Thief Urban – Pop With Amazing Hair
Thief Urban is the side-project of Sydney based songwriter PJ Wolf. He has a couple of amazing tracks out on bandcamp already and describes his music as “electro flavoured RnB Pop with amazing hair”. Unfortunately there’s not much more information about this guy on the net so I decided to do an interview with him to feed your music-obsessed bushwahnian brains with some facts about him. Here’s what we talked about.
Thief Urban, welcome on bushwah! Please give us a brief introduction to yourself first: who is Thief Urban? When did you start the project?
I’m PJ Wolf, I’m from Sydney Australia and I make lots of music. Thief Urban came about late last year when I kind of decided to separate my more traditional “songy” songwriting from my interest in the more producery, beatsy, electronicy POP! end of the pop music spectrum. It has proven to be stupidly fun.
Is Thief Urban a one-man project or are there other musicians involved, too?
It’s a one man show at this stage. All the tracks that are up and available online are demo’s I produced from home. I’m now working with the fantastic engineer/producer Matt Redlich (Emma Louise, Hungry Kids of Hungry, Ball Park Music) to help put some extra shiny awesomeness on the tracks. A little extra “Pep” if you will. I’m also in the process of putting a band together for the live show so there will be a couple of other musos getting involved.
As you mentioned above, you started your career as PJ Wolf with a more folk/acoustic style and already released an EP „Arcadia Street“ under this name. What raised your interest in electronic music?
I think I’ve always had an interest in electronic music, it’s just taken me a while to get obsessed with it. And for me obsession is kind of a necessary condition to the making of good music. In a lot of ways electronic music is the music I grew up with. There was that real explosion of synthesized sounds in Pop music during the late 70′s and 80′s, so I think for a lot of people my age those sounds have a weird subconscious resonance.
This project is kind of about trying to recapture some of how I felt listening to pop music on the radio when I was 10. I do still love just sitting down with a guitar or a piano and letting a song come out though. The PJ Wolf stuff continues to chug along merrily and there are plans for a new EP to be finished early in the new year.
That’s a really good question and the truth is I think it helps a lot. The difference between a real hip song and something more transcendent is often the lyric. In some ways how it’s all packaged is irrelevant. If it’s a great song you should be able to play it a bunch of different ways and still get people most of the way there as far as what you’re trying to convey. When it’s just you and a guitar I think you learn that quicker.
Take Gotye for instance. Somebody That I Used to Know is an incredible song, the guy is freakishly talented. There’s hooks all over the place and the production is incredible but I’d argue it’s mostly about the lyric and the way the lyric is delivered. It’s pure pathos. It’s awesome. You could have someone sit down with a lute and bust that song out and if they were really good, you’d totally feel it.
So yeah, even though the general song writing process is really different for me as far as the electronic elements go, I can’t really shortcut the lyrics. And why would you want to?
The place one is living in can have a huge impact on one’s creativity. Your hometown is Sydney. How important is this place for you in terms of networking, infrastructure and inspirations?
I suppose I’m fairly isolated in my music making, so in a lot of ways I could do it from just about anywhere. With that said though, Sydney is full of awesome musicians, great music venues – and a good part of the “business” side of the music business is centred here so there are definitely opportunities about that you couldn’t find elsewhere. I did live in Canberra for a few years and as fantastic as the scene was down there things did open up a bit more when I moved back to Sydney.
The Australian music scene really had a boost the last couple of years. Do you have an explanation for this phenomenon?
I have no real explanation for it. I think there’s definitely environments where different types of music seem to really thrive for a time. Like Seattle in the 90s or Iceland … most of the time. I think you get this perfect storm of young people with time to kill and stuff to say and maybe also a culture of collaboration or something. I’m not sure. We do have some great community radio in Australia and I think stations like Triple J, RRR and FBI have really helped give some young bands an awesome leg up.
Let’s get back to your latest release: in the description to your song „Closer“ on bandcamp „May 2014“ is announced as release date. Are you planning to release a full length-album in 2014?
I’m not sure what that’s about … although I do like the idea of releasing music from the future now. A 4 track EP will be finished before the end of the year. Hopefully a full length release will happen sometime in the middle of next year.
Is there more that can we expect from Thief Urban in the next time?
Well there’s the EP arriving soon, and what promises to be a kick ass live show in the works. In the meantime I’ll be doing a lot more writing.
Finally, what’s your definition of „amazing hair“?
Amazing hair is hair that you remember even when you can’t remember the face that it was attached to. Like the beards from the original Planet of the Apes. So amazing.
PJ, thanks a lot and we’re looking forward to hearing more from you.