Record of the Week
We take you inside our favourite new albums with the artists who made them. This week's feature record is WA songwriter and producer Brayden Sibbald's sophomore release 'We Can Only Move Forward'.
Gorgeous, vivid folk-driven songwriting and floating, dreamy electronic soundscapes is a perfect combination, and the ease in which Brayden Sibbald delivers both has seen him blossom into one of Australia’s most promising musicians.
The producer and singer-songwriter, hailing from the smalltown of Dunsborough in south-west WA, has been steadily growing his catalogue – and with it his reputation – over the last five years. But it was on his 2018 EP Float that he really found his sound. While the storytelling and indie-folk subtleties of his debut EP, 2015’s Beyond These Words were still present, Float started showcasing the beginnings of his folk-indie-electronic concoction.
Following that release, his talents were quickly noticed. Sibbald scored himself a couple of gongs at the 2019 WAM Song of the Year Awards and saw himself taking stages at festivals right around his home state including Groovin the Moo, Southbound and Fairbridge Festival.
Two years later and Sibbald has returned with its follow up – We Can Only Move Forward. If Float caught the attention of music fans out west, then this new EP is ready to take Sibbald across Australia and well beyond its borders. While only spanning 20 minutes, Brayden Sibbald is able to show off an arsenal of sonic textures and emotions, playing both to his earlier indie-folk stylings as well as highlighting his knack for creating delicate, gentle synth soundscapes – and sitting on top of it all is his stunning, warm vocal.
Inspired by the vastness and beauty of Iceland discovered during a trip in 2019 alongside the isolation of growing up in his regional hometown, We Can Only Move Forward is a journey of introspection, self-discovery and the sort of record that is readymade to take Brayden Sibbald from a fresh face to a household name in no time.
From the beginning
Brayden Sibbald: “I’ve always had an attachment to music. I was always encouraged to sing from an early age at school and picked up the guitar when I was 8 when Dad started learning – I thought it was cool so I asked him to teach me a few chords and picked it up really quickly.
“I use music as a form of expression for the things that happen within my life and the inspiration I get from everyday life. I look back on each song I’ve written and it’s almost like a trail of my growth and life over the years. It’s cool to look back on it in that way.”
What you’ll hear
BS: “I grew up listening to a lot of folky singer-songwriter type stuff – there was always Neil Diamond, Neil Young, Crowded House blasting through the house as a kid. When I got a bit older I was hooked on artists like Ben Howard (still am) and Bon Iver (still am) and as a result started writing in that style of music.
“I think over time my music tastes changed and I started becoming a lot more interested in the production side of things and sound design so was drawn a lot more into the more electronic sounds – how did they create those sounds? I still try to retain those more singer-songwriter folky elements in the lyrics of a more electronic sonic palette.
Inside the creative process
BS: “After I finished up with my last EP, I started writing a lot more and I had been sitting on all these songs for a while. I went on a trip to Iceland in early 2019 during which I wrote a lot and it felt like it really cemented what I had into a collection of songs. I took them all to Matt Gio and we whittled it down to the songs that ended up on the EP. Working with Matt is always a blast and I’m really happy with how it all turned out.
“I feel like I’m much more open to things [now, compared to my first EP] – new ideas, rewrites, new sounds or directions for songs. Previously it was more like, ‘This is the song, this is how I wrote it so this is how it is.’ I think being more open to change helps the creative process immensely – it opens up an infinite amount of doors.”
Tell us the story
BS: “The record is called We Can Only Move Forward. I think I had a few songs written before I started to see a central theme emerge and from there kept it in the back of my mind while writing during that period.
“It came from a realisation that you are in charge of all the choices you make, and that you can only look forwards. You can’t redo choices and you can’t go back in time, but you can continue to grow and learn.”
Down memory lane
BS: “My trip to Iceland last year was where I wrote most of this record. We hired a van and drove all around Iceland, with a plan that didn’t really work out how we thought it would, through the Icelandic winter and it was just something else, letting go of that control and just going with it, along with how incredible Iceland is. My notes in my phone were full of song inspiration. Creating the record was so much fun too, so grateful to record with Matt Gio, he is a creative genius and it never feels like work.”
Overcoming struggle town
BS: “The hardest part of the process was cementing a feel for a song. ‘When Did The Sun Rise’ and ‘Afterglow’ were particularly difficult to settle on. We went through so many different variations before we found something we loved.
“I think it’s important to keep chipping away at it if you’re not happy. We ended up coming back and redoing them after we’d finished the rest of the songs so it felt more cohesive as a record.”
BS: “I’ve had a lot of special shows but probably the biggest achievement was winning my first WAM Song of the Year award. It was one of those moments where I thought, ‘Hey, maybe I can do this.’”
For the love of music
BS: “I love the fact that music is something that everyone can relate to. Music is an outlet through which I can express myself; no matter how I’m feeling. There is always something new to learn while creating music and always new inspiration to create music.”
BS: “I’d hope that anyone who listens to my music is taken away from what they are doing or where they are, and transported to a different place where they can connect with the song and take something away from it – not even necessarily what I had in mind when I wrote it. I think everyone’s interpretation is important and music is a universal language open to any interpretation.”
Say it in a sentence
BS: “We can only move forward, and in whichever way that helps the listener whether it’s moving straight forward, sidestepping, or diagonally we are always moving forward. At times it feels good, and at times it’s hard, but it’s important to know we’re still going forward and to trust that process.”
Brayden Sibbald – I Am The Master Saboteur
“This was the track that I feel sparked the whole idea of the EP. I came to the realisation only fairly recently that you are in charge of all of your choices, you can’t necessarily change the things around you but you can choose how you react to them.”
Brayden Sibbald – Sparse
“One of the tracks that came out of the Iceland writing sessions. I was so inspired by the epic sweeping landscapes and how everything seemed so perfect but also barren and empty. I felt a real connection between that and the isolation of growing up and living in a regional town. I also felt like it related pretty well to a few things that were going on in my life at the time, and that it put a few things into perspective.”
Brayden Sibbald – Thin Air
“The first single from the EP. I’m really proud of how this one turned out, it’s a return to a more simple sound with acoustic elements that I feel is a great snapshot of where I wanted to be. We really struggled to settle on the sound for this one, but once we cracked it everything flowed really easily.”
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