AUSSIE indie band du jour The Jezabels are a collision of musical contrasts.
From front-woman Hayley Mary's darkly gothic yet theatrical '80s-esque wailing vocals channelling Kate Bush and Cyndi Lauper to guitarist Sam Lockwood's liking for organic folk to drummer Nik Kaloper's hankering for heavy metal, it's a mash-up of ideas and influences that somehow just seems to work.
Adding to the dynamic is classically trained pianist Heather Shannon.
Chatting to Community from the tour bus departing Brisbane airport, the softly spoken 20-something grew up in the surf-punk town of Bondi, but took to classical piano (her grandmother tickled the ivories “a bit”) and along the way, even became partial to LA prog-rockers Tool.
Today, classical European - “Russian, Polish and German stuff” - consumes her otherwise varied musical diet.
“Tori Amos was the first contemporary artist that I really got into because she used the piano in a unique way in pop music,” she said.
“Then I got more into Bjork, Radiohead and Tool.”
Having struck up a friendship with Mary, the then-teenage pair busked around Bondi and “did little shows in pubs and stuff” before following the coastal road south to Sydney four-and-a-half years ago.
They enrolled at Sydney University - Mary focused on gender studies, Shannon studied music - signed up for open mic nights, and later met Lockwood and Kaloper, with whom they write collaboratively.
Three low-key EPs and a lauded LP (the newly released Prisoner) later, and the indie darlings are making a lot of noise with a trio of 2011 ARIA Award nods.
But it seems opting for the independent route - daunting and liberating in equal measures - and staying on it, remains their biggest triumph.
“(Taking) the harder road was a big leap of faith, but we come from different places musically so we have to somehow make it work our own way…if someone was telling us how to do things, I think we'd just all fall apart.”
The Jezabels play the Astor Theatre, Mt Lawley, on November 4.