The first time I saw Australian indie-duo Winterbourne live, was on a boat on Sydney’s glistening harbour during a media event with Island Records. Since February, I can recall at least two more occasions where I experienced the smooth and captivating harmonies of James Draper and Jordan Brady as they supported fellow Aussie artists – a testament to their own talent. With a similar view over the harbour at the head office of Universal Music, ICON caught up with the two up-and-comers as they look to release their debut album ‘Echo of Youth’.
Featuring 12 tracks of rock-infused anthemic ballads and following two highly-successful EP’s, the style of Winterbourne has been fully realised. With a distinctive sound and quirky sensibility best seen on the band’s Instagram feed, the pair are looking to not only take the record across Australia come November, but throughout Europe next month. From two busker’s in Sydney’s Pitt Street Mall to sold out gigs, this is the success story of Winterbourne.
ICON: Your start in music like many others begun with busking on the street. What was the pinnacle moment or turning point in making your hobby and passion into a career?
James Draper: “Definitely busking played a big part because it gave us somewhere to do [music], we always loved it. We actually started playing in pubs and bars in the corner while no one listened. We did that first by playing covers and then sort of started playing our own songs which kind of made us realise maybe we are actually okay at this. So that gave us a little confidence and I guess we were at university when we were busking, we had that in our minds but at some point we disregarded university.”
Jordan Brady: “We just said we’re not going to try and get a degree to get a job. We’re just going to see if we can do music, but there wasn’t really that sort of decision to ‘now we’re going to be musicians’. It was like we’re going to keep doing our hobby for a bit and hopefully it works out.”
ICON: Do you have current career highlight that stands out the most?
James: “It’s always tricky because everything changes in hindsight, but very recently, we played a show at Factory Theatre and because it’s Sydney and because it’s our local crowd that was the biggest crowd we’ve ever played to – that was 800 people singing our songs back to us … that was really affirming and made me feel like we actually might do this.”
Jordan: “And then there’s getting the album as well, finishing an album and getting the physical vinyl of the finished album was like cool, that’s what bands do.”
ICON: You have a distinct sound to your tracks. Who are your muses and how would you describe your style of music?
Jordan: “We listen to a lot of music that isn’t necessarily in our style… And in terms of our style, I don’t know it’s all over the place, I think as long as there’s two of us singing and playing guitars or piano… With this record we kind of had the temptation of going a bunch of different ways. We we’re gone really rock or really dance but we kind of kept it within what we do with us being at the centre of it so its always hard because we don’t really think about it being ‘let’s make it into this right style lets ‘us’ it and see what happens.'”
ICON: Nowadays, the music industry is heavy in electronic-based music. Do you believe having this unique style assists in standing out in a saturated market?
James: “I think so. It’s really easy especially now because we’ve put out two EP’s [and] in this whole time we’ve been growing and learning and so now we’ve got a record that’s a combination of that… I think the one thing we don’t like is that if a song has a certain sound, and therefore it is of a certain genre then it’s good. That’s the one thing we don’t like. A song has to be a good song for all the essence of it rather than necessarily what it sounds like. So we’ve always tried to keep that, and that is difficult like Jordan said we could have gone a lot of different ways with some of the songs on the record … we’ve learnt over the last five years that doesn’t work anyway.”
ICON: What inspired ‘Echo Of Youth’?
James: “Our lives I think, up to this point. Even though our careers are pretty short so far and we’re just getting started we’ve done a lot and we’ve met in high school and we’ve been with each other trying to make this happen for like ten years. Ao while it feels like the start of something it’s also [that] we’ve got a lot to say about what we’ve been doing for the last decade. Some of the lyrics are just the things that are in our heads from the last couple years which I guess are naturally about our lives. Whenever we write even if it ends up being some weird imagery, it’s always somehow connected to our own experience.”
ICON: With your new album is the exploration of the effects of social media on young people. Do you suffer from anxiety yourselves? How do you combat this particularly now that you’re more in the public eye?
James: “Yes, yes I think everyone does to an extent, I think we are pretty good because we’ve got each other and we’ve got people around us who all believe in us and that really helps but I think anyone in any industry nowadays, it’s just so easy to compare yourself to others…”
Jordan: “We are very aware of when we’re feeling anxious about things that don’t matter so we’re more likely to [not] let it affect us.”
ICON: How do you go about making new music? Do you have a structured process?
James: “Yeah definitely, it changes, we do a bit of everything.”
Jordan: “The structure of most of the songs on the record is we would start in James’ bedroom and then either both of us or just James would send me the idea usually mostly finished and then I’d contribute a small amount to that and come over and play a guitar line or something and usually most of the songs were pretty well finished and kind of fleshed out before we out into the studio. But the studio was another kind of almost a writing phase itself because we were playing it with a full band and that’s the first time it had been played by more than two hands. So for this record I think that the writing process was pretty long…”
ICON: In the past you said, “We always think that our 15-year-old selves would love what we’re doing now”. Looking back, what advice would you give your younger selves?
James: “Well I don’t think we’ve got the point yet where we know, it’s been that way for a few years. It’s like we’re about to put out our debut album so if this is a massive flop, I would have plenty of advice.
Jordan: Just do beats man, just do beats follow the trend.
James: I think we’re doing fine, unfortunately all my advice would be just try to appreciate it….”
ICON: After making music together for eight years, do you ever get sick of each other? What is the duo dynamic like?
James: “Oh yeah!
Jordan: No, not really.
James: No, we’re pretty good at not seeing each other for extended periods of time when we’ve seen each other for a lot.
Jordan: We always say we’re usually on the same level it’s not like one really wants to hang out and the other one is man, I’m sick of you. We’ve usually both done the same thing, so we’ll be like okay cool now is a good time to not speak for a week and then we’ll come back.
James: Yeah, it’s a certain friendship.”
ICON: Following the release of your debut album, what goals have you set yourselves for the future?
James: “It depends because our goal is to be one of the biggest bands in the world playing arenas all over the place, I guess maybe not this record. The goal for this record is to get it to as many people as we possibly can, as we said we’re doing Europe in September that’s a big thing that we want, overseas is a thing that’s high up on the list for us now, we’ve been grinding here in Australia for a few years and I think just getting to a point where we feel like we can tour and do it forever. That’s always been the goal, any excuse to take this record around the world and play it to people…”
Jordan: “We’ve always said if we’re still doing it, we’re achieving the goal. If it’s still sustainable and we’re always trying to make the next thing we do a bit better and a bit bigger … so as long as every tour is moving forward and every album is sounding good and everything we do feels like an improvement…”
Winterbourne’s debut album Echo of Youth releases on August 23. For more information on the Australian tour, visit the website here.