Auckland pop funk duo Foley are finally putting themselves first

December 5, 2022 4:15 pm

After years spent grafting on behalf of other artists via their music industry roles, all the while steadily putting the building blocks of their own musical path in place behind the scenes, Ash Wallace and Gabe Everett have finally decided to put Foley first.

Having both given up full-time work just before 2021′s big lockdown hit, Wallace says that despite the inconvenience of that timing, “It’s been really interesting to not be working 9-5 then doing a night session and being aware that, shit we’ve got work tomorrow. We always had this time-pressure on our creativity.

“Sometimes I feel like our songs would be the path of least resistance; now we’d never shut down anything in the room.”

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With a couple of EPs already under their belt, Foley are working towards a larger body of work, comprised of material they feel moves beyond a formulaic approach to pop.

“Now we really do go down the rabbit hole on everything,” Wallace continues. “And it’s led to way more songs that push out where we sit in pop. It’s still pop music, but not quite so cookie cutter. A bit more gritty and textured. We really have tried to push ourselves into a lane that’s a bit more exciting to us.

“Learning how to do [more mainstream pop], and crafting the perfect structure and the melodies and stuff was exciting to us at the beginning,” adds Gabe. “Now we’ve got a lot more trust that people have listened to our songs and they know who we are and they trust us to give them something different. I think at this point we can experiment a bit.

“We fell in love with exploring how far we can push the pop envelope, how far we can twist things and play with them to make them super interesting.”

The first of the new material to be released is Killing Me Babe, a pulsing banger co-produced with Wells* and Harry Charles that Everett describes as, “a haywire, extreme version of the struggles within a relationship. The pressures that you can put yourself under when you’re trying to be the best person for your partner, or they’re idolising you.

“The production really matches the lyrics, and the themes. Everything’s really itching to get out there. For example, there’s a kettle boiling – the sound of steam pressure – it feels like it’s going to explode at any moment.”

“That song was really fun to write, it’s a little bit satirical at times,” adds Wallace. “Overall we had this feeling of pressure and expectation. But a lot of the lyrics are fun and a bit tongue-in-cheek, to almost have a little bit of a laugh over it.”

Yet to be released, Smooth It Over had its genesis in 2020, when Wallace participated in an APRA SongHubs session. Seeded out of a collaboration between her and two Swedish writers that had been brought over for the clinics – Anton Rundberg and Julia Karlsson (Tiesto, Galantis, Carly Rae Jepson) – along with Auckland writer Sophie Mashlan, Foley found long-distance hard and ended up rebuilding the song from scratch with producer Harry Charles, who they describe as a “mad scientist.

“That song is about not communicating properly and just sweeping things under the rug,” Wallace explains. “The frustration of someone not being willing to open up or communicate fully, and constantly saying, everything’s cool, everything’s cool, but still just letting things bubble up. Which I think is so frustrating and not my style. I just blurt everything out all the time.

“But the song was so cool, because straight away the energy of it in the room was so fun and bouncy. We started in this quite sad place I guess, and then kind of flipped it. Gave it a bit more bubble.

“But not in a goofy way, it’s a really considered bounce and juxtaposition,” Everett counters.

“Then, getting to break it down and work on it in the last couple of months has been really interesting, to go deep into the production and which part of the instrumentation is adding to the bounce and which part is taking away from the core theme.

“I tend to internalise a lot of stuff, and sweep things under. I don’t really say that thing out loud. So it’s really interesting to be able to perform that, and to hear, read, and experience that whole feeling in every part of the song.”

The tunes are only the tip of the iceberg of what’s to come from Foley, and fans can expect more than just a musical ride too.

“In the past we haven’t focused that much of our energy on world-building, and trying to make Foley feel like more than just music made by Gabe and Ash,” says Wallace. “We’ve focused on visuals a lot more for this upcoming rollout, and how we present ourselves in terms of, where does the music sit for people, and how do they experience it?

“We picture what kind of party these songs would be played at, what kind of gathering,” Everett agrees.

“Having only been able to imagine that during the lockdowns, and being isolated from people and missing that feeling we were quite keenly focused on it.

“It just feels like a really solid thing, a universe or a gift to everyone to get amongst, and enjoy themselves in this world that we’re creating.”