Sydney indie-pop duo Egoism have a knack for turning intensely personal moments in their lives into catchy tunes.
Olive Rush and Scout Eastment have just released For Ages, their first single since last year's Lonely But Not Alone, and are celebrating with an east coast tour in May and June. With its breezy guitar riff and light pop beats, For Ages encourages people to have conversations about mental health.
"It is a conversation about the premonition of worse times to come - we wrote it in late 2020 so it ended up being quite accurate, both personally and globally," Eastment says.
"Depressive episodes take a long time to heal from.
"Just over a year ago, Olive and I went to Culburra on a budget 'writing trip'. One morning I felt so disconnected and honestly just didn't want to do anything. Olive went out on a walk and I had to force myself to sit down and do something musical.
"The song acts as a conversation between Olive and I, about where our lives were at the time. The feeling that my depressive episode was getting worse, the monotony of what being a musician had become, as well as the feeling of hopelessness in the world: it all just felt like it would never end.
"In some ways it was a tipping point; we could let it all fall apart or accept the stagnation. After singing it for a while, the words 'for ages' started feeling like an urge to not give up."
The accompanying video clip was recorded in Redfern and directed by Billy Zammit. It shows the duo going about their day in a neon world. It's a stark contrast.
"It really feels like all the beautiful coloured lights are just adding a little spice to what is essentially three minutes of us looking extremely depressed and doing very boring tasks," Rush says.
"Billy and the crew worked non-stop, between bribing the shop owners with cash to keep their stores open an extra 20 minutes, to climbing onto the roof to block out a skylight."
Eastment and Rush "grew up a few streets from each other" and were both into music and bands in early high school. They made the decision to make their own music together at the age of 15.
In 2019 Egoism toured with Pinkish Blu and their singles Sorry, Enemies and What Are We Doing? earned them a spot at Bigsound Festival. Their lush melodies, enticing hooks and savvy pop lyrics were starting to attract attention.
That same year, Egoism were nominated for both 'song of the year' and 'next big thing' in the FBi SMAC awards, and became triple j Unearthed's 11th most played artist.
In 2020, the band released debut EP On Our Minds and were one of 16 recipients of Unearthed's Level Up COVID Grants.
Last year they supported Odette on her national tour and were one of eight artists chosen to participate in Liminal, a contemporary music film series at the Sydney Opera House.
"It was extremely intimidating at first, but the crew were very, very experienced and welcoming," Eastment says.
"They made the whole experience feel like we were almost playing a normal show, in a comforting way."
On Egoism being identified as a "band to watch", Rush says: "I think we realised quite quickly that those titles mean a lot more to others than they mean to us, because we wouldn't have gotten anywhere without putting an immense amount of pressure on ourselves in the first place. It's a difficult balance."
What about their music being referred to as "dream-pop" and described as "introspective"?
"Introspective definitely hits home - we tend to view music as a means of communicating a deeper story or emotion than is possible through just words," Rush replies.
"Dream-pop seems to refer specifically to how much reverb there is in a mix, so it's pretty accurate for the majority of our songs.
"We have a lot of new songs that will be seeing the light of day very soon, too."
Egoism has kicked off a five-date headline tour with Montgomery that stops off at The Cambridge Hotel's Warehouse on May 28. For an introspective duo, performing in front of an audience had its challenges in the early days.
"Playing live used to be the most challenging part of Egoism, now it's our favourite thing to do," Eastment says.
"Our show is more a re-imagining of our recorded material rather than a note-for-note reenactment, purely since most of our songs come to life in a bedroom rather than a rehearsal space."
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