It’s not often you hear a track that you seamlessly picture at either a crowded nightclub or your morning coffee shop, but for Australian dance trio Crooked Colors, that’s just another track in their discography. The indie band, consisting of Phil Slabber on vocals and guitar, Leon Debaughn on keys and Liam Merrett-Park on Drums, bring an emotive depth to their music, no matter how danceable, and they make no exception with their newest single “No Sleep.” The track, with tinges of inspiration from the likes of Glass Animals and Alt-J, combines traditional house and pop melodies with a flair all the bands’ own.
Crooked Colours have risen incredibly quickly over the last few years as one of the brightest new electronic acts in their native Australia, with their breakout hit “Flow” (from their debut LP Vera ) surpassing 25 million Spotify streams and their following album Langata boasting fan favorite tracks with upwards of 11 million streams. Combined with a new Atlantic Records recording deal and sold out shows across the world, Crooked Colours is simply put, on a roll.
We sat down with the band to discuss their newest single “No Sleep,” as well as their rising popularity and plans for the future. Check out the full interview below.
Tell us about your new single “No Sleep.” What inspired the song?
Phil had the vocal for ages just lying around over a bed of R&B chords and we were going to get back to it once we finished touring, and then Covid happened and we had the time. We kept the vocal as is and created a dancier production than normal and this was the result. From the demo we had for a year to this, it was such a stark difference but we are proud of this one.
Your music has been described as house, “indietronica,” tropical, amongst other things. How would you best describe your discography?
Honestly it’s quite eclectic and we have never been able to describe it as we play at all different BPMs. It’s even hard to structure a setlist for live shows, trying to get each song to run into each other without killing the vibe is a tough job. Songs like ‘Flow’ to “Plymouth” and “I C Lite” to “Perfect Run.” Have no idea how to describe it.
For an electronic band you are known for being rather emotive and self-reflective. Do you think that is what has made you stand out the most amongst other electronic acts?
To be honest I think it’s the fact we don’t give people a breather from us. We just hang around, lingering, doing shows and putting out music and people can’t help but have to listen to us.
You recently signed to Atlantic Records, have there been any major changes in your process while making an LP for them versus Sweat it Out?
Same stuff really. Get pressured to send demos we aren’t happy with, get negative feedback on the unfinished demo, feel like pure shit. Rinse repeat. Ha, nah they are really good. Sweat and Atlantic have both been extremely supportive of us and it is a good feeling to have people back you.
Now that you are on Atlantic, I’d imagine your collaboration opportunities have grown considerably. Who are you dying to work with?
You’re known right now as one of Australia’s hottest new acts. Has the newfound fame changed your dynamic or outlook in any way?
I mean we have been doing this for a long time so it has never felt like newfound fame. It’s been a tough and slow process where we have kept on adjusting our goals as they come so nothing has changed. We work towards where we want to be and we haven’t stopped.
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Australia has been on the downswing in terms of COVID cases, have you been able to tour around the country recently?
We have played two cities out of five on a tour that has been postponed almost a year. Other shows keep on getting pushed back but we are hopeful very soon we can complete the circuit! Fingers crossed.
Where did the band name Crooked Colours come from?
Ha! This is such a non-inspired story. We picked “Colours” as a second word and then found ‘Crooked’ as the first word. Soz.
The three of you all have rich musical upbringings. Is that what initially brought you together?
Leon and Phil were mates and they were playing around with a few synths and making music and they made a few tracks together. Then when they wanted to play a show live they hit Lampy up who was a mate of mates to play drums. After this they rehearsed for a bit and played the show and that was the birth of the Crooked Colours that we know now.
Your sound has been compared to the likes of Tame Impala and Rufus Du Sol. Are there any other contemporary artists that inspire you?
So many!! As an example, early on it was Van She and The Presets then we started listening to Caribou and Glass Animals, now it’s being inspired by other artists’ work ethic. Seeing their output, how they adapt to new social media and stay true to their sound. There are many facets where an artist can inspire you.
What do you find you are most comfortable writing about? Are there any topics you find particularly difficult to sing about?
Writing about yourself and your feelings is the most easy but if it is particularly personal, it’s a bit of a mistake to have to rehash that night after night in front of people.
What song would you love to officially remix?
Kiss Me Thru The Phone by Soulja Boy [Tell ‘Em]
You’ve stated that your music works for any time/place, from a club to a coffeehouse. Was it your mission from the start to make your music versatile in this way?
Our writing style is so chaotic. There is no set tone or cutout of what we want, it has just turned out that the songs we all like fit into this broad category.
Are there any other singles or projects we can look out for from Crooked Colours?
Oh yes. Album on the way!!