Melbourne based indie folk singer-songwriter Joseph Mackey aka Coconut Shy presents his latest refreshing single Water, Water to us. The artist, who was born in the Australian island state of Tasmania, seamlessly mixes thoughtful and compelling songwriting with the calming sonic experience of acoustic guitars. This unique combination creates a captivating listening experience that showcases the artist’s talent and artistic vision. The Australian musician has been writing music since the age of fourteen. He makes music based on his life, poetry, and allegorical fables.
Water, Water consists of several layers of acoustic guitars primarily in its arrangement with smatterings of bass, electric guitars, and percussion. However, the astounding production makes it all sound incredibly lush. Producer Simon Paparo from Four Doors Studios in Melbourne has done an astounding job in that regard.
This is a beautifully crafted piece of music that sounds serene in its indie folk avatar. The soothing vocal melodies and pristinely produced guitars create a peaceful atmosphere that perfectly captures both the tranquility and the bittersweet. The songwriting and overall lyrics are both thoughtful and poetic. Overall, this song is a delightful listen that will leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed.
Shades of dark and light blue water shades with that tinge of maroon give a feel for the vibe of the song. Coconut Shy wrote the song during the early days of the pandemic. It captures a sense of joy and ecstasy while fundamentally narrating a semi-melancholic tale. The perfect combination to listen to while driving or sitting around a camp.
Coconut Shy with Water, Water gives us a song that is soothing and full of life. Much like dipping hot toes in the water.
We get to talk to Joseph about his latest release.
1. You have been compared to Jeff Buckley which I think is apt. Who have been your musical influences over the years?
Hi! Thanks for having me. It definitely feels strange being compared to someone as amazing as Jeff Buckley. I’m not sure many musicians are even in the same league as him, particularly vocally. He was definitely one artist in my early years of learning guitar that influenced my desire to write music. I’ve probably listened to the ‘Grace’ album more than 200 times. He was pretty big for me. Others like Mark Knopfler from Dire Straits, James Taylor and Marc Cohn were also favourites of mine growing up. I remember being a kid and always being captivated by the marriage of lyrics and music in great songs. It blew my mind that someone out there actually wrote them, and artists like Cohn, Taylor and Knopfler are just awesome in their song-writing abilities. 2. Could you elaborate on the song’s theme?
Sure! ‘Water, Water’ is a nostalgic and reminiscent song, but it doesn’t want to be. The pandemic was still very fresh when I wrote it (March/April 2020), and I was feeling pretty sentimental about some good times that were no longer. It’s not necessarily a happy song, as it’s me trying to pull myself out of a state of dwelling in the past and propel myself towards the future, but the memories I was just trying to let go of were mostly happy and joyful ones. It’s funny, so often we try to make peace with our bad memories, and move on from then. But sometimes you need to let go of the good ones as well, if it’s preventing you from excelling and growing as a person in the present. 3. The song gives a pleasing sense of joy and ecstasy. Much like dipping hot toes in the water. What was your intention when you started writing the song?
Thank you for your kind words! It means a lot. I think my main intention was to capture the vibe of my answer to your second question. There are definitely elements of joy and ecstasy to ‘Water, Water’ because I was reminiscing on joyful past experiences when the song first began spilling out onto the page. So I guess I wanted to create a balance of that happy element and the not-so-happy element to the song (which was me trying to pull myself out of the brooding and dwelling in the past that was preventing me from moving forward). The lyrics are metaphors that tell a semi-melancholic story, but the music itself is more or less uplifting. I was happy with how it worked out! 4. Acoustic guitars and light percussion sound lush here. How many guitar tracks have been recorded? What was the song recording, production, and mixing process like for this song?
I wish I could remember the exact number of guitar tracks – I’m fairly sure we had five or six on there in the end; there were a few! I know there were a couple for the acoustic guitar, one for the bass and one for the electric. Maybe one or two more – it felt like we recorded a lot of acoustic tracks. The overall process was probably the easiest day I’ve ever had in a studio. I recorded the song in about eight hours at Four Doors Studios in Melbourne. It was the first time I’d met the producer, Simon Paparo, and right off the bat we clicked. Things just sort of worked in spontaneity – I love it when that happens! I thought it would take two days minimum to get the song finished going into it, but it only took one. We started off with guitar and vocals tracks and built it up from there. Simon is amazing in his ability to mix a song and create the right atmosphere for it. He nailed it with ‘Water, Water’. If anyone in Melbourne is looking to record some music, I definitely recommend Simon! 5. What is your gear like? Also, what was your recording equipment?
I’m embarrassingly not tech-savvy at all when it comes to musical production. That’s probably why I sought out a professional studio to record this song. I have a small mic and amp at home that I occasionally use for live gigs, but as far as the equipment used to record and produce ‘Water, Water’ goes, that was all Simon from Four Doors Studios! 6. Your lyrical themes seem reflected in your musical structure for the song. How is your approach to songwriting like?
Songwriting can be a really mysterious process; you pull a piece of art out of a strange nothingness, when it didn’t exist before, and no one really knows for sure where it comes from. I guess my approach to it is a little different for each song. Sometimes I’ll write a mood poem and a guitar riff together, and only start to realise what I’m talking about in the lyrics until after it is completed – in those cases, it is largely a subconscious process. Other times I will have a bundle of thoughts, feelings and emotions in my head that I need to arrange in a tangible way that is not only cohesive and structured but also satisfies my creative urges – songwriting is perfect for that. Often those are times I have a clear idea or thing I want to write about. A lot of the time I think of ideas for song titles or lyrics separate from writing the music. There are so many ways it can happen, and it’s so much bloody fun! 7. Any announcements of your upcoming releases? Future live music plans?
I do! I’m releasing a new song called ‘The Finest Day’ in early 2023. I actually wrote it on the same day as ‘Water, Water’, funnily enough. It was really weird how it happened. I had the one idea for a song, and it sort of spilled out into two different versions. I think of them as twins, so it made sense for me to release one after the other. As far future live music goes, I have a few gigs lined up in the new year that I’m really excited for! I’m playing at the Some Velvet Morning Bar in Melbourne on January 19th if you’re around. Anyway, thanks for chatting to me!