Teaching yourself Procreate and then creating a video in it is an interesting challenge to set yourself. How was the process?
It was good. In terms of the program it's really cool, but it's also really simple. I had to do some work arounds, not around the program itself, but in terms of my skills with the animations. With frame-by-frame there were certain sequences where I did the whole thing then realised that it was going to play backwards for instance. So I had to start all over again.
That process of learning about frame-by-frame animation was a pretty steep learning curve. But Procreate itself was very intuitive. My kid is all over it. He loves using Procreate. He's always hassling me to get my iPad so he can do these COVID inspired artworks that he's been working on, which is pretty cool.
Having put yourself through a tutorial crash-course, do you think you will keep going with your own animations?
Yeah, definitely — I do these YouTube tutorials called Average Guitar Tutorials where it's me just teaching only my songs. I'm not actually amazing technically, I can't read music or anything. So they're quite average tutorials, which is why they’re called that.
I did a little animated introduction video to those in Procreate. And just this week, I did a bunch of instagram tiles for Book Week where I just drew over some of the characters from my books to suggest some Book Week costumes. That was all done in Procreate.
I'm now doing a bit of mucking around with another film clip idea. I don't know if I’ll end up doing it or not. But animation is quite a meditative process, because it's so repetitive with little changes. I find it quite relaxing. So yes, I’ve been using it a lot.
Did you grow up watching a lot of animation? Do you have any favourites?
There was a cartoon series called The Mysterious Cities of Gold, and that I loved. It inspired that notion that animation’s limits are only set by your imagination. The story is about these kids going on this adventure to find Esteban's father and the lost cities of gold, and it just really captured my imagination when I was kid. The animation itself was my first introduction to that manga style (of animation). And then more recently — I’m just a massive fan of the whole Studio Ghibli cannon. I've watched a couple of documentaries on Studio Ghibli as well, and the way they do animation is still very much frame-by-frame. That's insane. So yeah, I do love it and I think it's an incredible art form.
You’re also an Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) ambassador. How long have you been an ambassador for, and how did the association come about?
I've been an ambassador for the ILF for about 12 years now. That came about through my wife's association with the book industry back then. The organisation was started by Susie Wilson, who owns and runs a bookstore in Brisbane. She started it all those years ago, and I heard about it through my wife Sarah.
I've always been passionate about the idea of bridging the gap, (Indigenous) reconciliation in general, and how crap our governments have been about it down the years. I wanted to do something, and they didn't have any musicians involved at that point. It seemed like a good fit because literacy is not just limited to writing stories or filling out forms. Literacy comes in so many different forms, music being a lot of them. So that was when I got involved and it's been great. They do amazing work and their organisation has evolved a lot over the years, which is really, really wonderful to see.
Tell us a little about your ‘Busking for Change’ events?
Those events were to raise money for the ILF because I'm not an expert in Indigenous literacy, but I felt I must support it. I couldn't go out and help the ILF with that sort of thing, but I knew how to put on gigs and raise money.
The great thing about the ILF is they do books in language and that are written by the people of the community in their language or several languages. So they're really very culturally appropriate. That all costs money to publish, and to do the trips out to the communities. I just started putting on these gigs, because I knew how to do that and we raised about 50 grand ($50,000) over three years, which was great. We had excellent acts like Passenger, Boy & Bear, Urthboy and Holly Throsby playing. It was great, and they were extremely fun events.
You’re also a big advocate for up-and-coming Aussie musical talent. Can you tell us a little about the Josh Pyke Partnership?
The JP Partnership is in its sixth year, I think. I got to a point in my career where I almost felt guilty that it had gone so well for so long, and I could see that it was hard for emerging artists. Early on in my career I received two grants. One was for $2000 and one was actually a prize — my first iMac computer. And from those two things I was able to buy some basic recording gear, and it really kicked off my whole solo production and recording career.
So I knew that grants were incredibly vital to people starting out. But the thing that I never got from any of these grants was the mentorship element. I came up through the pub scene in Sydney, and there was nobody really doing the singer songwriter thing that I knew. So I didn't really have any idea what I was doing, and I've learned so much over the years — I wanted to pass that on in some slightly more formal way.
So I started the JP Partnership in conjunction with APRA (Australasian Performing Rights Association) who co-funded it. I got my manager and my booking agent to give up their time for mentorship as well. It's been amazing. There's been some incredible acts that have come through it. I feel really proud of all the people that have won it and gone on to create such great things like Gordi, Alex Lahey and Angie McMahon are all killing it. They were already doing great without me, but I feel very proud that I was able to help them in some small way.
What’s your favourite Procreate feature, and what do you enjoy about using it?
It's definitely Animation Assist. Obviously that was a game changer for me in terms of this clip. I also love the Motion Blur. I’ll make a big fractal shape in the background and do a psychedelic type blur when you drag your finger across. But because you can't record it, I’ll do a screen recording and use it like that.
If you could add one feature to Procreate what would it be?
I'd love a live animation tool — that would be so good. In Looom I can draw as the animation is rolling, so you can add effects to produce luminescence or little dots and stuff like that. To be able to do that as the animation is rolling would be cool. And also just adjusting parameters whilst the animation is rolling. So you could run the animation, and adjust the motion blur of just one layer while recording. That would be sick.
Discover Josh’s heartfelt music, tour dates, kids books and other projects at his website. Follow Josh on Instagram, Twitter and add his music to your Spotify.