Tate Smirnakos / 20 / South East Melbourne
I’ve been pursuing music since I was 14 in high school. I was in a very bad place mentally at the time and needed a distraction of sorts. My dad had always played the guitar around me during my childhood, so I decided to learn the guitar on my own, in my way. I would spend my lunchtimes in a classroom practising while everyone else mucked around outside. After a couple of years of writing average music, I began to record and document my progress. As I got older, I discovered a love and keen ear for a vast array of instruments, and have taught myself how to produce and compose music of various genres through Ableton Live.
What has been the best part of 2019?
For those who don’t know, New Wave Infinity (@newwaveinifinty) is a creative collective that myself and Nick Rae put together in early 2018. Our crew (currently consisting of 16 people) has some of the most talented, inspiring and creative people I have ever met, and each of us has been making major moves since we all came together. This year has given us so many good memories, but plenty of hardships too. The fact that we have stuck together through everything and we’re still so strong is undoubtedly my favourite part about this year.
What/who were your inspirations this year?
My parents have always been an inspiration of mine, especially in the last 2 years. They understand my passion as they also followed their creative outlets as careers when they were younger. Others artists in this industry aren’t so lucky to have parents who not only understand but respect and encourage their work. For me to only be working a normal job 2 days a week and the other 5 days towards my biggest dreams has helped my mental health in so many ways.
"This year has given us so many good memories, but plenty of hardships too."
Creatively, this year I have been inspired by artists like Smino and Roy Woods for my RnB style, Saba and IDK for their fusion of genres, the entirety of the Dreamville lineup for their lyricism, the production of Monte Booker, Kenny Beats, FNZ (they’re from Perth, check them out) and so many more. Australian inspirations would have to be Horrorshow and Thundamentals.
How many albums/singles have you put together now?
This year I have dropped 4 singles, a 5 track EP and 2 albums. All can be found on my Spotify.
How long did it take you to put together “IF THIS IS WHAT YOU NEED”?
I went through a breakup in early January and decided to channel all the pain and loneliness into a project. I didn’t even realise I had enough tracks for an album until I had produced and written 20 songs in 2 months. I knew I needed to conceptualise and piece everything together, and that took me another month to fully understand and be able to explain it all. 3 months is a good estimate of how much time it took.
HONEY & REYKO on stage for THE GET DOWN at HORSES BAZZAR: Photo by MIM
"Cohesively tell a story without losing audience interest is always so much more difficult than first anticipated."
How would you describe “IF THIS IS WHAT YOU NEED” as an album?
IF THIS IS WHAT YOU NEED is a metamorphosis of my psyche during the stages of grief after a breakup. It explores themes surrounding deep-rooted insecurities, sorrow, self-interrogation/analysation and the acceptance of what has occurred and why. It is a body of work dedicated to myself, for myself, and it helped me push through the dark moments.
Who did the album artwork for “IF THIS IS WHAT YOU NEED”?
My good friend Alex Hodge helped me conceptualise and realise the final artwork. The inside artwork was developed by myself on my phone, and I sent that image to him with the idea of keeping it simple yet effective. The colours used (saturated red and deep navy) was something him and I explored extensively to communicate the energy of the album visually.
What the best part about the process of making an album?
IF THIS IS WHAT YOU NEED was a very difficult and heart-wrenching experience. None of it was particularly enjoyable, even the production side of things which I usually enjoy regardless of what emotion I’m feeling. However, I came out of it a much stronger person as a result, and that would probably be the best part about the whole process.
What's the most challenging part about putting together an album?
I think it varies from album to album, but being able to cohesively tell a story without losing audience interest is always so much more difficult than first anticipated. The tracklist is also extremely challenging as I had to cut songs out that I liked because they simply didn’t fit the vibe of the project.
How do you want people to feel when listening to “IF THIS IS WHAT YOU NEED” album?
I want people to feel whatever comes naturally. The album has a subliminal chronology, curated to raise the spirits of the listeners as you listen through fully.
What’s your favourite song on the album and why?
That’s really tough to answer but it would have to be the 1st track IF THIS IS WHAT YOU NEED. For me, it does its job of explaining the concept of the album and explaining my thought process behind the break-up. The concept of having a heavy, emotion-laden track sound kind of upbeat and fun comes from Third Eye Blinds track “Semi-Charmed Life” which is a song about drug addiction disguised in a catchy and easygoing hook.
"My crew and I are destined to make a difference in this world for the better, by paving a New Wave (pun intended)."
What is the Melbourne music scene like?
Melbourne’s music scene is incredible and continues to blow me away every day. Young artists are doing their best to put themselves out there, and the opportunities are coming thick and fast for those working the hardest.
Do you think there is enough support for music in the Melbourne community? Why? What should improve?
I think, in the current climate of the Melbourne music scene, only the hungriest of artists are getting somewhere at a rapid rate. The community is starting to take notice of those who are consistently releasing content and getting playlisted by Spotify and Apple music. I would encourage everyone reading this to support your local artists by coming down to shows whenever you can and making a personal connection within the scene. Shows like Crooked Club, New Kids x Poly Connection, Palace Thursdays, The Get Down and so many more are diversifying and putting on so many young up and comers. I highly encourage checking these events out.
Do you want to make a difference in this world with your music? Why?
Absolutely, my crew and I are destined to make a difference in this world for the better, by paving a New Wave (pun intended). We are constantly striving to be the best and to support everyone we come across, and we are fully committed to the betterment of the community and the Earth itself.
What is your goal for 2020?
My goal for 2020 is to see myself and the New Wave crews music get playlisted and heavily streamed, and hopefully book and play a tour, no matter how big or small.
What can we look forward to seeing from you in 2020?
I’ve got ideas for new collaboration projects, EP’s in the works, another album in the making and a drive to spread my name across Australia by producing songs for other artists.