Smokey's Blog

we gonna do the damn thing or what

Month: September, 2014

Jane Tyrrell – Echoes in the Aviary

For some years the promise of a solo album hung in the air with Janey. Constant touring while trying to hold down a regular job can make you sway so much it’s hard to balance a debut. How it came together is her story to tell but I’m sure the numerous collaborations and tours she experienced were a necessary curtain-raiser. Punters caught on a few years after she joined The Herd. Gradually the marriage proposals from hecklers in the audience were drowned out by people yelling at her to do a solo album. She told them she would so she did and next month it’ll be out in shops.

The first taste was this little gem of a tune, co-written with my great friend Pip Norman and Dustin McLean.


Jane’s voice is rich and smokey, giving it a soulful tone in a period of time where many successful Australian artists have thinner, higher qualities (Gossling, Sarah Blasko, Claire Bowditch). She did a short series of covers that included When Something is Wrong With My Baby with Ev Jones and Hermitude on keys and drums.

She also did this little one with ToeFu from The Herd, and this one in the back of a car during a WA leg of a Herd tour (with Rok Poshtya and a fan who was in it for some reason). Then there’s the much loved collab she did with Horrorshow In My Haze and Die a Happy Man with Tuka.

A lot of people were expecting Jane to come out with a neo-soul album but that overlooks her background in projects like the Firekites first album. Over the years she’d become obsessed with artists like Lykke Li, Thom Yorke, PVT, Little Dragon and many others, and had an intense curiosity about them that was infectious. Perhaps it shouldn’t be so surprising when the indie vibes of her new single, The Rush, dropped.


But we’re here because of Jane’s new album Echoes in the Aviary and rather than describe the genre I’ll just say it does justice to the adventurousness of her lifelong musical journey. The soulful textures in her voice bring a warmth to Laurence Pike’s tentacled percussion and key collaborators Dustin McLean and Pip Norman have enabled her to deliver on her vision. She debuted the songs recently at Bigsound and a huge cross section of industry and the public gathered to see it go down.

Jane Tyzzle's stage presence is striking, as always.

Jane Tyzzle’s stage presence is striking, as always.

And now, on the eve of the release of her debut album, after sharing the stage 100s of times, I get to stand on the sidelines and applaud her with everyone else, honouring an immense achievement. Well done traindriver, aka Jason, aka J. Tyzzle aka Chips, you done good.

Luke Dubs (Hermitude) says “Jane’s soft yet powerful voice is instantly recognisable, as she always sings straight from the heart, and it’s equally matched by her loving and generous personality“. Tuka (Thundamentals) adds “Jane is one of my favourite human beings. She has one of the most beautiful voices I have ever heard and I feel blessed to have been able to collaborate with her. Pure talent.”

Echoes in the Aviary artwork

Echoes in the Aviary artwork – designed by Jane

Echoes in the Aviary is out on Elefant Traks October 17. Preorder info will go live Thursday Sept 18.


It seems a long time ago that we did Shruggin, although it’s only a few years. At the time it felt like an album track and I remember trying to phrase the chorus demo with a hint of soul, all in vain of course. It wasn’t until Jane’s vocal performance that the song really made sense. She completely owned it.

Spitshine Tour final legs 060

The Big Bright Moon

There is a moon hanging in the night sky like an oversized yellow button as I fly from Sydney to Brisbane. It’s so dope and awe-inspiring that I tried to capture it on my phone camera, to no avail of course. My pupils are dilating but my phone reveals an otherwise unremarkable bright dot in amongst the reflection of my hoodie in the window.

I’m on the road again and the moon feels like a reminder of my pursuit of tomorrow. This casual quest we musicians busy ourselves with, to shore up some kind of security, never ceases. It’s pretty fun. It sucks. I still love it.

In another time this pursuit was a stoner’s guide to a bank heist. I’ve worked really hard for a relatively successful music career but I’ve been blessed with luck and a lack of pressure gifted by low expectations. My bank heist is more about lifestyle than the spoils of an elite career – I sometimes marvel about the spot myself and my soul mate have found ourselves in. There is one thing on my mind though, as I find myself in the corporate traffic of peak hour at the airport. My smiling little eczema afflicted talking clunk of awesomeness: Jetta Joanie.

All I can think about is not being able to pick her up from daycare because I’m here. Walking her into the centre of a morning, and easing her into that environment when she’s upset, hits me in the chest because her whole world is reduced down to her and I. She clings to my leg or squeezes her head between them as if this tiny gesture of defiance magically removes the rest of the universe from us. As the issues of the day hurry into the afternoon I find myself longing to see her and make sure she’s ok. When I leave work I think about the big smile that’ll brighten her face when she notices me and the excited ‘deh’ sounds she’ll make as she points to nothing, that she’s taken to doing lately. Then she’ll stumble-run her way to me to be picked up. “Up, up” she’ll look directly in my eyes and say. Then she’ll point at some other nothingness as if to steal my attention entirely for herself. I don’t know how to properly explain how widely my heart smiles. It hurts writing it from a distance.

I missed out on doing that today and the crusty façade protecting this little old heart cracks a little. I am a paid-up member of the vulnerable parents club now.

Once up on a time the moon meant everything but now it’s just a tiny dot in the distance.

The Beginning of Elefant Traks

I’ve been putting together a live show called Make Me a Mixtape featuring a bunch of guests helping me perform a live retrospective mixtape of songs for a trip I took to SE Asia as a youngster. After developing the show I remembered that Elefant Traks began out of a mixtape.. so I thought I should let Kenny Sabir, the founder of Elefant Traks explain a little more.

Founder of Elefant Traks and all round legend, Traksewt

Founder of Elefant Traks and all round legend, Traksewt

From Traksewt:
A defining moment was when one of my old best school-friends (Brad) was moving to Japan. I made a plan to get a bunch of friends together to make a farewell album for him, where we each did a track saying goodbye. A few of us worked on our tracks for a few weeks, others wrote it on the spot. We booked out a day in my bedroom, where each group was rostered on for 2 hours each to record their song, with myself as the learn-as-you-go-and-make-the-rest-up sound engineer. For some reason, that now escapes my old-age sensibilities, I had a four-poster bed – which came in handy to throw a blanket over to create a vocal booth for recording. We burnt up 20 copies and Brad loved it – though the epiphany was how damn possible it was to create a legitimately passable looking CD. What would happen if this was in the shops? What exactly IS an independent label? Sure it is going to be a bit of administration and bureaucracy, but more than that it is an idea, an identifier, a measure of quality.

From the humble beginnings of a mixtape, Elefant Traks was born.

I wanted to do something completely different with this show so I’ve called on a bunch of awesome artists to help pull this gig off. There’s the sparkling force of nature that is Patience Hodgson from The Grates; the majestic dad Bobby Flynn (who appeared on my recent album Smokey’s Haunt); my good friend and big hearted talent Rival MC from Impossible Odds/Black Arm Band; the brilliant and refreshing voice of Thelma Plum as well as one of Australia’s most compelling songwriters Sam Cromack from Ball Park Music.

The tracklist is inspired by events that happened on the trip to Thailand and Vietnam, as well as songs that were a big deal around that time for me. I had been working in a record store in Sydney and studying in addition to my first forays into music with my Elefant Traks buddies.

It’s all snugly wrapped up by a great live band made up of Lisa Purmodh (drums), Jarrol Renaud (bass) and Kristen Fletcher (keys), we’re bringing this thing to life. It goes down this Saturday Sept 6 at Brisbane Festival’s Speigeltent 7.15pm – and I can’t reveal the tracklist til then.