Clare Bowditch: Love, Life, and Song

Clare Bowditch

Clare Bowditch

Gorgeous, selfless, and insanely talented. ARIA award winning singer-songwriter Clare Bowditch has got it all, and chats with us about love, life, and song.

Clare Bowditch has worked her way to success since breaking out onto the scene in the late 1990s with her band Red Raku. The former Rolling Stone Woman of the Year (Contribution to Culture) and YEN Young Woman of the Year (Music) has toured with Gotye and Leonard Cohen and her compositions have put her albums up in the Top Ten. As well as working on an eighth album set to come out in 2015, Clare’s most recent venture is through her role on Channel Ten’s Offspring – which landed her a Logie nomination in 2012.

Offspring has been fun, and I’m looking forward to watching this next season on the box like everyone else,” Clare says.

“When I’m sitting there with my cuppa joe on the sofa watching, I’m a fan like anyone else. I love it – it’s such a clever show, it’s really fun.”

It’s somewhat fitting that Clare’s time spent relaxing in front of the tellie is still so closely intertwined with her work. Describing her work-life balance as “an elusive beast”, Clare spends most of her time occupied with her creative practice – whether it be songwriting or business.

“Some days, I’ll drop the kids off at school and I’m literally sitting at the desk typing all day, doing administration, and then I might fly to la and write a song with someone.”

“I quite enjoy the variety of it, but I think we all live with this idea that there’s someone who is doing it better, who is balancing it better, who is in more control of themselves – but we’re all doing the best we can.”

Clare has a history of morphing business with pleasure, having worked for years in the studio with her manager, producer, and father of her three children, Marty Brown.

So, what’s it like having love in the studio? According to Clare, “it is hot, hot, hot baby!” But don’t get too excited – the power couple have created rules to ensure they really do record when they ‘record’, and spend family time together after hours.

“Marty and I are like seven different people depending on the time of day that we’re working together, but I really enjoy the straight forwardness – we worked together for years before we fell in love,” Clare explains.

“But a couple of years ago, we had to get really conscious about it and set rules for ourselves. We don’t talk about work after certain hours and we definitely try not to talk about it in bed.”

Compassionate and modest, Clare considers her relationship with Marty to be “very typical of a lot of people in today’s day and age who are multipassionate sorts.”

“We are trying to do the things we love in the world, and the things that make sense to us and that mean something, and we’re doing it in conjunction to our families. It’s not an either/or. It’s not that classic ‘80s model of either having a family or career. We get very lucky when we have partners who support us in that.”

Having been a hit on the scene since the ‘90s, the Aussie singer is definitely doing something right. But despite her unquestionable talent, Clare feels the key to her longevity is not in her abilities but in her willingness to take control of her career and meet her goals in her own time.

“One of the great advantages I had was that there was no rush. It was not always about the quickest way to make money, but continuing to understand that as an entertainer that I’m always in the position to service. I’m there to bring something into people’s lives, and that’s what keeps me going.”

“I’m infinitely inspired by humans trying to do stuff – it’s really that simple. I see so many people in today’s day and age who are worthy of stories, so the thing that inspires me the most are people’s emotional lives.”

Giving the gift of song to the same people who have inspired her is one of the many ways in which Clare offers her passion and knowledge. Last year, Clare founded Big Hearted Business – a success made possible through one of the biggest crowd-funding campaigns in Australia.

“Big hearted business is not just for musicians – it’s for anyone who runs a business to do something good in the world,” Clare describes.

“I got really frustrated with seeing incredible people with great ideas and huge hearts having no idea about how to run a business and make a living doing the thing that they love. About two years ago, we decided to do something about it and we put on a conference and built a website about it.”

Big Hearted Business aims to support business minded Australians, and you can find it at bigheartedbusiness.clarebowditch.com.

BY STEPHANIE ESLAKE

This article featured in Warp Magazine, July 2014. http://www.warpmagazine.com.au.

Image source: Warp Magazine.

 

 

 

Saskwatch: Nose Dive

Soulful Saskwatch release new album

Soulful Saskwatch release new album

Soulful Melbourne nine-piece Saskwatch are celebrating the release of their new album Nose Dive. Trumpeter Liam McGorry talks friendship, The X-Files, and playing for children in Spain.

Nose Dive is quite a shift away from Saskwatch’s first release Leave it all Behind, which came about rather unintentionally.

“We started out busking without any original songs and we weren’t trying to be a band or anything, but it slowly came together over two or three years,” Liam remembers.

“People saw us busk and we started playing sets of covers then started writing our own songs. I feel like the first album represents this progression from busking on the street to being an actual band, because it’s literally the first 12 songs that we wrote and rehearsed.”

Liam says Nose Dive saw the band give themselves more of “a push to write better songs and make it a bit more into the context of an album rather than just a bunch of songs. While we’d written songs before, we wrote because we felt we had to, not because we wanted to be better at writing. That’s the mentality that we have now.”

Liam can scarcely remember a time when he wasn’t making music. While he started off with the bugle (I know, right?), he eventually graduated to trumpet and has stuck with the brass bombshell ever since.

“When I was in year three, apparently I just came home from school and my parents were like, ‘you want to learn trumpet? Ok, sweet’. I started on bugle for a year to try and get technique down because I was pretty young, and then I just took it from there.”

“I’ve also played a bit of guitar and bass – I tried trombone as well but wasn’t very good at it.”

All of Liam’s practice, practice, practice compelled him to start thinking bigger about what he wanted to do with music – and like a rebellious and curious young teenager, he used to sneak his way into bars and clubs to watch music played live.

“A lot of my high school teachers were great players, and I wanted to see them play regular gigs outside of school. I’d be 15 or 16 and sneak in the back door to the gigs and watch them. Seeing them playing in bars and clubs in Melbourne was one of the major reasons I started to take music seriously.”

From a passionate school boy, Liam has grown into a talented young man – and with his experience he is able to kick back and enjoy the work involved in his successful musical career.

“I don’t really see it as a career, but more like playing with friends. Just getting better at playing and writing and just having fun when we play.”

The trumpeter certainly hasn’t let the fame get to his head, and admits “I didn’t think we’d get such success – we are happy doing what we are doing, playing with friends. I feel very lucky that we’ve done half of what we have done – putting out an album and touring internationally. It’s beyond what I thought we’d do.”

One of Liam’s most memorable experiences from his time spent entertaining overseas was during a festival in the fiery nation of Spain.

“The Spanish people are really fanatical about music. It was amazing – they were so lovely to us and they loved the show. It was a great experience, but really confronting as it was the first time I’d played to a non-English speaking audience as well.”

You know you’re onto a great thing when your music crosses the barriers of language – and age groups.

“We also played at a kid’s version of the festival to about 25 Spanish kids, which was pretty weird but great.”

The band have been crazy busy since their sophomore release, playing shows and festivals right around the country – but Liam likes to keep the momentum going strong.

“When you’re doing things every day, having days off can be a bit confronting, particularly when it’s your own original music and something you can’t turn off or switch off. It’s not like a day job; I’m thinking about it 24/7. It’s not really a downside, but it’s just about trying to switch off.”

When Liam does get some time to himself, he relaxes like the rest of us – binging on The X-Files (he’s currently up to season three), and hanging out with his mates.

He also passes on his skills to young trumpet students as a tutor, and holds an enjoyable job at Melbourne’s Northside Records.

“It’s amazing working in a record store because you just listen to whatever you want. It’s great to be exposed to new music and getting into stuff you wouldn’t normally listen to.”

This certainly gives Liam a break from the original Saskwatch hits the muso thinks about on a daily basis – along with his eight other band members.

“Being around people 24/7, you can get sick of them – but with our band, we’ve got nine people so it’s a bit hard to get sick of each other.”

“It’s been sort of a blessing. It’s really easy to travel with the band and everyone has their own thing they’re good at and sticks with it. We’ve evolved into this sort of self-sufficient unit because we’re touring a lot and playing a lot of shows, and we’re all in the same boat so we know what it feels like.”

“I feel very lucky and I hope that’s translated into the album”

Though Liam describes the band as a “real tight unit,” the album isn’t all about the joy and friendship they experience during their time rehearsing, gigging, and touring together.

“We’re trying to give a well-rounded view, not just about being happy all the time. Sometimes everything isn’t ok. Things are not just black and white – but different shades in between. The album is trying to fill out the spectrum emotionally.”

BY STEPHANIE ESLAKE

This article featured in Warp Magazine, July 2014. http://www.warpmagazine.com.au.
Image source: Warp Magazine.

 

 

Tim Campbell: High School Disco

Tim's High School Disco

Tim’s High School Disco

 

Tim Campbell was born to entertain. The House Husbands, Dancing with the Stars, and Home and Away talent has spent years working his way through the Aussie arts scene as a singer, actor, and TV host. He’s with new release High School Disco, bringing us the best hits from the ’70s and ’80s.

So how does it feel to spend a life entertaining others in every way possible?

“The fact that I can do a job I love and still pay the house off, I’m very lucky and very happy,” Tim says.

“The good thing is that I’ve been able to go through different mediums – I love that I can mix it up and still call it a career.”

While he may certainly seem like a natural, Tim was in fact a late bloomer when it comes to the performing arts. Raised in a family whose careers were centred on accounting and finance, the choice to become an entertainer was supported, but unexpected.

“I know people who had been into entertaining since they were five, but I was into sport instead. I used to play soccer and athletics. But in our school we had variety nights, where I would do some sketch comedy moments and from that I kind of discovered it.”

“I grew up with quite a good work ethic, and my family knew I would look after myself. Now, they love the fact that I’ve found my own niche with what I do and I’m making a great career out of it. But touch wood – I’m still paying the house off! It’s all been good so far.”

Tim and his band have spent the last few years performing at corporate events, private gigs, and public festivals. His audiences have long asked him if he’d recorded – but it was in 2013 that the idea came of creating an album with songs that “everybody loves.”

“These songs were from that time in high school where everything was care free. These songs aren’t just great to dance to – they take you back to a memory, to a time that was just so easy and fun.”

Songs like ‘Shake Your Groove Thing’ and ‘I’m a Believer’ are revived through Tim’s new release High School Disco, taking him back to the days of his youth.

“I grew up in the western suburbs of Sydney, so any song that’s got a bit of that ‘80s bogan vibe to it like ‘My Sharona’ or ‘What I Like About You’, that’s the thing I like.”

“Even though I look like a clean cut game show host, my voice really suits ‘80s rock and ‘70s punk rock. I used to have moments playing ‘Funky Music with the lights down and I really did feel like a rock star when I was singing it – but unfortunately, I don’t look like one! But that’s ok.”

Tim confesses these songs come with the vision of making mums and dads feel young again, but affirms that even for younger generations, the “melodies are so catchy that even if you haven’t heard them, they’re still so fun.”

 

BY STEPHANIE ESLAKE

This article featured in Warp Magazine, June 2014. http://www.warpmagazine.com.au.

 

 

Hallucinogenic: Ben Lee talks Ayahuasca

Ben Lee talks new album

Ben Lee talks new album

One of the most successful singer-songwriters of our time, Ben Lee has produced hit after Indie-pop hit – picking up four ARIAs, two APRA Awards, and copious nominations along the way. The Aussie musician chats about his new album Ayahuasca and the spiritual, hallucinogenic substance which inspired it.

The Sydney-sider first broke onto the scene in 1993 as a ripe young 14-year-old with his band Noise Addict, after a rocking Nirvana concert inspired him to work up to gigs of his own. He didn’t waste any time jumping out as a solo artist – at 16, he recorded his first solo album Grandpaw Would and staked out the United States with an international tour.

With his celebrated hits ‘Catch My Disease’ and ‘We’re All in This Together’ appearing in television series, films, and even the closing ceremony of the 2006 Commonwealth Games, Ben has marked his place in the West as a hugely successful solo artist. Now, with a well-established career under his belt, Ben has the space to make a few changes to his music, giving us something a little different to what we might expect.

Ben’s latest release Ayahuasca delves into the singer’s interest in spirituality, his search for joy, and what it means to be human, through an intense aural journey. Ayahuasca (or the “death vine”) is a South American vine with hallucinogenic properties. Brewed into tea and consumed ceremoniously by natives for thousands of years, ayahuasca is said to evoke a death and rebirth experience through which one may look deeply into their own soul and connect with their spirit through the divine.

The songs on Ayahuasca each represent a moment in Ben’s spiritual journey, and he gives us an insight into the experience of the vine and its impact on his music.

STEPH: Tell me a bit about your new release Ayahuasca, and how you translated the experience of this hallucinogenic tea into your music.

BEN: Spiritual paths and religions have always used various techniques to create amplified states of consciousness. Mantra, prayer, meditation, plant medicines all do similar things: they give us a different perspective from which to view our lives. Hopefully, that is a perspective that shows our errors and mistakes clearly so that we can rectify them definitely. I have a lot of gratitude for my experiences with that particular medicine, and I just tried to make a collection of songs in gratitude to it. My album, much like the medicine itself, is not for everyone. It’s quite abstract and impressionistic. But I’ve always aspired to be an artist who followed their natural rhythm as opposed to constantly chasing hits.

S: How did you first come across the tea?

B: I had read about it since I was a teenager. A friend of mine had been working with it for a while and I saw some positive changes in him. He had stopped drinking and taking drugs and was beginning to mature in his relationships to women. These changes were definitive and encouraged me to see what was going on with this practice.

S: How would you describe the experience of ayahuasca and how has it changed the way you feel or the way you look at the world?

B: It’s a death and rebirth experience. All spiritual practices contain the death-rebirth experience in different ways. We have to allow the old to die and be born anew into the present moment, with all of its complexity and glory. It’s hard to describe the death experience. It can be very scary. But the larger the sacrifice, the larger the victory.

S: You’ve often talked about spirituality in relationship with your music. What was the most intense spiritual experience or moment you’ve ever had?

B: Marriage. It’s an ongoing spiritual experience. An ongoing experiment in growth, compromise, alchemy, and letting go.

S: How have your fans responded to the drastic change in style, mood, and themes of your music since you first started?

B: My music has changed many times over the years, and generally, some drop off when I change, and other new ones are gained.

S: What to you makes a really good voice that fans will continue to be drawn to?

B: Authenticity, honesty, and inspiration. A good voice is not really even the voice of the singer anymore, it is the universal song that is being sung through them. Communicating the psychological truth of a song can be a complicated process. It’s often more about getting out of the way, rather than tricks or techniques.

 

BY STEPHANIE ESLAKE

 

This article featured in Warp Magazine, June 2014. http://www.warpmagazine.com.au. 

Image source: Warp Magazine.

 

 

 

Russell Morris: Van Diemen’s Land

Russell Morris

Russell Morris releases new album

Aussie legend and ARIA Hall of Fame inductee Russell Morris is back with new album Van Diemen’s Land – the second in a trilogy which shares stories of our nation’s past. His historically inspired album features special guests from bands including Midnight Oil, The Living End, Daddy Cool, and Chain. Russell tells us why it’s important to remember what makes us who we are.

STEPH: What sparked your interest in old Australian stories enough to share them with the world through a trilogy of albums?

RUSSELL: When I did the first one, I only did it as a labour of love. I just wanted to do a blues-roots album about Australia. But once I finished it, I thought there were so many other stories I wanted to write about. There are so many wonderful stories that make us who we are – the good, the bad, and the ugly stories; they’re why we’re Australian.

S: Why did you dedicate your latest release Van Diemen’s Land – thylacine and all – to Tasmania?

R: I thought I would start there because that was where we started; where all the petty criminals were brought out. Tasmania started as a penal colony. Then they started settling and that was our beginning.

I am always down in Tasmania working. I really love the drive from Launceston to Hobart – we always stop at the windmill in Oatlands and I’ve been to Port Arthur and looked at so many things. One of the main writers that I write with, Gary Paige, lives in Hobart, too. It is a stunning place but the funny part about it is, for the people who were taken here initially, it would have been a horror place. It wouldn’t have been great scenery to them – they would have been scared of spiders and snakes, and it would have been alien. It would have been very intimidating. The great part about what made Australians ‘Australians’ it that the ones who survived, the genes that have been passed on to us, have made us a very strong nation.

S: Do you think Australians are growing more or less attached to our nation’s history?

R: If I had have said to you 100 years ago, ‘wasn’t your grandfather a convict?’ you would have absolutely panicked inside and said ‘no, there’s no convicts in our family’. The stigma was absolutely appalling. You could not be associated with convicts – it was very bad. In a way, that started a cultural cringe where Australians didn’t talk about their history and how great it was. But it’s completely changed now – you see so many people looking for a convict in their lineage.

One of my great examples of that was when I came down to Tasmania with a friend of mine who was Taswegian. We were looking at one of the great bookshops and he said to me, ‘look at this – there’s my great, great, great grandmother, unbelievable!’. We were reading it, and the title of the book was Whores, Strumpets, and Bad Women of Tasmania. But he was delighted. That’s why we’re Australian. All those little bits of tapestry that we can put together have made us who we are.

S: With some of the nation’s most famous hits such as ‘The Real Thing’ under your belt, do you find it more fulfilling to share these stories of our past or to bring joy to and unite people through rock music?

R: I love to share the stories. I really like that feeling of sharing a history, and with some people it’s letting them know about things they didn’t know about.

S: How are you expecting Tasmanians to receive your album?

R: I hope they’re happy that I’ve used the thylacine on the front. There’s also a line in there that says, ‘whoever thought I’d end up in this hell hole?’ so I hope people don’t think, ‘why would you say that about Tasmania – it’s a beautiful place!’. It is a gorgeous place, but back then it would have been horrifyingly scary. Tasmania takes the cornerstone on this album, that’s for certain.

 

BY STEPHANIE ESLAKE

This article featured in Warp Magazine, May 2014. http://www.warpmagazine.com.au.
Image source: Warp Magazine.

Brotherly Love: Loon Lake

Image

Anyone with a brother or two might cringe at the idea of forming a family band. But for the boys in Loon Lake, music and brotherly love are a perfect match. Guitarist Sime Nolan shares with us the ups and downs of having three bros in one band ahead of their March 29 gig at the Republic bar.

Nic, Sam, and Sime are first and foremost a band of brothers. Joined by their good mates Tim Lowe and Dan Bull, the siblings share a unique bond that allows for free flowing musical ideas (and the occasional family tiff).

“It’s really good – most of the time,” Sime jokes.

“You can say what you want more, though I think the conflicts can blow up easier too. We’re pretty open with each other and we get things done quickly, and that’s how it is. In other situations, you mightn’t say what you really feel all the time, but we can.”

When asked about how he balances his family and professional relationships, Sime says “it can get tricky, but it’s always fine – we’re brothers forever.”

With a big age difference between the siblings, Sime says they grew up rarely in the same place at the same time. But once they all moved down to Melbourne, the brothers recruited Nic’s best mate Tim on bass, and guitarist Dan who had met Sam while travelling in Turkey.

Though last year’s hit single ‘Cherry Lips’ reached number 29 on the Triple J Hottest 100, the boys had just been taking life as it comes, with Sime admitting, “we really did not intend to start a band.”

“We were just playing for fun, having a couple of Thursday night get-togethers and jams. Then we started making a few of our own tracks, put them on the internet and realised they started to get a bit of interest, so we pushed a lot harder and that was four years ago, now.”

Although the band didn’t anticipate their current levels of success, they’re working as hard as they can to balance their commitments to music with their full time jobs.

“Music is a bit of a juggling act. Things have got a lot more intense with the band and we all have to fit in our day jobs around it.”

A full time school teacher himself, Sime doesn’t waste a minute and even snuck in some composition for their debut album Gloamer at his work.

“I wrote two of the songs on this album in my classroom in the lunch break – you don’t know when they’re going to strike.”

The album came about as all members of the band were experiencing big life changes as well as working – Sam and Dan each suffered from big break ups, and Sime was graced with a new baby boy, Lenny.

“I hope he plays an instrument – but I’m not going to make him. I hope he enjoys it because it’s a good past time. When I play guitar he seems to really like it.”

Hobart audiences can expect to enjoy it too when Loon Lake hits up the Republic – and Sime says he’s equally looking forward to making it down to the island.

“The only time we’ve been down to Tassie is for Falls, and we had a ball. We thought Tassie was really beautiful so we’re stoked to come down there again.”

Loon Lake will bring their Good Times Tour to the Republic Bar on March 29 and the gig will also feature special guests The Middle Names. Tickets are available via http://www.loonlake.com.au.

By Stephanie Eslake

This article featured in Warp Magazine, March 2014
http://www.warpmagazine.com.au
Image: Warp Magazine

 

Christopher Coleman Collective: Album Debut

Chris Coleman has just released his debut album. Image source: Warp Magazine

Chris Coleman has just released his debut album. Image source: Warp Magazine

One of Tasmania’s brightest rising stars Christopher Coleman this week hit up the Spiegeltent with the world premier of his debut album Christopher Coleman Collective. The Ten Days on the Island gig marked the album’s international launch and Chris shares his thoughts on the release

After scoring first place in the performance category of the 2013 Telstra Road to Discovery award for his hits Go Home and Little Trumpets, Chris is back on the scene louder than ever. Joined by his best mates and band members Michael Panton, Liam O’Leary, Sam Stansall, and his brother Jonathon, Chris will sang to us the intimate tracks off his new album – ensuring “Tassie hears it first.”

“I like to let the music tell those stories. I’m far better at communicating through lyrics than public speaking. I think you just need to listen to it.”

The album, which was 25 months in the making, also gave the chance for others to sing through their own experiences as Chris worked closely with the Choir of High Hopes on ‘Go Home’ – the first single and first track on the album. The choir unites those challenged with by poverty, disability, homelessness, and other disadvantages and encourages hope and friendship through song. After seeing the group perform at the Huonville Town Hall, Chris was inspired to include them in his recording and film clip.

“It was just a beautiful and uplifting performance that moved me enough to be really inspired to want to do things. I would recommend it for any human to go and watch a show like that. It was individuals telling their stories as well as songs written as a group, just about getting up and getting on with it all.”

“It was inspiring to keep living as much as to create anything around it. It was a great collaboration to make.”

Chris is no stranger to life’s challenges, and has had it tough himself as a sufferer of bipolar disorder. Braving his condition, Chris has turned his emotions into tools of musical expression which can be heard in the “real mix of highs and lows” in his new release.

“The album was a very arduous project. Not out of being a perfectionist about it, more just falling in and out of love with the idea of doing a full length album and believing in it and not believing in it. I guess anyone has the doubts about the worth of doing anything.”

Despite his challenges, and despite being the recipient of a national award which will send him to Nashville, and despite having toured around the world (all under the age of 25), Chris is satisfied that this album is the best thing he’s ever done.

“I think my biggest achievement is finishing this album. The Telstra program was certainly the biggest amount of exposure I’ve received for anything I’ve ever done, but in terms of personal satisfaction or being proud about it, the album’s first.”

STEPHANIE ESLAKE

This article featured in Warp Magazine, March 2014
http://www.warpmagazine.com.au