Having released a compelling set of country-punk tearjerkers late last year – the brilliantly titled ‘Having pop punk feelings in a country-western body’ EP – Melbourne-based three-piece Two Steps on the Water are now gearing up for their debut LP, God Forbid Anyone Look Me in the Eye. The band – comprising violinist Sienna Thornton, drummer Jonathan Nash and frontwoman June Jones – yesterday released ‘YoYo’, a tender, Kate Bush-referencing ballad underpinned by the trio’s lilting harmonies and Thornton’s intuitive counterpoint. Today we’ve got the video for you, beautifully shot in soft afternoon sunlight by the Yarra. June Jones spoke to us via email about the new record and the band’s upcoming June residency at the Gasometer Hotel.
Can you tell me what ‘Yoyo’ is about? did you write it for someone in particular?
‘YoYo’ was primarily written for myself when I was younger. I have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder since I was 14, which made life pretty hard especially when I was a teenager. I used to beat myself up about being so terrified all the time and it took me a long time to realise that I wasn’t to blame for my trauma. ‘YoYo’ was written for me back then, but also for anyone who needs to hear that it’s not their fault, that they are beautiful and dangerous. I should probably mention here that the first two lines of the chorus are totally ripped from ‘Cloudbusting’ by Kate Bush (a timeless classic).
Is there a narrative behind the video clip? It’s a gorgeous setting – where’d you guys shoot?
Nah, no narrative. The last clip we made (for a song called ‘More True More Rowdy‘) was pretty heavily rooted in narrative, and we filmed that in a few different locations which meant that it was a pretty time-consuming process. This time around we just wanted something simple and pretty. Working with absolute legends Nina Renee and Olivia A Fay, we filmed the whole thing in Fairfield by the Yarra. One half was at the beautiful amphitheater and the other half was with a group of friends in a clearing that Sienna knew about (and I think people put on raves there sometimes?).
Congrats on recording your debut record! Can you tell us about how it all came together – the writing and recording etc? How would you compare the new album to HPPFIACWB, whether aestically or thematically, or the process in general?
Hey thanks! We wrote all the songs in the second half of last year I think. Made some demos in Sienna’s shed and sent them to Simon Grounds (who was recommended to us by our friend Laura Jean, an amazing Melbourne musician). Recording took place from early February through to late April, starting at Bakehouse Studios with Simon and then RMIT with some friends who are studying sound production, then doing all the overdubs at Simon’s home studio.
Aesthetically I think we’re working with similar ideas to what’s happening on HPPFIACWB, but there’s no electric guitar this time around. Thematically I think God Forbid Anyone Look Me in the Eye is more coherent. I’ve realised that lyrically I tend to tackle three themes over and over again, and those are trauma (spanning the last 10 years), my social experience as a trans woman (the last year and a half), and lastly the object of most songwriting ever: love and romance. The three overlap and intermingle and fight between each other. For example, there are three songs about love/romance/sex on the record but two of those are very much about my experience of these things as a trans woman looking to be recognised as such by my partner.