Music / Features
They Made Me Do It -
Talking Influences with Wybie
Words by James Lynch
Thursday 19th January, 2023
Following the release of We Are The Kids in December, we caught up with local art-folk songsmith Wybie to dig into the influences that led to the creation of his warm, ragged and enthralling debut album, ahead of the project’s LP launch tonight at The Gasometer.
For the unacquainted, Wybie is the project of Melbourne-based multi-instrumentalist Kylie Muir, an endeavour that sees him bringing his idiosyncratic brand of folk songwriter front and centre after a near decade performing in other local acts. We’ve had the pleasure of weighing in on the world of Wybie a couple of times now, but on We Are The Kids, Kyle and his troupe of friends/collaborators have managed to expand the scope of the project in dazzling fashion.

In a press release, the band describe the album as being “akin to a twisted kid‘s book”, and they’re not far from the truth. Across these nine tracks, Wybie manages to sound simultaneously tender, playful and unsettled - a constantly developing tapestry which makes each poignant or eerie moment feel all the more impactful. From the rolling grooves and swelling guitar of opening track of ‘Fly Big Balloon’, through to the hypnotic second half of ‘Transcribe’, and onto the uneasy jazz-folk of the title track, it’s a stirring ride, and one that can lull us into a haze while keeping us on our toes.

Tonight Wybie and the band launch the album at The Gasometer Hotel, and to help us delve into the new record even deeper, Kyle has kindly shared with us some key inspiration that led to the creation of We Are The Kids.

Ali Farka Touré

In 2017 I stayed at an Airbnb in Osaka and upon poking around the house I found a CD of the album Talking Timbuktu by Ali Farka Toure and Ry Cooder. Instead of exploring the city, I found myself lost in Touré's intricately melodic playing and glorious vocals. Talking Timbuktu made a significant impact on me as it opened the door to West African music, which I soon fell in love with. I’m always drawn to great grooves and Toure's music is rife with them. A few years ago I tried to learn the guitar part to ‘Singya’ but could never get the feel right. I left it alone for a while and came back to it with a simplified version that ended up becoming the guitar part for ‘Fly Big Balloon’. You can watch a great documentary on Ali here.

Blake Mills - ‘Never Forever’
I love the lengthy introduction to ‘Never Forever’, the opening track of Mills' 2020 album Mutable Set. The track starts slowly and seems to tumble down, gathering mass until it becomes a huge snowball. This song feels like a childhood memory I have of watching competitive cheese rolling on SBS with my dad, the most ridiculous sport. This album is a total masterpiece. It informed a lot of the sounds on Wybie's Mansion back in 2020 when it came out, and I'm still getting a lot of juice out of it, even having finished We Are The Kids. I’m a visual thinker, so I often gauge music by how strongly images appear and Mutable Set provokes rich, vivid imagery for me.

Jeff Buckley - ‘Gunshot Glitter’
When Buckley lived alone in Memphis, he wrote and recorded the B-side of ‘Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk’ on a four track tape machine. I love the deranged and degraded sound quality of this recording. Apparently the 'bass drum' sound on this particular track is Buckley hitting a microphone with the palm of his hand. For We Are The Kids I recreated a similar sound palette on tracks like ‘Crumble’ where I sent the whole mix for the first half of the track into a shitty old Akai reel to reel and the end of ‘Seconds’ which was sent into little handheld Sony cassette player with the pitch altered. 

Aldous Harding
The most intriguing thing to me about Aldous Harding is the delivery of her performance and the way she vocally embodies different characters. The way she performs has influenced me more than her sound. There is a video of her performing at a festival in Portugal where she looks possessed by some sort of demon. It's not showy or anything but it's so captivating.

Hannah McKittrick - ‘Shells’
This one might be bending the rules a little because it's from one of my mates, but Hannah is a huge reason that I started Wybie in the first place. We used to play in a band together called Hoi Palloi and I loved playing Hannah's songs and became very inspired to write my own. The moment ‘Shells’ starts, your heart strings are not merely being pulled, your whole heart has become a puppet and Hannah will move it in any way she damn pleases. I've cried at least five times to this song. Hannah and Theo (who produced this track) also played a huge part in making We Are The Kids.
We Are The Kids is out now in all the usual places. Catch Wybie launching the new album tonight, January 19th, at The Gasometer Hotel with Hannah Cameron - tickets are available here.