interview: Blackchords share cinematic post-rock bliss with ‘Connected // Forgotten’

"Being in the music business sometimes can feel like hacking through a thick jungle trying to make it to the top of a mountain where everyone has an opinion, while vines and branches are constantly obscuring your path."
19th September 2023

Blackchords are an alternative rock band known for their captivating soundscapes, emotive songwriting, and introspective lyrics.

After a nine-year break, Melbourne’s Blackchords are back with their third studio album, Connected // Forgotten. This cinematic post-rock work explores themes of love, grief, fear, and hope, immersing listeners in dreamy soundscapes and dark pop melodies.

Despite their music being featured in hit TV shows like Suits, Shameless, and Orange is the New Black, the band took an artistic hiatus. Now, they return with renewed energy and creativity, collaborating with renowned artists like Tamil Rogeon and Daniel Farrugia, adding ghostly harmonies and pulsating grooves to the album.

Our chat (below) with this band on their extraordinary album, which marks their triumphant return to the international stage, is not to be missed.

There are always going to be great gems that are hidden away but worth looking for. I think Blackchords is one of those!

Congratulations on releasing ‘Connected // Forgotten’! Could you tell us about the journey that led to this comeback album after nine years of hiatus? What inspired the band to return to the music scene now?

Thank you! It’s been quite the ride. It feels almost surreal to be back at it. Being in the music business sometimes can feel like hacking through a thick jungle trying to make it to the top of a mountain where everyone has an opinion, while vines and branches are constantly obscuring your path. When everything gets too noisy, and you’re pushing in every direction, you’ve got to pause, listen to that inner voice, and rediscover your original direction. Otherwise, you’re just stumbling and falling on repeat.

And that’s pretty much what happened to me. I let all those external voices muddy the waters so much that I forgot why I was so passionate about making music in the first place. It was like a fall from grace, and I wanted nothing to do with music or the whole scene. So, I took a total detour, exploring movement, training, and coaching. It was a fantastic way to rebuild my mental and physical health and gain clarity.

The music started calling me back in 2019, like unfinished business always does, right? Slowly but surely, I started writing again. ‘Trawler’ was one of the first songs I’d written in nearly eight years. And then, the band members began reconnecting. We realised the spark was still there and were ready to reignite it. It was like falling in love with music and the process all over again. We knew we had to dive back in.

So, we made the call to create a new album. We planned everything out, with 2020 as our target year for recording and releasing. We were genuinely excited about it. We started rehearsing and writing, and then, bam, the pandemic hit. It threw a spanner in the works, especially with Melbourne’s strict and lengthy lockdowns. Virtual writing and recording weren’t the same, but we kept pushing on – sometimes with massive delays, other times at a snail’s pace.

But here we are. Our third studio album has just come out. It’s been a wild ride, to say the least, but the journey has been worth every twist and turn. We can’t wait to share our music with the world once again!

The album seems to explore a wide range of emotions, including love, grief, fear, and hope. How did the band deal with the process of turning these complex emotions into musical compositions?

I think it is one of our fortes. When we’re in the zone and creating music that resonates with us, it’s like a form of meditation. We step out of our heads and immerse ourselves in the emotions. From there, the lyrics start to form.

The lyrics often serve as a journey, helping us untangle and reflect on events, emotions and experiences in our lives. It’s a way to seek closure, find peace, reflect on what it is to be human or release something on our minds. I aim to express the lyrics in a universal way, allowing people to connect with our music and find their own meaning in it. It’s about creating a shared emotional experience.

‘Connected // Forgotten’ is described as a fusion of influences while maintaining Blackchords’ signature sound. How did the band balance drawing inspiration from classic acts like Pink Floyd and contemporary indie artists to create a distinct musical experience?

Coming back together after having such a decent amount of time apart meant there were some varied influences that we had absorbed on our own journeys, which really gave the music depth. We were also out of record contract, so we felt more freedom to create work that could be whatever it needed to be. We wanted the songs to unfold in their own unique ways. Sometimes, they would take us on a journey and morph along the way, and sometimes, they would just roll in and out like a wave. There is such a beautiful spectrum of music that we love, and we wanted that to be reflected in this album.

Your music has been featured in popular TV shows like Suits, Shameless, and Orange is the New Black. What effect did this exposure have on the band’s artistic evolution and the direction of its sound and approach?

The effect it had was pretty huge. It took the band from being a Melbourne Indie Band with a modest following to a band that was heard all over the world. It gave us confidence in the songs that we loved to create. These cinematic and emotive sounds and moods that may take some time to reveal themselves are what we are all about. Not so much the pop singles we felt pressure to create to please radio and fit the mould we thought we needed to fit for the record company. It showed us that we can lean into these sounds more and that it does resonate with people.

‘Trawler’, ‘More Than You Will Ever Know’, and ‘No Place To Be’ each seem to present different moods and musical styles. Could you walk us through the decision-making process behind the tracklist and the emotional narratives they convey?

Once again, we wanted these songs to evolve and develop how they wanted. We tried not to give the record a sound that would dictate the same approach for all the songs. We knew that the band and Nick Batterham, the producer, were the common thread. That would always shine through to give cohesion to the record, which meant we could paint over the top of the tracks with different styles and approaches.

Artistic crossroads are often defining moments for musicians. Could you explain the challenges the band faced while on hiatus and how they ultimately contributed to the renewed energy and creativity that’s apparent on this album?

While on hiatus, we all just went our separate ways. Discovering and learning whatever we needed to along the way.

The biggest challenge for the band was that we didn’t exist!! Haha. That’s quite an existential crisis for a band!

But from that non-existence, we could be born into whatever we wanted to be. There was a sense of freedom to create whatever we wanted and a newfound love for music. We had more kindness and acceptance of ourselves as musicians. All these things ultimately have given us a lot of energy for making this album and hopefully many more.

For those new to Blackchords’ music, what would you say is the most compelling reason to give ‘Connected // Forgotten’ a listen? How would you describe the overall impact you hope this album will have on its audience?

Our music dives deep, and it connects with people. It’s intricate, and there is always something new to discover after each listen.

People have reached out from past releases to tell us how it encouraged them to create, helped them through challenging moments, and inspired love and connection. It makes me incredibly happy to hear that our music has positively impacted people’s lives. It’s what music is about. I believe this album will do the same

In the rapidly changing music landscape, how do you think ‘Connected //Forgotten’ positions Blackchords in the current music scene, and what do you believe sets it apart from other contemporary releases?

There is such an enormous amount of music being released every day. There are always going to be great gems that are hidden away but worth looking for. I think Blackchords is one of those! 😉

If you could tour with any musicians, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Blackchords. They are my family. I love creating and spending time with these guys. If we could just get on the road and tour, that would be it! There is one member now living in New York City. I know we all really miss her. That would be great if she could come back now. Haha. You’ve had enough fun, Sarah!

Lastly, what’s next for Blackchords? Are there any upcoming plans for live performances, music videos, or collaborations that fans can look forward to following the release of ‘Connected // Forgotten’?

We are just really excited to make and release more music. It’s been ages between our last two records. We don’t want to wait that long again!

I’m working on a new clip for Trawler with my sister, Katie Milwright, who has created and co-created a few of our clips. The Through The Windows music video is the latest masterpiece by her. I can’t wait to create the new clip with her. She is a gun!