Many skateboarders are also artists and musicians, drawing inspiration from skating to fire up the creative juices needed to write and play music. As such I have decided to explore this in a series of interviews with creative types in Melbourne, starting with a friend and Fitzy local Sean Kirkwood. You can catch him at 303 bar in High street tonight. Let me know what you think!
Sean taking in the infamous North Melbourne drains under the freeway entrance.
So here we go….
Can you give me a rundown on your music and who inspires you at the moment.
At the moment I’m constantly inspired by living in Melbourne, the musicians I get to see right on my doorstep and the people I’ve met so far. I’m originally from New Zealand and have been in Melbourne for just over a year now. I think this city is so creative and has something new and exciting to see on an almost daily basis that it’s pretty hard to not be inspired just by your daily encounters. My music is definitely reflecting that aspect at the moment and I’m finding myself writing more and more about people I’ve met and experiences I’ve had over the last year – be it the way a new city makes you feel while you’re surrounded by it at it’s core, or a girl giving you a look that makes your eyes explode at a party!
How often do you skate these days and is it usually skate then make music or the other way round? Does it matter in terms of the energy and creative input you bring to both?
Definitely not as much as I’d like to be right now, but I think that’s more to do with how damn cold it’s been lately! When the weathers good I’ll try get on my board at least a few times a week though. I think it has a lot to do with creating an energy which can be harnessed and used for songwriting. I find that if I skate, it’s almost like a form of meditation which completely clears my mind and gets me to a place where I feel relaxed and switched on mentally.
How many projects are you involved with at the moment, some friends of mine are involved in two or three bands at once. Does it make it more difficult spreading yourself across different projects?
I have my band, Sean Kirkwood & The Radioshow, as well as doing solo acoustic shows. So they kind of go hand in hand because if I’m writing something solo, 9 times out of 10 I’ll be bringing it forward to the band anyway. Most of my musician friends are in more than one band, and they seem to manage spreading themselves across them all. I think being in more than one project would be huge for keeping your mind in that creative space. But as a songwriter, I feel like I have such a strong vision of where I want to be and what I want to bring to the musicial world, that I tend to just stick with my crew!
Tell me about the process of attempting to put music to skateboarding you and your mates might be doing. Is it harder when it’s your music and your skating?
This is something that I’ve definitely always thought about since I’ve been writing music, but in previous years because I’ve always been a solo musician, I just couldn’t create anything that I really wanted to skate to, let alone chuck it on while anyone else is skating.
It’s always been a goal of mine though, to have a song in a video part, or to just have a song which you know people genuinely want, and do, skate too; But now, with the band, I can see that goal being a lot more in reach, so it’s very high on my to-do list at the moment!
Music and skateboarding go completely hand in hand to me, both are amazing art-forms which require a huge amount of dedication, sacrifices, time and energy; and most of the time you’re completely broke while attempting to master either! But both environments also create a family like bond with the people you perfect your craft with, so I’m really hoping I can create something that works with both, and is respected by both communities.
Obviously making music takes up time you could be skating. And skating and getting injured can stop you playing music.
For sure man, and the injury thing is something that had a big part in me toning down my skating a bit in my younger days. A lot of people assume you’re only really out of the game if you injure your hands, and while that can be true, music is such a mentally challenging playing field and any damage to my health in general really seems to bring me down mentally, which can affect my writing. Although sometimes that’s not a bad thing!
How wide are your musical tastes? Anything you can recommend for my playlist?
I like to think I have a pretty open mind when it comes to music, and my tastes range anywhere from slide-guitar instrumentals, folk and alt-country, blues, hip-hop and right up to punk and metal. Music to me is about the connection it creates with that part of your brain that makes you do that little half grin and think “Fuck yeah” to yourself. So, anything that does that to me is alright in my books!
I generally skate to a lot of punk or hip-hop though, I like skating to stuff with a solid beat and the sort’ve music that just makes you feel a lot tougher than you are! Lately I’ve been scoring a lot of NOFX, The Roots, Wu-Tang and Q-tip while rolling.
In terms of something for your playlist though, check out a song by John Mooney called “Doggone Thing”, I’ve been playing it on repeat lately. It’s the perfect tune for when you’ve been skating all day and you get home, sit down and crack your first beer. Check it out in that situation and you can’t go wrong!
I consider myself extremely lucky in this area because I get to play the best of both worlds, both solo and with a band; and both environments are extremely different in my eyes. In terms of a solo venue, I recently played The Wesley Anne in Northcote and in my opinion they’ve nailed the meaning of an acoustic venue. It’s seated, dimly lit and the crowd they pull seems to be there to really experience the music. My solo shows have a huge focus on audience interaction and making sure that every single person has the same opportunity of understanding the song completely and feeling like they’re right inside it with me.
Phoebe Neilson of Sean Kirkwood and the Radioshow
But on the other hand I also get to play with my band, which allows me to rock out a little more of stage and really just aim to provide an environment that the audience wants to party in; while at the same time gain a similar experience to a solo show. We played the B.East last weekend and that really felt that the first time we’ve truly nailed that aspect as a band; although it was only our third show as a band – we’re still pretty fresh, but I think that’s what’s keeping it new and exciting for us at the moment.
I can’t wait to check it out man. Tell me a little about the other members of Sean Kirkwood and the Radioshow.
We’re made up of me, Phoebe Neilson and Andrej Morgan. Finding a band has been something I’ve been striving for over the last three or four years, but I’ve never found anyone I’ve really clicked with until these guys. Andrej is an amazing drummer and adds elements to my music that I’d never even thought of trying before, while Phoebe brings textures and melodies on both double and electric bass that only she can provide. We haven’t been together for all that long, but already these guys are family to me and I’m getting more exciting with each day to see how far we can take it and what we can create.
When can we expect to see you play next? Got a few dates booked for winter i guess…
We’ve got a few things brewing at the moment, including a show at the Edinburgh Castle this Friday June 14th so come check us out!!
We’re also heading into the studio on the 16th of June to start work on our first EP, so I’d say we’ll be pretty busy in the studio for a little bit.
Can’t wait to come to the show man, see u for a roll down the bowl real soon!
Upcoming show at the Edinburgh Castle on Jun 14th:
Add Sean on Facebook too for regular news and events info: