Japanese Wallpaper @ Slims – an early 90’s slow dance at prom, mixed with modern synths and electronic grooves

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The weather outside was cold and dreary, but inside Northbridge’s humble Jack Rabbit Slims last night, Perth was still kicking it ‘till the early hours. Opening for Japanese Wallpaper, singer-songwriter E^st (pronounced East) struck the night wide-open with some smooth grooving mellow beats.

Fans of CHVRCHES, Ellie Goulding and Montaigne, would devour E^st’s simultaneously ethereal / grand / delicate and earthy music style. (Sorry that was a bit of a mouthful but it’s true). Previewing a sneaky taste of her unreleased EP, Let Down got the Jack Rabbit’s crowd buzzing with excitement and setting the tone for the night. The sound from the sneak-peak song beckoned you into a dark circus tent full of temptations and pleasant surprises. It was unexpected, catchy, and surely another hit for the Central Coast teen. Finishing with the anticipated ‘Get Money!’, left E^st’s performance on a strong high. ‘Get Money!’ switches it up from the dark and mellow tone with a chorus that was bound to elate live audiences.

(If you’re a fan of E^st listen up right about… now!) Make sure you head down to Freo (4pm – 9pm, Monday August 29th) to meet up with E^st, and be featured in her new video clip. Subject to availability, with more details are up on her Facebook page.

Off the back of a tour supporting M83, Japanese Wallpaper showcased ‘Cocoon’ and the rest of his dreamy catalogue at Jack Rabbits last night on their first headline tour in over a year. The vibe of the Japanese Wallpaper show weirdly reminded me of a early 90’s slow dance at prom, but mixed with modern synths and electronic 2016 grooves. There were white spotted lights swirling around the room and people swaying and dancing to the eloquent soft vocals.

The chill performance was a musical celebration of technicolour goodness. The lighting for this show was nothing short of majestic. The way the magenta lights covered Gab Strum’s face behind a blue-lit backdrop, mid-song, was surreal.

The thing that blew me away about Japanese Wallpaper, was his vocal restraint. Gab has got a ridiculous skill set but is never overly “showy” or in your face about it. He has continued to consistently bowl over listeners ever since winning Triple J’s Unearthed High a few years back. Just ask self-confessed fans Chet Faker, Wafia and Bombay Bicycle Club. Hit tracks like ‘Forces’ and ‘Between Friends’ are fine examples of Japanese Wallpaper’s now-trademark intricate indie electronica.

‘Cocoon’ was a highlight of the performance for me, though the song is all rhythmic strum and it shows – it’s refreshingly honest, endearing and avoids the clichés that badger hopeful artists. In an interview, Gab Strum talked about the meaning behind the EP. “‘Cocoon’ is about my tendency to over analyse everything that happens to me, and the inevitably skewed perception of things that arises as a result.”

Alongside E^st, Japanese Wallpaper also gave the crowd a taste of a new unreleased EP. It followed the same familiar notes as previous Japanese Wallpaper ambient electro material. The beautifully synthetic flow of the song was a sure-fire hit with fans, with one fan even pulling out a cigarette lighter and swaying it in the air mid-show.

2016’s Unearthed High Winner Gretta Ray is currently part of Japanese Wallpaper’s touring band, meaning the group now has two winners in its ranks. There were more than 1,000 entries in this year’s Unearthed High, but Ray won out because her song was, “smart, assured, catchy, unshakable,” according to triple j‘s Unearthed Music Director Dave Ruby Howe. Gretta Ray’s lyrics are like poetry and vocal notes are like honey. Clutching the microphone and performing like a superstar, the crowd went absolutely wild for the Melbourne teen in her solo parts.

All in all, I’m buzzing with excitement to see where Gretta Ray and the rest of the talented Japanese Wallpaper gang can head in the promising near future.




About Alannah Scorer

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Alannah Scorer is 19-year-old student studying a Media & Communications degree at the University of Western Australia. She currently resides in Perth, Western Australia.