Prove your humanity

Ahead of the launch of his new music video for his latest single, In Shadow, Perth-based producer Mayhills gave Grok the behind the scenes scoop on the production of the track and creation of the captivating film clip.

How did you get into music and producing?

I started out playing guitar in rock and metal bands as a teenager, and I still love that music—but over time, I eventually found myself wanting to explore other moods and flavours. Moving into production freed me up to go wherever I wanted to musically, so it made sense to head in that direction. I’ve been producing for maybe four years now.

Do you feel like your background in playing guitar influences your production?

Sometimes I come up with an idea on guitar, but these days it often ends up being recorded on another instrument or being re-sampled or fucked with in some way. Guitars are a bit like people—they can be moody and difficult to work with, but that’s often what makes them lovable and compelling. I try not to overthink it.

What’s your favourite part about being a producer?

Those moments where a song is just writing itself and you’re just the vessel for expression. Just getting to ride that wave to a finished musical outcome, that’s an incredible feeling—when it happens!

Speaking about that creative process, where did the inspiration behind the new track, In Shadow, come from?

In Shadow is inspired the idea of the shadow self—it’s a concept from Jungian psychology. Basically, we all have a shadow—a dark side to our personality that we try to repress but comes out through our behaviour when something triggers us. The contrasting elements of light and shade throughout the song reflect that idea.

What was it like creating the track?

Pretty brutal. I was getting up at five thirty in the morning and just going as hard as possible in the studio until I had to go to work each morning. For a few months, each morning I would roll out of bed, start writing, press save, go to work and come back later that night to see if I captured anything interesting. In that chorus, there’s a really beautiful ethnic sound—the instrument is called a duduk. Things started to fall into place when I started to play around with the duduk over the top of those future/glitch beats.

Do you feel like In Shadow differs from your other music?

The new music has turned out way heavier than I planned. It’s funny, for a while I thought I was heading towards making more chilled tunes, but I guess I’m just not that mellow! The songs are more visceral and engaging than Post Romantic in my opinion—I think they’re better songs, overall. At the end of the day, what matters is that is the songs came from an honest place and I didn’t compromise on anything. I’m really proud of that.

The video for the song is something really unique and captivating to watch. What was the process behind the music video?

I partnered with a local director, Jackson Heeley for the video. I was vibing really hard on Black Mirror at the time and knew that I wanted something that was similarly distressing.

We came up with the concept, found a choreographer and a dancer who connected with our vision and shot it in a single day in East Perth. Jackson and Jarrad at Boundless Films poured a ton of time and energy into the video—the effects are insane and took ages, but they’ve done an amazing job. I’m absolutely blown away by what they’ve managed to achieve—the video takes the song to the next level.

So, what can listeners expect next from you?

I really want to keep up the momentum after [In Shadow] and will continue to release the rest of the tracks from Neon Zen throughout the second half of 2019. I’ve started collaborating with yoga and meditation studios recently, performing music in the classes to heighten the vibe. It’s all improvisational which has been challenging but heaps of fun. The feedback has been awesome so I’m planning to do some more of those shows. I’m making plans now to get over east for some other gigs, we’ll just see what happens.