Interview: Crooked Colours go down to the wire

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Interview: Crooked Colours go down to the wire

Crooked Colours
Words by David James Young

Crooked Colours are down to the wire on their third studio album.

It’s just within their grasp, according to keyboardist Leon Debaughn – as he speaks to Beat from the trio’s native Perth, the others are in an adjacent studio working on what he describes as “the last ten percent” of the as-yet-untitled album. “It’s been in the works more or less since the last one came out,” he says – referring to their 2019 album, Langata.

“It’s been a turbulent time, to say the least, but we’ve still been writing this entire time. We must have sent thousands of ideas back and forth, building up all these songs. We’ve ended up with a real surplus, and it’s come down to picking the right songs that fit what we want to go with.” It’s asked of Debaughn, then, whether the album that they initially set out to make in the wake of Langata‘s release is the same one that will eventually end up in fans’ ears later this year. “We all have a different outlook now,” he replies.

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“I think these last two years have really allowed us a sense of re-evaluation. In a way, it was a good thing to have that time just to sit back and go, ‘alright, where do we want to go now?’” Indeed, two key changes have factored into the making of the third Crooked Colours album. The first was them signing to Atlantic Records, marking their first major international deal in the process. “That really opened our eyes to America – going over there and, going into their big studios and seeing the way that they do things over there,” says Debaughn.

At the insistence of Atlantic, the alternative-dance band experimented more will collaboration and co-writing – something they’d only touched on in the past. The fruits of those labours are evident on two of the already-released singles: ‘Rather Be With You’, which features Hayden James, and ‘Light Year’, which saw them team up with Masked Wolf and Jasiah. Debaughn describes the latter, in particular, as “unlike anything Crooked Colours have ever done before.”

“It’s definitely a lot more steeped in the hip-hop world, which we’ve never really tried”

“It was really cool to get the opportunity to dip our toes into that sort of sound – and it was something the three of us had always wanted to try, as well. It definitely points to a different vibe that is a part of this album – we definitely felt more at liberty to dabble in different areas rather than just staying in our lane. We really wanted to make a point of letting the music be its own thing.”

Said liberties are also reflected in the group’s most recent single, ‘Feel It’. With its lively synth-bass, choppy samples and driving beat, it’s kicked off Crooked Colours’ eventful 2022 in style. “When we showed it to Atlantic, they really caught onto it,” says Debaughn. “I think it was the catchy guitar line that really hooked them in, but as soon as we played it for them in the studio they were just loving it. It’s been simmering in the background since then, and I think it’s become one of the strongest songs on the entire album.


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“I think it encapsulates the whole album, in a way. If we were going to pick any song as a sounding of the alarm – like, ‘this is it, the album’s coming’ – I’m glad we went with this one.” A national tour in support of ‘Feel It’ has been announced, which will see the band playing some of their biggest headlining shows to date. Although Debaughn expresses a degree of nerves about the band going “straight into the deep end” as he puts it, there’s also a real excitement within the camp as Crooked Colours starts anew.

“It’s all a little daunting in its own way,” he says. “Straight off the bat, everything is really feeling sink-or-swim. Even so, we’re in the designing stage at the moment and it’s already looking like we’re bringing something big to this tour. The venues are all really good, and this run feels like it has greatness ahead.”

Crooked Colours play Margaret Court Arena Friday 9 September 2022 at 7.30pm. Buy tickets here.