Not just an intriguingly talented producer, Melbourne’s Eastward is also quite the cheeky bastard. WildnFree‘s conversation with Eastward AKA Eden Altman took place the morning after the hottest March Melbourne night on record. “Did you get much sleep last night?” asks the innocent WildnFree. “How did you know?” says cheeky Altman, without skipping a beat. After confirming the purely meteorological cause of Altman’s sleepless night, talk turns back to the original topic for discussion – debut EP Laurie Came Home, a four-track intelligent- electronica beauty releasing April 1.
So who is Eastward? “I’ve been a session guitarist for Spoonbill, who is a close friend of mine, and he’s been pushing me to do my own electronic stuff for a while,” explains Altman.”He has a fantastic label called Omelette Records, so we decided to put the EP out.” To avoid the ‘lonely person in the studio’ vibe, Altman chose to go with a “collaborative effort” involving with several close friends. Title track Laurie Came Home features buddies Tom Spender (Spender) on saxophone and Ben Harrison on trumpet, while Golden Morning features Altman’s former guitar student Emily Lubitz (Tinpan Orange) on guest vocals. FYI, ‘Laurie’ herself isn’t the cause of any of Altman’s sleepless nights. “While I was making the EP, I bought a beautiful 1980s piano from Japan called ‘Laurie’, the name’s written on the key cover,” said Altman, aware of how curious it sounds. “It’s an unusual name for a Japanese brand, but it’s beautiful. When she arrived, it was like an old friend coming home.”
Previously raved about track Old Green Thumb also appears on the EP. WildnFree and Eastward go full nerd when discussing the ideas floated in the mind-blowing video clip, namely, the organic nature of analogue sound. Terms like ‘Voltage Controlled Oscillation’ and electric sparks are thrown about. “I’ve collected a bunch of analogue synths over the years,” says Altman. “The sound somehow connects a lot more, especially once you add real guitars, real percussion, real drums, it adds that human feel, that earthy feel.”
Phenomenal Old Green Thumb video clip producer Ian Gamester carries the thought-provoking themes through onto the new video for Golden Morning, set at the now-defunct anti-fracking site in the UK’s Upton Community Protection Camp. Celebrity activists Vivienne Westwood and Bez (Happy Mondays) both appear in site footage used in the video, as well as a cute baby reading about ‘Alternative Growth Theory’ (See Old Green Thumb vid for details). The track itself is a dark beauty, with the lovely voice of Emily Lubitz reminding us ‘we are divine’, as previously pondered.
“Believe it or not, that song began as a cover of Hey Little Girl by Icehouse using the chorus with different verses” says Altman. “We sent it to Iva Davies, but he said, “No, I don’t want you to use it”. I had this image of Iva Davies with his head in his hands going, “What have the children done?!” Fully disagreeing that the moment was most likely crushing, Altman believes the song ended up much better. “We couldn’t have done it without the original idea, and songs can be twisted and pulled in lots of ways. Golden Morning was the most pushed and pulled. The rest just came out like toothpaste out of tube.”
As the intriguing video clips of both Old Green Thumb and Golden Morning show, visual arts play an integral role in the Eastward story, inspired very much by his late grandmother. Completely devoted to photography in the later part of her life, she was clearly well ahead of her time in the projection arts scene. “She did everything pre-digital, everything was on slides and she’d do projections on mannequins” shares Altman. “We often pull out the projector now and go through her slides, there’s thousands of them. We still can’t figure out how she did it.”
Come April 7, Altman’s grandmother will surely be beaming on The Gasometer Hotel during the launch of Laurie Came Home. Projectionist Mr Fish will be debuting his grandmother’s work alongside his own quirky psychedelic 60s style creations. Labelmates griff and Cheshire will also be spinning tunes, and Altman himself will be one man banding with a laptop, synths, guitars and a lapsteel, with a few mates helping out here and there. “Mal Pinkerton (Things Of Stone And Wood) will be playing cello, and the incredible Brett Langsford from Magic Mountain Band will be there too” says Altman. “He’s going to play a Paris/Texas inspired number which will be really cool.”
No doubt. Get yourselves down there to enjoy the visual and musical feast prepared, featuring artists past and present. Look out for the EP releasing on April 1, and check out the amazing video for Golden Morning right now: