In April of 2011, Guineafowl (known better to his family as Sam Yeldham) started walking. But not your general run of the mill strolling. This was different; long and contemplative, it was a journey. From his home in the suburbs all the way to Sydney’s inner city (sometimes further) and back again, there seemed to be no tangible reason for these journeys; he just needed to do it.
The “stupidly big pilgrimages”, as Guineafowl refers to them in coy hindsight, would begin at nightfall. They would begin with Yeldham dressing as though a night on the town was on the cards, but rather than arriving at a club or a gig, he found himself endlessly wandering.“There was something strange to it; going out aimlessly and hoping that the city will justify you throwing yourself really hard into the night. Not clubbing or drinking, but just being there and being out,” explains Guineafowl – an artist who is Sydney born and bred. “I would hope that when I came home I would know a little more about why I did it and myself. I felt like I needed to do it to sleep.”
Perhaps it was the gravesites of Sam’s romantic past that lured him into the concrete jungle (“I visited streets of a first kiss or alleyways of a big fight”) or maybe to uncover the true face of Sydney City. Whatever it may have been, it was a big part of Guineafowl’s musical meandering; the prologue to the stream of writing that became his second EP, "I Hope My City Loves Me Still".
The sophisticatedly vulnerable four-song release captures revelations of nights gone by, from the emotional collapse of a romance on ‘Little Death (Make It Rain)’ to the contentment that partners grief on the heady ‘Heartbreak Highs’, written with Paul Mac. Wrapped neatly in an apex of pop-noir - a movement he did not pioneer, but perhaps just redefines, I Hope My City Loves Me Still lures and swells with these reflections.
But it wasn’t always such a contemplative process for Guineafowl. The Sydney artist emerged all guns blazing at the end of 2009. His accessible mix of '80s nostalgia and pop pandering had him hipster-affiliated, but without the snotty rulings. His one-take video for Botanist made it into Rage’s Top 50 videos that year, and in 2011 his track In Our Circles won the SMAC Award for Best Sydney Song – this was clearly an artist that was loved by many.
First single ‘Little Death (Make It Rain)’ and EP title track ‘I Hope My City Loves Me Still’ are where Guineafowl’s connection to past emotions is not only definable, but emphasised. He calls ‘Little Death…’ his “post-forest fire song”; through driving percussion layered underneath obese synths. Alongside, ‘I Hope My City Loves Me Still’, changes faces, kisses thieves and torches bedrooms; this is one turbulent request for adoration.
Attracted to the immediacy behind dark lyrical content while being just as deeply devoted to the colourful sheen of pop, Guineafowl will have you instinctively moving before you realise he’s singing about darker times. Partly influenced by his creative roots – his immediate family each have enviable careers in the arts and fashion industries – Guineafowl has come into his own: idealism firmly in place. Cleverly producing pleasure from pain.
While the EP pays homage to the city that grew him, "I Hope My City Loves Me Still" is also an abashed rumination of Sydney’s vortex, a place he’s been both completely lost and found.