Foto-© Hella Wittenberg

Was haben wir Stella Donnelly aufgrund ihres 2019er Albums Beware of the Dogs und der charmant-charismatischen Auftritte der Australierin ins Herz geschlossen – dementsprechend waren wir zuletzt überglücklich, als Donnelly ihr neues Album Flood für den 26. August via Secretly Canadian angekündigt hat. Dieses ist das Produkt monatelanger Experimente, schwieriger Momente der Introspektion und einer Menge Übergangsphasen. Wie die vielen Banded Stilt (zu Deutsch Stelzenläufer), die sich über das Cover verteilen, watet Donnelly in unbekanntem Terrain, lernt, wer sie als Künstlerin ist und wie umfassend ein Individuum sein kann.

Während ihrer Zeit in den australischen Regenwäldern von Bellingen, entdeckte Donnelly ihre Liebe zur Vogelbeobachtung. Indem sie der Natur um sie herum mehr Aufmerksamkeit schenkte, konnte sie „das Gefühl verlieren, dass irgendjemand auf mich reagiert. Ich vergaß, wer ich als Musikerin war und es war eine überwältigende Erfahrung, einfach nur zu sein, mein kleines Ich zu sein.“ Sie schrieb 43 Songs, als sie Bellingen verließ und durch das Land zog. „Ich hatte so viele Gelegenheiten, an seltsamen Orten zu schreiben“, bemerkt Donnelly. „Ich hatte oft keine Wahl, wo ich mich aufhielt. Es lässt sich nicht leugnen, dass die Schließung der Grenzen, wenn man keinen Zugang zu seiner Familie hat, den Blick auf die Teile des Lebens verengt, die einem wichtig sind.“ 

Wir trafen sie Australierin beim diesjährigen Maifeld Derby zum Interview – trotz kurzer Nacht und straffem Zeitplan ist sie das blühende Leben und bestens gelaunt.

Hi Stella, thank you for having us.

Your welcome. It’s a pleasure to meet you.

How was your day, Stella?

How was my day? Thank you very much. My day was very long. It’s started at one a clock this morning in Barcelona. We had to get up and catch a taxi to the airport. We fly to Zurich and than to Frankfurt. It’s been a big day. We lost a passport at one point. But we found it. And so it’s been a highs and lows, an emotional day. But now that I’m here. I’m feeling very relaxed, very happy. I had some lovely food and had a shower. Just feeling great. How was your day. I should not ask. It’s about me and my music.

Seems like you were about to explore new shores through Flood?
 Can you describe the way you’ve been through the last years?

Yes. I think because of lockdown you had so much time on your hands. And I kind have relearned piano in a way. I stoped playing piano when I was 14. I got my aunties piano. She gaves it to me. She had to move her house. I just sat there everyday playing. And it was almost like when you are a kid and you are learning an instrument and you got always time. And no outside questions. I don’t think if Covid didn’t happend I wouldn’t have done this. It’s a huge thing for me.

No time to get bored.

No. If I wasn’t playing piano I was birdwatching. I was loving life. A terrible thing gave me the oppurtinity to practise music again for me and not for an audience. It’s a very personal thing which comes to Flood.

And you were in the rainforest.

For a little while, yes, I was in the rainforest and I was in the city of Melbourne. We had the world longest lockdown so it was not much to do exapt playing piano. It was perfect for that.

In the rainforest the circle of life must be overpowering. What experience did you make there?

It was amazing. I had always grewing up in a very dry part of Australia in Perth. It was very interesting to be in the rainforest. Very fertile. You can put a seed in the ground and see a plant at the next day. It’s very crazy. It’s amazing. Kind of suffering to. You can smell the bugs and decay. Everything noisy. You can’t ignore yourself in the rainforest. You feel a bit like your question your life.

Flood sounds rich, light, very personal and maybe a bit vulnerable. How much Stella it is?

A lot. All of it. The whole Stella. Totally. It’s like a very personal album. I wrote like 45 songs.
 And i wristled it down to 11 songs.

How did this work?

I ended up with a piano album. Just me on piano. I ended up a simply, poppy, loud album with songs like Lungs. I ended up with an indie album. And than also like a sort of in between a kind of ambient stuff. Out of these four categories, I chose the best songs and created like a mix. A kind of journey.

So there is a lot more to come?

Yeah. There is. I hope. I’ve recorded them all and they are in my brain.

That’s good.

 What’s your next single?

The next single is called Flood. It’s coming out the next weeks.

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A stork is flying above us. Something like a presage of your upcoming album cover, isn’t it?

I’ve seen them today. There are so beautiful. But the birds on my album are banded stilts. But both black and white and long legs. The crazy thing about storks is that they don’t make any sound. They are silent. That’s pretty interesting. A bird that does not sing but brings you babies instead. My keybordplayer is beeing pregnant. Maybe he is circling her.

How was the process of producing Flood.
 And what is first: music or lyrics?

I think music is always first for me. The piano is interesting new because when I was writing the songs I was playing the vocal melody. Even Lungs I played it before I sang it. And then the words come after that. It’s a little easier to write on the piano. Music first. Then lyrics. And then more music tiles. I produce it when I got the bare basics. The title came at the end. When I saw the photo, a guy took in Australia and it look like a flood to me. I haven’t really recognize that there are birds on it. It looks like a QR Code.

There are a lot of Australin bands touring through Europe or even on this festival.
 Are you connected to each other?

Amyl & The Sniffers are playing right now. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard or Rolling Blackout Coastal Fever play her. Sampa The Great.
 I could not sleep last night becaus of Tame Impala. Our hotel for Primavera was right at the place the played. I could hardly sleep. All the nigt „poom“, „poom“. I had around one hour sleep. Lucky that we are from the same town. We are from Freemantle. So I’ll forgive them.

Are all Australian musicians that close?

Yeah. Especially Tame Impala, Pond and Methyl Ethel and me are all from the same town in Western Australia near Perth. We are an special isolated bubble cause no one else comes to see us.

If you would plan your festival, who would you invited?

There is a great norwegian artist called Jenny Hval. She is amazing. She has a song called Spells, which is my favorite song ever. And actual her producer mixed my record. Lasse Marhaug. He lives about the artic circle in Norway. I was in fourty five degree heatwave in Australia and he was in the middle of his artic winter. It was such a weird situation.

We are happy that you mentioned a female artist. There was one of the biggest German music festivals last weekend, called Rock am Ring. All headliners were white old man. What does it take to get more women in charge?

That’s funny. You can’t be what you can’t see. I think it’s so important for young girls, who go to festivals to see women playing. Because then they pick up a guitar. Like it’s for me hearing Courtney Barnett. That’s why I turned to an electric guitar instead of an acoustic. I threw away my acoustic guitar. So girls can be rockstars. Or do whatever they want. Or they can feel like Sampa The Great. She is also from Australia. Seeing an amazing black woman on stage performing and singing in her language. Performing so powerful.

Primavera had 2019 the motto „The new normal“, which meant a gender equal booking.

Like Megan Thee Stallion headlined last night. She finished the night. Which also kept me awake. But anyway, there are so many amazing artists at Primavera.

But at your festival?
Sampa the Great, Jenny Hval, Sharon van Etten, Julia Jacklin. There’s an amzing first nations artist in Australia called Baker Boy. He’s amazing. He is an amazing dancer and performer. Check him out.

How would your Bedroomdisco look like?

Oh my gosh. It would be cheesy. It would be only Abba. Pure sing along. I wish that I was cooler, that I was down to the best Techno Music. But to be honest all I need is Dancing Queen. And I am there and I am just having the best time. It would be the crazy laughing stupid dance move disco. We did do this every night in lockdown, me and my partner we danced through our kitchen.

Thank you so much, Stella. It was a pleasure to meet you.

Thank you too. I like your blog. It was a honour to talk to you.

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