Sydney band, Goldfynch, release their debut album tomorrow. We wrote a review of their second single from the album “Ballooning over Paris”, which you can read here. We chat to Gavin and Nyati, the couple who make up Goldfynch about the album, France, singing in foreign languages, music and travel.
Congratulations on the release of your second single “Ballooning over Paris” from your debut album. How long have you been working on the album?
We have been writing original songs for over five years on and off between kids, life, everything, and finally had a chance to finish the project when the pandemic hit.
You’ve had quite an impressive cast working on the recording of the album. It was recorded at Church St Studios by Damian de Boos-Smith, mixed by Emmy Award-winning Sean Carey (ex Thirsty Merc) and mastered by two-time Grammy winner Helik Hadar. Have you worked with these people before?
Gavin: We have been performing with Damian for over ten years at live gigs, and I recorded two instrumental albums at his studio too. Damian introduced us to so many incredible musicians such as Jonathan Zwartz who graciously agreed to perform on our album and the whole line-up will be performing at our launch concert at Foundry 616 on 23rd July this year.
I recorded my first guitar albums in 2003 at Big Buddah studios, where Sean Carey worked as an apprentice sound engineer, so I’ve known Sean for almost 20 years! Helik Hadar mastered Jonathan Zwartz’s album, which won the Aria Award for best Jazz album, so we made that connection through Jonathan.
Goldfynch is comprised of the two of you, a husband-and-wife team. How long have you been making music together?
Niyati: We have been performing together since 2008, when I joke I had to join the band if I ever wanted to see Gavin (a full time working Musician) on the weekends. We now work together on creative projects across video, music and art and started writing original music together in 2015.
How did you meet?
Gavin: We met at Eastside Radio, a Jazz/Arts Community radio station in Paddington Town Hall, Sydney.
Niyati produced and presented the book show there and I was a guest that day alongside Joseph Tawadros on Stuart Vandergraaf’s show. Stuart and Niyati were chatting and I didn’t get a word in. Then I asked Niyati out for a cup of tea via email the next day.
Niyati: I liked the sound of Gavin’s big smile and soft English accent so we had tea and then I invited him to read out Shakespeare’s Sonnets for a Valentine’s day radio special (hint hint) on my show. We have been inseparable ever since.
While this may be your debut album as Goldfynch, you’ve both had long musical careers as well as some involvement in indie-filmmaking. What’s your proudest achievement so far?
Gavin: I have recorded 4 Latin guitar albums under the name Urban Gypsies and now I have an Album under my own name Gavin Rene Libotte called “ Ocean”. The Goldfynch album will make it release number 6. I am proud of writing so much good material and now we are enjoying the diversity of the new music.
Niyati: I have to say writing and recording the Goldfynch debut album with such incredible musicians has been a definite highlight. There’s nothing quite like seeing a concept in your mind coming to life in a tangible way and everyone getting behind it.
What are the challenges in song-writing?
Staying true to your Art without compromising too much to ensure that you will be heard and accepted. It is a balance of Art and Commerce, an emotional and intellectual expression of the self but making that something people connect with.
The very catchy song “Ballooning over Paris” is inspired by Niyati’s time living in Paris in her student days. Where and what did you study? How long were you there?
Niyati: I did a double degree in Media Arts and International Studies at UTS. This included a year in France and I was fortunate to get a placement in Lyon at the Lumiere Lyon 2. I immersed myself in the language, culture and people totally, and studied writing, filmmaking and French culture. It was sublime and to this day I think of France as my soul’s home. I found myself studying the adaptation of Marguerite Duras’ “Hiroshima Mon Amour”, documentary traditions and the work of the frere Lumiere (who hail from Lyon), and also making art films with other students.
I also made a connection with a wonderful tutor of French culture at the university who, on hearing I loved singing jazz, invited me to perform with his collective in a cave in the old quarter, specifically Nougaro’s “La Pluie”. It was my first taste of performing in French and it was a disaster! Being underground, in those days everyone smoked indoors, and I found my voice reacted very badly to the thick layer of smoke. But it was the beginning of my love affair with French music. I carry those days in my heart always.
Have you been back to France since your student years?
Niyati: Absolutely! I have returned to visit all my friends, shown Gavin some of my old haunts, and I have plans to go back again one day and share the experience with my children. Hopefully one day I will create a part-time base there to write and tour Europe post-pandemic. France is the most magical place – the people are down to earth but kind and intelligent, the air has always shimmered with possibility, and it is the only place in the world where I have felt aesthetics, poetry, and deep conversation are appreciated without question as a necessity, a part of the fabric of society. It is heartening to know, no matter where I am in the world, France exists as a symbol of all that I care about.
Are you both musically trained? How long have you been performing your crafts? Niyati, were you a singer as a child? Gavin, when did you learn to play guitar?
Gavin: I started playing guitar at 17. At first a mix of Classical Guitar and electric guitar. I then began to improvise and that’s how I developed an interest in Jazz. I went on to study Jazz and Contemporary Music at the Perth Conservatorium of Music. I started writing at 25 and haven’t stopped since. I have an overflow of ideas and there isn’t enough time to note them all down.
Niyati: I always loved music and composition, but I never had any formal training. That said, music was huge in my house. My mother sang Indian songs at every community event and sometimes on stage (She now sings and dances on the ABC kids show “Nanna’s & the Poppas”). She’d pull me in to dance and sing from a young age and I enjoyed it. Growing up I wrote music by ear (still do!) and sang in musicals and performed in plays informally. But I didn’t get serious until I met Gavin. He was the yang to my yin and made the journey in sound possible, he allowed me to dream and make those dreams a reality.
In “Ballooning over Paris” you sing in both French and English. Are you fluent in French? How do you find singing in a language that’s not your mother tongue?
Niyati: I absolutely love singing in French, it is such a beautiful language. After my year in France, I became fairly proficient in conversational French though there isn’t much opportunity to practice here in Australia. That said I keep the connection alive by singing in French at festivals and events, along with other languages on request such as Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Hindi. Having learned several Indian dialects as a child and German at high school, I find I can usually sing foreign songs by ear with a little practice.
In the song you go from Paris to Peru’s Machu Picchu. Have you travelled to Machu Picchu?
We have always wanted to travel there but haven’t managed to yet. It’s on our bucket list though! Ancient buildings swallowed up by the forest, it sounds so romantic! I guess we have travelled there in song. That’s the beauty of Art. It can take you places you would otherwise never go.
How would you describe the album?
Gavin: The Album is square and made of cardboard and plastic 🙂 The plastic disk is round and fits inside the cardboard sleeve. It can also be described as a set of codes written in digital form.
Niyati: HA! Thanks for the dad joke Gavin. The Album is a collection of stories told in a variety of styles including indie pop, adult contemporary, jazz and folk styles. It really is a blend of both our writing styles and was conceived as an Art project, which accounts for its eclectic offering.
Gavin: Some tracks feature the classical guitar, some electric and some steel string acoustic. Some of the heavier pop tracks have double bass instead of electric bass which gives it a more intimate feel. Niyati’s lyrics are romantic, impressionistic and pull the listener in to experience expansive story arcs. At the same time they are simple and whimsical, like “Ballooning Over Paris”.
Niyati: Yes, I write a lot about innocence, truth and freedom, metaphorical and physical. I guess it comes from being a mum and reflecting a lot on what’s important. Many of the tracks are rich in a variety of layered sounds, including string quartets, bass, drums, percussion, and some world instruments like the Bansoori flute and the harmonium, which I played for the first time and sounds rather like a French accordion. We use it on our bonus track, the French version of “Little Bird”, which describes man’s relationship with nature through a discussion with a bird (alouette).
The Album really is full of our favourite sounds and does a balancing act of Acoustic and electric instruments. We draw on many influences, from Ella Fitzgerald to Air, the Beatles to Radiohead, Madeleine Peyroux to A.R. Raiman, Eva Cassidy to Coldplay.
Will you be touring nationally to promote the album?
We will be doing a few concerts in NSW, keeping it local in this COVID climate until we can confidently tour further afield. Our album launch concert is on 23rd July at Foundry 616 (Harris St, Sydney) and will feature the whole stellar line up including Jonathan Zwartz, Damian De Boos-Smith, Ben Adler, Thomas Avgenicos, Venkhatesh Sritharan and Byron Marks. We’ll also play at the Manly Fig 30th July, Manly Jazz Festival in October and Northern Beaches Jazz Festival November this year.
We’ll be promoting it online in a variety of ways and might do some digital shows down the track, but we look forward to being able to tour wider, maybe even (finger’s crossed) some festivals in Europe in the not too distant future.
We thank Gavin and Niyati from Goldfynch for this interview.
Presave Goldfynch’s debut album now via this link to access it as soon as it is released tomorrow: https://gyro.lnk.to/Goldfynch
In the meantime, listen to “Ballooning over Paris”, the second track to be released.
NSW Tour dates:
23 July – THE FOUNDARY (ALBUM LAUNCH) BOOK TICKETS
30 July -GOLDFYNCH TRIO at the Manly Fig, SEAFORTH BOWLING CLUB BOOK TICKETS
11 September – NARRABEEN SHACK. Ted Blackwell Hall BOOK TICKETS
1 -3 October- MANLY JAZZ FESTIVAL (Quartet) FREE EVENT
10 October -WATERFRONT CAFE Co – Op – Club SUNDAY SESSIONS (FREE ENTRY)
7 November – NORTHERN BEACHES MUSIC FESTIVAL (TRIO) BOOK TICKETS
You can find Goldfynch at the following links: