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Brisbane's Pray Tell launch label, share first release by romance "reckless serenity"

14 August 2020 | 10:02 am | Emma Jones

Brisbane promoters Pray Tell make their first foray into the world of releasing music with a glorious debut release from romance.

In the time of COVID-19, many in the music community are turning to new ways to connect with their communities. Some have turned to the virtual space, offering a form of connection online through live streams. Some have turned to curated editorial, including mix series and newsletters. Some have bided their time entirely, suspending all plans until they know with more certainty what the future might hold. And some have completely shaken up their very identity, taking the chance to evolve and innovate.

The latter includes that of Brisbane's PRAY TELL. Having already carved out a space for themselves in the city's small but loyal electronic and dance space thanks to some incredible parties, they've spent the last few months reconsidering what it means to be part of a vibrant music community — and how they can continue to add value to this. Today, we're seeing the first results of this period of reflection and innovation in the form of an EP release. Moving from "temporal experiences and into the vastness of curated noise," the two head honchos in Nadeem Tiafau and Cameron Lee are set to make their mark on the Brisbane landscape all over again (as well as far beyond).

Under the moniker romance, one half of Pray Tell in Cameron Lee offers up five tracks on the EP titled reckless serenity. Beat-driven and deeply emotive, Lee is also one half of lauded duo Penelope Two-Five who just recently released one of this year's finest records in their debut album, Alkali. If you're coming to this EP expecting to hear Lee's stunning soulful vocals, you're in the wrong place. However, what you will find instead is five meticulous crafted tracks that showcase Lee's production muscles.

With the warehouses in which Pray Tell got their start a clear influence, romance dives deep into introspective dance music. From the bass-driven, uplifting opener, 'Kin' to the deeper, driving 'Unlocked'; the immersive, percussion-heavy 'Morpho' with its joyful melodic hook to the expansive, richly detailed 'crumble' and the grand finale of 'Vitalité' that stays with you long after its last note is played, reckless serenity is a full-bodied, captivating and blissful listen. It at once provides an escape while also beckoning you to go inwards, and taps into the palpable emotionality we've come to expect from Lee's output so far.

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reckless serenity is a formidable, exciting first impression from a duo whose clear love and commitment not only to their own creative output but that of their larger community as well is clear in every move they make. Now, as they make their foray into the world of labels and releasing music, they continue in their mission to evolve Brisbane's scene and beyond. We spoke to the guys to find out more, and you can check it all out below.

Can you tell us a bit about how Pray Tell first started?

Nadeem and I recognised that we connected over very similar musical and artistic tastes. We had a shared desire to evolve and provide Brisbane with our own authentic expression to underground events. We were both individually closing meaningful musical chapters and we recognised that if we collaborated and focused on a common goal, there was real creative potential. Pray Tell was born soon after.

You've moved from temporal experiences to the permanence of releasing music. Why did you want to go this route instead of say, venturing into livestreams?

I can really appreciate what livestreaming provides artists in terms of creative expression and accessibility for the audience. However, our need to adapt and evolve as a creative entity had to be that progression into the realm of curated expression. It’s a form of expression and mood that can be accessed at any time and that has the potential to reach anyone, not only in Australia but globally.

The first release is from Cameron Lee, one half of the Pray Tell team. Having this extra connection to the release would make for a deeper, personal meaning I'm sure. How did the 'romance' project originate?

‘romance’ started as a need to explore the creation of my own sound as most of my musical experiences had been working with others, from orchestra and choir at school to P25 with Shan. I’m grateful for what those experiences were and continue to be, but it felt time to branch out and explore my own individual sound.

The EP is very emotive and profound in its journey inwards. It follows that same vein of Penelope Two-Five in offering up dance music that makes you think and feel just as much as it makes you move. It's a kind of dance music that seems to resonate more and more with people in the last few months. Why do you think this is?

I suppose pre-Covid, deeper electronic music was gaining traction here in Australia, and I suppose with more time for self-reflection and contemplation, those with the potential to be more receptive to that style have had the opportunity to engage and embrace it.

Looking forward now, does the rest of the year hold any more plans for Pray Tell and romance, or is it a case of seeing what happens as things continue to evolve?

As Pray Tell has moved into the realm of platforming musical creations, we are excited to listen and help give a voice to those who would like to be a part of the Pray Tell community. We have also observed the need to direct more attention towards the growth and wellbeing of the community at large, as such we are now committed to devoting our time and 20% of all Pray Tell profits from here on out to help contribute to the equity of the society around us. As for ‘romance’, it is a project of pure self-expression that hopefully people can connect with. Once some normalcy returns (hopefully soon), I would love to start performing and bringing my sound to a live environment and connect with people with the intimacy that can only be attained with sharing a moment together.

reckless serenity is out now via Pray TellBuy/stream here.

Words by Emma Jones

Image by Thomas Oliver