Victor Stranges from Saturday's Child is interviewed by Clayton Bester from FlowFM Arvo Show. LISTEN to or READ the interview below.
...and joining us on the line, great to welcome, from the Melbourne band Saturday’s Child we’ve got Victor Stranges. Gidday Victor, how are you doing today?
Good Clayton, how are you mate?
Absolutely wonderful, we’re loving your song here on Flow, the song ‘Cola,’ is a great track. It’s got a wonderful groove, a wonderful feeling, and a wonderful beat. Every time I listen to it, it just makes me want to stop, and reach for a cigar and a bottle of whisky. Is that the intent? That’s certainly how I feel.
Pretty much, to understand, if I can disclose my age, spoiler alert I'm 51... how old am I now, I’m 52 years of age. …
Well, we are of similar vintage, so there you go.
I experienced the 70s as a kid, the 80s was my heyday, spent the 90s in bands, and you get to a point in your life when you just want things to be a bit ‘chill’ and that’s what we did with this project. We wanted to do something totally different. I’ve got other recordings that I’ve done, I’ve had a couple of albums as a solo artist, as Victor Stranges. This is a totally new project that came about a different way, through the inspiration of talking to one of my mates, Frank Apicella. We met recently and decided to try something different. We went into my recording studio and basically, we recorded three tracks, so it was bass, drums, and guitar, all organically recorded.
What you hear are actually real instruments. We avoided the quantizing of it, the studio trickery if you like. Some of that is good, but you can overdo it, and we wanted to move away from it. The organic nature of it is probably what makes you want to recline into your Naugahyde booth, have a cigar with some Nobby’s nuts, and check out what’s on the cocktail menu.
The video, we put together because I’m a massive fan of the 1940s, and 50s film noir, and even the old shows like ‘The Untouchables’ in black and white. I’m right into that, so we wanted to do a film clip based around that, but I wanted it in colour. We had a crew of people that we put together for it, which gives it energy. It gives you that sense of, I want to be there and chill, have a whisky, and listen to this music. It’s a bit like that.
It certainly is, and we’ll get back to the video in a second. I want to go back to the recording of the actual track. When you were saying about the organic nature of it, I think that’s why it’s so appealing, and why it sounds so unique on air. It doesn’t have the overproduction and everything EQd within a millimeter of its life. It has little imperfections you can hear, and it sounds authentic and real. You can feel yourself just being there.
Correct, and that’s the intent. The heartbeat isn’t a perfect rhythm, If you understand beats, it doesn’t go into perfect, exact timing, it sort of flows. I was a drummer first and foremost, and I recorded the drum tracks. My drum teacher used to be like a clock, and I used to practice for hours and hours, using a metronome for years, trying to get that timing, but you can never perfect it completely. You can get close, but a good drummer will give it that authentic feel whilst keeping the rhythm. You get the occasional nuances where it lags a bit. You can possibly pick up on it if you really listen, but it’s meant to be that way. We didn’t want to edit it out.
It’s interesting, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard the story, Clayton, of Simon and Garfunkel when they first heard their song being played on the radio, Sound of Silence. It starts off as a little quiet, folky “hello darkness my old friend, and then the drums come in really big. Apparently, they didn’t know those drums were going to be overplayed on the track, because they recorded it as a folk track. And when they did that track, interestingly, if you listen to it, it speeds up and slows down so much whilst the drums are playing. Literally, the drummer had to follow what the feel was doing from the base recording. You hear it, but it just sounds cool, it flows in and out of the rhythm and it’s funny how fast that track actually gets, and then it slows down again. It’s (Cola) probably not as extreme as that, but it certainly has that intent in mind, just being real.
Well, that’s what I enjoyed about it. It felt very refreshing and enjoyable to listen to. The vocals go with it and elevate it to that next level as well. So how did you find your vocalist Ema Jay?
We found her through a mutual friend, she’s a singer on the scene. She’s quite unknown and fairly young, in her early twenties. She really hasn’t developed her career and is still trying to work out which way she’s going to go with it.
With Saturday’s Child as a project, if we come across a good singer that we like, we will work with them, and if they want to develop a career, good, and if not, they’re just a singer on a Saturday’s Child track. Almost like a session musician, but not quite. Without that pressure of having to be that star in front of the video. You will notice on the video, Ema is not fully revealed on it. We did that on purpose just to create that intrigue and that film noir sort of thing. So it’s an artistic approach, counter-intuitive to putting your face everywhere. That’s what we wanted to do, to let the music speak for itself, and let the art form of the song and the music resonate.
It certainly does that, and she’s only in her twenties, wow! The tone of her voice, I thought she was way older than that. Anyway, thanks for sharing that with us.
Now Victor, onto the video, we’ll talk about that, I got the film-noir and I’m also a fan of the film-noir style, but I’m wondering, you said you did it in colour deliberately, but why not stick to the tradition of the black and white? I’m curious to see what it would be like in black and white as well.
It’s funny, because you either shoot the session for black and white, and you have different contrasts in the scenery and production of the piece. So we decided to do it in colour because I think young eyes like colour more. I know they might think, let’s watch this old film, it’s great, it’s black and white, but if it’s colour they’ll watch it. It’s really weird. So I wanted to cut through to a younger generation, in a way, of getting that style out, but in colour. Let’s face it, there was film noir done in colour as well, I’m thinking of the Kim Novak and Jimmy Stewart film, Vertigo, which was done in colour and it’s just beautiful to watch. The whole thing in colour looks amazing. I know the earlier 40s, 50s, and even 60s film noir stuff was in black and white, and a lot of that was done for budget reasons as well too, back in the day. Technicolour was a stretch for some film studios. A lot of these film noir films were B-type movies. You do occasionally get some wonderful black and whites as well. We may entertain the black-and-white thing down the track. I just like the colour because the scenery of the actual venue where we did the shoot, the Manchuria Bar in Melbourne is just gorgeous in colour. It just looks amazing, and to do it in black and white almost felt like it would do it a disservice. We wanted to make it pop so it would visually look great and be easy on the eye.
Looking at the scenes, as I play the video in front of me now, I’m thinking it was the right call to keep it as a colour video. There are so many different colour contrasts you’ve got in one scene. You can see some oranges, then you’ve got purples, you’ve got greens, and reds, and blues, and then you’ve got all the reflections off the glassware and the bottles. All that would get totally lost, so I get that.
Yeah, and the red drum kit as well, sort of pops out. I don’t know, there’s just something about it.
I’m just looking and getting a bit dazed by it now, as I watch it. So tell us about filming, how was this done? Was it done over one day or a couple of days? How did it work?
It was done over a ten-hour period. We hired the venue on a Monday, I think it was, and we literally had it for ten hours, but we got it done in about eight hours, from memory. So we were two hours under. That’s thanks to the production and direction of Daniel Woods, he is a young director/producer, and he is so methodical in the way that he put it together. He had charts and every minute was accounted for. We had a crew of over twenty people there, and it was so orderly, getting things done. We had an Assistant Director, we had a Director of Photography, his Assistant, and a Gaffa who does the lighting positions, so it reflects on the face in certain scenes and highlights certain things. So it was quite a full-on production, and we had a couple of professional actors in there, and a few ring-ins and bandmates, and connections with jazz bands and stuff. I don’t know if that answers your question, I’m kind of going around in circles.
No, that’s fine. I love it, and I urge everyone to check it out. They will appreciate what you’ve done, because when you say a crew of twenty, and you did it in eight hours, to me I would have thought, the way that they did this, it’s a big production. There’s lots of money spent on this one. I think you’ve done this very, very well because you’re giving that illusion to it.
Yeah, well the eight to ten hours that we spent on that day, that was the day that we shot it. So there was a process before, finding the actors, finding the location, the personnel, the props, the producers, and fortunately Daniel has a team of people that he works with, and they work on each other's movie projects and film clips. So he basically had a bolt-on for what we were doing with the project.
We got the actors, and then we shot it, and then there was the process of editing it and doing colour correction. When you shoot raw film, it’s a bit bland so you’ve got to give it some treatment and make things pop out. We had so much footage, we went back and forward. You'll notice that there’s a story in it, and I won’t spoil the story, but it’s about a love gone wrong, and how a guy gets caught out, sort of thing. You can visually see it in the film clip. Just that nuance of the emotions and we went back and forward, trying to make it feel right. It wasn’t too fast, it wasn’t too slow.
So that was really exciting to be involved in. It was quite cool, and I’m thinking, gee I’d love to do a movie one day. It would cost an absolute bucket. I just love all that stuff. And with the production, credit to some of the crew that we had, like Annika Rigg, who was the set designer. We worked with a props company and they sourced things from the early to mid-60s, that was authentic. Everything was of the period. So whatever you see, even the bottles of alcohol, there’s nothing in there that’s modern. We’ve really gone to that extent. The only thing we didn’t... there was a bit of a joke, there was a ten dollar note at the start, the old ten dollar paper note, that was issued in 1966, so it’s kind of on the border of whether it’s the early 60s, but it could be mid-60s, so there’s a bit left to the imagination. We did everything. We hired a lot of costumes and things like that. Even the drum kit. The drum kit that we brought in is actually a modern drum kit, but we tried to make it look old. We purchased a new skin that made it look like a vintage drum kit on the front. Things like the branding that we didn’t want to show. We went into quite a lot of detail. I wouldn’t say it’s perfect, but it was generally a wonderful experience. It was a challenge, I suppose.
It fits in perfectly with the film noir style without any shadow of a doubt. All those little extra bits that you’ve mentioned. Well Victor, what’s coming up next? You’ve got this song out, and the video now, what’s next for Saturday’s Child?
We’re still in the promotional jaunt for this song, which has just come out. We’ve got a marketing team and a publicity team that’s working on some overseas publications and getting this story out about the creation of the video. So we’re in the process of putting together a fifteen-minute documentary about making the video. It’s so special, and we really wanted to highlight the people who were involved in the project, because it is quite unique. After COVID, there were really a lot of people who were at a loss as to what they could do in the industry. We have a lot of these young, talented filmmakers, and people who are into music, and we got them all together, and I’d call it a shot in the arm for the industry, in a minor way. We helped some of these young directors and actors to get out there a bit more. So we want to highlight them. We want to present them through this video and the making of it, and how we put it together. That’s made up of interview with the director, the actors, and how they got involved. It’s a nice little piece that will be promoted.
Apart from that, in the next week or two, we are going to be laying down some tracks for some new songs as well, which will be the follow-up.
Is it still going to be that authentic, organic style?
Yes, well I never say never, but I’m not going for that bombastic kind of electronic thing. I like electronic stuff but used it organically. I’m a real fan of the late 70s and early 80s sampling and where they used real drum kits, so if they sample they put it over the top but it’s still organic. I never say never with electronic stuff, and keyboards and whatnot. The authentic nature of what we do is the heartbeat of what we’re trying to do.
I will look forward to checking that out when it’s all released. Just quickly Victor, what is your favourite Film Noir movie?
Oh gosh, my favourite film noir movie? There are so many of them. That’s a really good question. I wouldn’t say it’s film noir but there’s a movie called ‘The Best Years of Our Lives' which was released after WWII and it’s about the return of soldiers that fought in the war, coming back to their hometown. One of them is an amputee, he’s a real-life amputee, with another two blokes. And that’s a really long film, but it’s one of the most amazingly shot back-and-white films. Really moving and really emotional. It’s a very long film. If I had to think of film noir, I’d have to think of something like Humphrey Bogart, 'In A Lonely Place.' There are so many good films. I’ve never really thought of that, that’s a really good question. I’ll have to wrack my brain a bit more about that. ‘In a Lonely Place’ would have to be one of them for sure.
It’s certainly up there with the likes of 'Casablanca', and 'The Maltese Falcon,' all of those that were released with Bogey, but yeah, every time I think of film noir I think of Bogey for some reason. He just did it so well.
Well, he was in so many films. ‘In a Lonely Place,’ obviously. Humphrey Bogart was in this quite an interesting film, I’m trying to recall the name of it. I think it was his last film, and he was boxing … he was a publicist but he worked for this mobbed-up guy who had a boxing tournament going on. I forgot what it was called but maybe one of your listeners can call in and tell us. He’s just done so much good stuff over the years, even right up until his last movie. And I’m a big fan of Kim Novak, anything that she does. She’s still kicking around, good ole’ Kim Novak. She’s just wonderful. She’s really subtle, and just a wonderful actress. I just love everything that she did.
“The Man with the Golden Arm” is one of my favourite film noir-type films, with Frank Sinatra and Kim Novak. That’s probably one of the top ones as well.
‘The Harder They Fall’ was his (Humphrey Bogart’s) last film.
Yes, that’s it, ‘The Harder They Fall.’
It’s amazing what we can find when we just punch in Humphrey Bogart films.
Yes, thank goodness for Google eh?
Indeed, well Victor we’ve got the song here ready to go for all of our Flow listeners, and I urge them to check out the video clip and also your website as well, which is saturdayschild.com.au, and it’s good to keep in touch with what you’re doing and all the other things that the band’s got going on, we look forward to more about that as it comes forward. We’ve got the song ready to go for all our Flow listeners, we’re loving it on the station, and if you could please introduce it for us, thank you so much for spending time with us today.
Clayton, it’s my pleasure. You’re listening to Clayton Bester on Flow FM. This is Victor Stranges from Saturday’s Child, and you’re just about to listen to the song ‘Cola.’
WATCH the 'Cola' Music Video