(EP out 23 November 2018 through Liberation Records)

 1. get low [feat. Ric Rufio]
2. midnight
 3. my cave [feat. Dave Jenkin Jr.]
4. future loser [feat. E^ST]
5. not broken
6. the moment
7. weekend drive/couple retreat [feat. Stephanie Wilson]

An introspective musician-producer also capable of creating summer festival moments of beat-driven catharsis, Ross James—the man behind the curious upsidedownhead moniker—delivers intricately crafted, propulsive and woozy electronic cuts on his debut EP, complex. A hoarder of analogue synths as much as a laptop junkie, James all out dismisses the line between the cerebral and the ecstatic physical. And this from a newcomer who has seemingly arrived out of nowhere.

complex is the release that almost wasn’t. After years of tinkering on his own, scrapping entire albums of material to push his sounds further, James posted a single track online, ‘get low’, featuring the vocals of his friend Ric Rufio. With no video, no promotion, no label or social media, the song spread like digital wildfire, catching the attention of radio and forcing James to finally take upsidedownhead public.

“I really just wanted to make something I enjoyed,” James says with a fair hint of disbelief, “and when I put ‘get low’ up people started contacting me from all over the place telling me they loved it. I probably should have done it earlier.”   

From the outside, James’s astonishment appears unfounded. He’s no stranger to clubs and giant stages, having worked with and toured with the likes of Vera Blue, Chet Faker, Thelma Plum and Daniel Johns. Some of those he’s met along the way appear on complex: warped R&B-tinged track ‘future loser’ features the vocals of fast-rising singer-songwriter E^ST, while Dave Jenkins Jr, drummer for Wafia, sings on the alt-effervescent ‘my cave’. The EP, too, was finished up while on the road, James mixing during downtime in Los Angeles and Chicago, having played and recorded all the instrumentation in his warehouse-corner studio in Sydney’s Marrickville.   

True to the insular nature of making the EP, James describes the songs as “conversations with myself”. They’re fraught conversations. Anxiety and self-doubt twist through the songs’ lyrics, which draw on internal dialogues held in the throes of insomnia. James says ‘get low’ is about retreating from life to enact self-care. ‘future loser’ is about learning to be OK with who you are, whatever happens, good and bad. There’s always a light in the darkness, a release of tension. The beat will drop—just not when or how you expect it to.

“I grew up loving Radiohead and Massive Attack and I like my synths to sound a particular way, I like mixing acoustic and electronic drums together, and I like it all to be a little dark,” James says. “I was always writing while I was playing with other people, working on my own songs, trying to find my unique sound before anyone heard it.”

With complex as an entrance to upsidedownhead’s uncanny planet, take note: stay hydrated.

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