Melbourne psych-leaning synth act Sugar Jacket is the passion fueled brainchild of William van der Vliet, who has absolutely knocked it out of the park with his debut single ‘How Many Times’. Raw lyrics, lush production and a high in-studio energy cement this track as a blatant stand out from the last few months. We had a chat to Sugar Jacket about his collaborative process, ‘How Many Times’ and the influence his brother had on his music.
How did your latest single ‘How Many Times’ come about?
A close friend hurt me, I wrote a song about it. I don’t want to delve into it to much. I’ve made plenty of horrible mistakes myself and we’re good friends now. It’s a revenge track. It definitely helped.
Your brother Thomas joined you in the studio when recording the track. How did he influence the recording process and the song itself?
He’s just that classic older brother who influences the little bother. He tried to push me out of music a little bit because he knew how hard it was/is going to be. He’s been in it for nearly 15 years now so it takes its toll I guess. But he’s always taught me to be true to myself and reflect that in my music. He always coaches the best stuff out of me. It comes into the studio and plays drums on my tracks and usually ends up co-producing on the work. He’s got incredible ears and knowledge I completely trust his word. Musically.
‘How Many Times’ is quite synth heavy and you’ve described the first time you got your hands on a synth at 14 years old as the most pivotal moment of your musical life. What do you love about synths and where does that love stem from?
I love how versatile they can be. You can use them as a heavy full bed of sound with lead lines driving the song or you can lay really atmospheric tracks as moods for where the song is going to sit. Once you really get to know a synth you quickly learn how unique it is from others around that. I love that. All those old roland synths like the juno 106 and the jx3p. They so recognisable.
You’ve worked with producers such as Alex Markwell (The Delta Riggs) and Alex O’Gorman (Big Smoke, Angie McMahon). How is it working with such talented folk and what is the collaboration process like?
It’s what I love most about the process of making music. Having the opportunity to take my music to the people is my favourite part. As far as I’m concerned, once we’re done with the track and it’s mastered it’s their track too. Sure I wrote the song but they make it come alive. ‘How Many Times’ would not be the song it is without Alex Markwell. Not to say it would have been bad without him, but he injected this dance banger energy into it which he really brought to the song. There’s these percussive bottle in the chorus which are just half drank beers that just sound perfect to me. He just scrambled these live takes in whilst my brother and I were arguing over a part of the song. Next minute he plays it back after taking his headphones and that was it. Alex did that in about 5 minutes without us even noticing. It’s little things like that that I’d never experienced. A level of creativity and speed.
I’m currently working on a new track with Alex O’Gorman which takes on a new sound and that’s because he’s different from Alex Markwell. Different guys, different ideas, both absolute true gentlemen. Gormsy’s (Alex O’Gorman) is a great listener. He’s really heard this track for what is. He laid the bass down (which is my favourite part), it’s so smooth and really drives the track. This new track that’s coming out really taught me that less is more. There are just as many synths in this track as ‘How Many Times’ but they were used a completely different way. They’ve created this beautiful atmosphere which really floats the song along. I can’t wait to release it.
What is it like going from playing a one-man live show to gradually expanding to a full band?
Natural. Being on stage with friends is a dream come true. It’s what it’s all about.
What do you have coming up in the new year?
New songs. New shows. Music videos.
Where can we find your music?