5 Minutes with Melbourne art-poppers The Twoks

By Mariam Digges

5 Minutes with Melbourne art-poppers The Twoks
Melbourne art-pop duo The Twoks are heading to Woodford Folk Festival again this year. We catch up with violinist and vocalist Xani Kolac.

How would you describe your sound to someone who didn’t know The Twoks?

We’re an electronic violin and drums duo. Some of the artists or bands that inspire me are Sigur Rós, Camille from France, and even Astor Piazzolla who’s an Argentina composer. Our sound is kind of epic and dark, but then you still seem to feel a sense of joy at the end of it. And you can definitely dance to it.

Can you tell us a bit about your musical background?

I started learning violin when I was 7. I began the traditional way, learning classical music, but I started on the Suzuki method, so it was training aurally rather than reading music. Then I progressed through that and learned to read music by joining a lot of orchestras. All the while, my mum and dad were very supportive of my love of violin so they tried to make things interesting for me and would sign me up to a whole bunch of stuff – I was doing Irish fiddle music for a while, which I got a lot of good fast chops out of. By the time I was in year 9, I started getting into jazz. When I went to uni (I studied at the Victorian College of the Arts),  that’s when I really left classical and got into jazz and went into a different world altogether. I did my masters in music and basically filled my life with music.

How did you meet Mark Leahy (The Twoks’ drummer)

We met through a mutual friend who at the time was helping me out with The Twoks – he was a bass player – and we were a trio for a little while there. Then the bass player ended up going to Germany a lot so it ended up having to be two-piece while he was away. I didn’t even know Mark then, but we ended up really hitting it off and we kind of found musical soul mates in each other. Stu never really came back, so we ended up as a two-piece for good.

You just returned from New York where you did some songwriting and gig-going. Any inspiring cues taken?

We went to see live music every night and we recorded a song there, which we hope to release next year. It was just so amazing to really get a feel for what live music is like there as opposed to in Aus. I don’t know if it comes from their general patriotism or their confidence as a people, but when they perform their music, it seems to fit into a genre or style of sound a lot more succinctly than, say, in Aus, where we have such an amalgamation of stuff going on so when you see a live band here, it’s not unusual to see them play a soul-inspired tune and then maybe a punk tune within the one set.

What else inspires you as a songwriter?

I’m probably pretty typical of a songwriter, in that inspiration needs to come to me – I can’t go looking for it. It could be in anything – a conversation I had during the day or a book I’m reading. When we were in New York, I was amazed at how much stuff we all accumulate and have – what our needs are. We often ‘need’ so many things, so that’s what has been inspiring me recently.

What can fans expect to see from The Twoks at the Woodford Folk Festival?

We played Woodford last year – we feed off a lot of our environment and the audience when we play live. The thing about Wodford is, we get there and we’re just different people – we just feel so relaxed and in touch with our surroundings, our audience and the big family that are there with their real community spirit. I reckon they can expect a really engaging, interactive dance fest set.

Tickets for the 2013/14 festival are on sale now. For more information on the festival ticket pricing and camping options visit www.woodfordfolkfestival.com



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