CastleRays

 

CastleRays is the new electronic duo comprised of Tara Simmons & accomplished producer Yanto Browning. Originally a side project dreamed up by Simmons while touring and writing with national party-starting behemoths YesYou, CastleRays has undergone a metamorphosis of sorts, changing shape to include Browning.

CastleRays’ ethereal first track ‘Body Hum’ was a result of Simmons and YesYou “messing around” with collaborative writing; and enjoyed rapturous reception as a temporary inclusion in YesYou’s live set. To Simmons, it was already clear that CastleRays would be more than a fleeting moment – that there was something there. After discovering the professional synchronicity between Browning & Simmons while the former was producing the latter’s most recent album under her own name, ‘It’s Not Like We’re Trying To Move Mountains’, the path forward became clear. CastleRays as it exists today was born, built on the unshakeable foundations of a pre-existing friendship and a mutual desire to create something new.

Under her own name, Tara Simmons was entirely self-produced until ‘Mountains’. Having previously been tipped by triple j as part of the Next Crop, ‘Be Gone’, the first single released as a result of her collaboration with Browning, was added to full rotation by the national youth broadcaster. Simmons’ music has been used extensively in television both nationally and in the US, and she’s clocked up quite the impressive live resume, supporting the likes of Eskimo Joe, School Of Seven Bells, Elizabeth Rose, Hungry Kids of Hungary, Kate Miller-Heidke and many more.

Browning’s accolades need no rehashing to anyone who’s been paying attention to Australian music. He’s produced for the likes of Art of Sleeping, The Belligerents, Kate Miller-Heidke, The Jungle Giants, Fox & Fowl, and countless other acts. But he’s also a musician in his own right – he’s composed & produced for film, television and theatre; as well as having performed at festivals such as Splendour in the Grass & Big Day Out, and toured nationally with singer/songwriter Jac Stone.

There’s no question – together, Simmons & Browning are a force to be reckoned with. The pair have a distinctive vision for CastleRays in this new form: infectious electronica, but with a darker twist. Their own styles crashing into one another to create something inky and undeniable. Something irresistible.

Something wicked this way comes.

Tara Simmons

Changes. We all go through them at some point or another, often these are often out of our control but occasionally, for the brave at least, changes occur when you perhaps become bored, throw all caution to the wind and do as Bowie says – “...Turn and face the strain”.

The latter occurred to Tara Simmons one evening during a show. While her back-catalogue has earned her many an accolade, the singer simply became bored with performing the same sample-driven and down-tempo songs over and over and longed for something, well, a little more up. So she set to work with producer Yanto Browning (the medics, Kate Miller-Heidke, The Jungle Giants, Art of Sleeping), not on Tara Simmons album number two at first, but on upbeat pop music that might even take on the guise of a side-project.

Still a little apprehensive of the word “pop”, Tara smothered herself with those she related to - Scandinavian songstresses like El Perro Del Mar, Lykke Li and Robyn, but more importantly observing the unconventional types of artists who weren’t afraid to get down and dirty, mix it up and wear their true colours loudly on their own sleeve. Further inspiration

from the wonky keyboard-driven bands like Metronomy and Chairlift was discovered and a new Tara Simmons quickly emerged - now more inspired than ever before.

It’s Not Like We’re Trying To Move Mountains is the second long-player from the Brisbane chanteuse, with a name coined from a phrase flipped back and forth between Tara and Browning in the studio. The two began the process as friends, ended it over 12 months later as a production duo to be reckoned with. This, of course, was the natural next step for Tara

from the self-produced, self-recorded back catalogue that included two EPs – Pendulum and All the Amendments – and one debut album – Spilt Milk.

First single – ‘Be Gone’ - emerged in late 2011 and, with its rolling drums and infectious and commanding hook, became Tara’s debut on triple j high rotation. The national youth broadcaster has always had one eye on her regardless, awarding her with a Next Crop nod when they first heard her debut single ‘Everybody Loves You’. Since then, her music has been used far and wide in Australian and American television while her live show (which has now evolved into something completely different) saw her supporting such luminaries as Kate Miller-Heidke, School of Seven Bells (US), They Might Be Giants (US), Eskimo Joe, My Latest Novel (Scotland), Home Video (US), Elizabeth Rose and Hungry Kids of Hungary.

... Mountains boasts the same qualities that has always made a great Tara Simmons record – killer hooks, savvy songwriting and that voice – but this time, adds something more, something a little more interesting that can be filed under “brooding synth pop”. Hear the pulsating and percussive opener ‘Weekend of Hearts’ (with a co-write from Hungry

Kids of Hungary’s Dean McGrath) for further evidence, or the utterly stunning center piece ‘Honey’ – just when you think it’s a solo piece with piano and voice, the drums kick in, taking it up another level. The synth-driven ‘Where Do You Go’, ‘End of May’ and aforementioned ‘Be Gone’ sends proceedings straight to the dancefloor, while the anthemic ‘We’re All

Scared’ and album closer ‘Found’ bring matters closer to the heart.

So there you have it – changes can be a good thing, well, at least when they sound like this. Tara Simmons has made an album to be proud of, redefining her stature as an artist unafraid to explore, revelling in a future of the unknown.