INTERVIEW: Running Touch

words by: James Johnston

words by: James Johnston

The enigmatic and elusive Running Touch has captured attention both nationally and internationally over the past year. From a featured spot on the Listen Out 2015 stage, to a showcase at this year’s SXSW, the Melbourne-based producer has gone from strength to strength, hitting nearly every Australian festival on the way. We spoke with him while he was over in the States about his upcoming EP release, the process behind it, and where to next for the talented artist.


Hey man, how are you?

Yeah good man, how are you?


Yeah good! Let’s get straight into it! A lot of people would’ve first heard of you in 2015 thanks to your spot on the Melbourne Listen Out leg, and you’ve kind of hit the ground running since then – so how has the last year been for you?

No one has ever actually mentioned Listen Out in an interview before so it’s funny you should mention that! It’s been an incredible year – I’ve learnt a lot about every facet of music you could possibly imagine. It’s been very giving, a lot higher yield than I thought it would be. I think the most important thing is I learnt where I want to go and what I want to do with music, and having this as a potential career. I think I’m confident in what I want to achieve now where I wasn’t last year, so that’s probably the most important thing I’ve learnt in the past year.


You’ve got your debut EP releasing in a fortnight, and it’s a big offering at just shy of half an hour, how did you approach writing the EP? Did you try to make it a more cohesive body of work?

Yeah that EP, that’s been a nightmare I guess to kind of piece together. I suppose it’s evolution and that has driven a lot of the theme behind. There’s been so much change and so much sacrifice behind it, and it’s just transformed into a completely different project to what I had planned.

To answer your question about the cohesiveness, I think it’s a bit of a double-edged sword, because on one end I want it to be cohesive but on the other I want it to be very organic and fluid. There’s connection, but I want it to start quite mellow and raw with heavier tones and then build very seamlessly into a more dance orientated feel. So, I guess that isn’t really cohesive when you have that kind of contrast in an EP, but in saying that I would like to think that’s its cohesive at some points. If I’m being real with you, it’s probably not though. That’s the crux of it, it’s an honest EP – there’s a lot of mistakes, there’s compromises and some things that I didn’t necessarily want in there but they are and I’ve learnt from that.


Speaking of narrative, your latest single ‘Lovely’ – which also features on the EP – has a clearer narrative running through it. The track itself was premiered with a video looking at your creative process and what it’s like being on tour, so why choose to premiere it that way?

A few reasons – one, I wanted to approach video in a different way to what I did last year. I was looking back in hindsight and there was a lot of things I wish I’d did that I didn’t do, and a lot of things that I compromised and fell short of, and that’s a crappy feeling to have. So, this year I wanted to fall into a groove where I could apply the things I learnt rather than just saying to people that I’ve done it without actually following through.

There was that kind of reason, but more so it was to go hand-in-hand with my live set. When that video premiered, I played the exact version from the video the next day live. You can kind of get a first-hand idea of what I do live. It’s kind of like a taking off the hat to those pre-recorded, auto-tuned covers that are saturated the beloved internet now that are so over processed – not that my stuff isn’t, by any means – but if you come see me live I will play that note for note, there’s a different expectation. And as these things get harder and more complex, it helps me up my game. So that was my decision with the video.


You’ve just said and have stated pretty clearly beforehand that you’re not one to stick with genres and that’s made even clearer given your role with Ocean Grove – so do you find it difficult switching between two very unique styles of music in a live context?

No, not at all. I think I would’ve struggled if I would have not been involved with Ocean Grove or to not have left at some point, I think it would’ve hindered a lot on this project and what it has become. It has taught me so much. The great thing about it, is that it kind of flows through every facet of the project. How I played live with those guys has a lot to do with how I play live with Running Touch now and how I approach movement and technique and characters.

On the music side, a more daring and experimental mentality came from Ocean Grove so it kind of permeates all walls. It’s really easy to classify yourself as experimental on Facebook, but I really think you need to be part of different things to actually understand it. Not that I do, but I feel like you need to introduce yourself to it, and that’s what I’ve found.


As you’ve already said 2016, learning aside, was a pretty crazy year for yourself with numerous tours and festivals around the nation, SXSW at the moment and then a national tour when you get back – are you thinking of what’s next yet?

Definitely planning what’s after. I have like a few short-term things that I’m always jumping into and then I have long term things that I know will take me a year or two. I suppose that goes back to what I was saying about video, last year I wasn’t happy with some of the video that I did. So it makes me think “okay, I’m going to separate what I can do now and be realistic and set aside what I can’t do now” and they’re my long term goals. Those things will always be there then, so with respect to the video, I knew that I wasn’t good enough to do it last year nor did I have the time, so I just waiting until this year to do it. Similar to that, there’s bigger collaborations and bigger ideas and bigger projects, maybe even more projects other than Running Touch but I just need more time. Just long term goals, you know?


Well, touching on collaborations, you’ve toured with him and seem to have a great relationship so can we expect something between yourself and Paces in the near future?

That is so weird that you’d say that, he has literally emailed me with a proposal of such only yesterday. You actually reminded me, I haven’t even listened to it because he sent it across in Australian time so I’ll have to listen to it! But if that goes well, you can definitely expect that! I mean I probably shouldn’t have said that, but Mikey is a fantastic dude and a great musician so if not that track – I mean I guess I can say it – because I’d love to do something with him, he’s fantastic.


Another artist you’ve supported in the last year has been ZHU, and similar to him, you keep a certain anonymity about you – is this another creative decision to try and keep the primary focus on your music?

Yeah for sure, I mean you’ve seen me live so you know, but I don’t wear a mask like ZHU, but it kind of eventuated to me being semi-anonymous, where really I’m just socially anonymous. It was meant to exhale this thing of if you want to experience who I am or the project without a mask, come and meet me and come see the show. That’s what it is now, I think creatively it definitely still has room to evolve and the project won’t stay what it is.


Finally, for someone who hasn’t seen you perform live and is just first listening to your music, what would you say they could expect from a Running Touch live performance?

I’d say progressive and experimental. Those are definitely the two words I’d use. If you see me perform a month apart, the show will be different. If you see me from zero minutes to sixty minutes, again, it’s completely different. There’s always experimental and progressive elements, so there’s nothing really you can fully expect for which is what I strive towards.


Well thanks for this, I hope your stay in States is good, and that the Australian tour does really well!

Thank you man, thanks for your time and hopefully we’ll see you down at a show!


Running Touch’s A Body Slow – EP is releasing March 31 – you can pre-order here.

For more on Running Touch, you can follow him on Facebook and Twitter, or check him out at one of the dates below:

* = A Body Slow National Tour

Sat 01 Apr Miami Horror Block Party, Melbourne

Sun 02 Apr Miami Horror Block Party, Sydney

Sat 08 Apr Hot Dub Wine Machine Festival, Swan Valley Fri

Thurs 13th Apr Star Bar, Bendigo*

Thurs 20th Apr Corner Hotel, Melbourne [SECOND SHOW]*:

21 Apr Uno Dance Club, Geelong*

Sat 22 Apr Corner Hotel, Melbourne [SOLD OUT]*

Fri 28 Apr Hudson Ballroom, Sydney*

Sat 29 Apr Groovin The Moo, Maitland*

Fri 05 May Cats, Rocket Bar, Adelaide*

Sat 06 May Hooch, The Brighton, Mandurah*

Sun 07 May Aviary Rooftop Sessions, Perth* [FREE RSVP -]

Sat 13 May Impala, Auckland NZ* Tickets on Door 

Fri 19 May Elsewhere, Gold Coast*

Sat 20 May The Foundry, Brisbane*