Rat & Co are consciously floating through our subconscious
From the great hall in the NGV to the darkest corner of the club, Rat&Co defy genre, expectation, and explanation.
From the fresh-faced Sugar Mountain festival-goers to a middle-aged crowd at the NGV, Rat&Co have always played to an unusually diverse range of people. The consistently-positive reviews might also suggest that these guys know exactly how to gently tap into our minds.
Rat&Co was founded as a solo bedroom production by Joshua Delaney and the band has since grown to four, joined by Nick Park, Kaia McCarty-Smith, and John Waller. Their tracks flow organically from one to the next, mesmerising beats capturing your subconscious and leading you through both natural and urban ambience. Everyone can get lost everywhere.
i-D spoke to the guys about festivals, the importance of flow, and a future third album.
You guys recently played a show at the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the NGV. How was that?
Kaia: It was pretty special to be playing in the great hall of the NGV, the natural reverb in that room is amazing. During our sound check John our guitarist was playing these high chords and they were resonating around the room and sounded like an organ. There were a lot of people there just for the exhibition though, it's pretty hard to compete with one of the largest ever fashion exhibitions to come to Melbourne. But we played really well and got a good response from a middle-aged crowd who otherwise wouldn't have seen Rat&Co play before.
Is there a particular show that has resonated with you?
Nick: We recently played at Sugar Mountain, and that show had a special air to it. I can't really describe what it felt like, but we were all feeling it.
Is there a big difference between playing at a festival and playing your own gigs?
Nick: They are completely different things to us. Playing a club show we usually have visuals and it's really dark and sweaty and people can't really see you properly. At festivals we usually play in the day. We really enjoy the challenge of playing at festivals though and we're exposing our music to more people who otherwise wouldn't hear it.
Kaia: Yeah we have had really positive feedback from festivals. We would love to play at more. Meredith and Golden Plains are at the top of the list!
Does it impact what tracks you choose to play?
Kaia: Yeah it all really depends on the show. We put a lot of work into the way we structure the set, it can be what makes or breaks it. We always talk about flow and carrying the momentum. It's one of my favourite jobs within the band.
Nick: We also construct our show in a way so it is constant, never really allowing silence from the start to the end of the set. I really like that it's an immersive mixtape-like experience, which lends itself to the listener being taken along for the ride or the journey. I kinda wish I could watch one of our shows from the audience and see if it works.
Your music is very mesmerising. So are your visuals. Do you think music videos are important assets?
Nick: I think our videos and the aesthetic that they create are very important to us and our music. They kind of feed off each other, especially in their inception. We're always swapping ideas and content with Ribal Swang, the mastermind behind all the videos.
Kaia: He's almost like another member of the band, he's constantly pushing us and throwing new ideas our way. In the video for "The Letter" there is such an effortless harmony created between the music and what you see. That video is special in many ways for us. It's definitely something that I will show my kids.
It's pretty difficult to categorise you guys. What's your opinion on genre? Do you have one?
Nick: Genre is something that is super restricting when you rely on it too much. Rat&Co don't really have a genre, we sit somewhere in between lots of different genres and sub-genres, which is why we're asked to play at such a variety of shows.
Kaia: But that also is something that we have to be very careful with, because you don't want to scare anyone away from your music because you decide to add one four-to-the-floor banger on your record. We're floating but conscious about it.
What's next for Rat&Co?
Kaia: We're about to start recording our third album, but we also want to release something smaller and a little different first. We don't want to rush it too much though, our second album came out pretty quickly after our first because we felt a lot of pressure to back it up. We kinda burnt ourselves out a little. So this time we're going to allow more time to breathe and make sure we put something out that we are all incredibly proud of.
Nick: Some of the songs on the new album come from the tracks that we probably all like the most out of all of our music, but that didn't quite fit onto the first two albums for various reasons. So there is already a feeling there for the record. It will probably sound more band-y.
Kaia: We're also going to Japan and planning on doing a couple of shows while we are over there, which is really exciting.
Text Erin McConchie
Photography Savannah Van der Niet