D’Arcy Spiller may as yet be an unknown quantity, but her music will transport you to some achingly familiar places. The tender compositions of her debut EP deal with hedonism and hurt, with a voice that could shuck the most brittle heart.
For the past two years, Spiller has finessed her sound while living, travelling and studying across Los Angeles, Sydney and Melbourne. Lyrically, Little Demons has proved to be a personal exorcism.
Working with producers JP Fung (Client Liaison, Birds of Tokyo), Chris Collins (Middle Kids) and John Lee (Totally Mild, Beaches), she has created five tracks as deceptively revealing as tarot cards.
“I wanted to make something dark and beautiful,” she says, “for everyone else who has those dark spots.”
Little Demons opens with the celestial fade-in of ‘Cry All Night’, a song as intuitive as a half-awake state: “Something is calling you to come and find it”. Spiller compulsively began writing it on a snowy night when she was 17. “I’m very spiritual,” she says, “very big on the universe sending me signs. I run on instinct.” The song faded into the background until years later when, serendipitously, it resurfaced on her mother’s computer at a time when a close family friend was dying. ‘Cry All Night’ became entwined with feelings of grief and sorrow, to the extent that when she performs it live, Spiller has to recruit a guitarist so that she can hold it together when singing.
Poles apart is ‘Wildfire’, a tempestuous track painting a vivid scene of a palm reader on a New York street who foretells doom for a long-distance relationship. The sacrifices required for a love affair
don’t always make for a happy home. ‘What in Hell’ could be a cry out to the gods, written during a transition period – as most great songs are – in which Spiller found herself at a crossroads. “Most of the songs on this EP are a therapy process, really,” she says wryly. Recorded in one take, ‘Deep Black Sea’ tempestuously describes the dilemma of wanting something intensely, but knowing that it could ruin an existing situation. “So you keep it to yourself, but the longer you do that the more you battle with it,” Spiller says.
Final track ‘First Scar’ is a searing companion piece to ‘Wildfire’, co-written with Melburnian musician Nick Acquroff. “These are the last words I give you / In self destruction I found truth /And I no longer need you,” Spiller sings to an ex-lover. It’s as much a ritual or a spell as a song. “I never thought that it would be on the EP,” she says. “I started writing it to get something off my chest, but the feeling wouldn’t leave me alone. I eventually thought, once it’s out there I’ll feel closure.”
Her final words may be “I’m done”, but thankfully, D’Arcy Spiller is only just beginning.