PODGE has been intriguing us ever since emerging from the SoundCloud ether last year. As one of this year’s cohort of Merseyrail Sound Station artists, he has been honing his sound into even sharper versions of the whip-smart music he burst onto the scene with. His music is a tangle of spaced-out melodies sung over a joyful, expansive electronic horizon of audio which leaves no sound unturned. “I guess the best way to describe it would be catchy tunes and weird noises,” he tells us, “the most common things I hear people mention about my music are all the little details I try putting into my production.” The opening track of his self-released debut album, The Hero Appears, begins with a frantic chattering in chipmunk tones – it sounds like fairies bickering out of earshot. Throughout the album, he samples everything from guitars to ambient sounds and white noise.
His influences are just as eclectic: “I’m really inspired by a lot of anime: Ping Pong The Animation, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid and Nichijou are probably the most inspirational. I really enjoy the cheerful but sometimes contemplative nature of these shows and it’s not really something I think I can explain well.” He may not be able to put it into words, but this sense of covert melancholy within a world of beauty and fun certainly articulates itself in his music. “Car Seat Headrest was probably one of the first artists I got obsessed with after I started making music,” he continues. “I think I was really attracted to the whole DIY aspect of the band, especially back in 2015.”
There are numerous other luminaries evident (Aphex Twin and Tyler, The Creator are referenced, while Animal Collective loom unmentioned in the background), but the artist who Podge credits as having the most crucial impact on his sound is Japanese producer Cornelius. “His album Fantasma is a big part of the reason why I have my style now, and listening to it last year was a big eye-opener, stylistically. If I could support any artist it would probably be Cornelius. It would be crazy to see what kind of set-up he’s running live.”
Podge is one of the new wave of artists now emerging whose musical education was mostly virtual – a bedroom artist directing their own tuition, intuitively. For such artists, cultural boundaries which dictate what music from a certain place sounds like are irrelevant and nonexistent. Growing up in Wirral and playing guitar and bass with friends from the age of 15 developed into a personal relationship with a laptop, a synthesiser and all the sounds on the internet. “Honestly, I’ve only been to a few gigs in my life. I guess I’m just too lazy to go see anyone unless I really love their music.” The virtual soundscape can be a more democratic one, and where the middle-man between artist and audience disappears, industry recluses can become the hero of one boy’s bedroom. Podge recommends our readers listen to artist Arvid’s album Old Factory Living: “It’s a super chilled-out album and has some super catchy songs on it. I found his music in a thread on an image board when I was, like, 15 and showed my friends, and we’ve all been listening to it since then. It’s weird ’cos to me the album feels like an old classic, but I don’t think the guy even has 500 followers on SoundCloud.”
Podge’s inquisitive disposition means his love of music lies in the never-ending pursuit. “Music is one of the most fulfilling things that I do. The fact that there hasn’t been – and probably never will be – an objectively perfect piece of music means that there’s always some way you can improve music, and that’s why I think I’ll probably never get bored of it.”
“My favourite song to perform is a super old one I made nearly two years ago called 100% Orange Juice,” Podge tells us. “It’s one of those songs where you finish writing it and it feels like it came from nowhere, or like some sort of higher part of me that I can’t consciously tap into has allowed for a bit of itself to seep out. Those are the best songs to perform – when you write music because it doesn’t feel like you’re playing your own song. It just feels like an old favourite from an artist I really like.”
Podge’s new single Yuka-Peno, recorded at Parr Street Studios, is released on 5th June via The Label Recordings.