It’s a real treat to premiere the new video and single from the enigmatic Kav Temperley, the front man for one of Australia’s most enduring and endearing indie bands, Eskimo Joe. The fact that it features Katy Steele from another beloved indie institution, Little Birdy, is a pure golden filigree on the surface. This is a Western Australian-born marriage made in musical heaven.
‘Graduation Day’ is a statuesque and poignant track: sparkling guitars form the spine to Temperely’s distinctive yearning and evocative vocals, recollecting a special moment frozen in time with a sense of regret. Steele’s vocals are a gorgeous and ethereal presence – sometimes providing a delicate harmony, sometimes taking the lead as the duo sing do you remember the way we used to stop the traffic on the bridge in Graduation Day? in a massive chorus that stands tall and bold like the sky-scraping trees in Western Australia’s Valley of The Giants. Temperley says of the track:
Growing up in Fremantle, it used to be a right of passage to jump off the old traffic bridge into the river on graduation day. People would pull over their cars and yell at you for being reckless and dangerous. The song ‘Graduation Day’ is the story about someone who stayed behind and somebody who chose to leave, and about how no matter how far you go – there is always this tether pulling you back.
The track perfectly captures that bittersweet taste of memory, while leaving room for optimism as we all grow apart and lead different lives that are fueled and shaped by such memories.
The accompanying video mixes sparkling performances with vintage footage, creating a heart achingly beautiful montage of expression and memory with Temperley and Steele’s engaging camaraderie at the fore. Temperley says of the collaboration:
Myself and Katy have been friends for many, many years. Katy did her first Little Birdy demos in the back shed of my old house while Eskimo Joe were writing our second album ‘A Song Is A City’. We almost asked Katy to join Eskies playing keyboards, but Little Birdy was such a great musical project that it would have been criminal if she didn’t get out there and become the musical goddess that we all new she was destined to become. After two years of such extreme isolation, it was an absolute pleasure to get in a room together and work on some new music. You never know if the magic is going to happen when you sit down to write a song with someone, but Graduation Day just felt right straight away.
Kav is such a great writer and musician and I’ve always had a tonne of respect for him. This song showcases what a great writer he is so I am truly honoured to be on it! We’ve been hanging out a little recently working on stuff and Kav played me the song in the studio. I guess we share a slight affinity both being the ‘lead singers’ doing solo stuff and all the feelings, pressures and emotions that come with it. It’s been so nice sharing those feelings together, it’s made me feel less alone
These emotions bleed into the joyful interactions the pair have in the video which was directed and edited by Temperley himself with Fremantle filmmakers Joseph London and Luna Laure. It is a burst of pure visual sunshine leavened by an element of poignancy:
Temperley says the video:
…tells the story of what it means to live in a small town. It’s a snapshot of Freo, with beautiful footage of the port town by Joseph London and performances shot by Luna Laure. Graduation Day is a look back at the sliding door moments of our lives where everything seemed hopeful and possible, and it features the old Fremantle traffic bridge that we used jump off as a right of passage on graduation day.
Thoughts, feeling and emotions perfectly captured by the indelible sound and vision. ‘Graduation Day’ is out on Monday, 4 July through all the usual download and streaming sites and will be on Temperley’s forthcoming solo album, ‘Machines of Love and Grace’, due out in September.
Feature Photograph: Jarrad Levy