Lyrics by Joseph Carbone
While researching for my interview with Running Touch (Matthew Victor Kopp), the local dance and electronic powerhouse, I give a peek at his latest Insta posts.
I already know he’s in Los Angeles — our Zoom call is at 7 a.m. for me and 2 p.m. for him — where he’s getting ready to play Coachella with Hayden James. One of his posts, however, catches my eye: the one where he addresses probably the biggest hurdle for a Melburnian in the United States.
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So, naturally, my first question for the local dance, electronic and pop legend is how he finds the quality of American coffee. He replies with a smile: “How do you think? It’s not good, I don’t know – I wish I had some descriptive words to give you.
“I don’t know what’s going on, but someone has to make a change.”
And who better to dictate change than Running Touch? After founding Australian nu-metal band Ocean Grove, he transitioned into a solo career that exploded onto the Australian music scene with his 2017 EP. A slow body. Blending grunge, nu metalcore and hardcore punk, Running Touch’s vocals, keyboards and samples characterize Ocean Grove’s studio output. Since then, the singer, songwriter and record producer has produced regularly for other artists, including as a featured artist in tracks for Adult Art Club, Verboten Berlin and Hayden James. It’s paid off so far, he’s racked up 130 million streams and is preparing – at the time of our interview – to take the stage to perform the Hayden James song “Better Together”, which he features on, without most coveted doubt in the world. festival before his first album Carmine drops.
“I am very grateful, very excited [for Coachella], obviously,” he says. “The two things that really excites me are: one, it’s not my show, so I don’t have to carry the burden of playing at one of the best festivals in the world, if not the best. Second, being a solo act, I don’t really get to share a lot of moments with other people because that’s just me, but that’s Hayden’s set, and it’s his first Coachella so it will be really cool to share a moment and a milestone with him. It’s fun, you feel like you’re part of the group.
“The majority of my time here has just been purely in the studio and recording. [The sessions are] amazing,” he says. “I’ve spent the start of 2022 preparing for this journey, refining the workflow, knowledge and practice. It’s different to how I’ve done studio sessions in the past, so recording heaps of music and hopefully we’ll see some of it.
There is a five-year gap between A slow body and Carmine, and fans have been eagerly awaiting more music from the man behind bops like “Aubrey” and “When I’m Around You.” He tells me he had studio time booked in early 2020, but Covid stopped his album alongside the world. He considers this a blessing in disguise.
“It took a fucking minute, that’s for sure,” he says. “It took maybe a year, a year and a half to do, because of Covid it was pretty stop-start.
“Man, I’m super glad I didn’t take it out. It’s one of those things I’m really grateful for, it went really smoothly, it wasn’t rushed. My shit is already everywhere because I’m more of a producer than an artist now, I have no fucking idea how I could have done that.
That doesn’t mean he’s entirely happy with how the album rollout has gone. In the perspective of Carmine, no less than six singles were released, twice the average album cycle. And with the six singles featured on the 13-track album, Running Touch shares his concern about how this abnormal approach has become a source of anxiety for him: “Because of Covid, we were just like ‘Oh fuck what are we going to do, do we have to write more songs?’ It really made it… interesting is maybe the right word. Odd.”
Equal parts glittery and glamorous, Carmine features soaring choruses, heavy reverb, and thoughtful verses that capture a nostalgic electronic sound. In describing the mood of the album and what it means to him, Running Touch shares a somewhat paradoxical look: simple and complex at the same time. The artist is known for his unique blend of styles, influenced by the textures of tech-house, pop, indie rock and hardcore. In his tracks, the multi-dimensional musician from Melbourne constantly pushes the boundaries of what is expected in his work. tracks in Carmine will be electronically moody with notes of funky guitar and pop vocals, although according to Running Touch, staying focused with his impressive ability to merge genres proved a “real challenge” for him.
“It’s hard not to chase those things and follow your ambition…and you also have a bit of ego there, in terms of knowing you can do something. Going into it I was very concerned that it wouldn’t be consistent – I still don’t know if it is, I don’t know if people are just being nice to me and bullshitting me,” he laughs. .
But on the artwork (the work of Darren Oorloff, a former Melburnian now in LA) and the album title (carmine is a dark shade of red that represents lust and violence), he presents a simple vision and refreshing: “I really liked the color red and I was like ‘Fuck, I’m not doing any of these big concepts, I’m going to do the most basic shit I can and have fun with it’, and I just picked a color and ran with that. So maybe it’s a bit simple but honestly that’s it. It really helped, it was more honest. I’m not trying to push whatever whatever, I’m a simple man, it’s like I’m in third grade and red is my favorite color.
So what does Running Touch listen to in its downtime? He surprises himself with his answer, because his new favorite song was found on TikTok.
“It sounds really rude, but I’ve never heard a good song on TikTok, I just haven’t heard it. I’ve heard some really well done stuff, but it’s nothing special. [Then] I found a group on TikTok, and I was like, “Oh, that’s really great” and that’s really amazing. They are called Quarters of Change, and the song is called ‘T Love’. I would just listen to it when I was going for a walk, and I was like it was really good. Last night was just on a loop for me. Shout out to Quarters of Change.
We end our interview and hang up. It’s 7:45 a.m. and I need a coffee. Thank God I’m not in LA.
Carmine is now available from Island Records Australia. He will play at the Forum on May 21, tickets on sale now.