Foto-Credit © Gil Gilmour
Hello! It is wonderful meeting you virtually!
Heyhey, yes likewise!
Is this whole Zoom thing still strange or turning into normality weirdly?
I’m not an optimist usually, but the positives are cool in a way. I don’t have to go anywhere. When I’m done, I get to go and hang out. I always get really nervous waiting behind the scenes at an interview or whatever. I’m getting pretty used to it, I’m in a good space now. At first I was really overwhelmed with everything, but now I’m staying creative and getting used to the idea of being at home for a bit.
Are you in Melbourne now and how have you spent the last few months?
Yes, I’m in Melbourne in my studio. We’ve gone into a very strict lockdown in the last 5 weeks. We’re allowed out for an hour a day and only within a 5km radius. It’s full on for a lot of people.. I’ve been okay but I’ve got some friends who are really not coping.
It’s heartbreaking watching it from afar.. Right now you quite literally have sun rays coming in through your window. It’s good to remember that too, isn’t it? That with all the darkness there also comes light.
I wrote a lyric, it’s on my first EP – it was on the bonus track on the Measurements Vinyl. ‚The brightest of colors come from the darkest of days‘.
It’s true. But I’m not putting too much pressure on myself to be more creative or less creative, I’m just continuing doing what I’m doing. I’m very lucky, I’ve got my health and my backyard and have been growing a lot of things and knitting a lot.
Brilliant, sounds like you’re making the best of it!
It’s funny, I think I talked about it a lot on tour. Just being like, oh, one day I’ll take six months off and make a garden and well, here we go..
Sold For Sale, your new EP, will be out later this month. Did the finishing overlap with the lockdown?
I came back from America, where I recorded half of it about two weeks before lockdown started. And then we finished the opening track of the EP in lockdown on Zoom with my producer in LA, my drummer was in Geelong. It was really fun, I love new things, and that was the weirdest recording session I’ve ever done.
How did you do it?
It’s a bit nerdy, so there’s this plug-in called Audiomovers and you can send your session audio live and at a really high quality. So I’ve got speakers here and it felt like I was just in another room in the studio. Very weird, but it works and I’ve now done a few collaborations over the internet during isolation. And I bought a piano a couple of months ago and have been writing a lot with it. It’s a shit piano, but I’ve been loving it.
Ha, great! Why did you buy this one?
It’s the same model I had when I was a kid. So it feels like I’m 12 again, very nostalgic. But yes so the EP, I finished it just before lockdown. And we debated a fair but about whether we would put it out or not. I decided, ultimately, that I would rather put it out and get on making more stuff. Otherwise I’d be sitting here with nothing to do. Also there’s a part of me thinking that people are going to get less out of their artists right now and I feel like people need music to escape a fair bit right now.
Do you feel like the appreciation for music has grown?
The appreciation has grown, but so many artists don’t have the motivation to put stuff out now because of not being able to play shows or promote it.
What do you miss the most about touring?
I miss people a lot. I love creation, I love making things and putting them out into the world, but I think my gifts really lie in connecting with people and I miss being able to do that in the most direct way. Putting music out is very indirectly helping a lot of people, but the gratitude and love that I get back when I help a small amount of people in a very direct way feeds me a lot creatively. In the most selfish way possible.
Well but you’ve put it out in the first place, so it’s only fair that you get something back.
Doing a signing line, a meet and greet, hugging 300 people – which seems insane now.. The value I have in just a few people that I see is amazing. My friend who lives around the corner, we both got a Covid test back negative and then hugged each other, it was like a 10 minute hug and it was just beautiful.
I have scrolled around some of the comments on your music videos and loved this one: ‚I love how comfortable you are being the only thing you really can be- yourself‘. It describes your way of sharing music on stage so well – have you ever questioned that?
Yes, I’ve questioned it. I always love performing and I came from a theater background. I find acting phenomenal and actors I have so much respect for. But I felt very dishonest, it just felt strange and disconnected from my culture.. When I started making my own music I was busking in Melbourne, which is very competitive. And I quickly realizes that I wasn’t on ice skates or in a big suit like a bunny or playing base or doing something eye grabbing in the entertainment sense. And in that same way, theatre didn’t feel like me, it’s just not part of my skills. I realized that the only way I could get someone to stop was to look at them and say something real about whatever song I was about to sing.
Nobody can ignore that for sure..
Yeah! It kind of shocked people, but I still have friends that I met on the street from those days. One of my closest friends, I said something along the lines of: ‚this next song is about telling the truths even when you have to tell someone you don’t love them any more.‘ And she looked at me, I finished the song and she picked up her phone and walked off. And she came to a gig months later and said ‚I called my boyfriend and broke up with him, can we just have a chat?‘. I lived with her for three years, we’re really close friends.. I think through two years of busking, I really learned what I am as a performer and who I am and what I want to do on stage. I miss that, because unfortunately face-to-face, eye contact is a hot commodity right now.
Oh definitely. And what a special story you have with your friend! I’ve only seen you perform that one time in Berlin and remember so well how raw and truthful the stories you had shared felt.. Did you already dream of sharing music on stage as a child?
There was a folk festival about 20 minutes from my hometown, which had a bunch of international artists as well as local artists that would come. It wasn’t actually the singing I’d idolized, I always loved when a performer could tell a could story on stage. I remember watching and thinking that it’s really cool, that everyone here got to hear that and we all felt connected together, because we were the only ones who heard it. Even if that story had been told hundreds of times, there’s this specific way they said it that one time. Something happened, someone interrupted and they turned it into a joke or whatever. And I loved it as I kid, I wanted to do exactly that, I wanted to be the person that instigated that feeling of togetherness.
You’ve been on the road and traveling Australia a lot during your childhood too, right? How has that shaped who you are today? Is that when you started writing?
I think I wrote my first song when I was twelve or thirteen. I was touring with my dad and he always gave me an empty notebook and got me to write. He taught me guitar too.. My father is a singer songwriter but he writes for children. His philosophy was always that he didn’t talk to children like they’re children, and he didn’t perform in that way. He always assumed his audience was intelligent and engaged and didn’t need to be spoken down to. And it wasn’t that he was over intellectualizing or anything, they’re children, he would just sit down with a guitar and start chatting.
Mutual respect, I guess?
Yeah! And that is definitely in my DNA. I will never assume my audience need pandering, I like to just talk to them like I would with anyone else. I don’t go out on stage like ‚heeey how are ya dooooing? what’s up Berliiin?‘
Haha, right maybe in another career, wearing that bunny outfit you could give it a shot… I’m going to quote you here, maybe you could go deeper into it? ‚The Critic is about noticing that beauty should be left untouched and some things don’t need to be explained.‘
Yeah, that song I wrote when I watched one of my friends question every move they made in a relationship. You know, do you meditate at all?
I do, yes.
There’s this classic moment where you go. ‚I’m meditating.‘ And then you’re like ‚I’m really good at meditating‘. And then you realize that you’re thinking and you’re not doing it anymore. I kind of feel like that’s what happened with him in his relationship. He went ‚we’re doing really well‘ and then ‚why are we doing really well?‘. Just the act of asking and trying to be perfect is him missing being in it. Missing being in the moment. And I love that concept in science, the observer effect, where you can’t measure something without effecting it. If you touch it at all, you’ve changed it. It’s what I wanted to get out with the music video as well. It’s this cliche, perfect, romantic character with roses and an apple and a nice suit and all this ambition. I then play with the flowers too much and they start to bleed and fall everywhere and I take a big bite of the apple and it tastes shit and I spit it out. They would’ve been fine if I would’ve just left them there and stopped trying to..
Yes. Overanalyze them. And I’ve definitely found myself in those relationships before. Not just romantically, also with friends. Thinking ‚was that thing that I’ve said funny or not?‘. You can just say okay, it was what it was and as long as we’re both here and happy and present it doesn’t matter.
Have you got a favorite or particular meaningful song on the Sold for Sale EP?
The opening track, it’s called Sold for Sale, the title track. It’s all about being grateful for what you have. I was really close to the Californian bushfires that happened last year. A whole town called Paradise was flattened and the people were all homeless and living in the town next door. It was my first American Thanksgiving and everyone came together for a dinner. And they were still, even in that moment, thankful for what they had and it just made me think about everything I had been given and all the friendships that I’ve cultivated and experiences that I made and I started writing half this song. Then I came home from touring and the Australian bushfires hit and they were even worse – I was struck by that same feeling, but at home. I didn’t expect to be feeling it again so soon. I finished the song and wrote about being in love whilst being amongst all of this awful stuff going on and being thankful for the things that you have and the people that get you through.
Pretty special to be able to focus your mind on things to be grateful for during hard times..
Sometimes it takes some really awful things to make you realize what you have.
The EP feels less raw than the music you’ve previously released. Do you agree?
Absolutely! It was much more communal and I had to trust people a lot more. With Measurements it was just me and I was really selective about who I bought in and they only came in three or four times during the whole record to play things like trumpet and what not. Whereas I played next to nothing except for the guitars and pianos on Sold for Sale. It required a lot more trust, I kind of directed people and wanted to say something as a group rather than just my perspective. Because a lot of the songs weren’t just from my perspective, but I was writing about friends and family. I also didn’t want to repeat myself sonically, I like new things. At the end of the EP, I got everyone together and I wrote this Irish ballad inspired song and we all sang it together – it was really beautiful and will actually be on the Vinyl.
And it’s bringing a sort of band vibe in too?
Yes, after touring with a band for so long, I really enjoyed collaborating and getting some push and pull from musicians. Having so many people on board was much more enjoyable in the process. It’s scary but great and really inspiring especially when someone gives something back, maybe they say something about the track that you didn’t even know yourself and you can go and explore that.