Sam Yeldham, having performed his indie-pop under the moniker of Guineafowl for a number of years now, is armed with a new EP, I Hope My City Loves Me Still. The introspective and contemplative four-track EP was born out of his strange late-night pilgrimages through the streets of Sydney. Dressed up with no destination, Yeldham would start walking when the moon and the crazies came out, and over kilometres the songs appeared.
It seems somehow wrong to know this, though, after a chat with Yeldham. A self-confessed “control freak” who values his privacy more than most, revealing his creative process seems counterintuitive. “Often when I’ve had conversations about songs’ meanings and things like that, I struggle to really have a clear and concise way of defining it all,” says Yeldham. “I’m getting better at it, and I think you have to let go of music, in a way, once you’ve released it. That’s really difficult for me to do because these stories are so personal, and I guess it must be the case for so many other artists. Once your little baby gets out there, you have to detach yourself from it and then you have to somehow reconnect with it again every night when you play. The relationship between creation and the mechanism by which it gets disseminated is a weird relationship.”
However, Yeldham accepts that in order to be heard he must play the game. “I do read every press release before it gets out, and it’s yet another interesting and weird process. You have to go, ‘OK, I’m willing to break this little piece off myself and put it out there in order to make things clear.’ Marketing yourself as an artist is concise – it’s not elaborate and shouldn’t require an explanation – and to sum up something that is so personal and complicated and complex in a few words is surreal and hard.”
Yeldham composes the music of Guineafowl almost entirely himself, and in line with his private and introspective nature, he can’t imagine doing it any other way. “It’s impractical for me also, with the way I make music, to make it with other people. It’s OK to do it for short periods of time and I’m slowly able to do it – I wrote a song for this EP with Paul Mac – but I’m a pretty private person; I can’t do it on the spot and I can’t do it in front of anyone. I’m often fairly bossy as well. I think there are just too many personality traits that are too negative with regard to creating with other people.”
Bringing things to life onstage is a different scenario altogether – and for that, Yeldham is more than happy to enlist support. For his latest tour he is launching a new live band and bringing an engineer on the road. “I’ve got a few new players, which is exciting; there’s only going to be four of us onstage, which is probably the smallest number of players I’ve ever had onstage since I’ve started. I started at seven and six, trying to get this huge sound but I discovered that the cliché of ‘less is more’ really is true. I’m also working with a sound engineer who’s come on early with this show who’ll be coming around with us. I’ve definitely moved on from the raucousy, ragtag shows that I started off with.”
BY KRISSI WEISS
I Hope My City Loves Me Still out now through Dew Process/Universal.