Brisbane resident Scraps (AKA Laura Hill) released a debut full length last year that blew me away just by its title alone: Classic Shits 2006 – 2008. I enjoyed it and listened to it here and there, but it wasn’t until a few months ago when I received her Secret Paradise 7” that I got up from my desk, put on a pair of pants and took notice to Scraps’ genius.
Although it’s pretty apparent Laura has a tight clench on what makes a pop song shine, it’s not all rainbow pillow cases in the world of Scraps. Hill’s entirely electronically composed music is as caked with pregnant intrigue and damaged beauty as an attic-found crazy glued together figurine. And if that sounds all too sensitive for you, go back to your weight set and Mammoth box set. We don’t need you around here, you big meanie.
VICE: Let me know how the whole Scraps things started
Laura Hill: Scraps came out of a depressing time for me. It was 2006; I was living in a shared house. I was broke; my boyfriend turned out to be a complete jerk, and all I could do was play pinball, smoke, and write sad songs. It kind of made me feel better.
**Yeah, that’s usually how things like this start. Were you ever in any other musical projects other than Scraps? **
My friend moved into that crappy house, like a year later, so we began another project called Dollface. We hung around each other like Milo and Otis, so making music together was really fun and natural.
When I came back from an overseas holiday, I started a band called Stargaze with a friend who is a bit of a jazz cat. He had a Pro-One synthesizer. We joined forces bringing whatever keyboards and equipment together in an improvised fashion. I purchased a SH-101, and plugged it into an old drum machine, and it was instant magic. We played a couple of shows and that’s about it really. I was also involved in a short lived band with Matt Kennedy and Julia Norris (of Kitchen’s Floor) named The Harpy Choir.
Did you consciously make Scraps something that would be some warped homage to 80's big-time synth rock?
No, not really, it was a coincidence. I got given a really nice Yamaha PS-55 as a gift in 2002, and for ages I would play it in my bedroom secretly rocking out with headphones on. I’ve had to replace the keyboard because it has a crack now, probably from shredding on it so hard. Maybe being obsessed with bands like The Human League, Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode, Flock of Seagulls, OMD, Gary Numan, Yellow Magic Orchestra and Devo made an imprint on my brain. Actually I would be really impressed if any of my songs came close to a microcosmic particle of fecal dust from any members of these bands.
**I noticed there are different versions of some of your stuff on-line. Like, the version of 1982 on your Bandcamp page is different than the one on the 7". Then there's a video on YouTube for Secret Paradise that differs from the version on the 7”. What's the process of tweaking the songs into your vision of perfection? **
I guess it’s just a matter of how the music is recorded and released.
The versions of 1982 differs in that one is a studio version recorded by an engineer, who polishes and tweaks it so that radio stations can digest it, while the other is a home recording, made in my bedroom, which is the natural format for most of my songs to date. They are cloudy and rough, but retain something more personal and artistic then the other recordings. So all the versions have different qualities, yes.
The YouTube version of Secret Paradise is different again, because I was using only a laptop and midi, when I was travelling throughout Europe. The film clip where im dressed as a mermaid, was shot on a beach in Portugal, and the costume was made from driftnet and ironed together plastic bags. Just using what’s available really.
**The video you made for 1982 is quite beautiful. Where was that filmed? **
That was filmed in Brisbane, at the Mount Cootha Botanic Gardens; it has this 70’s futuristic feel. The cacti garden is otherworldly, and inside the geodesic tropical dome is a round pond which I used for the reflections. You think it’s beautiful?
**Yeah, definitely. **
It was actually quite embarrassing filming it, mainly because people were trying to enjoy the garden while I was running around in a torn, sweaty jumpsuit covered in blood from the prickly cactus, rubbing a Yamaha on my crotch and dancing with no music.
**Eh…we’ve all been known to do things like that from time to time. Lyrically, what are you trying to paint? **
It depends on the song you are talking about. 1982, really is a love/tribute song to all the robots and machines that didn’t get the girl in movies like Short Circuit and Electric Dreams. The machines in those films were way more interesting than the men. A love like this could be really true if people weren’t so square. Lyrically, generally I write like I’m making a collage. Bits and pieces of stories and fantasies that fill the song with pictures, science and love.
**So the big question is...why do you do Scraps? **
I just want to do something with my hands? I don’t know, I guess people have been really supportive, and they enjoy it, so for them I try.
Classic Shits 2006 -2008 and Secret Paradise can be purchased domestically via Goner.