Prove your humanity

Ahead of their national tour and off the back of a new single, Demon Days’ Bella Nicholls squeezed in time to discuss equality, musical inspirations and Canada with Grok.


As a band, you have a really unique and funky sound. Where do you take inspiration from for your music?

Aw, thanks. I guess we all come from different musical backgrounds—our keyboardist is classically trained, our drummer is jazz and hip-hop trained and our bass player is very into funk music and I did a lot of musical theatre, so I guess the accumulation of that kind of made something bigger, kind of fused this neo-soul sound. This sound is quite prevalent at the moment in different kind of settings, so we do draw inspiration from bigger bands like Hiatus Kaiyote, BADBADNOTGOOD—that kind of vibe.

Do you feel like your sound is developing as you release more music?

Of course. I feel like we always want to keep growing and seeing where our sound goes to keep it interesting.

You’ve said Hands-Free is your second inquiry into your identity as a feminist. Tell me about this.

I guess as I’m getting a little bit older—I’m still quite young—I’m constantly trying to find who I am and draw inspiration from different aspects of life and kind of reiterate what’s important to me. For me I think the biggest thing that is important is equality in all aspects. So for this second song, for Hands-Free, I kind of wanted to look at it from a different perspective and look at it from a male perspective and how they deal with sexual assault coming from another end. I do have a lot of male friends that have been sexually assaulted; it’s a completely different ball game that no one really talks about, which is a bit silly I think.

Definitely! So, do you base most of your songwriting off personal experiences?

A hundred per cent. They’re all autobiographical but maybe a little bit dramatised for artistic integrity.

What was the writing and recording process like for Hands-Free?

So, for Hands-Free we did DIY for the first time. Every other song we’ve recorded we’ve worked with a producer in a proper studio, but this time we wanted to kind of have full control so we did it at our friend’s house in the shed. We kind of wrote the song in one day just before we went to record it because we like working under pressure [Laughs]—we love it. In that respect, it allows us to have a bit more freedom in the studio to kind of play with ideas because there isn’t really a set song. We have a skeleton and we can play around with different sounds and different vibes to see what kind of works out.

What’s the usual songwriting process for the band?

[Laughs] Usually we have a deadline from our manager, we go into a room maybe two days before its due and we just smash it out in about two hours. I think if we have too much time then we dilly-dally and we don’t go with our instincts. I think we work best when we don’t have time to question ourselves, it’s just got to be purely on a gut feeling. If a song isn’t coming together in the first hour then you have to ditch it, that’s the rule.

What’s the response been like to Hands-Free so far?

Yeah, it’s been pretty good so far. I think people are liking the more kind of jazz road that we’re leaning towards with a full horn section, which was super fun to have; we’ve always wanted a horn section. People are loving the message which I think is important, that was kind of the main idea—to get people kind of thinking and talking about it.

Definitely, it’s a very important message behind the song. So, you’re heading on a nation-wide tour next month. What’s your favourite thing about playing around the country?

I love performing. That’s probably my favourite thing about being a musician is that I love being on stage. I think for me I just love performing to new audiences and getting to talk to them after and hear their stories and their interests. I like making new friends, it’s fun.

Do you have a favourite song to play live?

I have a favourite song but it’s not been recorded and I don’t know if it will be recorded. It’s called Safe House and I just like it because it’s very ethereal and pretty and there’s a huge build up after the chorus and then I just get to kind of dance for two minutes which is really fun [Laughs].

Hopefully, that one gets recorded then.

I hope so but we’ll see. It’s on the cards.

I read that you’re a part of the Canadian Music Week line-up for this year. How does that feel?

I’m so excited. I’ve always wanted to play internationally. I’m super excited because another Perth band that we’re quite good friends with is also playing, is also under the same management as us, so that will be nice to have some Perth representatives in Canada and kind of see what the Canada scene is like and how it compares.

Sounds like it’ll be really cool.

Yeah, it’s a very long flight.

What can we expect next from the band?

When we return from touring I think we’re going to knuckle down and write a bunch of stuff and hopefully get a new EP together by the end of the year to release and just play around with live ideas. We like to give a good live show. You have to fun or else why are you doing it.


Demon Days’ latest track, Hands-Free, is available now.