Japanese Wallpaper brings evolving eclectic sound to the Slowdown


Daniel Kuchar

Gab Strum, the Melbourne-based, multi-instrumentalist producer and mastermind behind Japanese Wallpaper brings all kinds of influences together to create his unique and textured sound. Strum loves incorporating real instruments like bass, guitar and drums and meshing them with synth sounds and digital techniques.

“When you get that combination right, the results can be pretty magical,” Strum says in reference to his blend of musical passages.

He speaks high praise of many records like Paramore’s “After Laughter” and Phoenix’s “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix”. Growing up, he was also influenced by The Beatles, classical piano and Jazz music. All of these influences translate well into the sound he has built for himself, as well as the sound he is continuing to develop along his musical journey.

Strum spends a lot of his time touring, recording and producing music, and learning the ins-and-outs of instruments and software, making him a pretty musically invested guy. Just a few months ago, Strum was in Atlanta spending time in the studio with Grammy Award-Winning Producer Ben Allen, who has worked with acts like Washed Out and Bombay Bicycle Club. Strum has spent a good portion of 2018 writing, producing and putting the finishing touches on a new release. His newest single “Foolin’ Around” is just a sample of what to expect on the new release.

Now that he has had some time under his belt in the music industry, Strum said he feels a lot more comfortable in playing real instruments and singing, which was a step he always had wanted to take. His newest single “Foolin’ Around” features himself on vocals, which is a deviation from his first release, “Japanese Wallpaper”, on which he featured guest vocalists like Pepa Knight and Wafia.

The touring life has been a new experience for Gab Strum and his touring guitar player and friend, Georgia Smith. The two have been bringing their act around major American cities, with Smith on guitar and vocals, and Strum on bass, synth and vocals. He describes the touring life as much different than what he is used to in Australia, where he plays with a full four-piece group out on weekends for shows. Strum has spent time binge-watching Ozark, playing Mario Kart on his Nintendo Switch, writing music and going to Whole Foods at any chance.

Japanese Wallpaper landed themselves at the Slowdown in Omaha, Neb. as a supporting act to Los Angeles based group Shallou’s Souls World Tour. Omaha comes almost smack in the middle of the November & December tour that features stops in the United States, Canada and Strum’s home country of Australia. Japanese Wallpaper’s deep, layered music was done justice at the Slowdown on Saturday, as he and Georgia ran through a quick, but meaningful set of songs from the Japanese Wallaper EP, and a cover tune.

Strum says that touring in the States has been a welcoming experience for him.

“It’s kind of like our first proper tour in America, so I had no idea what to expect, but it seems like all the crowds have been really nice and it seems like some people know the music and…we’ve had a great time.” he reflects.

As Japanese Wallpaper continues to develop into its ideal sound on the next record, Strum is enjoying the process of playing music, collaborating and learning more about himself.

“I feel really good about it…making it was just a really nice process. I wasn’t super rushed or anything…and had heaps of time to like, tinker away at the songs” Strum says in regard to his upcoming album.

Japanese Wallpaper concluded their set at the Slowdown with their newest track “Foolin’ Around”, which brought the whole experience full circle, and left listeners with a statement saying, “This is what Japanese Wallpaper is meant to be – just wait for what’s coming next”.

There’s no doubt that on their next world tour, Strum and his band will be even more in their element, with hordes of fans singing along, smiles on their faces, and the perfect combination of musical elements radiating from Gab Strum’s artistic soul.