When Psychedelic Goldfish “drained the goldfish bowl” in March 2014 to take a “sabbatical”, as they put it when playing a farewell show at the Yamba Bowling Club, what the group’s future might be was defined as “only time will tell”.
Since then, the group’s heart, husband and wife team, schoolteachers Tanya and Matt Fisher, have been unable to stem their internal musical tide, having since performed their debut record, Postcards, with the help of some of the Lower Clarence’s finest musicians, at the launch of this year’s Surfing the Coldstream Festival campaign.
Not content with that experience, the pair has recorded a new album of material at Paul Agar’s Heaven recording studios in Yamba.
Two songs from the album, Let Me Be and Blue Bottle, were finalists at last week’s Dolphin Music Awards, an annual event organised by the North Coast Entertainment Industry Association for the past 24 years.
Let Me Be was adjudged the region’s best ‘Rock’ song – not a bad effort, given the music they make is for “entirely personal” reasons – Blue Bottle was a finalist in the ‘Blues’ category.
“We enjoy writing and recording songs so we don’t actually forget them,” says Matt, “and we want to hear how they sound.
“We record them essentially just for ourselves and if anyone else likes them and wants to hear them, that’s an added bonus.”
The Fishers tend to write together says Matt. “My lyrics are never real flash. Tanya is great with lyrics and melodies and I fill in the gaps with the whole song structure, chord structure; all those sorts of things.”
And when it comes to the recording process, playing with others in the studio to bring their songs to life is another motivation. “We can draw on a whole lot of awesomely talented people that we have in our lives at the moment,” Matt says, “and, of course, Paul Agar.
“I hold Paul in such high regard; he’s just such an amazing bloke. He’s not only a fantastic producer … but he’s also an excellent musician. So, pretty much any bits and pieces that either he thinks or wants to suggest or anything, he’s able to jump in and show you what he means.
“He can talk in music talk and he’s just got such a good ear for what he thinks might work or what could be done slightly different … he’s just fantastic to work with.”
Paul Agar has won a couple of Dolphin awards in the past, too, for best male vocal and best production – and he’s done it again, picking up the ‘Production’ award for his work on Doot’s song Worn Out Engine. Agar was a formative member of the group, which has undergone several line-up changes and is now led by Yamba’s Dave Irving, who co-wrote the song.
Agar says it’s nice to have his work recognised by winning a Dolphin Award, “at least regionally … but it’s also good for [my] self esteem, as this industry is very difficult work in, in terms of maintaining some level of success and working consistently.”
Agar says that the rise and rise of digital technology means that more people are doing their own recording. “In a nutshell, I guess you could say it’s the democratisation of recording technology over the last 15 or 20 years … everyone can have their own recording studio.”
Tanya and Matt Fisher (Psychedelic Goldfish) will be joined by some of their favourite local musicians to open the Surfing the Coldstream Festival on October 17.
Meanwhile, local acoustic duo and former winners of the Byron Bay Blues Festival busking competition, Nick and Sam, opened the awards with their song, The Key, which was a finalist in the ‘Youth’ category.
Continuing with the psychedelic theme, Yamba’s Nocturnal Tapes, Harry Suttor and Lachlan Mulligan, reportedly had everyone up and dancing when they performed their unique mix of electronica and rock at the end of the night.
And, on the competition front, the boys have just won the Queensland final of the National Campus Band Comp held at Southern Cross University (SCU) on September 3 – they play in the national final at the Manning Bar in Sydney on September 24. Suttor studies music at SCU.