Audio Blackmail are Emily Pike (vocals) and Craig Cheong (guitars, bass, drums & keys). Together they make what you would call pop music with rock and also electronic influences. They are part of the huge Australian music community Triple J Unearthed, like Alpine or RÜFÜS who both shared tracks for Poule d’Or 5. Here is a little interview the Poule has conducted with Emily, so hit the play button and get to know Audio Blackmail:
Audio Blackmail – Walking In The Dark
Where are you from?
We’re both from all over really! I was born in Tasmania but grew up in Papua New Guinea & Cairns (tropical north of Australia). Craig was born in Melbourne but grew up in Newcastle (north of Sydney). His parents are originally from Guyana in South America . We both live in Sydney!
How do you know each other?
My sister went to drama school with Craig’s best friend. We met, became Facebook friends then I approached Craig about starting a band because I knew he’d just left his previous band. Audio Blackmail started out as a covers band!
How is work on your debut album progressing?
We’re constantly working on new material. We tend to work independently most of the time. Craig will come up with some music, he’ll lay down the drums, bass, guitars & synths then send it to me to work on. I’ll then write the lyrics & come up with the melody. Sometimes I’ll come up with a melody & lyrics then leave it with Craig to work on / add the instruments. We don’t really get together & jam out new ideas – we’re a bit different in that way & tend to be more productive working individually!
What does your recording process look like?
All recording to-date has been done in Craig’s spare room! It’s sound-proofed with bricks & a mattress and he has a whole band set up there, it’s really cool. All recording is done by Craig – he records all the instruments using Protools then we get everything mixed & mastered professionally.
You use French and Japanese renditions in some of your songs. Do you have a special relationship towards those cultures?
Yes! I worked in Japan for 3 years as an English instructor and was an exchange student in France for 1 year. I adore both countries so I try & keep my passion for them alive through music.
Which item is the most crucial to your creativity?
Oooh that’s a tough one! For me I’d have to say my iphone coz it has voice-recording capability, so if a lyric or melody pops into my head, I can record it straight away!
What inspires you?
Craig is a huge inspiration coz he is such a talented musician. I’m also really inspired by local Australian artists such as Alpine & Cassette Kids – I used to work with the Cassette Kids’ guitarist’s girlfriend so I knew of them before many others did, now they’re living in New York & have toured with some big names – it’s awesome & goes to show where hard work can get you.
What would be the ideal environment to listen to your music?
Definitely not somewhere quiet…our music is quite upbeat & made for dancing! Nothing makes me happier than when I’m playing to a crowd that really get in to our music / dance around / sing along – that’s the ideal!!
How would you describe your music to your parents?
I say that it’s pop / rock – they don’t really understand the word ‘synth’ I don’t think… we use synths in all our songs but they mightn’t ‘get’ that!
Mum & Dad love our music… Dad rides an exercise bike each day and has the music turned up loud – I’m sure the neighbours are sick of it!!
What’s with the belly dancing on stage?
I’ve been dancing from a young age & started bellydancing 4 years ago. I now dance in Turkish / Lebanese restaurants in Sydney on weekends. I’m SO passionate about it, I just think it’s such a beautiful dance form linked to incredible and rich cultures.
I dance around and do a few moves here & there on stage, though I wouldn’t wear traditional costume at a gig.
What was the first record you owned?
Hmmm… I remember buying a Kylie Minogue cassette tape when I was 8 years old!
The first CD Craig bought was Guns ‘n Roses – Appetite for Destruction. He still remembers air-guitaring around his bedroom haha!
Do you have any pets?
No, I wish!! It’s hard with our lifestyles in Sydney – we both work full-time then often have stuff on at night (rehearsals, gigs, dancing etc) so it wouldn’t be possible. I’d love a dog – I grew up with a Labrador so one day I’ll get one of my own!!
What do you do to have fun? Besides music.
Besides music & dance, I love to go out with my friends for nights on the town dancing & having fun, or go to the beach – Sydney has some amazing beaches – I’m sure you’ve heard of Bondi?
Any trips to Europe soon?
Hopefully soon. I miss it soooooo much!!!! I want to get back to France because I have a lot of close friends there who are like family. I’d love to go back to Germany (of course!) coz I haven’t been to Berlin + I’d love to see more of Italy, maybe revisit Prague & the south of Spain… Europe’s incredible. I wish it wasn’t so far away!