PREMIERE: Kt Spit & Samuel Shanahoy interview each other on their nostalgic, collaborative clip for Kt’s track ‘Rush’
Before the lock out laws, Sydney had many thriving communities simply doing their thing. Whether they were DIY, underground or otherwise, there was truly a space for everybody. Not to say those spaces don’t exist now, I just feel that it’s much more difficult for groups and communities to carve out and occupy their own spaces in what we’re effectively seeing as the ‘nanny state’.
Kt Spit and Samuel Shanahoy grew up in Sydney during the time before the lockout laws where Sydney’s underground communities were truly thriving.
Kt Spit is both a multimedia artist and musician who now resides in Melbourne. She’s toured both locally and internationally, has a record titled Combluotion under her belt (which by the way, she put together and released with no manager, budget, label or promotion) and has self-directed four music videos which have racked up over 80 000 views at the time of writing.
Kt‘s been working hard on a new body of work, an EP titled Kill The King. Drawing influence from various forms of 90’s and 00’s electronic and pop music, she’s evolving the formerly bedroom DIY feel of her sound and essentially levelling up.
What’s important about this release, is her continued drive to collaborate with queer artists, visual artists, writers and producers, including Geryon, Regrette Etcetera and filmmaker, Samuel Shanahoy.
Samuel‘s story is similar to that of Kt‘s – living in Sydney, thriving in the flourishing DIY scene and then moving on. Now living in the US, Samuel‘s got an online, global following without even really trying. He’s a self-taught, queer, DIY filmmaker whose low budget, punk films are inspired by underground subcultures, pop culture and his own experiences of growing up a queer, femme working class person in 00’s outer suburban Sydney.
The two are old friends who originally met in what was a pretty masc hardcore punk scene in Sydney’s 00’s. Their working relationship began when they collaborated on the clip for Kt‘s ‘Dreamworld Waiting’.
The pair have come together once again to join forces for a new clip for Kt‘s single ‘Rush’, which we’re damn excited to be premiering here at Purple Sneakers today!
The clip pays homage to the local sites, scenes and underground communities the pair grew up in. Following three friends on their daylight journey home from a rave in the Blue Mountains, the clip features cameos and fashion from fellow LGBTIQ+ artists and pals including rapper Racerage, DJ META ETCETERA and designer Wet Nature.
I feel that unless you were directly involved in these communities, it’s hard to understand what it was really like to experience it all. What Kt and Samuel have portrayed is both nostalgic and thoughtful.
In order to gain a little bit of insight into the inspiration, themes and development of the clip, Kt and Samuel sat down with each other to get nostalgic, flesh out the clip’s concepts and history and sharing some of their memories of another time in Sydney.
Samuel: So, Kt, I wanted to ask you if you can summarise what the song ‘Rush’ lyrically is about and how it sets the scene for some of the things happening in the video.
Kt: It’s pretty cryptic for a pop song I guess. The chorus for me does kind of have this more personal meaning to me, in that it’s meant to describe feeling really conflicted, almost like you’re many different people at once and needing to make peace with yourself to function. The idea of a conflicted person being unified in their certainty around loving something or someone.
It only grew into a whole song once I started to build verses out of this memory I had of being a teenager on a train crossing the Sydney harbour bridge in rush hour.
As you know, the red line at the time basically went out west to the Blue Mountains and then up north to Hornsby too. I started thinking about growing up in Sydney, all the political and creative communities that were around me in the early 00s, that I was part of and how they kind of formed who I am today. The “lock out laws” had just come into effect in Sydney while I was finishing the song. I know they had been so hard on smaller, independent, DIY venues and the little worlds that revolve around them, so that was on my mind too. I imagined a train scene with a bunch of friends, just like the one we have in the video.
All the trains in Sydney used to have this sign up saying that at night time the guards compartment would be marked with a blue light. People would ALWAYS graf out some of the letters so it would end up reading “At night rave near the guard’s compartment naked with a blue light”. Like someone did it on EVERY train! I never saw the unaltered sign. So I worked that into the lyrics and and you came up with that scene where Lorena and I are sitting together in front of the blue tv light which I love.
Samuel: Without sounding totally cheesy, I feel like the ‘Rush’ video was an ideal collab for us with our shared history of Sydney’s underground communities. Even though we hadn’t really become friends at the time, I remember listening to your band The Spitz when I was 17 and seeing you around at shows.
Kt: Me too! I remember being in some of the places in the video together.
We both had lots of ideas for sites and locations we wanted to showcase and visit in our frantic 4 day shoot. Why did you choose the locations that you did and what made them special for you?
Samuel: Well Sydney Park was a must,
Kt: Yes, A MUST!
Samuel: It’s been such an integral space for numerous DIY youth subcultures over the decades. I know we both personally have gone to countless things there in the 2000’s including Punx Picnic and Summer Winds Festival. Another location was the rooftop of Hibernian House. I went there many times as a teenager to have band practice, to record music, go to markets, shows and parties, to just hang on the roof and drink UDLs. I had my 20th birthday party on that rooftop and, when I was 21 and left Sydney to move to Melbourne, I visited the rooftop as a way of saying goodbye to Sydney and to that chapter of my life.
When we filmed the train footage it was on the western line out to Emu Plains, which was like ~my line~ growing up, it’s also the line that connects to the mountain trains which I feel is very realistic for the post Bush doof narrative of the video.
Samuel: Kt, do you wanna talk at all about the Malabar Bunkers location?
Kt: Malabar Bunkers are these abandoned cliffside bunkers where I went to heaps of free techno and noise parties and it was kind of terrifying to be honest, climbing around and finding them in the dark. However it was was also surreal and cool, like the dedication of people to drag sound systems and equipment up there with no intention of making any profits, and knowing the party could potentially be shut down any time. I remember being there at parties with Regrette Ectetera so I love that she agreed to cameo in that scene.
Kt: Which Sydney underground scenes or communities of the early 00s have influenced you the most as an artist?
Samuel: I grew up in Western Sydney and started going to punk shows when I was 13 in 2001 but It wasn’t til I was 16 and started going to things “in the city” that I got involved in scenes where anti capitalism, DIY, feminism and queerness were omnipresent. Bands such as Kiosk and Toxic Lipstick, spaces such as Lan Franchi’s and Maggotville, events such as Belladonna, Chooch-A-Bahn and Scooter gigs really opened up my understanding of what was possible for myself as a young person living & creating art without access to money and institutions and also what was possible for a counter-culture community or building a scene outside of capitalism.
Samuel: Kt, I wanna pose the same question to you.
Kt: Definitely the hardcore techno party and experimental noise scene. Collectives like System Corrupt and Dual Plover label. Especially the women involved. Those were the first people I met who made video and music on a computer, but also had super visual and performative practices which sat alongside their music.
The *PC fruit* emo hardcore punk scene, and also events like Squatfest Film Festival and gurlesque, punk venues like Maggotville or squatted spaces like the Midnight Star or Broadway Squats. So many more things and a lot of the same ones you mentioned actually.
Samuel: One sec, but what is “pc fruit”….?
Kt: Haaaa it’s this real homophobic misogynistic term that some punks would use to describe other punks who they perceived as making music that was too political and also soft/sensitive. As a style I would describe it as like… earnest poetic hardcore punk with emotional jangly melodic guitar parts.
I’m also so glad we got to include the shots of us at Monsta Gras this year. Because Monsta Gras and Kooky are super intergenerational, which is so nourishing to see at a queer party in Australia.
Samuel: Same! Monsta Gras and The Red Rattler are both so important! Honestly, I feel like we were both so lucky to come of age in a city that had and has so many amazing things going on. I definitely feel that Gurlesque and Slit Magazine introduced me to new and creative ways of seeing queer sexuality that definitely influenced my films Best Slumber Party Ever and Queen Bee Empire.
Kt: You have a super distinctive style of film making that always incorporates lots of pop and subcultural references, past and present. Do you take a different approach to directing and editing music videos to your “film” films like Skate Bitches and So Long Suburbia?
Samuel: For sure! With music videos I get to focus so much more on the visual aspect when both directing and editing. I take on way too many roles, such as camera, director, script supervisor to name a few, so when shooting scenes with dialogue that need continuity my attention is spread thin and it’s hard work. With music videos, I feel like I get to be a lot more laid back and experimental and kinda change things as I go.
Samuel: This video’s production was very DIY with no budget, just friends helping out friends. What was the biggest challenge for you?
Kt: The limited crew (you, me and Geryon) and the generosity of artists involved like Racerage, DJ Meta Eceterera, Wilton and Willow from Wet Nature was something I loved so much.
In terms of challenges though, well… Firstly planning the whole thing in different countries over Marco Polo (video messaging app). I was nervous about the train scene. It’s so hard to film in public these days and I kind of can’t believe we got away with it. It was the day after the Monsta Gras, party… Or Kooky… I forget! Anyway- we were all tired so a public performance on PT was definitely a challenge! Also when I cracked my rib at the Malabar Bunkers! Brutal!
The most surprisingly difficult thing was the feelings it brought up for both of us going back to all these places. I remember one morning we had this semi fight before breakfast? I think it’s because we were both just kind of drowning in nostalgic angst. It’s not like the times in my life I spent in these places were perfect, a lot of it was really painful for many reasons. I’m so grateful for so many of the ways the politics in Australian underground music scenes have changed and evolved. However, I do think it’s rare to get to experience a lot of what we have. And it’s important not to forget all that work that people did to create those spaces and events. It could so easily be forgotten. I don’t wanna take for granted what I’ve grown through and what nourished me.
Remember we were talking about it all though and we realised nostalgia is actually just a form of fantasy you project on the past and not real? Like, I never played a dance pop song at Punks Picnic with just my laptop but I deeply wish I had, and now in the video I do.
Samuel: The emotions that this video brought up for me was something I was not expecting. I’ve really appreciated the ways that working on this with you has inspired so many personal conversations between us about our past experiences and also what we want for our individual futures and also the future of our communities and “the underground” in general.
Kt: Me too, I hope we have many more.
Photo of Kt Spit by Ben Thompson
Intro by CAITLIN MEDCALF