Gab Strum a.k.a. Japanese Wallpaper started his career making music only a few years ago. Aged 15, out and about on family holiday. Strum would whip out his laptop and started fiddling around with Garageband to fill the time and the oblivious teenager he was at the time regarding the countryside he was visiting.
Japanese Wallpaper, a stage name he came up to upload his few tracks on his newly created profile on Australia’s Triple J’s Unearthed and on Soundcloud, that would later see him win the coveted “Unearthed High” competition and took his blossoming career to new heights as he explains:
“I never really expected any of this to become a thing, I was just making songs in my bedroom and putting them up on Soundcloud to show my friends. And that was the extent of it.”
His previous album was melancholy filled, with whiffs of Australian countryside permeating the different tracks and unique songwriting that cemented his quick ascent on the national music scene.
Now a twenty-one year old. Gab Strum is still driven by teen euphoria, the emotional rollercoaster one goes through and the fragile vulnerabilities that come with being so young and writing songs. “A lot of it is, awkward songs about having a crush,” he admits.
Songs that influenced Japanese Wallpaper’s “Fooling Around”
Gab Strum took the time to compile some of the tracks that inspired the new “Fooling Around” album and its title-track for Sodwee.com. Listen to the playlist we’ve put together below and read more about each pick further down…
- Last Dinosaurs – Wurl (watch)
This song was kind of an early blueprint for the feeling I was trying to communicate on Fooling Around. Growing up in Australia in the early 2010s this band was everywhere, and they left a really strong mark on me as a teen. I love the juxtaposition of the ecstatic instrumentation with bittersweet lyrics.
- Montgomery – Pinata (watch)
My friend Montgomery is the voice you hear in the bridge of Fooling Around – her 2014 release “New Clear War” is a record I come back to all the time and this song especially is very special to me.
- Peter Bjorn and John – Up Against The Wall (watch)
My producer Ben and I bonded over our love of this track – the way all the guitar parts interlock and gradually build over the consistent drum beat is nothing short of genius.
- Death Cab For Cutie – The Ghosts Of Beverly Drive (watch)
I was listening to this album a lot towards the end of my recording process. I vividly remember walking to the studio on the day I recorded the vocals for Fooling Around and just listening to this song on repeat for the whole 40 minutes, in the sweltering Atlanta heat.
- Bleachers – Dream of Mickey Mantle (watch)
I was really inspired by the quirky / unexpected approach to pop instrumentation that can be heard in this track. I feel like one of Jack Antonoff’s biggest musical strengths is the ability to convey a feeling of movement within his records and that was something i was thinking about a lot.
- Washed Out – All I Know (watch)
I love this record, and the way that the live elements of the track interact with the hazy electronic ones.
The lead single “Fooling Around” and forthcoming album of the same name was finally completed with the help of Grammy Award winner Ben Allen who also worked with the likes of Neon Indian, Cut Copy, Animal Collective and Gnarls Barkley.
Gab Strum says about the album Fooling Around:
“It’s the record I’ve always wanted to make up until this point, but I’ve never really felt like I could until now.”