It's not always easy for a young band to trust its own instincts. So when Aussie indie dance-pop quintet Gold Fields sparked industry attention shortly after the band's 2010 formation, the temptation to bow to experience proved impossible to resist.
Although initially influenced by American emo bands like Brand New and Taking Back Sunday, the group soon began to embrace elements of Australia's burgeoning dance scene.
"Bands like Cut Copy, Empire of the Sun, the Presets and Van She sort of led the way," says guitarist Vin Andanar. "People we've met are really excited and have just heard of these bands in the last year, while we've been listening to them the last few years. They've definitely helped younger bands from the Australian music scene make a name for themselves."
Gold Fields went on to record a six-song demo showcasing the group's ability to marry rock guitars, racing Daft Punk-inspired rhythms, club-anthem keyboard swirls, and slick '80s new wave undertones that echo the Pet Shop Boys, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Yello. Astralwerks — who'd previously championed electropop artists ranging from Melbourne's Cut Copy to Norway's Röyksopp — was impressed by the response to the group's first single, "Treehouse," which came across like a long-lost A-Ha song being reinterpreted by punk-popsters Straylight Run.
The label sent the band off to Los Angeles for six weeks to record with Mickey Petralia, whose credits include Beck, Ladytron and Peaches. After spending all but two days holed up in the studio, the group returned home unhappy with the results. It didn't help that two of the bandmembers had never been in a professional studio before, and none of them had ever worked with a producer.
Step two was to rent a mansion in Sydney, where Gold Fields spent the next several weeks writing and preparing to rerecord the album. But those sessions also proved disappointing, so it was back to the drawing board.
"That was the hardest decision, to say no to what we'd done," says Andanar. "We'd worked for almost eight months on this album and it just wasn't how we wanted."
Coming full circle, the musicians returned to the home garage where they'd made their first recordings, scotched the entire idea of a producer, and went back to relying on the instincts that had gotten them attention in the first place. And so it was that eight months of frustrating effort was salvaged in just three weeks, all from the comfort of home.
"We could just go into the backyard and find pieces of wood to use as percussion," says Andanar of the laid-back atmosphere that turned out to be much more productive. "We're pretty lucky our A&R really supports us, and really supported the idea of us doing it ourselves."
While some groups might be bitter about being sent on what in many ways turned out to be a wild-goose chase, Andanar appreciates the label's willingness to indulge the group's perfectionist streak. "We trusted in other people's experience who had been in the industry and worked on tons of records. We thought if we work with these guys it will turn out alright. But it just didn't turn out how we wanted it to, and in the end we just trusted ourselves."