roland tings is testing if he has anything to say

Following the release of his first LP, he’s contemplating the relevance of the album and how long another one is going to take.

by Wendy Syfret
17 February 2015, 2:25am

For the past few years Roland Tings aka Rohan Newman has been one of Melbourne's favourite electronic sons. Gigging extensively and touring exhaustively, he garnered a late night reputation for making smart dance music to stay up till sunrise to. With the release of his first self titled LP in January, and a national tour supporting Chet Faker, he's now facing the sometimes tricky process of transitioning from a Soundcloud hero to bankable recording artist. And as if that wasn't hard enough, he's doing it with the quiet expectation that he might just be the scene's next breakout export.

So your album is done, is that a relief?
It's good to have it out, I finished it a long time ago and it's one of those things that sticks around for a long time and you wonder how it's going to be received and you go through every feeling in the world. When it finally gets out there it's like you get to move on with life.

Do you feel a bit over it?
No, not at all! You go through stages where you make something and you always hate it straight away, then you come around and you're like, Oh, it's not so bad. Then you hate it again. And then after that second phase of hate, you're able to see it objectively and now I'm like, Oh, yeah!

Are you thinking about the next one?
It's hard not to think about the next one, but I'm trying to convince myself not to. Albums are funny, I was thinking about this today and how long it took me to make the first one. In terms of producing it, it took six months from start to finish, but also it kind of took 27 years. Then I was like, well I've probably got two good tracks finished now, so I'm on track for the next album in 27 years.

You could do one with your kid, like a family one.
Yeah! Album cycles are quite long so now it's about getting out there and playing the music that you have for people and seeing how it exists in the world.

So you're an artist in the "digital age" who has really used and benefited from releasing music online. When you were putting this album together did it ever feel redundant? Does a physical release hold the same weight it did ten years ago?
I never intended to do an album, it was more a collection of songs I made that someone decided would work as an album. But every musician aims to create an album, even people who say that they don't. In the dance world it's kind of different, you can just do 12 inch records. The dance album has always just been a little redundant, so it's pretty hard to nail it and not many people do.

But it's a test whether you have anything to say or not. What I like about my album is it took 27 years in some ways, but in another way it was a quick process from start to finish. The songs say something about the time and headspace I was in. Which is nice personally—I don't know what significance it will hold for anyone else.

I guess it's kind of like a home movie.
Yeah, exactly. It's a bit indulgent trying to get everybody to watch a home movie, kind of like a slide night. Everyone's coming over for a slide night.

Do you ever listen to your album at home?
No. I listened to it in the car with friends the day before it came out. We were driving back from a holiday and I was like, you know what, why don't we listen to my own album. I wanted to hear what it sounded like driving in a car at night. It wasn't as shocking as I thought it would be.

Have you ever been somewhere and your song has come on when you're not expecting it?
One time I was walking into my friend's house and they were all out the back and I was like, what's this music they're playing? It sounds weirdly familiar. And then as I got further down the hallway I was like oh that's right, I made this music.

I feel like that would be so weird though. Like catching someone Googling you.
It's not quite like that. You know those guys Sibling, the architect guys? On Soundcloud you can see who listens to your tracks the most. So for a long time Sibling had the most plays of all of my tracks.

That's nice.
It was really nice because they're my friends and they were listening to my music. But there's also something pretty creepy that you can find out that stuff.

I didn't know you could see that, I stalk heaps of people on Soundcloud.
Just don't listen to their stuff like 60 times in a row because they'll see you. It's weird to check that stuff, I don't anymore because it doesn't mean anything. But it was fun for awhile.

Let's break from the Internet. Do you think you'll be in the JJJ Hottest 100 next year?
Yeah, I think I'm gonna win (laughs).

You're gonna take it out?
I think I was pretty close to winning it this year. Like I didn't get in the Hottest 100 or the Hottest 200.

You were probably 201.
Yeah I'm feeling pretty confident about next year. I'm going for number one. I've just got to make sure bloody Chet doesn't do another album.

Maybe he could support you next year.
Yeah, we'll see about that. 


Text Wendy Syfret
Photography Tin & Ed

dance music
Chet Faker
Roland Tings
digital age