ROMY Church had just finished a band recording session at Rock The Nation studio in Mayfield West one night when he placed his bag on top of the car.
Inside the bag was a hard drive containing files of e4444e's debut album Coldstream Road. It was 80 per cent complete.
Church drove home where the enormity of his mistake dawned on him with gut-wrenching clarity. His bag and hard drive were missing. The next day the hard drive was found smashed to pieces on the side of Industrial Drive.
Four months of work was lost. Only the vocal and acoustic guitar tracks remained.
Hip and influential Sydney indie label, Spunk Records, had also agreed to release Coldstream Road.
Rather than wallow in self pity, Church began working at a feverish pace.
He recorded around the clock in his bedroom for four days to track the lost material and the final 20 per cent of the album. The following week it was mixed and complete.
"After I found it smashed I refused to give myself sympathy," Church said. "I just made it.
"Leading up to that point this album was almost done, so there were things I needed to do so I sat down and finished it in a week."
In hindsight Church believes the destruction of the original files was a silver lining. It taught the 22-year-old that spontaneity and instinct are at the heart of creativity, rather than overthinking and procrastination.
I had the vision for the album, I just had to stop myself from thinking too much and get it done.Romy Church
"It ties in with the thing of trying to think less about the songs I'm writing," he said. "I had the vision for the album, I just had to stop myself from thinking too much and get it done.
"Now when I make music I know I need to be decisive. It's a good learning experience for me. I'm glad it happened."
Church has been making music since he first learnt the drums aged six. He and his older brother Noah, would always jam around the house writing little pop songs.
"I remember being young and Noah and I would write songs for fun because we both loved music in primary school," he said.
"It was always normal to make music with me and my brother and dad. My dad plays heaps of instruments."
While Noah would go on to forge an indie-rock path with his three-piece dave the band, Romy fell in love with experimental electronic music at 15 and bought a sampler.
However, he always maintained an interest in rock and folk music through his love of artists like Pavement, The Incredible String Band, Buck Meek and Michael Hurley.
In 2015 Church released the EP Edgar through Bandcamp under the moniker e4444e. The pop-driven Bluewalking off his 2017 EP These Waves sparked interest on Spotify.
It was followed by the more ambitious seven-track EP Mr Dover & The Endless Rovers in 2018. The EP's single The Oarsmen caught the attention of Spunk Records chief Aaron Curnow.
The track also found a fan in English experimental electronic whiz Peter Kember, best known as Sonic Boom.
Church sent the former MGMT producer a copy of The Oarsmen in a bid to receive some "tips" and Kember replied by remixing the single with Sonic Boom's trademark "spaced-out" instrumentation.
While Mr Dover & The Endless Rovers introduced listeners to e4444e's trademark marriage of nature's warmth and electronica's cold sterility - capped off with his dreamy vocals - it's a haunting juxtaposition he's taken to greater heights on Coldstream Road.
Church played acoustic guitar for the first time on record and adopted more conventional melodies on the singles Wolves,Wind Nocturne and Solar.
However, e4444e still offers plenty of emotive soundscapes, which includes the 11-minute Lake Dawn.
"I wanted this to be an acoustic-sounding record with warm sounds," he said. "I even tried to make my vocals sound warm and almost quiet.
"I wanted it to sound really homely. I like music that when you put it on you can be smoothed by.
"I like the smoothing quality as well as the harsher discordant stuff. I feel doing those two things at the same time does something for me emotionally.
"I feel I was trying to make an acoustic album that is still jarring, in a nice way."
It's a direction Church expects he'll continue to explore on future releases. He's even been working on songs with his brother.
"A couple of years ago I was more interested in making music that was more textual," he said. "Recently I've liked the feeling of listening to someone play an instrument more.
"I still listen to a lot of electronic music, but I like the feeling of people in a room playing instruments and I want to go towards that, at least for now.
"I've always loved melodic music, like pop music. It wasn't a conscious decision to write more melodic music, it's just what I'm listening to and practicing.
"I feel I'm better now at blending the two, the melodic and the textual."
Coldstream Road is released on Friday and e4444e will host a listening party at the Lass O'Gowrie Hotel later that evening.