Photo: Theresa Harrison


The Inertia

Recently, I had a great chat with the up and coming Australian girl group, Empat Lima, about their style that’s inspired by the garage sounds of the 60’s Asian/Western Pop explosion. Their upbeat sound is something I expect to see skyrocket as they look for a record label to release their music.

My infatuation with them actually started not too long ago, when I watched them at The Curtin Bandroom in Carlton with the Frowning Clouds and Parsnip. I’d made a quick stop at the record shop before the gig and some blokes were talking about great this group Empat Lima was. Sure enough, I saw the show and they didn’t disappoint. I fell in love with the sweet sounds of Bowie on the Beach, which is a great song.

Here are some highlights from my chat with Carla, Sooji and Steph.

So, where did you get such an amazing name? Is it Spanish?

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Empat Lima is actually Indonesian. We started out inspired by a group called Dara Puspita, who played garage rock in the 60’s, and we were all a bit smitten with the country and the sounds from around the Southeast Asia. Empat Lima means 45.

How long have you been playing together and where did you meet?

Been playing for about five years now. Sooji heard Steph sing and fell in love. They had a little party together and decided to start a band playing Indonesian garage pop song covers. They also decided that it should be an all girl group so we were thinking of drummers that would suit. I’d just got back from living in Indonesia and was hanging out the front of the milk bar in Brunswick. Steph hollered at me. I agreed to have a jam. Sooji and I met in the jam room and the rest is history.

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What is the inspiration for your music?

Nature, mythology, South Asia, dreaming, life, death, and love.

So you’ve released a bit of music on the web. Can we expect a new album soon?

Actually, yes. We have recorded an album and are in the process of looking for a label to release it.

Where did you get such an amazing range with your voice? It’s absolutely mindblowing.

Steph: I love listening to lots of different styles of vocals. It’s my natural instrument. I’ve learned a lot about singing while taking long walks in the bush and driving in traffic, riffing off the radio, belting out phrases. It’s the main reason I drive these days, singing sessions in my studio. Good acoustics and captive audiences at the lights.

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Favorite 80s jam?

Steph: Grandmaster Flash, The Message, was released on my birthday.

Carla: I Can’t Wait, Nu Shooz

What’s been the best part of forming a band?

Carla: having a gang of people that you get to see each week

Sooji: Collaborating on whatever kind of project you can think up.

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If I gave you $5 dollars right now, what would be the first thing you would buy? 

Sooji: Nothing, I’m saving up for a new bass guitar.

Steph: Usually if people give me $5 they want a coffee or a drink or an Empat Lima EP. But I’ll probably use it to buy some spanokopita and salad for lunch tomorrow.

Carla: A golden gay time.

Any advice for any up and coming musicians wanting to get their music out there?

Carla: Be true to your own style and keep working at it

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Sooji: Just get it out! Anywhere!

Steph: Practice lots. Play lots. People want to hear music. Play with other people. People have the power. Music is the future.

Note: You can find more from Empat Lima online here and on Facebook here

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