I first came across Fin’s Contingency Plan at a small, local Brisbane show supporting Tsubaki Blue and was instantly taken aback by quirky approach to his lyrics and his overall songwriting chops. Like the Ben Folds of Brisbane, Fin’s set was captivating from start to finish. Creating group harmonies with the crowd, using audience members to play the keys and mixing comedy with musicality, I just had to learn more about the emerging young artist!
And luckily, just last week he released his new single Skymining, giving us something to talk about. The track is a space-themed slow-burner blending science fiction and indie-folk to create not just a song, but an experience. Like an episode of Firefly put to music. The production is pertains a gentle groove that varies and changes as it goes on, but pertains a certain level of minimalism. Heavily acoustic-guitar driven, the track also features a gorgeous horn section towards the end.
I was lucky enough to find some time to chat to Fin about the single.
You’ve just released your new track Skymining. Can you take us through a little bit on what the song is about?
This tune is written about a lone astronaut in a space station orbiting the earth. The space station is collecting space junk and melting it down into slag to be sent back to earth for recycling. Unfortunately, however, the station is also government-funded, so it’s not run very intelligently. The astronaut’s job is just to sit there and push buttons all day and it’s excruciatingly boring. So, the song is ultimately centered around the theme of loneliness, isolation, and boredom at work.
I really love the minimalist way the song is produced, the horn section and the harmonies! Can you take us through a little bit on what songs/ artists inspired this production?
The general mood of the tune and its slow groove uses a a couple of tunes from 90’s New Zealand indie bands as a jumping off point – Anchor Me by the Muttonbirds and I Feel Possessed by Crowded House. There’s also a bit of Bon Iver and Ben Folds in there with the layering of vocal harmony.
I see this is the first single from your next album ‘Murphy’s Law’. Can you tell us a little bit about how this song fits in to the wider themes of that album?
This song is probably one of the more spacey, downbeat tunes on the record which reflects a general feeling of isolation that’s present across the record. A lot of the tunes are pretty somber and dismal in terms of lyrical themes but this one really reflects that idea in the music as well.
How does this new work differ from what you have previously released?
Well it’s funny that you mention this because I actually released a (much, much older and quite distinct) version of this song with my highschool band Dave Is A Spy back in 2015. Our output was quite all over the place and we tried a lot of different genres on our records. But what I will say is that I’ve never thought to release a relaxed, downbeat tune as a single before. The 2021 re-written edition of Skymining is quite different in that it’s been chosen to lead the release of this record where in the old days it’d be relegated to being an album track.
I see you released your last EP ‘Procedurally Generated’ just last year. Was there any issues you faced in your release due to the COVID-19 pandemic? Or any positives you found creatively from this isolation period?
The Procedurally Generated EP was released just before the whole COVID shtick really went down (I recorded it over the Christmas holidays going from 2019-2020). What COVID really did mess up, however, was the release of the album which was meant to take place around June last year. I decided to use the extra time to get together and train the live band (the recording of Skymining that has just been released features me playing all the instruments.)
You guys have performed a bunch of shows to help promote your last works. What, would you say, is the best or most memorable show you have ever played?
We’re relatively new to gigging as a band! The Skymining launch show was only our fourth show as a full band. So far the most memorable show was probably selling out Banshees Bar & Artspace last month. People in Ipswich really know how to party and we had the awesome brass-rock group LeSuits open for us. Nothing beats watching a whole room sway to a song about a space station.
I really love the concept behind the song and how it was arranged! How do you approach writing a new song? Do you usually start with the chords, the concept or the lyrics?
It depends on the song. There are so many ways to tease ideas out. With Skymining I had the word itself – ‘skymining’ going around in my head since I was about 15 years old. I then was mucking around on an acoustic guitar and found a riff that I thought felt really spacey and interesting. I then wrote the rest of the lyric out based on that mood, picked a chord progression for the verse, and recorded a demo that I used to structure the rest of the parts with.
Which local artists are you the most inspired by?
I really enjoy Ball Park Music, who have translated their success into Australia-wide fame and fortune. They have a whole lot of really interesting tunes that capture a similar kind of spacey groove to what I attempted on Skymining but they can also translate into more upbeat rock or funk oriented moods. I also really like local prog-rock group Lexi Quinn, who are blending jazz, punk, metal and post-rock in fascinating ways. I also have to pay my respects to the Jakarta Criers, a local band from a few years ago (no longer together sadly) that I followed fervently as a teenager.
What advice would you have for anyone who may want to get in to music?
Never stop writing, learn as much as you can about how music works on the technical and technological sides, keep writing, play live all the time and gauge what works and what doesn’t, never stop writing, practice all the time, plan everything months ahead and never. Stop. writing.
And finally, what does 2021 look for Fin’s Contingency Plan?
Another single launch next month, then the launch of the full album in June or July (time permitting,) recording and release of a live performance of Skymining as well as a couple of other tunes, and monthly gigs. A big year!
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