How well do we know the music we listen to? We all like to think we know our favourites inside out; we know exactly what they were trying to say with that ‘80s sci-fi movie lyrical reference. We completely understand their reasoning behind the 12 minute instrumental on track 15. Our music is our life, and its creators are our friends (whether they’re aware of it or not). For Aidan Roberts, the brains behind his indie-folk solo outfit, THE MAPLE TRAIL, reactions to his music, while always welcomed, are sometimes a little unexpected and not necessarily intended. For Roberts, it all depends on each listener – however our views may differ.
“When I first started making records, people would always say to me, ‘your album is so nice to sit down to dinner to, or to have on when I’m having a relaxing bath,’” he laughs. “I’m really glad people feel that from my music – even though really there are some intense things boiling away under the songs. I think it’s important for people to take their own experiences from my music. Some people take a lot of darkness and sadness, but others find it really encouraging and soothing. I just write how I write and sing how I’m comfortable singing, unless I want to push myself to get a bit uncomfortable – which you have to try so you can get better at being you. Finding the best version of the musical you – that’s hard work.”
For his latest album, Cable Mount Warning, Roberts chased his musical self everywhere from New Zealand, to Sydney, to his home in the Blue Mountains. With a moleskin journal as his constant companion, Roberts, while rarely being able to actually write while on the road, takes the chaos of the city and the vastness of the country back home with him. The result? Vast, sweeping, folk melodies that travel down back country roads before rushing out into the city traffic.
“It’s a spatial thing for me so I like to be at home when I’m nutting out music,” he explains. “I respond really strongly to the spaces around me, which is why I love the Blue Mountains. I get stimulus from both extremes, though – I find when I’m travelling around and I spend a lot of time in the city my head gets really cluttered. But sometimes you can spend too much time with yourself. I can be up there for a few days and be madly inspired by the things I’m working on and suddenly think, ‘gosh.. I’m a bit lonely!’ So it’s kind of nice to have the option of working in amongst the noise and people or by myself out in the hills.”
If there’s anything that’s certain about The Maple Trail sound, it’s that it makes you feel at home. It’s warm and cosy and reminiscent of winter afternoons by the fireplace (or heater or reverse cycle…). Such homeliness can only have come from Roberts’ recording the album at his home studio in Sydney, where he indulged in an entirely acoustic and analogue sound – even using wine glasses and random bits and pieces from around the house.
“The records that are my favourite have richness and warmth,” he explains. “You know when you get asked that really hard question, ‘what’s your favourite album?’ I used to say it was Tapestry by Carole King – so that warm, soulful ‘70s sound always had an influence on how I record, how I play piano. But then there are also records on that list that are a bit nastier, a bit wilder. Essentially my music is quite reflective and non-abrasive, but I like to try and infuse it with a few odd elements to keep that warm feeling and sound. I like to record in a really analogue and uncluttered way.”
Kicking off with album launch shows in Sydney and Melbourne this month, Aidan can be found just about everywhere this year. Catch him touring with Lanie Lane, watch out for the release of Cable Mount Warning on vinyl, hopefully followed by a more extensive album tour later in the year. But until then, if you feel like venturing to the mountains, but don’t quite feel like the extended car ride – let The Maple Trail do it for you. Kick back for the afternoon and start here, with ‘The Dinosaur Hunter’.
Plus grab a free download HERE.
Cable Mount Warning is out now through Broken Stone Records.
THE MAPLE TRAIL TOUR DATES
Tuesday April 24
The Gasometer, Melbourne
Thursday May 3
The Vanguard, Sydney
Words by Kayla Clibborn.