Ex-Olympian and the influences behind his debut album, ‘Afterlife’
Melbourne’s Ex-Olympian, aka Liam McGorry has released his debut album, Afterlife. A sonic exploration of all that comes with the process of growth and learning from mistakes, it’s the culmination of three years of McGorry‘s life. Having created it in different phases and being motivated to take the plunge into solo work after wanting to be more directly involved in the creation and playing of music after spending many years in larger ensembles such as Saskwatch and Dorsal Fins, Afterlife was first and foremost born in his studio space. Then opening the process up to particular friends he invited in, and having the record tied together from John Castle, this album represents the fact McGorry learned along the way: “music is truly a series of collaborations to be enjoyed together.”
At its core, Afterlife is soul music. It’s designed to make you move and feel, it gets in under your skin and into your soul. From ‘Voices In My Head’ which marks McGorry‘s debut to ‘Lilac Youth’ co-written and sung by former Saskwatch bandmate Nkechi Anele, the Sam Lawrence-featuring funk moment in ‘Penny In The Well’ and the disco-leaning ‘Netherworld Boogie’, Afterlife is escapist, soulful bliss. Officially described as ‘Dream Funk’, it’s a record which harnesses the joy of connection and collaboration, and given the world it’s now being released into, these are reminders we need more than ever. Perfect for an afternoon in the upcoming summer with friends or for more solo introspection, Afterlife is an album you can get lost in again and again. While it’s a testament to McGorry‘s clearly exceptional collaboration skills when they needed to be used, it’s also a testament to him backing himself to take the leap into solo work in the first place — a step not easy to take a first, but one he’s pulled off again and again on his debut record.
To get to know him a bit better, Ex-Olympian has taken us behind the scenes and unveiled some of the key influences of Afterlife. Check it all out below!
Jimi Tenor – My Mind Will Travel
I saw Jimi play a couple of years ago in the Croxton Front Bar in Melbourne, touring the release of this record. I literally had only heard a handful of his songs before and knew he was a pretty eccentric guy, but I was really blown away by his performance. It really opened my eyes to a lot of possibilities of solo live performance… I guess i’d always thought you couldn’t really make funky music on your own… but Jimi was playing one or two Drum Machines, Synths, Saxes, Flutes & Singing all at once and it was hell funky. It really pushed me to try and be a bit more self-sufficient and get my hands dirty making things. This song is so beautiful the blend of Spiritual Jazz and Afro-beat, the refrain throughout, the weird synth lines, the steel pan and the sprawling sax solos.
Renee Geyer – Just to Make Love to You
Renee is one of my all-time favourite singers. My partner Ella put me onto her music a long time ago but only in the last 3 or 4 years have I realised how much of a deep connection I have to the music. This record Moving Along is my favourite of hers. The songs are incredible, it’s very difficult to pick one with Stares & Whispers, Heading in the Right Direction, Be There In The Morning and Tender Hooks etc. but Just to Make Love to You is a really moving song. It was made it LA with Frank Wilson (from Motown) producing and arranging, and James Jamerson on Bass. It just sounds effortless.
Jonti – Red on Green
I’ve loved Jonti’s work for a long time. My friend Lydon played me Sine and Moon when it came out and it blew me away (can’t believe it was a free download at the time). I’d loved Madlib and Stones Throw for a really long time, but to hear a guy from Australia make music on that tip was really inspiring to me. I love his production, the way he blends Beach Boys style harmonies with a big beat, weird jittery synth lines and cool percussion. His music has also inspired me to try and sing some my songs as well… I’m no singer (and Jonti is!) but it’s really fun to try and just give it a shot.
Donald Byrd – Wind Parade
On Afterlife, I really wanted to embrace a few things I felt like i’d left behind lately with my music and writing… particularly my first love, the Trumpet. It’s not the go to for most kids but apparently I came home from school in Year 2 or 3 and said I want to learn the Trumpet. It’s an instrument that is really hard to keep up the practice but is rewarding in so many ways. Donald Byrd’s music has always been a real guiding light, the production and funky arrangements from the Mizell Brothers, the gorgeous string lines and of course Donald’s tastefully soloing over the whole thing on his horn.
Charlotte Dos Santos – Good Sign
I love Charlotte’s voice so much. This album Cleo is really special, There’s a really beautiful sense of humour and awareness that runs through it – particularly in ‘It’s Over Bobby’. ‘Good Sign’ to me is a perfect song. It’s part downtempo soul classic, part Morricone arrangement held together by her endearing and resolute voice. Instrumentation-wise as well it’s gorgeous, the harpsichord/zither-like sounds, the piano, the chord progression and the positive message… I love trying to my favourite songs and trying to incorporate aspects like this in my own work… not that you can ever recreate the magic but it’s still a special feeling to try and get inside the song.
The Bamboos (Feat. Kylie Auldist) – I Don’t Wanna Stop
OG Melbourne Soul classic! Kylie’s voice is truly incredible, she is a Soul Queen! The Bamboos, led by bandleader Lance Ferguson have always been one of the most tasteful and prolific live bands in Melbourne. Getting given a burned Bamboos CD back in 2006 at Box Hill TAFE (i’ve since purchased) really inspired me to write my own songs as a budding songwriter, and this song is seemingly so simple and sparse but you never want it to end. In making Afterlife, I just wanted to make music that draws on songs like these, and just make you feel really good.
Afterlife is out now via Dot Dash Recordings / Remote Control Records. Buy/stream here.
Introduction by Emma Jones