If you’re wondering why you haven’t heard anything new from Sydney-based, electronic artist BUOY – AKA Charmian Kingston – of late, there’s a reason. The past couple of years have featured some big changes for her, both in her flow and the people she works with.
“It’s really difficult because I was working with somebody and we couldn’t work together anymore because we were romantically involved, so it’s taken a while to figure out a new path,” Kingston says.
Now she’s started on her new path, Kingston is hoping to try out some of her new material in a live setting when she headlines Node 0 in Melbourne next month. While she’s still yet to work out whether her new material will be released as an EP or an album, Kingston is adamant that things will be happening soon.
“I don’t exactly know when, but I am working on stuff and I’m excited about the new music,” she says. “It’s quite different to my old stuff, so I hope that it’ll still make sense and sound like me – I guess it will have to because I’m the one singing.”
Node 0 is a bi-annual event organised by the Melbourne Conservatory of Music’s Interactive Composition department and focuses on different genres, styles and aspects of songwriting and production. This year’s event is fittingly called Lounge Beats, and will be a downtempo, moody and atmospheric affair, with VCA’s Film and TV Animation department providing visuals to complement the music.
The live music bill is a force of female nature, with supports coming from Eilish Gilligan and Elle Grey from Cool Explosions who are both graduates of the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music.
Kingston says the intergalactic theme of the event has inspired her to borrow her sister’s sewing machine and make a “blue and swishy” outfit to wear on the night. “Hopefully I can make it work. Sometimes when you sew things it definitely looks homemade. I don’t really want it to look like that, but sometimes that’s how things turn out,” she says.
Having trained as a jazz pianist, Kingston can relate to the experiences of the students at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music. “When you study music you have to think about and analyse everything, whereas if it’s just a hobby, you’re not thinking about that, you’re just doing it for fun,” she says.
“When I was studying, it was difficult for me to compose because of that analytical brain that you have to have. After I finished uni it took a little while for me to shake out of that, to start writing again without thinking about it too much.
“I find if you tend to be a perfectionist, which I tend to be, it encourages that side of you even more. That was another thing I had to shake out of.”
Despite the challenges, she is grateful for her classical training. “It’s nice to be able to play pieces that I love, and to be able to hear music and to know exactly how to replicate it,” she says. “It’s also nice to be able to add little sprinkles here and there into my own songs.”
Moving from jazz to electronic music was a natural process for Kingston, having grown surrounded by a lot of groove-based music and loving dancing. “I like making music that’s a bit mysterious and incorporating the mystery from electronic, like weird electronic sounds into a pop sort of song,” she says.
For any musicians who are starting out, Kingston has some wise words. “Don’t stop what you’re doing. That’s the main thing. Don’t give up. It’s pretty generic advice, but it’s really true. Just keep going and know if you’re enjoying what you’re making then that’s the main thing,” she says.
While she champions hard work, Kingston says musicians should be mindful not to work so hard that they burnout, as she experienced when she was travelling around by herself last year.
“If you do find yourself becoming frazzled, you need to concentrate on self-care. That’s the ultimate thing. You’re not going to be of any use to people or to play music if you’re not well, so that needs to be your main goal.”