Jep and Dep w Hannah Marjorie @ the Gasoline Pony

Jep and Dep w Hannah Marjorie
Gasoline Pony, Marrickville, 26 May

I have many friends who are independent musicians and I can tell you that a common thread among them is this: everyone works hard. While we might think that being on stage is great, the fact is for most independent artists, that is only a couple of hours of a day, a couple of times a week. The rest of the time its bloody hard work. The difference between those who ‘make it’ and those who don’t — in terms of exposure — often comes down to luck. So many times I have been to small gigs and walk away thinking: ‘why are those guys not huge?’

This is the case with Sydney folk-duo Jep and Dep, who definitely deserve a bigger following. They are Darren Cross (formerly of Gerling) and Jessica Cassar. The duo are partners in both life and music.

I first discovered Jep and Dep in late 2014, when I attended the launch of their gorgeous album Word Got Out at Django bar. For the uninitiated, their sound can loosely be described as ‘folk-noir’ and relies very much on mood and atmospherics (think a soundtrack to a David Lynch film with a hint of romanticism). The duo’s vocal harmonies are a perfect match for each other: Cross has a dark and heavy Johnny Cash/Nick Cave like voice while Cassar sings with a dreamlike ethereal sound reminiscent of say, Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star). It’s a striking match.

Photo credit: Jep and Dep

Tonight’s setting was the Gasoline Pony in Marrickville, where a small stage was set up next to the entrance door, facing a set out couches. To the left of the stage was the bar which runs pretty much the length of the venue. A small, but enthusiastic crowd had gathered and was treated so a great supporting act in Hannah Majorie and Elena Stone (from All our Exes Live in Texas), who played an upbeat set with a uke and piano accordion.

Soon after Jep and Dep hit the stage, the audience noise had whittled down significantly as their magic began to take hold. Highlights of the night included the ‘Tears in the Rain’ and their new cover of Lana Del Rey’s ‘Honeymoon’. The pair also played songs of their newly finished album — which Cross told me was recorded upstairs in their house between the hours of 11-4am since they live under the flight path —to warm applause. My favourite track was (I think) titled ‘Where’s my Berlin?’, in which the duo reminisces about their time in the German capital. Cross is attempting to persuade Cassar to move there, but she has so far resisted.

The darkness of the music is contrast to the couple’s light banter on stage. Cross tells Cassar she ‘doesn’t have to say hello to everyone who walks through the door’ (she does anyway), and tells the audience of his fear of ‘being run over by a Toyota Rav 4 in the inner-west’.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable gig and a good reminder that live music is alive and well in Sydney. One doesn’t need to go far to see top class talent, but one does need to go. Local talent like Jep and Dep deserve our support and I’d hate for us to lose them to Berlin.

Please guys, don’t leave.

Check out Jep and Dep’s new single ‘Honeymoon’ over on Youtube.

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