singer east is causing a commotion down under
East is a striking sixteen year old from Australia who’s at the centre of a major-label bidding war after releasing only one single. Ironically the single is called ‘Old Age’, and something about it has resonated with the kind of people who have the...
Photography Harold David at Network Agency. Life with Bird dress, Kate Sylvester polo, Poms bracelets.
There's no doubt East, whose birth name is Melissa, has talent in abundance and her music has a maturity and polish beyond her sixteen years. The songs are heavy with moodiness but occasionally veer towards joy and a sense of humour. She describes it herself as being "quite upbeat but kind of melancholic..bittersweet in a sense".
We travelled to East's family home to shoot her for what we can only presume will be the first of many (hopefully) glamorous photo sessions.
So it seems that there are lots of labels keen to sign you right now?
Yeah, I recorded an EP earlier this year and uploaded one of the tracks to Triple J Unearthed and since then I've had so many labels reach out and, yeah, they've been very, very interested.
Congratulations! Had you recorded the whole EP prior to releasing Old Age?
I'd recorded the whole EP in five days and just decided to release that song.
Have you had experience playing live?
I've done a few gigs here and there over the years, but I've never really had a lifestyle of gigging. I've only recently got a band together so that part of it's quite new to me still.
So it's just been you in your bedroom making lots of music for yourself before this?
Yeah, just songwriting. Writing, writing, writing. Once I'm up on the stage and the music's started though I just totally lose myself. It's so much fun.
But you've got a band now - who's that comprised of?
That is Joel, my drummer, he's kind of my musical director as well. And then my guitarist Flash and keys player, Ross.
Where are you from originally?
I was actually born in South Africa and then moved to Dubbo when I was three-years-old with my family. I've been moving around New South Wales ever since.
It was so nice to be able to visit your home to photograph you. I understand it was your first shoot, what did you think?
It went so well! I love Dave Bonney and Harold David and everyone else who was on the team, it was such a good experience. I had so much fun, I was like 'I just want to do this constantly'.
And are you still in high school?
Yeah I'm still in school, but I don't go to school; I'm home schooled which is really good for me - it gives me time to focus on my music.
Interesting. Do you enjoy it?
I do. I really like my space, you know, and spending six hours everyday, Monday to Friday with the same bunch of people, I think that would just do my head in a little bit.
I can understand that. Ok, you're listening to music, who do you have on high-rotation?
I guess I go through phases, you know? Like, I went through a Punk phase, and then I went through a Folk phase. But a few artists who have stuck with me throughout all the phases are Jeff Buckley and Death Cab for Cutie.
And do you see touring in your future?
Hopefully, yeah. That would be awesome.
Have you travelled much before?
I've done a few trips to Sweden because the company of a publisher I work with is based there. I've gone a few times to write with the others in the company.
What's Sweden like?
It's beautiful. I was there in the middle of winter so it was extremely cold and you know, growing up in Australia, I'd never seen snow before so it was quite an experience.
What do you enjoy about living in Australia?
I like the culture, it's really laid back. I guess I just like the chilled-outness of Australia.
How into social media are you?
I'm a bit of a Facebook junky - not going to lie. But I've restrained myself from all others - like Twitter and Instagram - because I just knew that I was gonna get obsessed and I don't wanna be obsessed.
And is it different being on Facebook as East to being on Facebook as Melissa?
Yeah, I've only recently made a Facebook page for East and I'm still getting used to how to use it as an artist, rather than some random teenager.
Ha. You have to censor yourself?
A little bit (laughs).
A few less selfies, maybe?
And what would your perfect day look like?
Oh wow, what a question. I'd maybe just go on a road trip - just for like an hour or two with some of my closest friends and then spend some time in an amusement park and then go to an awesome concert. That sounds like a good day to me.
The simple pleasures! And so do you have pets where you live?
Yeah I have a dog. His name's Oscar.
Cute. He didn't make it into any of the photographs?
No, he tried. Definitely tried.
Do you kill it at karaoke?
You know what? I am actually the worst person at karaoke. Put me up against the most tone-deaf person and they will win. Kind of embarrassing.
I strongly doubt it. There's something about microphone control that is really hard and I have a feeling you've mastered it. Do you have any idea which label you're going to go with?
Hmm, not quite, we're still having talks and going through everything.?
Of course. What a nice position to be in though. I guess it's stressful in some ways but a bit of a dream in others. When will people be able to hear more than one song?
It's looking like July-ish.
Well good luck and I hope everything in your future is dreamy.
Text Briony Wright
Photography Harold David at Network Agency
Styling David Bonney at Network Agency
Hair & Make Up Natasha Severino at Jed Root using YSL Beaute
Styling Assistant Gemma Harben
Retouching Grace Testa
Originally posted on i-D Australia.