Stephanie Eslake

Arts journalist, editor, and educator

“The Future of Music”: Lolo Lovina

Lolo Lovina. Image sourced Warp Magazine.

When you live in a multicultural society, world music is right at your doorstep. Aussie band Lolo Lovina have brought together musicians from all corners of Europe to create a melting pot of gypsy madness, and are bringin’ their thang to the Homestead on February 7. Lead singing gypsy Sarah Bedak tell us why Lolo Lovina is, according to Brian Eno himself, “the future of music.”

Lolo Lovina has Ukrainian, Romanian, Hungarian and Brazilian band members – but despite their differing backgrounds, they’re able to achieve the perfect balance of tastes and traditions.

“We have matching skill, passion, drive, dedication and desire to play and celebrate our peoples’ music as well as we possibly can,” Sarah says.

“We are blessed to have found each other and to have this amazing opportunity to work with one another.”

After meeting in Serbia three years ago, the musicians “clicked perfectly, musically” and got straight into recording and performing styles ranging from tango, British pop, flamenco, and gypsy swing.

“A lot of people replicate gypsy music, but what we are doing right now is the total real deal and we’re very excited about it!”

Though Sarah herself was brought up in Sydney, her Budapest-Romani gypsy background is the essence of her music.

“I am in love with gypsy music,” Sarah says.

“It is the sound of who I am. It is in my blood.”

Sarah continues a long history of performing gypsy music, with family relations to violinist Roby Lakatos, folk composer and violinist Danko Pista, and trapeze catcher father who travelled around Europe in a gypsy circus. It’d be safe to assume some incredible stories are told over the family dinner table.

“My family played jazz illegally during the Communist occupation of Hungary, in dug out hidden basements. Can imagine how cool that would have sounded?”

Lolo Lovina may not perform for us in a hidden basement, but the band will be sure to bring their vibrant, traditional, and overwhelmingly sultry music to our Tassie ears.

“Our music is impassioned and alive. Sexuality is, of course, a part of this. I feel most myself when I’m singing and I focus on giving love and gratitude to the audience for being with us. I hope the audience is inspired to celebrate life when they hear our music.”

Join Sarah in Lolo Lovina at the Homestead at 9.30pm on February 7. Tickets available at the door.


This featured in Warp Magazine February 2014


2014 Australia Day Honours

Many Australians were acknowledged for their contributions to the community in this year’s Australia Day honours. Professor Kate Warner and Peter Campbell were two of the Tasmanians who received an Order of Australia award for years of dedication to the state and country.

Professor Warner, who was made a Member of the Order (AM), has been responsible for significant law reform in the areas of sexual offenses, including changing the definition of rape. Peter, who received a Medal of the Order (OAM), has witnessed and reported some of the most memorable moments in yachting history through his work as a sports journalist.

More on Professor Warner and Peter can be found through the links to my articles for The Mercury’s Sunday Tasmanian below:

Professor Warner:

Peter Campbell:

Zombies, Lesbians, and Tasmanian Film: Rebecca Thomson

Rebecca Thomson. Image supplied.

Rebecca Thomson is modest when it comes to her knowledge of the silver screen.

“I definitely cannot describe myself as a film buff,” Rebecca admits.

“I hang out with people who quote from feature films and they just pull references here or there. I’ve seen the same films and I can’t remember anything – I’m left with feelings and impressions.”

Despite her inability to quote from movies word for word, Rebecca plays an active role in the state’s film industry as one of its finest directors. The Tasmanian born mother of three has achieved global recognition for her locally produced short films. Her productions have won her a number of awards and have exported contemporary Tasmanian culture around the globe through more than 60 festivals.

Although she started out in musical theatre acting during her Ogilvie High School days, Rebecca soon became interested in what goes on behind the camera and looked to filmmaking – a move influenced by her fascination with otherworldly tales.

“I’ve always been attracted to stories that have a fantasy nature. In my teen years, I definitely went through a horror period. I like things which take me out of real life.”

Tied to Tasmania by her family and love for the state, Rebecca decided to follow her dream of becoming a top Tassie filmmaker.

“I thought if I’m going to stay in Tasmania, then I’ve got to make things happen for myself. I just loved the idea that film was a way that you could tell stories from Tasmania that could reach the world.”

After having her first child Spike, now 6, Rebecca entered her first film into Tropfest and confesses it “wasn’t well done, but it was a start.”

Now nurturing two more children, Coco, 6 and Sunny, 1, Rebecca has directed six short films and is planning her first feature after winning the 2012 Holding Redlich Pitch Competition.

Rebecca stood before hundreds of Australia’s top producers to present her idea for a feature length version of her hilarious 2010 short comedy Cupcake: A Zombie Lesbian Musical. Receiving first prize and a trip to this year’s Cannes Film Festival, she secured Screen Tasmania funding for script development and attracted producer Martin Brown, who worked with Baz Luhrmann on Romeo and Juliet and Moulin Rouge.

“Winning the pitch was really important. It was probably a good thing for lots of people in Tasmania because they probably thought, ‘if Rebecca can do it, I can do it!’.”

Rebecca is conscious of the difficulties faced in shooting a film with three young children, but is no stranger to having her family behind the scenes.

“Making a film is not a family friendly activity. They’re going to have to be zombies in it – they’re going to have to be all involved.”

Rebecca’s husband, Paul, and their children joined her in Cannes, exploring the film festival and even starting a film among themselves, set in the magnificent castles and ruins of France.

Wisely, Rebecca used the once in a lifetime opportunity to build relationships for further down the track in her filmmaking career.

“Everywhere you go in that town – beach, restaurant – the person next to you will always be in the film industry so there’s networking opportunities everywhere. It can be quite overwhelming because there’s things going on every hour of the day. I hardly saw any films, sadly – I was too busy trying to meet people.”

Rebecca’s experience taught her that coming from a small community like Tasmania isn’t an inhibiting factor in pursuing even the biggest of dreams.

“You can become very small minded being here about what’s possible, what standard you should be aiming for and who is accessible. Going to Cannes made me think beyond and think bigger. Everybody I talked to was very interested in the idea of Tasmania. I think the idea of setting my film in Tasmania is good – it does have this exotic appeal.”

While Rebecca’s films often feature cultural references exclusive to Tassie, many of her productions delve into the issues of gender equality and themes of femininity.

Along with Cupcake: A Zombie Lesbian Musical, her 2010 LGBT erotic sci-fi Slashed and this years’ black comedy The Jelly Wrestler also explore her interest in female sexuality. Her collection has been screened and won awards at LGBT and women’s film festivals around the world.

“I’m always naturally drawn to female protagonists and wanting to share that experience. Maybe it’s growing up as a middle class white female in Australia. I don’t think we have gender equality yet, and maybe we never will in certain respects. I won’t pretend that I can do it with my films alone, but it’s something I definitely believe in for people with different sexualities to have equality.”

Rebecca’s feminist themes are comically presented in her films through sci-fi and horror. She recently teamed up with filmmaker Briony Kidd to create Tasmania’s Stranger With My Face Horror Film Festival, which has been given a place in the Top Five Coolest Women’s Film Festivals in the world by MovieMaker Magazine.

“Stranger With My Face certainly found an audience, and I think the fact that it is so niche is really attractive to a certain group of people.”

While Rebecca anticipates big things to come for Tassie, her own productions undoubtedly help put the state on the map.

“There’s a sense that the Tassie film industry is really building. There’s a lot of exciting things happening. I would love to be able to make films and survive in Tasmania, from Tasmania, but for me the focus is more to make films from Tasmania that people want to watch. The most satisfying thing is taking an idea and seeing it up on screen and have other people enjoying it as well.”


This featured in Aphra Magazine, January 2014

Review: Francesca De Valence


Francesca De Valence’s new EP Things That We Had Said can’t be defined by a single genre. It’s pop, it’s smooth jazz, and it even features classical instrumentation. Replacing ambition with honesty, the release allows for an emotional experience that’s rare to find in an era of electronic and dance music. Francesca demonstrates confidence in her wide vocal range, but her true strength lies in her lower tones. Her voice is raw, charmingly imperfect, and impossible to tune out.

‘You Know What You Did’ is a lively opener and features an unpredictable section of improvised scat, hinting at Francesca’s background in jazz. The actual composition of the vocal lines and chord progressions is not unlike Amanda Palmer’s in the Dresden Dolls – but without the hyperactivity and darkness of punk cabaret and instead heralding a far smoother jazz vibe. This may only be obvious to the avid Dresden Dolls listener (like yours truly).

‘Beautiful Night’ is both pleasant and raw, showcasing Francesca’s subtle vibrato through honest vocals. The use of marching snare drum effectively builds momentum in the song, and its style may be considered more typically pop than the surrounding tracks. Title track ‘Things That We Had Said’ is bold, resolute and enjoyably repetitive.

‘Desire’ marks the pinnacle of the singer’s smooth vocals, which glide over the melody line without break, as though every word is combined into one. Gorgeously romantic, it’s unarguably the most emotional track and may be a little confronting to anyone who has experienced a recent heartache. Francesca herself has admitted that it’s one of her favourites on the album and along with its emotional impact, it also opens with a harpsichord passage which pays homage to her classical training.

‘Desire’ makes the following song ‘The Fighter’ feel uplifting through its highly contrasting beat. This track is catchy and tense despite its major feel. While it starts simply, it has great scope for emotional build and provides evidence of the amount of thought behind the ordering of songs on the EP to ensure a perfect balance of moods for the listener’s journey.

Things That We Had Said is an understated release, and through its simplicity and creative concoction of styles it achieves a timelessness that will see it thrive through generations to come.


This review featured in Aphra Magazine:

Back from the Other Side: Tumbleweed

Tumbleweed back on the road. Image source: Warp Magazine.

A lot of the ‘90s bands we knew and loved got lost in the passing of time. It’s rare to hear our old favourite groups rejoin to release new material – but that’s just what Aussie band Tumbleweed have done after 15 years. If you’ve wondered where they’ve been, they’ll share their Sounds from the Other Side with Tasmania at the Brisbane Hotel this January 25. Tumbleweed singer Richie Lewis fills us in on what we’ve missed.

The Tumbleweeds are classic Aussie stoner-rock. The boys got together in 1990 in Tarrawanna and made fame with their post-psychedelic grunge that landed them on the same stages as Nirvana, Mudhoney and The Lemonheads as a support act. After years apart, they have just released sixth studio album Sounds From The Other Side.

Richie says the decision to release new material was made in a moment of clarity, after realizing the band had been performing the same music for far too long.

“We thought, ‘what are we doing? Are we going to continue doing the same old set that’s nearly 20 years old for the rest of our lives?’. Bands, by their nature, create. So we sort of had to decide whether we were an act or a band.”

More than a decade has passed since the band turned out new music, but it hasn’t stopped the boys from doing what they do best.

“We tried to backtrack to when we were last together and pick up the pieces from that point. A lot of it happens naturally – we worked together as a collective unit and sort of feed off each other’s ideas.”

Richie reckons these ideas are even better than before, as each band member has brought back new influences and experiences gained from working with other musicians in different genres. 

“In 15 years, you do learn a little more about what you do and the craft of your instrument and songwriting, and you’re influenced by a lot of different views. But it’s happened subconsciously. It’s natural growth as writers and musicians.”

“A lot of the differences we used to think were uncool and divisive in the band actually create the flavour and the energy. Those differences are what makes the individuals the individuals.”

Tumbleweed came up with 19 demo songs over two years for Sounds From The Other Side. Although the 13 that made the final cut are a mixture of older, unreleased songs and newly written ones, the consistency of sound came “effortlessly” to the boys and goes to show that some instincts can’t be swayed.

What has changed, Richie says, is his confidence in himself both as a musician and a man.

“I have a lot clearer idea about who I am and I think everybody else in the band has improved with playing. I think we’ve just improved as human beings – we’ve learned how to tolerate things. We’ve learned acceptance and how to exist in a good way, and also be able to enjoy music.”

Despite still making that good old Tumbleweed sound, the improvements that have stemmed from the years apart are audible in the new release. Through direct and honest lyrics, Richie sings with less restraint and is able to truly let go through his vocals. This is also due to the band’s matured outlook and absence of the “youthful illusions of grandiose.”

“Now, when there’s less pressure to actually make a living or a career, we can get together and enjoy the process of creating and the process of playing together.”

“This time, everything was in our court. We could sort of do whatever we want. There was no expectation for us to put out anything, so there was no pressure and I think it allowed for a little bit more freedom, a little less stress and a little bit more purity in the creative process.”

While the band weren’t too sure what to expect from their fans after so many years have gone by, Richie has found that staying true to himself as a musician has secured his listeners – and even inspired them.

“We’ve been really lucky to have some really loyal fans for a long time. I was really conscious of making something that wasn’t going to be too far removed from what we’ve done in the past and something that they’d be happy with.”

“They’ve embraced it as a part of our music just like the old stuff they fell in love with when they were teenagers or early 20s, so they’ve really sort of taken it on as another Tumbleweed record.”

“There’s a lot of people now that listen to Tumbleweed stuff that weren’t even born or were just getting born when our first stuff was coming out. They’re discovering the older stuff after they’re discovering this new stuff, which is really interesting.”

The joy his listeners get out of Tumbleweed’s new release is matched by the band’s positive experience making it, and the album was a way for Richie and the boys to get back to unfinished business.

“It was really a vehicle for ourselves. It was something to tie up a lot of loose ends. We really wanted to do something that was creatively satisfying for ourselves and make a record that we’re really happy with.”

Although a lot has changed since they last hit the scene, Richie says the band has no interest in keeping up with changes in the music industry.

“We were always rooted firmly in the past when it came to our influences. We’ve always lived on the periphery of the music industry and that’s something we’re comfortable with. We don’t want to compete. What Tumbleweed is what Tumbleweed is.”

Catch Tumbleweed at the Brisbane Hotel on January 25. Doors open 8pm and tickets are available from


This featured in Warp Magazine January 2014.












True Blue, Mate: Client Liaison are heading to MOFO

Client Liaison are heading down south with MOFO. Image source: Warp Magazine.

Client Liaison know what it means to be true blue. Harvey Miller’s keys and Monte Morgan’s (often falsetto) vocals are more Aussie than you can poke a stick at, and they plan to crank their dated ’80s synths at MOFO on January 19. The band tell us what it really means to be Australian, and what we can learn from looking back to the ’80s.

If you’ve ever watched the music video to their song End of the Earth, you’ll understand exactly what Client Liaison are all about. It’s got Ansett, it’s got Shane Warne, it’s got Bob Hawke slamming a beer and even features John Howard walking. It may actually be impossible to provide a closer representation of ‘80s Australia. Monte looks to this golden era of Australian culture with respect and pride, recognising the ‘80s as a “high point for morale.”

“In the arts, we had massive success, and we were also celebrating Australian culture like Mad Max, Man From Snowy River, Crocodile Dundee. We were quite proud of our country, but we were also doing great things in the arts as well, so we align ourselves with that celebration of Australia. We seem to be in sync with ourselves, and not self-doubting, not ashamed of our history.”

Monte and Harvey are born and bred Aussie, and through their music they comically share their admiration for our big island. But while they understand the importance of acknowledging their national identity, they also contemplate what it really means to fly our country’s flag today and the unfortunate connotations that have become linked with Aussie nationalism.

“We are a lucky country and I think that we should celebrate that, and in doing so it’s important to make a distinction between nationalism and patriotism. I think nationalism is doing something like the Cronulla Riots which is quite shameful, and unfortunately we lost the Australian flag to the Cronulla Riots. If you fly the Australian flag, you’re a total bogan.”

“Compare that to America – all the big, popular artists perform in front of the American flag and it’s kind of accepted and there’s no cringe in it. In Australia, if we perform in front of our national flag, it’s unfortunately linked to nationalism.”

To show their love of Australia without sending the wrong message, Client Liaison creatively make use of Australia’s Bicentennial flag – and with its golden, diagonally striped impression of our island printed over a solid green backdrop, the design couldn’t possibly look more ‘80s.

“We grew up in Australia, so it ties into our self-awareness, self-identity, and national identity.”

Although the pair admit they were still “in the womb” in the ‘80s, they still shared an intimate connection with the era that so deeply inspires them.

“Growing up, we wore clothes from the ‘80s because they were hand me downs from our siblings, and the architecture of the houses we grew up with were all left over from the ‘80s, so we still feel an actual connection with the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.”

The boys’ passion for incredibly dated synths and electronic instruments takes us back to that time and place whether we lived through it or not.

“There’s something in the sound which correlates with that culture. We kind of like that radiating sound – instead of the early, rough mechanical synths, we like the digital sampling synths that are like crystal bells and strings.”

“Really, we’re quite late 80s, and with our next release we’re going to be popping our head into the early 90s.”

Client Liaison are setting their newest release for January, and it’ll feature two new tracks with a house vibe. Yes, you will get a taste of it at MONA FOMA. Both Baby Boomers and Gen Y accepted – as long as you bring the moves.

“Our live audiences are pretty young – we’re actually quite dancey when we’re live, we get the party going. But studio-wise, I think it’s fairly open. You get a lot of people going, ‘yeah, this is how I remember music, how it was back in the day’. I’ve noticed some older people and I think they like the conceptual exploration beyond the music.”

Just make sure you get down like Prince – and not John Farnham.

“John Farnham was one of our biggest influences, but he could not dance to save himself.”

If you missed the ‘80s or want to relive them, head to MAC2 on January 19 at 10pm. Tickets available from


This article featured in Warp Magazine January 2014.


From Hollywood to Bollywood (to MOFO): The Bombay Royale

The Bombay Royale make their way to MOFO. Image source: Warp Magazine.

The Bombay Royale is colour, dance, disco, India, and psychadelia – all rolled into one. After kicking off in Melbourne with the goal of bringing retro Bollywood to the Aussie ear, the band wrote hits of their own and are about to rock them at MOFO on January 18. Read ahead to find out everything you ever wanted to know about Bollywood (but were afraid to ask).

STEPH: Top five genre-defining Bollywood films?

THE BOMBAY: Very hard to choose, but here goes: Sholay (Hindi western and longest running movie in history); Don (vintage Bollywood crime thriller with killer ‘70s soundtrack); Padosan (unlikely combination of slapstick comedy and sublime classically inspired music); Mughal-e-Azam (opulent historical drama from the ‘50s); and Guide (brilliant, quirky storyline paired with genius musical composition). These are all from the vintage era – there have been a bunch of great releases in more recent times as well, such as Delhi Belly and Tare Zameen Par.

S: Bollywood is the fastest growing film industry in the world, producing around 800 films a year. When will Bollywood finally take over Hollywood? Does Hollywood need better soundtracks or better costumes to stay in the game?

B: Bollywood and Hollywood can coexist in much of the world because they each have their strengths. We love good movies from anywhere, but the unique thing about Bollywood has always been the music. Hollywood stopped making musicals back in the ‘60s, but maybe they need to be revived.

Contemporary Bollywood is catching up with Hollywood in terms of realism, but for us the fantasy world of the old Bollywood movies still holds a lot of appeal. We’ve got enough real life already.

S: The popularity of film music in Bombay and Madras in the ‘70s and ‘80s saw its introduction into radio and mass distribution on cassette tapes throughout India. Why does Bollywood film music have such a cult following compared to Hollywood film music?

B: Hindi film music speaks to Indians across language and class barriers in a way that is unmatched by other popular art forms. There is an incredibly rich musical heritage in South Asia, but the average Indian on the street only got access to it when it Bollywood began blaring from their radios. It’s been an incredible unifying factor for India in the half century or more.

People have their different reasons for getting into Bollywood – sometimes it’s because of their love of India or Indian culture, sometimes just wanting to be different for the novelty factor. Bollywood has that element of surprise as well – it doesn’t follow the usual formulas that we expect in the West.

But vintage Bollywood is all about the music. The vintage era movies have a cult following because the music was so damn good!

S: A lot of the films coming out of Bollywood are Eastern remakes of Western films. Is this a way of spinning classic Western film formulas to give foreign audiences access to understanding Indian culture?

B: The remakes were more common 30 years ago when Bollywood was not international. Back then, it was partly because India was more insular and directors could get away with it. The contemporary scene is definitely telling more of India’s own stories. At the same time, Hollywood has the power of the dominant narrative, so the urge to copy is always there to some extent. In recent times though, the ‘remakes’ rarely do well.

S: How has your music been received in India?

B: To be honest, we haven’t put a huge priority on releasing our music in India – the rest of the world is keeping us too busy! Like anywhere else, we have a following over there, but it’s a different proposition for them. We are definitely messing with something familiar for the Indian audience so there is always going to be the traditionalists who won’t like it – a lot of them would prefer that we played covers. There are plenty of Indian people who love our stuff as well, as we see a lot of Indian faces at gigs everywhere. We are hoping to get over to India someday soon!

Get your Bollywood on at MAC2 on January 18, 5pm. Tickets available from


This article featured in Warp Magazine January 2014

A Wonderful World: The Australian Art Orchestra at MOFO

The Australian Art Orchestra will bring us their take on Ol’ Louis. Picture: Wikimedia Commons.


The Australian Art Orchestra has a long history of performing daring and experimental works. Having played instruments made out of confiscated Mexican weapons, fused traditional Indian music with Western jazz, and mastered both visual and aural aspects of a show, the ensemble know a thing or two about how to open our ears. The AAO will join with Ngaiire to give us their take on Louis Armstrong when they present Struttin’ With Some Barbeque at MOFO on January 19. Artistic director Peter Knight tells us how Louis left us a Wonderful World.

Although the Australian Art Orchestra is steeped in jazz, their music is timeless and unbound by the restrictions of a single genre. Juxtaposing contrasting cultures, styles, and traditional and unconventional instruments, the award winning ensemble makes us think about how music from another place or time can still hold significance in the contemporary musical landscape.

Artistic Director Peter Knight, who has won an abundance of awards for his work as a sound artist, composer and trumpeter, knows exactly why the music of the AAO is so well received despite being incomparable to anything we’ve heard before. 

“What we like to do, and certainly what I like to do as a musician and creator, is to take people on a journey,” Peter explains.

“Take them to somewhere they don’t necessarily expect to go, but in a way that creates an opening for that experience. Rather than bashing people over the head with some kind of an idea, you have to lead them into it, and that’s a really good feeling when you can achieve that.”

This time, the AAO will explore the life of Louis Armstrong through an interpretation of his classic hits, and Peter says the old jazz legend’s influence runs deeply through our culture today.

“The Art Orchestra is interested in looking at these jazz musicians who have made really, really strong and unique and lasting contributions to the music,” he says.

“Rather than just playing the songs and trying to imitate what’s gone before, what we’re always trying to do is put our own slant on it, bring audiences to enjoy this music, and also ask questions like, ‘what does this music actually mean?’, ‘how does it relate to the music that we listen to today, and to Australian culture?’. All of those questions are very interesting, and to me, more interesting than just playing the tunes and imitating.”

With Ngaiire as a female vocalist and an orchestra of turntables, this’ll be far from your average Louis Armstrong imitation. Composed by Eugene Ball, Struttin’ with some Barbeque will feature Tassie artist Linzee R. Nold’s projected illustrations and video installations by Sabina Maselli for an entirely immersive experience.

“We’re trying to create a bit of an abstract kind of environment that will draw the audience in and really add to the experience of listening to the music.”

While Peter himself admits the temptation of imitating Louis’ distinctive vocals, he says the AAO didn’t want to take the easy road and found perfection in Ngaiire as a less obvious choice.

“The classic Louis Armstrong songs are loved by so many people, so we’re presenting them and doing a little bit of a twist on them. Ngaiire is a great person to sing those songs. She’s got a huge voice, but she’s a very small girl. When you see her live, she absolutely tears it up.”

Along with belting out the classics like ‘When You’re Smiling’ and ‘Struttin’ With Some Barbeque’, she’ll also help to take us through Louis’ life from the early New Orleans days, right up to the ‘60s pop era through poetry and sampling.

“It’s all new, it’s all first. We’re trying to push boundaries, we’re trying to create something that will be amazing and enjoyable, fun, fascinating.”

The Australian Art Orchestra with special guest Ngaiire will perform Struttin’ With Some Barbeque at the Theatre Royal on January 16, 6pm. Tickets and more info are available at


This article featured in Warp Magazine January 2014.




If Music be the Food of Love: Hannah May

Hannah May talks music and love. Picture: supplied.

When Cygnet hosts its annual folk festival, the town’s population quadruples. Musicians from Tasmania and around the globe will hit Cygnet on January 10 for three days of world class folk, ethnic, roots and acoustic mayhem. Local singer songwriter Hannah May will invite her dad onto the festival stage for an unprecedented and intimate performance of her original songs.

Hannah May has worked her way around the stages of Hobart for the past four years, hinting at her ideas about love through R&B influenced originals. As a multi-talented artist, Hannah usually braves the stage alone with a microphone and set of keys – but this January she will be supported by her dad Ian with guitar and vocal harmonies.

Ian is himself no stranger to the festival, having performed alongside The Colemans 10 years ago. This time, Hannah is “really looking forward to having him on board.”

“After having a few sessions with my Dad, I realized how much I loved played my songs with him – and also that it’s not nearly as much fun playing by yourself!”

To Hannah, music has always been about the powerful bonds between family, friends, and lovers. Her songs are both dedicated to and amplified by the feelings of love – and not always her own. 

“Most of my songs were and are written about love, breakups, and everything in between,” Hannah reveals.

“Lyrically, I am finding that I am turning to friends for inspiration, as opposed to my own life. There are things that happen, conversations, that I often think, ‘there is a song in that’.”

Hannah’s most recently recorded song ‘Bottle of Tea’ is a classic example of her ability to express her observations on love with grace and profundity. Written about a friend who experienced divorce before finding new hope, Hannah says the song is “universal” and plans to play it at the festival.

“After my application for the Cygnet Folk Festival was accepted, I realized it was ‘that time’ to produce something of higher quality and accessible to a wider audience,” she explains. 

“Doing the recordings in a studio session meant stepping back and handing over the technical side of things, which gave me a lot of freedom to focus on the performance and arrangement.” 

Hannah’s recently composed song ‘Too Many People’ also hit the studio, and into the microphone the songwriter expressed her frustration toward those “making their own opinions on opinions, as opposed to facts.”

While Hannah has spent many years disseminating the feelings of others, she found inspiration a little closer to home through her recent marriage to her soul mate Grady. The young songwriter describes her new husband as “100 per cent supportive – he is my roadie, my producer, my critic and my manager.”

“One song I wrote when I was 17, I often dedicate to him, saying, ‘this is the song I wrote about you before knowing you’.”

“I sing my other tunes now with more depth and strength, understanding better what I wrote about now than when I actually wrote it.”

“Love in marriage is much deeper. There is that extra strand that runs within the relationship that I never thought existed.”

Fall in love with Hannah May and other local and international acts at the Cygnet Folk Festival from  January 10 to 12. Further info and bookings are available at 


This article featured in Warp Magazine January 2014.

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