The endemic fear of missing out that mars our generation is ironically a near-universal experience. In fact, as Sydney band EGOISM poignantly demonstrate in both their music and the way it resonates, we all pretty much feel the same way when we’re home alone and the clock starts ticking, wondering what it is we should be doing and why we feel so solitary in that moment. On their latest single, ‘Lonely But Not Alone’, they do well to capture that sensation so precisely that everyone listening feels uniquely understood.
“We actually made a real effort to make it quite obvious,” one half of the duo, Olive Rush, says of the release. “In the sense that it’s like you’re surrounded by one individual or many individuals or whatever, and you’re just there, like, ‘I still feel lonely. I still don’t feel understood by someone.’ I especially wrote that in the context of a relationship. But as we were working on it, it just felt a little bit disturbingly too real to a lot of things.”
Rush points out that their other half in the project, Scout Eastment, lives alone, which also informed the song’s representation of feeling disconnected. Eastment has her own rituals in place to ward off the impending and heart-wrenching loneliness that tends to strike us at the worst possible times, no matter how much we reassure ourselves that it’s something that everybody goes through.
“I will walk down to this park near me,” she explains, “And I listen in on people’s conversations.” Eastment adds a caveat, which is the reason why she does what she does: “It just makes me feel like I’m a part of things. And then I’ll just keep walking around and I’m surrounded by people, forcing myself out of the house during the day so I get that socialisation. I think it’s so important for yourself. And also getting sunlight.” Her final tip revolves around being comfortable reaching out to make plans, although having another body next to you isn’t necessarily a cure for the condition. “Almost everyone is as lonely as you…I used to have a lot of social anxiety about texting people or initiating stuff, and I still do, I’m not perfect at it. But a lot of what helped me was thinking about how much I appreciate it when I get messages from people.”
Since their inception and especially after releasing their On Our Minds EP last year, Rush and Eastment certainly shouldn’t have had the homebound 2020 that transpired for them. The ever-persistent pandemic interrupted the upwards trajectory planned for them in taking their show on the road, although there has been a start-stop resumption of live music that will see them finish off some dates with Odette in the near future. That said, no matter what tours they jump on or where their music is played, EGOISM lead themselves solely by the authenticity of their sound, rather than trying to slot themselves neatly into a specific genre or category.
“I think there’s a lot about our culture that is spending the night at home, eating food, drinking wine, watching TV…”
“It feels very difficult to put ourselves in a certain clique or a certain kind of scene,” Rush notes. “I can’t really do that with many people, to be honest. I think especially, shows [were] the real thing that brought artists together in that way. Like, you know, you’re literally playing the same show, and now that’s not really happening as much, it’s kind of like we roll on our own in a way. That’s how I kind of see it continuing for us personally.”
That kind of mindset sets them apart, although they may not realise themselves how rare it is to have a focus on your art instead of tailoring a brand or fitting yourself into a specific scene. The power of each song that they craft together blasts through exactly for that reason, as both writers offer up their hearts on a silver platter instead of regurgitating whatever’s trending that day. EGOISM ultimately break the pretentiousness of presenting a perfect but synthetic experience of life via filtered Instagram Stories, instead delving into a truth behind the scenes that runs so much deeper. It may be less pretty, but it’s their experience of life at home here right now.
“Sydney is one of the loneliest cities,” Eastment offers. “I think I’m realising that more and more. That’s why a lot of people really don’t like living here, is that it’s, I would say one of Australia’s most beautiful cities, if not the most beautiful obviously, but it’s very expensive [and] it’s also very lonely to live here. I think there’s a lot about our culture that is spending the night at home, eating food, drinking wine, watching TV. That’s the culture of the city, which is not very conducive to creating friendships and you end up wanting to stay in these long-term relationships because at least then you’ve got someone with you. I keep saying that, which was part of what the song is about.”
It feels like EGOISM are unafraid to articulate through their music the things that most of us might be too scared to say, lest we interrupt the denial that we’re living in with a semblance of honesty – both about the world around us and with ourselves. Combined with the instantly unforgettable construction of the songs that they write, the only way is up for them, albeit their goals are more humble than achieving world domination. So long as they get to keep working together on the music that means the most to them, the fact that it may not be as lucrative as it once was won’t be a barrier.
“If I can live like a lower middle class life for the rest of my life,” Eastment laughs on the subject of musical success, “I’m happy.”