RECKON Mag was lucky enough to have a sit down in Bondi with Aussie songstress, Sloan Peterson, post the release of her singles ‘105’ and ‘Rats’ and in anticipation of her self-titled EP. She shares her thoughts on staying authentic, running the show, and how the modern day music scene needs a time warp. Love and longing is given a feisty kick.
Vowing to “never stay put” Sloan exudes a nomadic, enigmatic public persona. Donning an entire outfit plucked from vintage boutiques and thrift stores from her recent trip to LA (her fourth visit thus far), Sloan Peterson teams school shoes and a fur coat with ease. She’s been featured by Vogue for her throwback style, and there’s a certain Brigitte Bardot quality to her face. In reality, she’s a self-confessed ‘bossy girl,’ hardworking and down to earth.
Calling the shots on her appearance, she states, “people have told me in the past, “people want you to look how you sound.” But they don’t have to go hand in hand. I can wear whatever I want, and be whatever persona I want to be, and then create whatever music I want. I don’t want it to be like, “Oh, she doesn’t look like she should be singing that kind of music.” I’m always changing. I think, as an artist you should always be forever developing.”
I want to be, if anything, not what you expect.
At 16, she started the band Black Zeros, which she self-managed whilst promoting the band and landing gigs. When Black Zeros dissolved she created Sloan Peterson, the amalgamation of her favourite music influences, with key footholds in 50’s-60’s rock ‘n’ roll fused with “badass” inspiration from Joan Jett and the Runaways. Sloan’s music almost does exactly this; the golden oldie love ditty is partnered with raw, grungy, garage band vocals. She presents a mould, and breaks it with each blistering chord and angsty chorus.
Utilising her contacts from Black Zeros, she sought representation by becoming a DIY PR manager for her own music: writing her own press release, organising a photo shoot, saving a bunch of money, recording an EP and sending it out to everyone who showed promise. Sure enough, she found a manager and the Sloan Peterson experience has gone from one to one hundred in only a year. She hopes that her live set will be well and truly polished after she performs at a bunch of festivals she has lined up, and has her eyes set on Splendour in the Grass, South by South West and Glastonbury.
I think as an artist you should be forever developing. Like Bowie, he was constantly growing and evolving. Change, always, change.
Sloan divulges her connection to music from the past, and her longing for the energy and urgency that activated audiences to involve themselves so deeply with bands like the Beatles or figures like Bowie. “People were breaking boundaries. Music was definitely becoming revolutionary. There was Beatlemania, that British Invasion style that wasn’t stuck being conservative. Elvis had started it in the 50’s, he was making rock ‘n’ roll cool. It had a sense of danger. There were drugs, and touring and band mates, it was glamorous. People were actually rock stars and idolised.” She cites her favourite Beatle, George Harrison, as a hero and ‘All Things Must Pass’ a triumph, and chuckles about how she coerced her boyfriend to grow a moustache in semblance of George in his hey day. She attributes the innocent simplicity of her love (or love-not) songs to him.
There’s something about the innocence of music in the 60’s. I love that Pop style; very jangly, simple songs. Then again, I also love the 80’s. I’m a lover of music that isn’t from our time.
Yet there’s no denying that the music industry has by and large morphed into an entirely different landscape, and its modern day passivity rubs Sloan the wrong way: “It’s sad that nowadays, anyone that picks up a guitar and strums it can be in a band. You can be on triple j high rotation and only 20 people might buy tickets to your show. Music doesn’t have the obtainability that it did in the 60’s; people wanted to come to the show so they’d have to research, or go to the record store and line up. Now it’s just so accessible, like “Why would we want to go the show?” They don’t have to pay, they can just download it on Spotify.”
Thus, Sloan’s raison d’être is to take a page from the past and look to her most beloved music icons. She wants her band to be a brotherhood and for quality music to take the lead. Regarding her role as a woman in the industry, she puts her foot down in areas concerning creative control, “I really struggle with the idea of feeling like there’s expectations for you to be a certain style and stay like that. I want to be, if anything, not what you expect. It’s performance. I want every time that someone comes and sees my show for it to be a performance for them.” From merch, to artwork, to music videos and the song writing itself – every aspect is an authentic by-product of who she is, for the people.
I know where I need to stand my ground, and say; “No, this is what I’m doing.
But, back to LA. She aims to travel there at least once a year. There she finished her vocals on her latest single ‘I Want You,’ with producer Chris Collins, and she plays a pre-mastered copy of it for us in the car. Aware of the rat race, Sloan feels a bittersweet pull to pack her bags and settle in “the land of opportunity” for good, despite the competition being rough as guts. Hearing her recent single ‘Rats’ play over the LA radio suggests her 60’s, surf-esque sound may already have a home. Lastly, she settles on this, which may give even the most neurotic of creatives a moment of reprieve: “I’ve always been a believer in “whatever happens, happens for a reason.” So don’t get disheartened, if doors are meant to open, they will. If they close, it wasn’t meant to be. Everything that’s happened thus far has been very fluid. It’s just been easy. I feel very lucky.” Looking at Sloan and her imminent successes, I feel “the harder I work, the luckier I get,” seems more appropriate.
Sloan recommends listening to: The Lemon Twigs, The Jim Mitchells, Lime Cordiale.
Sloan and her band will be playing at:
Sounds of Suburbs, Sutherland (September 3rd)
BigSound, Brisbane (5th-8th September)
Sloan’s self-titled EP is set to release in September.
For more info and updates on Sloan Peterson, pay her website a cheeky visit here.
Follow Sloan on Facebook here
Follow Sloan on Instagram here
Photography: Daniel Stelmaszak
Words: JB Keogh
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