SHORT TERM HEDONIST LIVES BY HIS PHILOSOPHY By Amber Love-Green It's a fresh spring morning in Belgrave, a bustling little township nestled within the beautiful and mysterious Dandenong Ranges, just to the east of Melbourne, Australia. Sitting across from me in the cosy Earthly Pleasures Café is a man seemingly as mysterious as these hills. Steve Mileham, or Short Term Hedonist as he is more widely known, doesn't have a lot to say between sips of coffee. Blue eyes gently scrutinise me through a thick curtain of brown hair (slightly dishevelled). It takes a full half-hour before offering anything more than a single sentence response to any of my questions. It's not that he's particularly sullen or unapproachable. My instinct tells me he just wants to be sure of where I'm coming from, intellectually speaking. He has been described, time and again, as being an intensely private individual, and even impenetrable. Finally, however, he warms to the direction my questions are taking, and after ordering another coffee, we are on our way. 'I wouldn't say I'm at all impenetrable. It's all right there in the songs - little moments of joy, hurt, confusion, stupidity, failure. Oh, lots of failure (laughs). It's all more or less autobiographical in thought or action and it's often in a kind of code in the really intense cases.' In a moment of candour Steve admits that the songs take the place of the journal his 'shrink' says he should be keeping. 'But I'm not disciplined enough to write a diary. They tend to be too trivial and always make you cringe when you read them years later! Yet somehow, I'll happily lose myself in the minutest details of a song lyric or chord change for days or weeks just to get the right effect ... is that strange?' Not at all. It was in fact a (different) psychiatrist who originally bestowed upon Steve the label of 'Short Term Hedonist.' 'It's about all I gained from that particular session,' he smiles. 'You see, I tend not to think overly much about the future. I view life as only a moment that exists right now - as a series of 'now' moments if you like, complete within themselves. Therefore, if you dedicate your time to doing something - or are in a frame of mind - that makes you happy and fulfilled, then each moment is meaningful and feeds into each successive moment and your future just takes care of itself, based on the foundation of personal fulfillment you've made into a habit. It strikes me as a ridiculously simple concept, but so easily neglected in today's world due to all the warped expectations of society - job, money, superannuation, filling your life up with stuff you really don't need. All the while you are miserable and your dreams are going down the dunny [Australian slang for toilet]! So, when that shrink chided me for living too much in the moment, I think maybe she failed to recognise the long term benefits ...' Short Term Hedonist's music has been said to possess the ability to capture the mood of a moment so perfectly and completely that audiences have been moved to tears. This is surely the kind of reaction any performer would be pleased with? 'Well, I'm used to making people cry, but for different reasons! Usually it's a girlfriend who is exasperated by my absolute, obsessive single-mindedness about music.' He is quiet for a time, frowning slightly. 'I just cannot pretend that anything is as important - except for my daughter - as making and listening to music. It's saved me from certain doom more times than you'd ever believe.' He won't elaborate any further, but I'm left with the overwhelming impression that this particular Short Term Hedonist has very good credentials for making people cry (for all the right reasons) well into the Long Term Future.