Sydney-turned-Melbourne producer Wave Racer today releases his long awaited debut album, To Stop From Falling Off The Earth, out now via Eora/Sydney-based tastemaker label Astral People Recordings.
Collecting singles ‘Dreaming’, ‘Left Behind’ (featured in Wave Racer’s set for Porter Robinson’s Secret Sky Digital Festival in April) and ‘Look Up to Yourself’ (performed live for triple j’s Like A Version in August), To Stop From Falling Off The Earth’s eleven tracks blend together the rush of his trademark glistening, ecstatic 64-bit production with Wave Racer’s love of quirk-driven pop and, in a first, his own voice, to tell a story of overcoming anxiety, depression, and isolation. Retaining his trademark bubbliness with tongue-in-cheek production - even as the album tackles bigger demons - To Stop From Falling Off The Earth uncovers an emotional depth to Wave Racer’s music that has patiently, quietly matured alongside Tom Purcell, the man behind the moniker.
“All of these songs are made from a feeling of being at a loose end - like flailing around in the wind directionless, with no anchoring in reality,” says Purcell of the album’s resonant emotionality, a sonic balm for anxious times that reverberates for both the listener and its creator. “To Stop From Falling Off The Earth is an attempt to say, “this album is going to remind you about the things that you can do to ground yourself.” And these are the things that have happened to me and have worked for me - this is a story about preventing myself from losing touch with reality.”
To celebrate the release of his debut LP Wave Racer has also shared the video for latest single, ‘Money’, a giddy, exultant track about his own self-destructive demise, described as simultaneously “the darkest and most humorous song I’ve ever made.”
“‘Money’ is a fantasy built upon the idea of my own professional demise. Inspired by the notion that if I ever joined the fabled 27 club, that nobody would even notice or care. It’s a twisted examination of how I felt about my own success at the time, that I was simply a one-trick pony and that my good fortune would inevitably fade away as people twigged to the fact that I’m an imposter,” Purcell says. “So I wrote about giving it all up in a hedonistic blaze of glory, certain of the fact that I was about to lose it all anyway. It’s a very dark song at its core, so I wanted the production to present it in a way that felt immediately joyful and romantic, in an attempt to trick the audience into semi-consciously decoding the lyrics and finding the real meaning behind it.”
Created in collaboration with Godspeed Digital, the ‘Money’ music video reimagines Purcell’s lyricism as a digital fantasy world, rendering his mental state when writing the track into a hyperreal visual landscape. Utilising video game engine technology, the visuals were built from the ground up, creating a number of virtual scenes that were then approached as film sets that could be interfaced with in real-time, leaning into the inbuilt visual symbolism and metaphor to draw out meaning. Despite never meeting in real life, Wave Racer and Godspeed Digital worked together over weekly video conferences and frequent Discord sessions to bring the video to immediate, tangible life, trading flurries of ideas, notes, references and feedback back and forth. In both the creative process and the ensuing video itself, ‘Money’ reflects the capabilities of digital art to tell deeply human stories.
Inspired by The 1975's artful balance of irony, sincerity and observational story-telling, Tom reveals more of himself than ever before on To Stop From Falling Off The Earth - all with a signature self-awareness that never takes itself too seriously. The result is vulnerable, self-deprecating pop layered deeply with electronic embarkations; equal parts playful and introspective, light and dark, and an assured re-introduction to the juggernaut talent that is Wave Racer.
In retrospect, Purcell sees his anxieties bubbling up since first finding success as a 21-year-old, when he uploaded tracks ‘Rock U Tonite’ and ‘Stoopid’ to SoundCloud on a whim under the name Wave Racer -- an ode to a Nintendo 64 classic that captured the songs’ sunny, pixelated optimism.
Soon after, he was touring non-stop internationally and was considered a leading producer of ‘future bass’, an electronica genre trading in nostalgia, 808s and twinkling, hyper-speed beats. He won praise from Skrillex, Porter Robinson and Flume, remixing the latter as well as the likes of Foster The People and Tkay Maidza.
“I don't think I was ready for any of that,” he says. ”I'm normally very cautious with the decisions that I make... I thought I was managing the attention at the time but I wasn't coping very healthily. I was so worried about how people were going to perceive me if I made one wrong step. It was a recipe for anxiety.”
In 2019, Wave Racer returned with ‘AUTO’, his first original release since 2015 EP Flash Drive -- and his first with new label Astral People Recordings, also marking their first release. A glitchy, vocoder-infused meta-pop ballad, the song sees Purcell fight through the mechanical expectations to constantly release music and play the role of a party-starting DJ. A creative breakthrough, it was after the release of ‘AUTO’, during the stretches of COVID-19 that Wave Racer’s debut record came into view, reworking and fleshing out sketches of tracks from as far back as 2016, while also sharing a handful of collaborative, standalone singles, including ‘Summer Rain’ with triple j favourite Kwame, ‘This N That’ with LunchMoney Lewis and the sonic rush of ‘Higher’, co-produced by PC Music’s Danny L Harle (Charli XCX, Rina Sawayama).