Ango Unchained and Handsome Shirt are about live music, genuine kindness and passion

Byron Bay artist Ango Unchained chats with Melbourne duo Handsome Shirt about the stories and adventures behind their dream works.

The creative behind the delicious release Chocolate, Ango Unchained (aka Angus) chats with friends and other artists, Handsome Shirt (HS) about the glory of stupid decisions.

Duo Louis and Ellis, born and raised in Essex before moving to Melbourne, embrace the wonder of light in their music. Much like Ango Unchained, they see the point in smiling from the inside before diving deep into the wonderland of indie synth-pop. Check out the boys chat below:

SH: What happened?

ANGUS: I’m just sitting outside a party in my car, drinking beer and eating pizza. Tell me your best bars in Melbourne!

SH: Oh damn it. The Night Cat is always a good place to see a good band. It’s cool because if you want to watch the drummer, you can stand right behind the drummer or you can stand right behind the keyboard player because the whole stage is one big circle. Montys is a good place in North Fitzroy, to party – I don’t party though *laughs*.

ANGUS: What are your sound influences?

SH: Yeah. I guess all the usual suspects, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Tame Impala and Mac DeMarco. You know, like big crown stuff, old funk records, that kind of stuff is also important to us. And you? What are sonic implementers for you?

ANGUS: Oh gosh, Gus Dapperton is so fresh right now. Bring me on with his lyrics and his voice is so dope. Yeah, sure, and you guys (Handsome Shirt) *laughs*.

SH: Let’s talk about Chocolate. What inspired him?

ANGUS: You Louis, when you flew to Byron, completely fresh out of a breakup.

SH: (Louis) Yeah, I just needed to escape. And we did Chocolate in a thunderstorm after a few beers and a waterfall trip to take your mind off things. It wasn’t that we just sat down and said, “Hey, let’s make a song”, it was just kind of those things that naturally fell into place. But it was just like, again, one thing out of the other, and then it was this overwhelming feeling and it became something so fast. I was like, fuck, actually. Yeah. I think that’s what made it so great. The fire didn’t go out – it just grew and grew.

ANGUS: I remember we were in this zone where we looked at each other and buzzed knowing that we were doing something special. Like what FaceTime too *laughs* this needs to be recorded too that Handsome Shirt are the two most, yes probably the nicest band in Australia, right *laughs*.

SH : *laughs* Keep it a secret. I remember the first time I saw you was you playing in Margaret River and you were playing your very first gig. And we were just giving you the devil’s eyes in front of people, just staring at you all the time *laughs*. We were so impressed. You had sunglasses, just killer. We knew there was something special from the start.

ANGUS: What can we expect in the future with Handsome Shirt?

SH: Yeah. Oh, buddy. I’m just going day to day in this Melbourne lockdown and you know we wanna do a lot more music “legally” *Laughs*. It’s a bit like this that Handsome Shirt was born, locked up. I hope we will soon have the opportunity to play a concert.

ANGUS: And you also know that when you play a concert, I can go on stage with you.

SH: Absoutely. It has always been written in the stars for us.

ANGUS: Can I say it, I can see it happening. It will happen before we die.

SH: We have some time. What future for Ango Unchained?

ANGUS: Well, apart from the huge and beautiful Ango Unchained concert which sold out in Berlin and Tokyo *laughs*, I want to go back to the studio with Louis the musical genius behind most of my songs and sing – I love it singing is the feeling I want to chase away. The best memory I have of you guys is in Melbourne and you decided to fly to Sydney from Melbourne with $50 between you on terrible push bikes *laughs*.

SH: We were doing. So when we were in England and we kind of decided to go to Australia, he was like, ‘I want to do something ridiculous and very stupid’. We had this idea of ​​a bike ride in our head, from Melbourne to Sydney and so when we came to see you, we had our backpacks, pots, pans, swags then we left with $20 between the two of us and we are left with no maps, no lights, no punch repair kit, and we were just getting out of the CBD and already, it was like, this is bullshit.

There were two things. First, we thought it would be a good idea to sleep on your rooftop in Melbourne, in the winter too? Then the bike ride took us about 20 minutes or half an hour out of town and we stopped at the servo and was like, “Okay, that’s really dumb.” Then this guy comes along and he says, “Boys, what are you doing?” Where are you going?”. He was like, “You are in Dandenong now, but too far from Sydney”. He was stunned. He gave us $50. It was like, okay, people are on our side here *laughs*. He felt sorry for us. We are on the right path.

We were so lucky the whole way through with genuine kindness, other than actually one place where we were about an hour from a town, but stumbled upon this little Roadhouse thing. They had hot fries and we had like a dollar. We’re like, “Can we have hot fries?”. She said, “Yeah. The minimum is $1.50”. I thought to myself, “We’ve just done a hundred kilometers today and we’re a little hungry. Can we just have shit for a buck?”. She’s like, “No, sorry. can’t do that. Then we have a guy who comes out two minutes later and he has two cold cans of coke and huge big chips for us and we were like, get on your board, tears in our eyes of happiness. Yeah, and he said to me, “When you’re in Eden, come see me, you can have dinner at my house” and I thought, fuck, that’s it, these are real Australians, so it was 8 days in total, about 150 kilometers a day.

When we arrived in Sydney, I think we both cried. Yeah, we got to the port, Bruce took a pic that smelled like a dead fucking rat, but just like the happiest I’ve been in a long time. Yeah. So that was it. It was the story.

Unleashed Ango

SH: Let’s talk about what inspired Chocolate, is it someone?

ANGUS: It was definitely, yeah. It was just the whole thing with, uh, with a girl. The feeling of hope and imagining a future with someone. Hope was also certainly a huge, smiling part. I sang the choruses always smiling. It completely changes your voice. We were watching Masego on YouTube with FKJ and he was just grinning from ear to ear while singing and it sounded great. I sense hope and excitement in his voice!

Inasmuch as

SH: Think it’s funny. Sometimes these kind of sessions, they start with, you know, a little desk or a YouTube video or something and it makes you want to like, oh actually, and then you start like a drum track or something thing like that and it just kind of grows from there.

ANGUS: Just a good studio/jam session… How would you describe it? It’s like you’re going surfing and you’re about to ride a wave you’ve never ridden. So much angst and foam.

SH: It’s like, yeah, you’re a kid and you go back to a playground and you can make all the noise you want, you know, you release those inner tremors, you just feel safe. Yeah.

ANGUS: Some of the best memories were with you in that studio. When no one says a word and the music speaks for itself. Those magical moments when everyone pulls away from each other and the timing is just red hot. Magic. How’s life as a single Louis?

SH: Single life? It’s interesting. Yeah. It’s strange. Single for the first time in 6 years. It’s exciting not knowing what’s going to happen around the corner. And you Ango?

ANGUS: It’s real. I like where I am. I love Byron.

SH: How long have you been there now?

ANGUS: Three years. There’s just the influx of creative people into such a small town, it’s so beautiful. You know what I mean? Like everyone is doing something really cool. I just can’t wait for the live music to hit hard again.

SH: It’s hard. It’s hard to be in this empty shell of what Melbourne once was.

ANGUS: I really want to come down and play. I want to play live music in bars. Are you buzzing? You get it. It’s like fucking pretty complete. It’s euphoric.

SH: Yes my man. We want to see you back on stage. Capture those hearts *laughs*.

ANGUS: What’s next for Handsome Shirt?

SH: We have lots of little, you know, like everyone has maybe 50 songs on their hard drive or something. We have a few permanently stored that we just need to put away and hopefully get out. We’re really, really keen on releasing new music. I think we need it. We want to get more super eight movies and shoot another video as well. Those two things together are really fun for us. Like your latest video for Chocolate was so cool. Visually go with the song. I really want to do something like that, that’s for sure.

ANGUS: Yeah. I always find it so beautiful that you have this core following now. I can still see people driving to your music all the time. Every time I hear you, I visualize someone driving down the coast *laughs* driving down a highway with Sunday up and down, easy. I’m going to come back to that party now *laughs*.

SH: People are screaming your name. You have to go back there.

ANGUS: I love you guys so much.

Elizabeth J. Harless