When Gab Strum started Japanese Wallpaper at 13, he never expected to have played the main stage at Falls Festival, delighted crowds at Splendour in the Grass, attracted the admiration of luminaries like Lorde and Gotye, and appeared in cinema soundtracks before he’d even finished high school. Fast forward a few years of continuing success and skyrocketing popularity to 2019, the 2014 Triple j’s Unearthed High winner has already launched his new single, Fooling Around, toured around the US and recently finished touring around Australia with Lily Allen.
If your music was a person, what would their personality be like? Do you have any character that comes to mind?
I think it would be pretty similar to my own! Kinda anxious and optimistic at the same time. Find them standing in the corner at a party.
What’s the plan for 2019?
Hopefully just making lots of music and playing some more shows. There’ll be an album released at some point too.
What’s on your music bucket list?
I’d really love to relocate to the US at some point, and also maybe one day play Coachella? For the longest time, making an album was at the top of my bucket list but I recently got to tick that one off.
If you had to choose an album title as a quote to live by, which one would it be and why?
“I Don’t Want To Be Anywhere But Here” by Ceres – I think working in music, one always has to focus so much on the future that sometimes it can be easy to forget to take stock and be present and grateful for where you’re at.
What is the most bizarre moment you’ve experienced during a performance?
The first ever Japanese Wallpaper band show was a secret gig for friends and family at a bar in Melbourne, and I remember looking out at the crowd as I walked on stage to see Toro Y Moi (one of my biggest heroes) and his band standing in the front row. I think they had just wandered in randomly on their night off from tour but I’ll never forget it.
If you could perform in a concert with other musicians/bands of your choosing, who would they be?
I’ve always thought a Japanese Wallpaper / Mansionair / Vallis Alps lineup would be a lot of fun. Maybe one day…
What’s on your Spotify playlist at the moment?
Lately I’ve been really loving the new Deerhunter album, and everything that my friend Aidan, aka Instupendo, has been putting out.
If you could talk to your younger self, what advice would you give about the music industry?
To take things slowly and prioritise practicing and actually making work over all else. Most of my favourite bands spent so long honing in on their craft before they found success.
What tips would you share with other artists on how to survive a hectic performing season?
Drink lots of water and don’t take on more than you think you can handle! There’s always next year etc.
What’s in your gig bag?
Phone charger, headphones, Nintendo Switch, throat coat tea and face wash.
Why do you use Audiofly IEMs?
Since switching to Audiofly, I’ve consistently had the best stage sound that I can remember. I spent so long trying to perform without IEMs or with cheap generic models and always struggled to hear everything happening on stage clearly, which is so important for a show that incorporates a full band setup as well as electronics and backing tracks.
Check out his new track, Fooling Around, below:
Photos by: Giulia Giannini McGauran