‘Automatic fuck yeah’: Erica Dunn is one of Melbourne’s busiest musicians

Get the latest from Beat


‘Automatic fuck yeah’: Erica Dunn is one of Melbourne’s busiest musicians

Erica Dunn
Words by Luke Carlino

Tropical Fuck Storm are ready for Daydream with Modest Mouse and Slowdive. We chat to Erica Dunn from TFS for an update on her many projects, including Tropical Fuck Storm, MOD CON and Palm Springs

Not only is Erica getting ready for Tropical Fuck Storm’s upcoming shows with Modest Mouse and Slowdive, but she also finds time for projects such as MOD CON, Palm Springs, Harmony and more.

We’ve interrupted her rehearsals to get an update on all of these – just to further prove our headline; the rehearsal isn’t for any of those aforementioned projects.

Keep up with the latest music news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

“I’m currently rehearsing as I’m doing backing vocals for the Don Walker tour! It’s really fun. We recorded some stuff last year, and the album is out in May.”

For those who may not realise how involved in the Melbourne music scene Erica is, she currently fronts the band MOD CON, who just recently a new album and remix project, is one-quarter of local legends Tropical Fuck Storm, and releases softer acoustic music under the name Palm Springs. Oh, and when they’re actually doing stuff, she is a member of one of Melbourne’s musical gems, Harmony. So, to keep up with it all, we figured we’d cover each of Erica’s projects to see what’s been going on.

From Erica Dunn to Mikey Young, ten cult heroes of Melbourne’s music underground

We start with the big one, Tropical Fuck Storm, who are about to head out on tour with the mini-festival Daydream playing with Modest Mouse, Slowdive, Beach Fossils, Cloud Nothings and Majak Door.

TFS has recently had an unfortunate shift in their plans after the sad news that founding member Fiona Kitschin has been diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. “We got the call about Daydream while we were in Canada last year, and it was an automatic fuck yeah from the gang; then we had a rough start to the year due to Fiona’s diagnosis.

“Her journey with that is immense. Last year we were touring and feeling grateful that we could play and connect with people, and looking at the landscape of not being able to travel as much, now we have this other layer of complexity with Fi being unwell; we’re kind of investigating what our art practice looks like. There always seem to be monumental things to get through, they keep coming, and we just keep rolling with it together.”

Erica goes on to explain that the band is putting together contingency plans for the future in case they’re not able to play as much due to Kitschin’s health. The band’s last shows were at the end of November last year, meaning the stage-less gap between that and Daydream is one of the longest in their history.

“Fi has been so brave about it all and happy to discuss it. She’s not a particularly public person, but it’s been important to her to clarify why we’ve had to cancel so many shows. We’re just on the wellness campaign with the goal of getting Fi through it.”

Erica explains that the rest of TFS’ plans for the year are up in the air as the band follows Fiona’s lead to get her back to a healthy place while starting to think about what a new record might look like, which they are excited about. As we’re sure each TFS fan is, everyone at Beat is hoping for Fiona’s swift recovery and good health.

Moving on to MOD CON, there has been no shortage of great music from the trio, thanks to a new album and its remix counterpart.

“The intention with the remixes was a conscious way to keep collaborating and extrapolating the ideas on the album in the only way that lockdown enabled collaboration. We just threw out stems to friends or people we thought might be able to run with the narrative in a different way, and it was really exciting, and some wild stuff came back.”

For Erica and the rest of MOD CON, Sara Retallick and Raquel Solier, the remix project was an exciting way to breathe life into their second record, Modern Condition, which was only serviced by one live show due to the pandemic.

“It was so refreshing; sometimes you record a song and think it’s done in a bizarre finite process that documents people in a room at a specific time, so it was nice to have a moment of deconstruction and unravelling.”

Moving forward, MOD CON will have some festival dates and random shows to come, while also demoing new music for the next album. “The core of the last release was written what seems like ages ago, so it feels right to keep on trucking and accept gigs where we can.”

The third project to discuss, and a personal favourite of this writer, is Palm Springs, Erica’s solo-ish acoustic project.

“I’m actually writing a lot of Palm Springs right now, it’s probably my most productive project as it is just on my own back, and I don’t have to ask anyone or sync up a calendar. It’s probably my slowest project as I sit on things for bloody ages, but I’m probably making the most headway here.”

The first Palm Springs show in New York took place at the end of a TFS US tour last year, which was a special moment for Erica as the Big Apple is where the Palm Springs & Friends album was recorded in 2017.

“The team that made that record were able to go to the show, and I couldn’t believe it was happening; actually, it gave me a bit of energy to come home and commit to a few lost puppies that were kicking around.”

Erica has started speaking to people to collaborate on recording some of this new material in the near future, so Palm Springs fans can be very excited for the future.

Our last project to discuss is broached on somewhat of a wing and prayer, due to its rare sightings; Harmony. “Oh Harmony, I wish, I dream,” replies Erica when asked if we will be seeing or hearing anything from the group soon.

“We talk about it all the time. I don’t think that band is ever over, it’s just that the people involved are very unique individuals doing very unique things, but Tom (Lyngcoln, vocalist, guitarist) is so prolific and constantly busy, I just know that one day, I hope it’s soon, we’re just going to get a phone call like a batman scenario to do something.

“I’m waiting by the phone, Lyngcoln, if you are reading this.”

And let’s all hope that he is.

Catch Erica Dunn with the legends in Tropical Fuck Storm at the Daydream Festival alongside Modest Mouse, Slowdive and more on April 22nd at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne. Tickets available here.