About Slow DancerArtist Enquiry | Official Website
Simon Okely is lost in time. Or at least, his songs sound that way: warm, near-whispered indie-rock love letters to the 60s and 70s rhythm and blues records his parents would play on family car rides down Australia’s winding west coast, heavy on nostalgia and even heavier on imagination. “I try not to be too caught up in trends and what’s popular in music now and just focus in on my passions, my influences,” grins the Melbourne songwriter better known as Slow Dancer, whose 2014 debut Surrender was a melt-your-heart, Fleetwood Mac-with-Neil Young licks “pop postcard” from another time, another place.
Okely grew up in Kalgoorlie, a “tiny farming town” where, as a small kid, he would bring a toy ukulele to church every Sunday and strum along as though he was playing the hymns. After growing up and learning the guitar aged nine, he inherited his grandmother’s piano and gradually becoming fascinated with the intense, intimate folk of Nick Drake, rhythm and blues vanguards Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett and his parents’ favourite Van Morrison (an artist he “loved as a child, felt disgusted by as a teenager, then came to adore again as I grew older,” he laughs now).
In 2013, he moved to Melbourne and began to hone his craft live. “Something about the place resonated with me,” he says, though musically it’s the “rugged, beautiful coastal surroundings” he grew up in that continues to shape him. “A lot of people talk about how Perth has permeated artists’ music from there. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t see how it has permeated mine,” says Okely, whose childhood there was “very adventurous” and saw him constantly “trying to soak in the landscape” and local music. “A lot of bands I adore, like The Triffids from the 80s, a band called The Panics from the early 00s and even Tame Impala – the place is very present in their music, how expansive it is. I feel like that same feeling is probably present in my music too, even though now I live and create in Melbourne.”
Returning in 2017 with new single ‘Don’t Believe’ and a new album, In A Mood, due in June on ATO Records, Okely is aiming even higher on his new material, featuring a “more expansive, more ambitious” sound that’s “less about the stories we tell ourselves when in love and more about the moods that can come creeping over a relationship” at any time.
“Come as simple as the sun and as steady as a breath,” sings Okely on melancholy new single ‘Don’t Believe’ over a smooth, slow groove, tremolo chimes of guitar and heartbreaking strings. “Let the evening come undone, and the thoughtful take a rest,” he sings on the track. His ambition with this new batch of songs and next chapter as Slow Dancer is similarly simple. “This has always been my journal, my love letter to the music I love. My concentration will always be on making the music that pleases me, and if it pleases other people too, that’s also great. It’s been a wonderful ride so far.”
Simon Okely is lost in time. You should get lost in time with him.