streaming services. He plays The Toff in Town alongside Shaun Kirk and Alana Wilkinson on Sunday May 19. Grab tickets via his website.