Story of a label: Tom Fraser of Pieater

Iconic local label Pieater was formed when Jo and Tom of Big Scary banded together with their friend, Tom Fraser to help release a record. Over the years it’s become a home to acts such as Airling, Christopher Port, #1 Dads, Slow Dancer and Tom Snowdon, becoming a thriving community in itself.

In this episode we gain an insight into the Pieater journey: From it’s humble beginnings, to the current day – and of course, everything in between. We also discuss the importance of community and being an artist-first label.

Listen To The Full Chat Here:

Tom and Jo of Big Scary after their show at Melbourne’s Forum Theatre. Photo by Dan Soderstrom.

A Playlist Curated By Tom:

Big Scary – This Weight

I think this is the ultimate starting point for the whole label. This was the first song that we really released, but obviously Pieater hadn’t even begun then. We didn’t realise what it was. I remember I’d just seen Tom and Jo play their first show as Big Scary and sort of fell for their music quite heavily and offered to give the guys a little bit of money to make a recording. With 0 experience, you know, just gave them the money, they went off and made this track. We didn’t really know where it would lead to. It was the the first one we all did together.

Big Scary – Why Hip Hop Sucks in ’13 

That was a really great song for Tom Iansek as a producer. Which is the hat he wears a little more these days. It was that song, and the whole Not Art album, where he got to do the production himself – and do it his own way.  That song in particular… Obviously there’s a DJ Shadow reference. It has such a strange structure compared to most Big Scary songs. All of the vocals are gospel choir singers from New York, and I actually got to watch the process of them doing that.

I remember we were in New York and he (Tom) had this idea that he wanted to get lots of ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ that are all over the Not Art record – you can hear them all in the background. He needed to get some gospel singers, and I don’t even know how, but he got this contact of some friend of a friend who knew this thing – and we booked this super fancy studio in New York. We had no idea what we were doing this day. I remember Tom was quite nervous when going off to the studio. We’d spent a bit of money for us at the time on this thing, having no idea what these singers would be. The moment he turned up and they opened their mouths, it was just… I remember he sent a text saying ‘this is amazing.’ We all turned up to the studio, Jo and I got there and their engineer was there with them. Just watching Tom direct these people around and use this production hat for the first time, I think was a great experience for him. It was so nice to see, and obviously he’s gone from there to doing a lot more for other people and for Big Scary.

Airling – Move Me

This one is off Hannah’s debut album. I think it’s just an incredible track, one of the best one’s she’s written. It’s a great intro for the rest of the record and the whole Airling package that we’re starting to unravel.

#1 Dads – Return To

That one came from nowhere didn’t it? It really won a lot of people over. It was really awesome to see. I chose this one for the vocal lines of Tom Snowdon who is one of the newer acts that we’re working with.

Christopher Port – Bump

Porty has been playing with our bands for a while. I remember him telling Jo that he’d been working on new music – but no one had heard any of it. To be honest, I don’t think anyone had any idea of what it was going to sound like. But, you just know when you hear something and it connects? It feels different, you feel attached to it? It’s instant. Hearing those songs for the first time, I was so shocked that that’s what he’d been working on. But now having listened to them, and getting to know him more – it makes complete sense that their the songs that he came out with.

Big Scary – The Opposite Of Us

Tom, Jo and I were having a conversation and I think this track just sums up Big Scary. Jo’s drumming, that beat, the piano, the vocals. It’s just, such a Big Scary sounding song. It’s also probably the band’s most popular song that they’ve had. I find that really amazing. We were talking about it when Drake brought our Hotline Bling. It’s probably Drake’s biggest song he’s had – but it’s also probably his 100th or 150th song. It’s so amazing when an artist can have a bigger song well into their career.

I think this will be Big Scary’s 70th song now. They’ve had 7 EP’s, this is their 3rd album and this is potentially their biggest song they’ve ever released. It just shows that artists continue to learn and grow. Their songwriting gets better. I think there’s so much emphasis on having a breakout debut album, but it’s a whole journey. Seeing the guys get success off this song while so far into their career – every songwriter can aspire to that. If you don’t make success on your first EP or first album, you can never give up. It’ll get better as you keep working on it. I think this song is a testament to that.

Editor Note:

Slow Dancer joined the Piepack a little while after we conducted this interview. So, that’s why they didn’t really get a mention. I implore you to check out Slow Dancer’s music here. Also a big thanks to Dan Soderstrom for supplying some of his work for this feature.

Part of the ‘Piepack’ – Christopher Port. Photo by Ro Flack.

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