Canberra-born jazz singer-songwriter Laura Ingram is relatively new to the Melbourne music scene. Having moved cities recently to pursue music full time, Laura admits that it’s been a positive change, now living in a city that embraces and even prioritises music and culture.
“It’s (music) important to more people than I thought it would be. There are so many people that don’t play music, but just love it and love going to gigs. That isn’t really a thing in Canberra.”
Despite Canberra not being the most musical city in Australia, Laura acknowledges its jazz scene, which helped her to find her feet as a jazz artist.
“My family aren’t musical, but I just found some avenues so that I could work on it. I went to a really good music school and then when I was 16, I enrolled to do this thing that’s now called the H Course and is a scholarship program for students to study jazz. It’s essentially like a first year of uni for year 11 and 12 students. I did that at ANU and studied with a bunch of amazing jazz players, and I took a lot of inspiration from Amy Winehouse with jazz because she seemed cool. I wanted learn the basics of what music is, so then I could work out my own style there.”
Not only has Laura been performing music for a long time, she is also a vocal teacher and sound therapist. Whilst all three have their differences, Laura says both roles have helped shape the artist she is today. Teaching has helped Laura to improve her technique, sound therapy has helped increase her confidence within her music.
“Teaching inspires my music because the kids are really free. They don’t really care about making a fool of themselves or trying something new, and that’s really refreshing to be around. And it reminds me to just be humble and keep learning, because everyone’s at a different age of learning and it never stops, no matter what age you’re at.
“Sound therapy is really cool. My music doesn’t directly incorporate those sounds, or what a sound therapy session sounds like or looks like, it’s all very new-wave. But I would say that working on myself means that I can make better music, I can make more music and I can feel more at ease with myself on stage. For a while, I really thought I had to make happy or exciting or sexy songs. And there are those songs in my set, but everyone resonates with different stuff. So, playing songs that are sad or angry is okay. It helps me to accept more of myself.”
Through accepting herself and the music she makes, Laura has grown her song writing skills. She began co-writing with her friend who was in a garage band and played guitar, learning how to write chords. “They were terrible songs, but people still liked them,” she claims. Laura has only begun performing her own work in the last two years, and whilst doesn’t have a set song writing process, she is able to create songs in ways that work for her.
“I feel like I learn a lot about myself when I get out of my own way and just write. I try not to think about what’s happening at the time when I’m making it, and then later I take the red pen out and work out what I’m really trying to say. Often when I’m writing I don’t really know to start off with. And I find that can be quite freeing, and I can learn what’s going on in my sub-conscious.”
Laura has now written an entire EP and is currently in the stages of planning it’s release. The inspiration for the EP started with a trip to a Sia concert, one of her writing idols, followed by a Melbourne record store, where she met Northside Records’ Chris Gill. He then introduced her to the producer who helped her with the EP and it all came together from there.
“I met up with him (her producer) at a gig, and he agreed to record the songs and put a great band together. We just did about half a day of pre-production, which was just really cool for me because I didn’t know heaps about recording music, even though I’d been writing all these songs and performing for a while. He put this amazing band together, and we just did a few hours of pre-production and a day in studio and it was done. Everyone was like ‘wow that was fun and easy’. It was a bit of an old-school way of doing it, but it just shows that it still works.”
Laura plans to do shows in Melbourne, Canberra and potentially Sydney to support the release of her upcoming EP.