Acolyte is a Melbourne band who has been kicking innumerable goals of late, their most recent being the spellbinding video for Space and Time. Frontwoman Morgan–Leigh Brown has a lot to say about putting it all together.
“I loved the experience of making ‘Space and Time’ because each time we’ve made a movie, I’ve gotten a bit more involved and learnt a bit more about the art itself. So when it came to doing this one, we knew that we were going to release this in full as the third, as long as our music was in a place where people were appreciating our vision. So I had a little bit more creative control as far as how I was going to drive it, and I became really, really, overly ambitious with the destinations I wanted to go to and what the artistic vision was for this one. Luckily I had a small team around me who were happy to not compromise on anything, just go through with the whole thing. So you just see what you see basically on screen today. We went up and down the entire East coast, filming in various locations in the country, in the desert, and all kinds of different things. So it sure was mighty for an independent band.”
The production was much larger than that for the band’s previous video, ‘The Message’. Brown elaborates, “The process was a little different because we’ve always had a small story that we’ve wanted to tell in each of our clips and things like that, and we’ve also had a very, very strong performance aspect to it. This one, because we wanted to film in so many different places, I guess that’s the change in itself. So the performance aspect of it was filmed in a completely different location to everything else, whereas in the previous videos we’ve always found something that’s suited us within the locations of where we were shooting anyway. This one we were planning for probably a good two and a half months prior, doing a bit of location scouting. Gary [Robinson] and I, we actually did driving up the coast and all that sort of stuff ourselves, like on little mini-holidays all the way through, up until when we were filming. And I think that was probably what was a bit different this time; our approach to it, as far as really, really getting in and doing what the production team would do professionally. We did it ourselves.”
The video is full of brilliant locations, shadowed enclaves and strange characters. Reflecting on whether there might be Faustian overtones to the story, Brown muses how “It’s very, very close to that, yeah. I’d written the music from a bit of a personal experience. I always write it in a way that you can basically interpret it any way you want to, really, and I like that part of my writing. It’s a bit vague. But because it was sort of personal to me, and because of where I was coming from, it’s very close to that thing. You know, the lights and darks, the wandering in the shades and what can actually happen in there, and how beautiful it actually can be if you can see through it, was basically where I was coming from on a lot of it.”
Acolyte will be touring the East coast and Adelaide in the coming months, and Brown explains the band’s goals in doing so.
“Just to get out and about a little bit more. We’ve gotten a bit locked away doing our new album and exploring that, so we’re definitely bringing new music on the road. Half our show will be previewing a lot of new stuff we’ve been coming up with, doing a bit of road-testing. It’s basically just going to be good to get out.”
Acolyte will be performing at the Hard Rock Show End of Year Extravaganza in December as well. Brown continues with a laugh, “Yeah, everything sort of fell in our lap at the same time, to be honest. Yeah, we’ve got that, we’re really excited about that because we love those guys,” she says warmly. “They’ve followed us through every single release and aspect of Shades of Black. They’ve been great supporters to us, so it just makes sense to be able to give a little bit back and do this great, big show with them.”
One of the newer additions to the line-up is keyboardist David Van Pelt. “He’s brought David Van Pelt flair,” Brown declares with a clearly audible smile. “I think literally, he’s a brand unto himself. I don’t know any other keyboard player that plays like him, solos like him or even performs like him. He’s one in a million, so Dave’s bringing Dave to the Acolyte line-up,” she laughs. “The difference I think is that he has a really strong passion for analogue and possibly the more vintage stylings. He really studies a lot of the background from the early days of what made synth good, and things that put that music at the forefront back in the 70s, 60s even, so he’s actually bringing a lot of that back into the Acolyte music, whilst providing really, really strong symphonic washes and things like that across our music, just to build it up and give it a great foundation. So he’s an integral part, especially of our new music going forward, and he brings an awesome sound to the music that was already established.”
On the new music, Brown explains, “In true Acolyte form, our album’s going to be short because they’re all epics. We’ve actually put one on the backburner because we began to write it and it was almost a three-parter and we were like, you know, perhaps that story should be told all unto itself, a good twenty-one minutes, so we put that aside. But the few that we are bringing around, they’re all very, very different from each other. They’re all epic stories with lots of light parts, and louder parts, and stronger parts, and climaxes, and epic moments, and all that kind of stuff. But although they add flavours of all the different members in there, there’s a very, very strong Acolyte core, and you can hear it throughout every single piece. So it’ll be interesting to see what people think. I think we’re definitely taking a step into putting our foot into the more professional field. I was really proud of Shades of Black, but this is definitely a step forwards for us as musicians.
Acolyte has provided a strong personal journey for Brown, and she elaborates on how she got to where she is now. “I always talk about the fact that I’ve only found rock as a home in the last few years,” she reflects. “I always say that I was classically trained and everything, but I was actually raised, basically, in the theatre. That was my background. So my range has even changed now, I sing much lower. I had to train myself to do that before coming out on the road with Acolyte and everything. We were listening back to our older demos the other day, and just listening to my voice doing the demo tracking I was like, ‘Wow!’ you know? ‘Who is that?’ So these guys have taught me a lot. I think the recording process, that sort of killed me, and then rebirthed me in a way that it was either sink or swim, take it on, and come out the other end as a professional if you think you can be that.” The conviction in Brown’s voice is inspiring as she encapsulates her journey. “It’s all I want to be now,” she declares firmly, “and I love it, and the guys push me at every moment they possibly can, and I just want to be the best I can possibly be. It’s an unending journey for me, doing all this. I don’t think there’s going to come a time when I go, ‘I’m finished,’ or personally, ‘That was the best album ever, and I’m not going to continue.’ I just want to make music now, forever.”
As for what’s just over the horizon, Brown wraps up, “The supports for the Melbourne show are going to be announced very soon. They’re big. I’m pretty sure even if I wasn’t on the line-up, it’s one of the line-ups of the year. So I’d just be saying for the Melbourne show, definitely keep an eye out. That support should be announced over the next three weeks.”