Gab Strum, professionally known as Japanese Wallpaper is an Australian artist who recently released 'Fooling Around' - his first release in 2 years. Currently on tour with Shallou, I spoke to the artist at the Toronto stop on November 14 at The Velvet Underground. We discussed his early upbringing, his surprise early success, his growth over the past two years, the new record, and a new album.

So, tell me about growing up in Melbourne and if all there was a music scene going up?

Yeah growing up in Melbourne, I reckon It’s a really great place to start figuring out how to be a musician and it’s a really supportive and tight-knit community and special place to grow up.

It’s cool, too because I read about that you didn’t' plan any of this, talking about your career. Tell me why you decided to go into garage band and start making music?

At the start, I was just playing around, I guess. It took a while for me to feel good about what I was making. I mean, when you start doing something, well for me at least, It was a really big gap between my skill level and the records that I was listening to. And yeah there were some really influential bands coming up in Melbourne that I discovered and I just was like I want to be exactly like this.

Now you got really successful really fast at your craft, from Triple J and going to Sydney, did it all feel really fast?

Once things kind of started, like once people starting seeing what I was doing and you know I got onto the radio in Australia and all that kind of stuff, from there it felt pretty fast. And I guess I was still in high school, and I just kind of felt like It was happening around me rather than like something I had control of.

And when you were making the type of music you were making on GarageBand, looking back on it, from that to being on the radio, that must be cool.

Yeah it was pretty cool. I guess it's something that feels so impossible from an outsider's perspective. It’s kind of a crazy thing when it’s happening like shit, people are listening to this song and it can become a career from just a hobby, it’s pretty cool.

Now can you touch on how the internet has helped shape your career? Because it’s definitely a huge tool for artists now and it really helped you too.

It definitely enabled the whole thing to happen for me in terms of just like finding a community online of people doing the same things and being able to share things with people, that whole SoundCloud era, even the majestic casuals and the YouTube channel, it can really take an artist from doing things in your bedroom as a hobby to going on tour. And yeah, I guess before I ever sat down to think about publicity or anything like that, It just kind of happened by virtue of like those YouTube channels, SoundCloud and the people that kind of educate the culture.

And now for something that’s been on my mind, where does the name Japanese Wallpaper come from?

It's kind of speaks to the lack of ambition I had from the project - like it was literally a band name generator website and it was the first thing that came up. And I picked it five minutes before my I put my first song on Soundcloud.

And speaking on that time in your life, with your first song and all, was it hard making music and working on your album, balancing school as well?

Around that time, it was pretty hard in hindsight. Like that was my life and that was normal, but in hinds,ight I don’t know how I did it. I don’t think I’d be able to do it now.

Now pushing forward, you released a new record, your first new song in two years, how much growth have you been through leading up to now?

I think a lot actually. It’s hard to pinpoint like certain aspect, I guess just like doing something for years everyday makes you feel more confident about it and better at it. And I feel kind of, for the first time, well I mean in making the first record, it was a sum of happy accidents and something that really frustrated me and I never knew how to replicate something that I was happy with. And so it's kind of like oh cool that sounds good and I’m proud of that record and I think there’s something in like innocence and in hindsight I wish I could make something like that again, but I love what I’m doing now and feel in control.

And now can you touch on the new record, Fooling Around?

Yeah, it was the first, one of the first songs I wrote for this new album and one of the last ones I finished for the album. And I feel like its kind of embodies all of what I was trying to do with this new record, in like its sonically intensity, just giving it a sound that was a bit grander and a bit like the feeling of a live show a bit more. And it just took me ages to finish because I was trying all these new elements that I wanted to engage with and I wanted to include. And I just couldn't really figure out how to make them all fit into, I guess this sonic world or whatever the kind of thing I wanted to establish, but I eventually managed to finish it.

Now when can we expect the album to be out?

The album is slated for 2019, it’s finished! I’m like half-way through the next one already, but yeah, I’m really excited to share it!