I met up with Christian Patey in a unique bar in Newtown, Sydney, Australia, amongst the hustle bustle of a people going out for a night of fun. In this dark, intimate bar, Christian was playing his music amongst the smell of warm gluhwein, the enchanting fairy lights hanging above us and a Moose head called Duke stuck on to the wall. Christian is a very down to Earth, friendly man who is humble about his achievements. This relaxed surfer brings you music that surrounds you and makes you feel a range of emotions. For a one-man band, Christian manages to get great depth in his music. I was in awe watching him create different harmonies to loop on the spot, and then keep adding them on top of each other, finally adding vocals creating this amazing atmosphere to everyone who is listening.
Below is my interview with Christian that happened over a plate of Haloumi chips…
What made you start music?
I got into playing guitar because my brother got a guitar given to him, a second hand acoustic guitar. So I started playing, around grade five or six, and I started getting lessons. So basically it was because of my brother and I just kept playing acoustic. (Humble beginnings are a common trope, so if you’re feeling inspired check out this list of best acoustic guitars under 200, who knows you might be the next big thing). I was also in bands throughout high school. But I stopped for a bit then got back into the acoustic after school, and then back into bands, and now in the last four years it’s been solo.
Where do you get your ideas and inspiration from?
Basically listening to a lot of music over the years on platforms such as triple-j, and artists like Flume and Chet Faker. I’ve also watched a lot of music documentaries from older blues musicians or real recent dance musicians. I really like the stories where people have put in a lot of work and it has been a hard road for them but they get there in the end, I find those kinds of stories inspiring. That’s been the inspiration for the main part of my music, I also like to surf and get outdoors and I’m a bit of a cruisy person, so that stuff comes through as well in the music.
Where do you see your music career in the next couple of years?
I’m really going through an experimental stage of my own with my production, so I would just like to keep learning as a musician and keep bettering myself, also I’d like to grow more of a fan base. I’d like to be playing full time, and selling out shows, and be on rotation on the radio. I think those are my next main couple of goals, also collaborating with other, talented artists.
So, that brings in Tash Sultana…
Yes, well I supported her in Maroochydore last year in December. That was amazing. That was sold out show, so it was a really cool experience. And again she is a good inspiration to me because of her story and the things she has achieved already, it was good to meet her and it definitely pushed my playing as well. She’s really cool, so it was a great experience. Definitely a good highlight.
Do you have any superstitions or pre-gig traditions that you do?
I tend to be quite organised and I get a bit of anxiety wanting everything to go right. So, I try to get myself calm, do a couple of stretches, nothing too out of the blue.
So break out the yoga?
Yea sometimes, but nothing too crazy. Like if I have beers I’d probably play worse, maybe, I don’t know. It’s because I’m doing a lot by myself, so I need to be on my game but still relaxed. It’s a matter of keeping calm and having fun basically.
What’s your best music related memory?
I mean, I’ve played a few sold out shows before so that’s been really cool. Some of the collaborations I’ve done, with Jimmy2sox from (one half of) Flight Facilities, that would have to be up there as one of my highlights definitely. And just to work with someone who’s super talented like that has been a highlight for sure. Another one is having one of my songs sampled by PARTYNEXTDOOR in the states, which is on Drake’s label, the song was actually meant for Drake’s album but it ended up being on PARTYNEXTDOOR’S. That’s been a huge break for me, because I’m now writing hip-hop music as well on the side.
What’s your creative process like?
Well that’s interesting. I come from a folk background, which is just guitar and vocals. Lately I’ve been working with other producers, and there are always synths, drums and vocal samples involved. So now I’m a lot more experimental in the studio. Trying a lot of different things, so you could start with a nice bass loop or beat, with some cool samples or just a little vocal loop that creates a vibe. I have written some of my songs just at home looping different instruments. Whenever I get a new instrument or a new sound it sometimes sparks the creative process as well and you go from there. I guess its about being inspired again and going “oh that’s kind of cool” and having that resonate with you.
What are you working on right now? Can you disclose?
I’m working on my EP at the moment and a film clip for my new single out in October. So three songs are done and the fourth one is half way through. I’ll be touring that as well. At the same time, I’m working on hip-hop production also in the states.
Will you be touring just Australia?
Just Australia at this point, yea. We are looking at Canada for the future. So that’s the next step.
If you could pick any place to perform, what would it be?
Splendour in the Grass or laneway festival for sure
What are the main themes or topics that you go for? And do you think these will change over time?
I’ve always had this kind of underground positiveness in each of the songs, but I guess some are about relationships and working through them, daily life things such as overcoming hurdles, and some are stories as well about hope and moving forward, building a better life, thinking something else other than normal life, kind of dreamlike. That’s where I’ve gone about writing.
You said you got into music from the guitar that your brother got, how did you get into writing songs?
I think just having the guitar and writing basically. I was hanging out with other artists who were playing and they had songs so its just a thing to naturally do. I was never strong at it, I never really had confidence in doing it, so it took a while to come around, but it was just an evolution of being a musician and it took time for me to find my voice. Its been a slow process, but I feel I do it well now.
How important is personal image to you?
Pretty important. It’s the first impression.
So what would your personal image be?
Good question. Personal image? That’s a hard one. It’s more a third party thing to comment on.
Who gave you support to pursue your music? Is there anyone you know that doesn’t like that you are pursuing music?
I don’t know. I haven’t found anyone that doesn’t like it, I don’t think. Fans and family have been a support, like the little things, then the little comments or messages, or the feedback you receive after your show.
What is the weirdest thing that has ever happened to you whilst working on a song?
While working on a song? Well, I was getting an interview once on the radio and the fire alarm went off and the radio just stopped, we had to go and meet out the front. But when it comes to working on a song nothing too weird has happened I don’t think.
What genre of music can’t you stand to listen to?
I don’t really have something I can’t stand, to be honest. Nothing annoys me so bad that I can’t stand it.
What kind of aesthetic do you want to have as an artist? Do you want to engage with your audience or be more of a mystery as to who you are as an individual?
I want to engage more. I may not do that at the moment but its something I’m working on. So that might bring into the mysterious side. Maybe half and half. Maybe I’m doing a little bit of both at the moment. It’s hard to tell. But I try to definitely. It just depends on the show and the venues, and how crazy the audience could become. Yea, I try to connect.
Do you think social media is an important platform? And do you use it heavily?
I think it’s a massive thing. It’s bringing the world together. In the music world, I would have never have gotten my music sampled if it wasn’t for the internet and social media. So, yes, I’m all for it. It’s given everyone a voice.
If you weren’t doing music, what would you be doing?
I don’t know, maybe surfing or something? I’m not sure, I actually don’t know. Something passionately.
Has there been a point in your career where you’ve been really gobsmacked in what you’ve achieved?
Yes, it happens on and off. You have your bigger moments then you have moments where you’re like this is really hard and you sort of second guess it sometimes. Some of the brags have been getting played on Triple J, releasing my first EP, working with Jimmy2sox. Supporting Tash Sultana and Booseeka. Those sort of moments have definitely been the highlight for sure.
What’s the greatest compliment you’ve ever received regarding your music?
I think just making people feel good or taking something away. Its always “amazing”, “sounds awesome”, just sort of those general comments basically. Nothing sticks out too crazy. When you get a message from someone, they are reaching out and you don’t know them at all, I think that’s cool, it shows how far the music has travelled. So that’s big in my eyes.
You’ve just bought up 4-5 years. Is that how long you’ve been doing this?
I’ve been doing it solo for four years. I kind of decided around that time that I put my acoustic EP out that, that was what I really wanted to to.
And would you say its been an easy road, or a real tough road?
It’s been both. It’s been fun but tough. But worth it, definitely. Here we are having an interview in Sydney. It’s really cool.
“High” Single Release Tour Dates
4 November | Cornerstone | Noosa
10 November | Heyya Bar | Brisbane
15 November | Café Lounge | Sydney
17 November | The Newsagency | Sydney
18 November | Spring St Social | Sydney
23 November | The Lounge Room | Gosford
(For the MMAD Fundraiser)
25 November | 5 Church St | Bellingen
Tickets and Info At