4 March 2022

Young Canberra folk band plays on the magic of music nostalgia

| James Coleman
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Freelings music band

Canberra band Freelings performing on stage. Photo: Freelings.

When Australian radio network Triple J counted down its ‘Hottest 100′ songs this year, nobody could have expected the result.

Known the world over for inducing a mix of hand-waving excitement in young children and deep sighs of relief in parents, The Wiggles took home the coveted award for their rendition of Tame Impalas’ ‘Elephant’.

But one person wasn’t surprised to hear that children’s songs are still getting adult feet tapping.

Dylan Elks is a music teacher by day and a musician by night with local Canberra folk band, Freelings. He says writing songs for children at school has shown him that the line between a kid’s song and an adult song has blurred and that a catchy melody and rhythm defies ages, cultures and backgrounds.

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“Everyone yearns for the next stage in life,” he says.

“Children want to be teenagers – walking to school by themselves, staying up past their bedtime, eating Doritos. Teenagers want to be young adults – out of school, working, living out of home, the freedom. Young adults want to be adults – buy a house, get a mortgage, get married, have kids.

“But there is a catch … young adults might look back on their teenage years with disdain and regret, but they look further into their past with ever-growing nostalgia.”

Dylan Elk from Freelings

Freelings founder Dylan Elks. Photo: Freelings.

Dylan first picked up a guitar four years ago and went on to write his own songs, developing a style that takes after the guitar maestro himself, Bob Dylan.

“The band almost started unintentionally,” he says. “Lewis (DeLorenzo) and I were busking hungover at the Southside Farmers Markets, making just enough money to buy a pie each from the pie stand.”

The pair was soon after promoted to open mics and eventually paid gigs at various events and venues throughout Canberra. Since then violinist Charlotte Strong and drummer Taliya Blom have joined their ranks. They have just finished recording five of their songs at a CIT studio.

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Dylan says they strive to engage audiences with a mix of song banter, audience participation, and songs “to tap a toe or even dance to”.

“My childhood was filled with smells, sights, feels, and of course, sounds: your mum’s music, your dad’s music, and your ‘annoy-your-parents-on-a-long-road-trip-by-crying-till-they-put-it-on’ music. For many of us young adults, this was The Wiggles.”

He makes no attempt to pile on the praise, however, dismissing Dorothy the dinosaur as having “some yellow-spotted infection and gloves to stop the spread”, the pirate “literally brought a feather to a sword fight”, while the clothed and shoed octopus has a “melodically wavering, swiftly irritating voice which seems to enter your ear through a soundwave peppered with sand”.

The Wiggles

The Wiggles won Triple J’s Hottest 100 for a cover of Tame Impalas’ ‘Elephant’. Photo: Facebook.

Dylan says The Wiggles didn’t make it to the top spot because they came out with an intrinsically good cover, but rather because it tugged at the heartstrings of listeners – proof that catchy songs don’t die at the age of 10.

“The same cover performed by another would be completely overlooked in the countdown,” he says.

“There was nostalgia in our glimmering eyes when we logged in to vote last year. Just wait until Anthony Wiggle runs for Prime Minister and watch the Triple J audience get behind him in the same way they did his song, half earnestly, half for the lols.”

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