by Selena Unger, Melbourne, Australia
Imagine a city that embraces all walks of life, all personalities, and all forms of art, anything you can imagine. You can walk around in a Victorian dress, or Sgt Pepper’s uniform and someone will dig it…
…You can play Irish folk tunes or experimental music that consists of one guy crouched in the corner of a stage yelling and playing the cowbell for forty minutes straight. I’m not talking about New York (however I’m sure the same thing applies) I am talking about Melbourne, Australia. It all exists here, and guaranteed somebody is into it. It’s a city where obscure things can thrive, individuality is embraced, and in the dark corners of many basements, obscure music genres that many of us didn’t even know existed, are making a comeback.
Literally from the moment I was conceived, music has been a huge part of my life. While I was still in utero, my father often played his guitar to me, while I’m sure I must have had my ear pressed to the wall; my mother took dance classes right up until I was born; when I was an infant, often the only thing that kept me from crying during road trips was a particular Beethoven cassette tape… I often wiled away the hours of my wistful childhood conducting a busy orchestra of all manner of pots and pans arranged in the bandstand (mom’s kitchen).
The best gift I ever received was a record player when I was 16 years old. It was from my father, who also passed on
a large collection of vintage vinyl records. All my life I have sought to find new music to sink my ears into, and feel that I’ve done a pretty good job, overall. With ready access to the World Wide Web, and having travelled to 28 different countries, by age 21 I thought I had discovered most every genre of music there was. I was very wrong.
In April of 2016 I packed two very large bags and moved to Melbourne, Australia. Enter, Christopher MacLean, the bass guitarist for VIM. Chris has a very impressive knowledge of music that puts mine to shame. However, despite that, he is gracious and chose to share a lot of that knowledge with me, including his sage-like wisdom concerning shoegaze.
I had heard about bands like Slowdive, Deerhunter and Blonde Redhead prior to our conversation, and so had a strong appreciation for their sound, would venture to call that feeling love… but had no idea how to slot what I was hearing.
The terms “indie rock”, or “alternative”, were blanket monachers I used to describe my taste in music. It wasn’t until I asked Chris what sort of bands he played in, that I was first exposed to the term “shoegaze”.
I promptly asked for an explanation.
Shoegaze is noisy, blurry, distorted and echoing rock music that causes you to wonder whether you might be hearing a normal rock song in a dream… Which is why “dream pop” is another term appropriately used to describe this genre. Ultimately, the shoegaze movement began and ended before my time, however, its revival over the past decade is apparent. This is especially true in Melbourne.
Enter, VIM, a relatively new shoegaze band on the scene in Melbourne, that consists of Natalia Chipollo on vocals, Matthew Corcoran on guitar, Chris MacLean on bass guitar, and Ashley Stirling handling percussion. VIM’s music adheres to the classic definition of shoegaze, their songs are soaked with effects, like a sopping golden retriever fresh out of the water and charging at a steady gallop right at you.
Guitar effects and styles subtly reminiscent of some of the Beach Boys stylings, beg to be taken liberally and at loud volumes. Layered beneath exceedingly catchy guitar riffs, are beautifully sculpted bass lines and motorik, yet jerky, rhythms. Natalia’s silky-smooth vocals are so dreamy you’d think she was an angel (She is by the way). As front-runner and composer of the bulk of the songs VIM has written, Natalia admits that she was oblivious to the Shoegaze until her move to Melbourne. Though you wouldn’t know it from listening to her songs.
Check back shortly for a digital audio link from the recorded interview in Melbourne, Australia.