The Lay Of The Land – An Interview With Lydia Cole

Lydia Cole

Busy, busy

Auckland singer/songwriter Lydia Cole has just come home from a short Australian tour promoting her second album, The Lay Of The Land, which came out a few weeks ago. She’s in a weird state between excitement and exhaustion.

“On ­­­­­­Monday I flew back. I did three shows in four days. It was kind of insane. I have never been more tired or thoroughly exhausted in my mind and body than I was this weekend.

“It was awesome though. Totally pays off and definitely worth it.” she hastily adds.

Lydia Cole Live

Image: Josh Yong

Cole will continue the tour locally across our three main centres over the coming few weeks, before emigrating to Berlin in a couple of months. She has spent the day trying to organise the logistics and equipment for her next few shows.

“The stress has been pretty insane over the past month, but I’m learning to break it down. I’m not sure about the details for the Wellington show, because I’m just thinking about this weekend, you know? I’ll worry about Wellington next week, which is the only way for me to cope with everything.

“At the moment it’s literally too much work for me to do. I did the Kickstarter, and there’s something like 260 people that I have to send CD’s or different rewards to. I’m definitely not up with all of that. Maybe half of the rewards are in boxes waiting me to package and address and send out.

“But I figure if those people have waited 18 months than they won’t be bothered about another few weeks … hopefully” she chuckles.

“I’ve never been this busy before. It’s like full-time plus. But I’m really grateful for it, because I know it doesn’t always happen that way.”

A new album

The Lay Of The Land is a stunning follow-up to 2012’s Me & Moon. She’s pleased with the album. Me & Moon left her anxious about what people would think, whereas this time around Cole is has had long enough to sit on the songs and is happy that they represent her well at this moment of time, and realises that they don’t have to define her forever.

“In the studio when I was recording it I was very anxious. And I don’t know if it was because I was subconsciously thinking that there was 260 people hoping to like this. The grassroots support from an array of people – the Kickstarter people – was one of the big reasons why I decided to go that way. Firstly: it was financial, but secondly: I don’t have a label or a publicist or anything – it was just me at that stage, doing my own thing – and I realised that doing Kickstarter was a way to have a few hundred people aware that I was going to release something. They’re waiting, so you already have a bunch of people on your buzz already. They’re loyal. They’ve invested with their money already and they’re likely to tell their friends and follow what you’re doing, so it’s cool.”

Lydia Cole Lay Of The Land Album

Cole had quit her job and sought contributions from her fans via crowdfunding site Kickstarter to help her fund the recording process. She managed to raise the $15,000 within only five days, and since recording the album a year ago has worked hard to piece together the package that has become her album. This has involved finalising the album art, creating music videos, having band rehearsals and waiting for the CDs and vinyl records to get pressed

When you look at what she has put out, you can understand why it has taken so long. Take, for example, the incredible stop motion video for “Telepathise”. Cole teamed up with ex-pat animator Timothy Armstrong to create this brilliant clip that is not only visually stunning, but complements the song so well. It took Armstrong a whole month to make, and could have easily taken three times as long.

There are so many intricate details in the video. Armstrong discussed at length with Cole what types of trees she likes and what animals she wanted featured. He painstakingly created the layered images atop a Lazy Susan table and spent a lot of time manipulating small lights to create the different effects you see in the video [example here].

Cole is also super excited about having vinyl copies of the new album available.

“I was living at home a few years ago with Mum and Dad and they had an old record player. I’ve got a small collection: Louis Armstong, Sufjan Stevens, Ryan Adams, Phoenix Foundation (fun!). Since I’ve gone flatting I haven’t had a record player and have had to shelf them, but listening to records is like making coffee for me. It’s a physical routine: you chuck it on, put the needle down and it’s more of a tangible moment to enjoy.

“Look, I’m not a big sound-y person and don’t understand technical stuff very much but I did have an inkling that the warmth and the textures – a lot of the synth sounds on this album – would suit a vinyl sound. It was real cool when the test pressing arrived and I chucked it on. It sounded so good – I think it really suits it. I’m stoked with that.

“And they’re selling really well at shows and online as well. I sold a whole bunch to people in Germany and all through Europe, which is awesome! Hopefully they all make it in one piece!”

Nic MAnders plays keys for Lydia Cole

Nic Manders on keys. Image: Josh Yong

Moving abroad

Berlin represents a fresh start and new challenges. Going from support slots for big name artists and Silver Scroll award nominations to being a nobody on the opposite side of the planet.

“I’m very aware that I’ll become nobody. I’m excited to start afresh and meet people and go to gigs and busk and see who reacts to me on the street. I’ve always had Nic Manders produce my stuff, and he won’t be there. Over there I’ll be doing home recordings and stretching myself in that way as well.

“I’m a real big fan of sustainable and thorough growth. Like, chipping away at your character, chipping away at a project that means a lot to you instead of hoping for that overnight success that doesn’t actually mean anything. I apply that to my music and to my personal growth. I think that the slower you grow, then the more concrete that change will be.”

Connecting with musicians

We spend some time enthusiastically discussing the Sufjan Stevens shows we had each been to when he came last year. He embodies that type of musician Cole aspires to be like, just an upfront guy who is also a talented musician. She shares that these are the types of people she tries to share a stage with as well.

Luke Oram plays guitar for Lydia Cole

Luke Oram on guitar. Image: Josh Yong

“A guy called Chris from Christchurch is coming up to Auckland to support me. He messaged me on Facebook to say ‘Hi, here’s a link to my latest song on Soundcloud and I’d like to support you’. I really liked it. I’ve never met him and have seen no footage of him playing live so it’s like a fun little risk that I’m taking.

“In Australia it was real interesting trying to find people to support me. And I was lucky with that too. I got a couple of real cool people. I think musicians have pretty amazing stories a lot of the time so it was cool to bump into more people who have crazy stories.

“People who play music in similar genres to what I play – they’re writing from the heart and writing about stuff that matters to them. Usually when I click with someone like that it’s often on a personal level as well, so you make a really good friend out of that, which is nice.”


Authenticity is something Cole values. She presents herself as she is, flaws and all. She chooses not to wear makeup and her personal lyrics can leave her feeling incredibly exposed, but she’d prefer to be seen as genuine than perfect.

“When I was younger I thought that not needing a day job meant you’ve made it, but I’ve changed my perspective on what success means.

“Success to me is balance and health. The past little while I’ve been working part-time in a café, and doing music the rest of the time. The café work helps keep me social and personally healthy, and not going all crazy in my head. And it pays the bills. And that to me is success.”

Lydia Cole has four more NZ shows before moving to Germany to continue her personal and musical growth. With hundreds of people paying to help fund her music and a likely three sold out shows on this tour, it’s hard not to agree that she has done well for herself. We wish her the best of luck starting afresh overseas.

Lydia Cole tour details

Auckland  – The Wine Cellar, March 2 – SOLD OUT

Christchurch  – Space Academy, March 3

Auckland – The Vic, March 10 – SOLD OUT

Wellington – Meow Bar, March 11







Words by Joseph James

All photos taken by Josh Yong at the Wine Cellar on February 14 and provided by Lydia Cole

EP Review: Daniel Amedee – Everything Will Change

Daniel Amedee Everything will change

Something caught me off-guard when I first listened to Daniel Amedee’s forthcoming EP, Everything Will Change. The opening riff is almost identical to one my band wrote for a song we played at Rockquest (a battle of the bands for New Zealand highschool students). While this is by no means an indicator of quality, it made me like the song due to its familiararity.

And to be honest, the entire EP is likable. It’s fairly low-key, but with interesting touches. I can’t tell what it is, but there is an ambient effect that reminds me of a chorus of birds during the first song. And there are other subtle touches hidden within the other songs – the reverberating glockenspiel in the chorus of “Let Love Out”, the trashy cymbal punctuating the verses in “Love Is Not Gone”, the lovely percussive beat in “Swimming Through The Unconscious Disconscience”- small elements that enhance the overall feel.


daniel amedee 4 llamaryon Everything Will Change

Photo credit: Llamaryon


I love the deep bass that gives a warm tone to the songs. The opening title track features a drone that sounds like didgeridoo. It is clear that Amedee has put plenty of thought into how he uses rich timbres to colour his sound.

And that is what I think makes Everything will Change so endearing – the warmth and the obvious human elements. Amedee’s voice isn’t perfect, often wavering at times, but his singing style is both haunting and earnest. With a message of hope, and a reassuring feel, Amedee’s music is an affirming listen.


Joseph James


Everything Will Change release date: February 2, 2016

Daniel Amedee:     Website      Facebook     Twitter     Instagram       Soundcloud



EP Review: Koji – Fury

Koji Fury EP Cover

Koji first came to my attention after releasing split EPs with label mates Into It. Over It and La Dispute. Unlike those two bands, I wouldn’t consider Koji emo or pop-punk like Into It. Over It. Nor is he hardcore and intensely dramatic like La Dispute. But both splits just seemed to work as great marriages between the artists involved. Koji is hard to classify because he has a sound that is both versatile and recognisable. He’s a laid back singer/songwriter with a voice that sounds earnest and warm and songs that seems both simple and thoughtfully crafted, with subtly intimate details.

Fury departs from Koji’s acoustic past but still remains infectious. Musically, it’s more like straightforward indie rock, but manages to stay interesting without the using choirs and violins and other such instruments that Koji has used previously.

Title track ‘Fury’ doesn’t appear to contain a super catchy hook, but it refuses to leave my head. I’ve listened to it so many times over the past few days. Each time the song seems to get better, and each time it gets further entrenched in my mind. I swear my dreams have even had ‘Fury’ playing as the soundtrack for my subconscious adventures.

The following three songs continue with the earworm treatment as well. “Breaking And Broken” is ridiculously catchy with its rhyming choruses, as is ‘Everyday’, with its repeated lines and memorable guitar lines. Closing track ‘Question’ rounds off the EP perfectly by slowing down the pace but keeping up the mood.

There’s a fuzzy shoegaze vibe that permeates throughout the songs, whilst still remaining carefree and upbeat; a formula of Silversun Pickups and early Smashing Pumpkins with a bonus dose of happiness to offset depression.

Fury is thoroughly addictive, with each listen fueling the need for another. I just cannot get enough of it. Go have a listen and get hooked yourself.

Joseph James

Album Review: Aviation and the War – Haste

Aviation and the War Haste cover

Aviation and the War is an alternative indie duo from the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago. The two members are singer-songwriter Matt Buenger and drummer/percussionist Joe Christopoulos, two old school friends who share a love of hockey and music.

Although AATW only has two members, the album sounds like it has been recorded by a full band. The expected instruments of a rock band are present, such as drums, guitar, and vocals. Harmonica and piano also feature at times. The two friends are clearly very capable musos. They tell me that in live settings they will alter their set up to suit the venue. A smaller club will call for an acoustic guitar and piano, and at some larger places they bring in friends to fill in on bass and lead guitar.

The music is melancholic, but not depressing. Buenger tells me that songwriting is one of his processes when he’s in those kinds of moods.

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One reason that I love this album so much is because it reminds me of Thrice’s Major/Minor. The same feelings are there – the melancholic grunginess juxtaposed with subtle moments of delicacy. And it is uncanny how much Buenger’s voice reminds me of Thrice singer Dustin Kensrue.

Other influences the band has mentioned are Manchester Orchestra and City & Colour, both of whom seem obvious when pointed out. There is a measured balance of a singer/songwriter pouring his heart out,  while at the same time letting loose.

Take the song “Child’s Play”. It commences with basic acoustic strumming, before some lead picking adds another layer. Christopoulous’ drumming is very deliberate. He only plays in the sections he needs to, to add to the song. He taps on the drum hoops methodically at times, and wildly washes up the cymbals at others. The song builds and pauses and drops out dynamically. It’s all calculated, but not sterile.

Buenger and Christopoulos have spent two years making Haste. It is entirely self-written, self-managed, self-recorded and self-produced. They’ve taken their time honing their craft, perfecting their songs. Only the mastering is professionally done, courtesy of Alan Douches (a master master-er, from the looks of his résumé). And despite being homemade, there is nothing to give away that Aviation and the War is an indie project. The recording and musicianship are great, not something that I would usually associate with home studios and two-pieces. It certainly doesn’t sound cheap.

Haste has nine tracks that sound earnest and warm, with a touch of aching. The songs are written, recorded and played well. The singer/songwriter style makes for relaxed listening, but with enough rockiness and variety to keep it interesting.

You can find Aviation and the War on FacebookBandcamp and their Website.

Joseph James