Big Scary Break Down Their Tense And Twisted New Album, ‘Daisy’

Big Scary have delivered yet another masterpiece.

big scary photo

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“There’s always that childlike excitement at the thought of creating something together and that has never disappeared,” Tom Iansek told Holly Pereira in a recent interview with NME. “It’s always brought us back together and pushed the project on as we’ve lived our lives as individuals.”

Thank goodness for that, because an Australian music scene without Big Scary — that is, Tom Iansek and Jo Syme — would be bereft. On Friday, the duo will release their fourth studio album Daisy, the wildly anticipated followup to their 2016 LP Animal. 

It’s been a while between drinks, but they haven’t exactly been twiddling their thumbs — the duo have been releasing a stack of music through their label Pieater, including from Iansek’s solo projects #1 Dads.

Daisy is another stunning release from the pair, tense and brooding and wry — or “silly and spooky” according to their presser — and is surely set to be one of the most acclaimed Australian records of the year. In celebration of the release, Syme offered to take Music Junkee through the album track-by-track, digging into its creation and themes. Dive in.

#1. ‘Chapter IV:’

Intro #1. It samples the final track “Lamina” from Animal and some beautiful wind chimes. There’s this Grammy award-winning artist Garry Kvistad who since the 70s basically devoted his life to building the most beautiful sounding wind chimes. The ones on this are Tom’s set, but after I heard this field recording I ordered some for myself.

I’m also really proud that we got a colon into a song title.

#2. ‘A Breath’

Intro #2. This could be considered a bit of a theme for the album that pops up later. Take a minute (or 58 seconds) before we settle into the album proper.

#3. ‘Wake’

That warm Juno synth was the spark for this song. We were down at Phillip Island writing, and Tom stayed up late by the fireplace adding that breathy ‘manamana’ chant. That warmth came to represent this comfortable, internal fantasy world of naïve love, that grows into something a bit twisted. To emerge from this, the chorus is calling for transcendence, to a higher, purer love.

#4. ‘Love To Love’

This is maybe the spiritual heart for Tom and I, we both love this track. It’s comparing loving in shallow and impermanent ways — and also the negative way that affects your life — to striving for a higher, more complete love. It’s also peppered with a sentiment of looking back continually — “I lost it back then”, versus looking forward optimistically with these grander desires – “I would love to love again”.

#5. ‘Stay’

This song admittedly is a bit hectic… a bit claustrophobic feeling. It comes from the desire to sometimes be ‘small’, to stay couped up in yourself, and also your house. But it’s also acknowledging gratefully that the invitation to reach out and go beyond is always there.

It definitely felt pertinent around that time lockdown was lifting in Melbourne. It was actually a pretty anxious time for a lot of people, who were un-used to socialising, and everyone was re-adjusting at different rates. I know lockdown suited a lot of introverts. Also, this song isn’t all serious — I love all the cluttered percussion and ‘lift-off’ sounding synth bits.

#6. ‘Get Out!’

I was on a road trip with my boyfriend playing him the mixes of the album and during the last chorus of he said “whoa, rock eisteddfod!” and I just burst out laughing because he was 100 percent correct.

‘Get Out!’ is full of drama. It’s kinda spooky — I kept thinking of the Goosebumps theme song and all of the X-Files I’d been watching while we were writing it. There was a big scream in the demo we made. Lyrically it’s an internal conversation, with the aim of overcoming negative thought patterns — get out of your own head!

#7. ‘Kind Of World’

My dubious rap debut. Honestly, this is a little bit about one of our nights writing down at Phillip Island where we were kicking back and it was late and we had a possible altercation with a spider. I just love how fun this song is. Those chubby synths, the interlocking of woodblock, cabasa and cowbell.

When we first jammed this Tom was on the drums and I was on the Juno. He always writes really fun drum fills different to what I’d do, so I tried to repeat them in the final tracking.

#8. ‘Bursting At The Seams’

Here’s a little disco number, and our first single where I’m on lead vocals. I was definitely inspired by a mix of Channel Tres, Donna Summer and The Flaming Lips — to try and mix some sexiness and ecstasy.

It’s about the hopeful fantasy of potential love that is sparked when you hook up with someone new. But there’s also a guarded element — because yes, there’s this rush of excitement and feeling flustered when you’re flirting at the start, and you’re desperate for that person to text you… but to gain a partner can mean losing a part of yourself.

I feel like I was always the more keen person in this early stage of relationships, but then I found it a bit of a challenge when you learn more about your new partner, and you have to make compromises for the dynamic to work. It sort of goes against the self-empowering message we’re given through Hollywood and social media that “we deserve the best” and “they ain’t good enough” if they fuck up.

#9. ‘One In A Million’

Maybe as a nice counterpoint to the fears raised above in “Bursting”, this song is about established love, and the perfect partner for you, even without the perfect attributes you dreamt of. And remember this melody? Hello — it’s our friend ‘the theme’ from track two, back to give you a warm hug.

Big Scary’s latest album Daisy is out April 30 via Pieater.