A Conversation With LACUNA

Tamara Violet Partridge may only be 22 years of age, but she’s already making her stance in Melbourne’s electronic music scene. Apart from working on her debut album, she’s currently focusing on her headlining show ‘Ladies to the Front,’ a showcase of women in electronic music. RSOM sat down and spoke to Tamara about all things feminism and all things music. 

Welcome back to RSOM, do you just want to start by giving us a rundown of what you’ve been up to since we spoke to you last October?

“I’ve been teaching for the last year or so, and I’ve helped written the curriculum for the course I teach. Other than that, I’ve been working on the album which is set to release later this year or early next year. I’ve got a single with my first professional music video accompanying it in the next few months as well coming out, which has been fun to make and collaborate with people on. I’ve basically just been writing a heap of songs and working out which ones to pick and choose from, because I’d rather write 20 tracks and pick the 10 best ones, the great ones. Just a lot of writing at this stage is where I’m at.”

You’ve got an amazing project coming up called ‘Ladies to the Front,’ where you’re headlining. Are you able to tell us what that’s about?

“The whole process of it really was that I wanted to put on a show that showcased women in the electronic music scene in Melbourne, because there are a lot of really prevalent artists that just aren’t making it to radio play or are getting the recognition they deserve when they get to that touring or even international level that male artists are getting. I just think to myself ‘well why is that?’. It’s not in a negative way or to put down any male artists at all, we’re just trying to create equality in a safe space for female artists because it can be very confronting. Especially in electronic music where there’s still that association with technology being a ‘masculine’ thing. It’s a very boys club kind of thing, which is totally fine, but it’s making sure that everyone feels equal regardless of what industry they’re in. It’s the same thing with DJ’ing, it’s not something that should be surprising or more engaging, I want you to come see me because I’m a good DJ, not because I’m a woman. The more shows we put on with women involved, where women are in the front, the better. It’s just one evening where we’re saying, ‘these chicks have worked really hard, let’s celebrate that.’

What are you looking forward to most about it?

“People have said that it’s becoming a theme in society, which is actually kind of offensive in its own right. I feel like it’s been a major theme in society since the suffragettes, but now we have the technology, the statistics and the power to talk about it. It’s like when people say, ‘feminism doesn’t have a place in modern society’ and I’m like ‘well let me tell you why it does and I know you’re allowed to have your opinion but here’s why your opinion is wrong’- statistically speaking. It’s just about that education, because sometimes people just don’t know and that’s fine too. But you need to be open minded and be willing to learn new things that you didn’t learn whilst growing up. I’m looking forward to people seeing a great show and not single out the fact that it is women performing.”

It seems like a lot of female electronic artists adopt these badass stage names. Do you feel as if ‘Lacuna’ gives you a sense of identity and confidence when out in the industry?

“It does, because I feel like as a composer when I perform it’s a totally different approach to music and a totally different industry. Being able to put a ‘Lacuna’ hat on, I talk about feminine power and feminine sexuality and mental health and sexual harassment. These are all themes throughout my album and themes throughout my music, because I like to sing about taboos. So that they’re not taboos anymore and people don’t feel isolated in these situations. I don’t get the chance to do that in composition because I’m working with someone else’s story and I’ve worked so hard to control my attitude, like I never can really express how I feel. When I’m singing; however, I can just belt out or even scream how I feel and I can swear and it’s not to my name, it’s to the name of something inside of me. I feel like Lacuna is the part of me that just wants to aggressively yell about it.”

You’re obviously a deep songwriter, but you play electronic music. Do you find it difficult to reflect the lyrics you’ve written into the electronic sounds and songs you create?

“See, that’s the easy part, which is actually really weird. I find that the hardest part is finding the flow of the story, and bringing it back into a mainstream, popular approach. It comes down to personality which is the beautiful thing about music- every artist will have a different challenge. The lyrics have always been the easy part for me and it’s something that in the Lacuna project I start with and make the beat around it. The darker or the more societally unacceptable a topic is, the more upbeat and happier key I’ll put it in to mask that. So, when people listen to it, they’re like ‘oh it’s a really good song,’ but then they find out what it’s really about and they’re shocked but realise that the song actually has a really great message.”

What’s the electronic scene like in Melbourne and do you feel like you’re empowered by the other women around you?

“Yes! And that’s exactly why I’m doing this gig. There are so many people that were on the list that couldn’t make it for various reasons and it’s like ‘why aren’t as famous as Banks’ or even male artists, it’s just like why not!? I think there’s still that unconscious bias, even though it’s getting better. You look at some of the artists and you’re like ‘you have everything perfected and there’s nothing else you need to do with your music so why is it different?’ Even the bands we play with are amazing and have done heaps of things already but people are still unaware of who they are. There are so many B-grade male DJs that people know about, yet the A-grade female DJs are almost unheard of. I don’t understand why it’s still like ‘oh so you’re a female DJ.’ Like no, I’m just a DJ, I wouldn’t call you a “male DJ.” There are so many female electronic artists and mixed bands that have trouble over male acts. There’s a big support system though. I’d love to turn it into an ongoing series too, and I might not even need to play at the next one because there’s so many female electronic artists out there. Electronic music is popping up everywhere, especially female musicians and it’s just great.”

Who are your favourite women in music and in electronic music currently?

“I think the biggest person is Bjork, like from when I was a kid. There are a lot of European artists, as well as Banks, FKA Twigs. I also love the RnB side, the girls I grew up with like TLC, Destiny’s Child, Missy Elliot, those who are big in the electronic/RnB scene. They changed the world. It’s really great when artists are the turning point for you, like FKA Twigs inspired me to want to perform again because what she’s doing is so amazing.”

Check out LACUNA on:

Facebook | InstagramSpotify

 

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Written by Jordyn Hoekstra
Photos courtesy of Vinyl Planet 
Productions live at Ladies To The Front at
Gasometer Hotel, Collingwood June 1 2017

GRETTA RAY

“I think part of me always knew that I was going to be a performer – I was lucky enough to begin performing at a very young age, and became addicted to it pretty much instantly!”

At just 19 years of age, Gretta Ray has had a big couple of years. Having been announced 2016’s Triple J Unearthed High winner, Gretta has since gone on to play sets at Falls Festival and Splendour in the Grass. 2017 has seen her return from a stint in the United States.

2016 was also the year Gretta won the Vanda & Young Songwriting Competition, on the day of her Year 12 English exam, no less. It was an accomplishment, she says, she still can’t believe happened.

“It was amazing to be recognised and credited for my songwriting, because it is something that I have been working at for years. At that point in time, Drive was the song that I was most proud of. I am so grateful to have had the support from APRA that I have,” Gretta tells RSOM.

What was an eventful day for Gretta was also a reflection on her ability to balance her studies and her role in the music industry.

“I do recall feeling a sense of pride that I was able to maintain a balance (between school and music). I intended to give both areas of my life the same amount of energy, and that night I felt like that was something that I was achieving.” 

So surely such a stellar start to a career would require a kickstart from an early age? That certainly was the case for Gretta, with many of her family also being musicians. She says music was an underlying theme of her childhood.

“I grew up playing instruments and singing in choirs, as well as going to see a lot of shows with my mum, who made sure I was immersed in music from a young age.”

At the age of seven, songwriting had become a hobby, writing what she could on her keyboard, and she admits it was a hobby she quickly became passionate about.

“I didn’t write another song until about two years later, but from that point forward I really kicked into gear and was writing little ditties whenever I got the chance to.

“I perceived songwriting as a hobby that made me fantasise about being a performer. I think the moment that I knew that I wanted that fantasy to become a reality. I think the moment that I knew that I wanted that fantasy to become a reality was during the process of recording my debut EP ‘Elsewhere’. I was in my element in the space of a studio.”

Along with songwriting, Gretta began performing at a young age and as a result has years of experience performing music in Melbourne. Having performed with groups such as Young Voices of Melbourne and If You See Her, Say Hello, Gretta believes that her experience with these groups, particularly in Melbourne, have shaped her into the artist she is today.


“Within the choirs that I have been a part of in the past, I have learnt much about myself as a musician, and also made some beautiful, talented, life long friends.

The Melbourne music scene is an incredible community, too. I’m very proud to be a part of it.”

Some years later, Gretta is known in the Australian music scene for her perfect rhyming, and use of alliteration, when writing. Despite her love of the English language; however, she admits that she doesn’t have a particular song writing process, and says this is what makes song writing worthwhile.

“A song often starts with a seed of inspiration, a concept, that I have been pondering on for a while. I will accumulate a bunch of ideas in relation to the initial idea, and then set side time to sit down with my work and construct the song.” 

And as for what she finds herself writing about, Gretta is particularly interested writing autobiographically, reflecting, rather than focusing on a narrative.

“I have predominantly written about relationships and the notion of observing the human condition. I want to write about a range of things over the duration of my career. 

[With Drive] I wanted to write a song that explored that concept of the intimate, magical atmosphere that is created in the space of a car when one is driving around with someone they love. In this song, the idea is portrayed as more of a fantasy than a reality.” 

With an abundance of songs up her sleeve, an EP and plenty more music to follow, Gretta is aiming to perfect her new music. Knowing the ins-and-outs of the Melbourne music scene, it will definitely be easier this time around, and slowly becoming a household name, she has plenty advice to pass on to up-and-coming songwriters.

Work really hard, make your own decisions about the direction of your career, seek inspiration, listen to those whom are more experienced in the industry and take their advice on board, continue to grow as a writer and person, challenge yourself but don’t become overly obsessive about your writing. Let your emotions and creativity drive your project.” 

There is no doubt that Gretta has had a massive couple of years, and that 2018 will be even bigger. Having finished off 2017 touring the country with fellow Melburnian Vance Joy, Gretta is back in the studio and is hoping to release more music in the near future.

You can check out Gretta on:

Facebook | Twitter YouTube | Website

Written by Jordyn Hoekstra 

 

Q & A with NORTH EASTON

Stepping away from the Melbourne scene, the Real Songwriters of Melbourne team have been fortunate enough to work with and assist seasoned Canadian singer-songwriter North Easton on his journey into the Australian music scene.

Having played his first ever show in Australia at The Workers’ Club last week, North is our featuring guest at the inaugural RSOM song writers workshop. With years of experience as a song writer, and an impressive list of accomplishments, we have no doubt his expertise and knowledge will enlighten and inspire up-and-coming Melbourne artists.

We managed to catch up with him for a quick chat, to discuss his first impressions of Melbourne, and what it takes to become an established songwriter.

 

J: Hey North, welcome to RSOM! If you don’t mind, I’ll just get you to start the interview off by giving me a bit about your background?
N: “I’m a son of a welder and stay at home mom in a small little town on Vancouver Island in British Columbia Canada. I turned to music as an escape from the mounting challenges in my world. Song writing started immediately, even as young as 6 years old I was making up my own songs. They (the songs) seemed great at the time, but of course looking back, they were pinnacle in the channelling of emotional release through lyric and melody.”

J: How did your music journey begin?
N: “My new music journey, the one that truly started me on the path happened after my son was born. As I had a couple times in my life before, by the time I turned 17, I needed to find a vent for the build up of things in my life that I seemingly could not control. I started taking the guitar much more seriously around 19 and put together my first project, which was called Garrity, when I turned 22. By then I had already written over 100 songs..”

J: Do you have a particular method or process you use when songwriting?
N: “Being a teacher of songwriting as well as a student, I am constantly seeking out different directions to come at the process. Lyrics first, Music first, Melody first, Idea all thought out…I circle around all of these approaches. And then sometimes, like lightning, it just hits and I have to grab my guitar and let out whatever has been cooking in my head and heart that needs a life of its own.”

J: Are there any themes you often find yourself writing about?
N: “Although I believe I tap into many, many themes when I write, it is fair to say that for the most part, my music has an inspirational component. Many of my songs have been written as almost pep talks to myself to take the world on ahead of you. I have literally more than 50 songs about getting back up and fighting through the challenges that lay ahead of me.”

J: Who are the musicians that you look up to?
N: “I can’t say that I have ever been a die-hard fan to any musician or writer; however, I am always pulled into a great song- something that covers the gamut when it comes to emotion. Don McLean is one of my favourite songwriters. Adam Duritz, from the Counting Crows, sings with a passion and a feel that I am drawn to over and over again. The soul of Tracy Chapman, and the honesty she releases in her lyrics is truly inspiring. Dave Matthews and his phrasing, as well as his acoustic chops. But, this is a constant evolution for me as I am now writing for and with many artists for their songs and albums and that puts a whole new spin on what and who I look up to.”

J: What is the Canadian singer-songwriter scene like in comparison to Melbourne? How are you finding Melbourne?
N: “So far, I find that Canada and Australia have a very similar vibe when it comes to the scenes. Songwriters are a breed and we are all over the world. Nashville for example is the largest gathering of songwriters I have ever seen, but they all have the same inner heart and hope that brings them back to the page to turn out a great tune. I love Melbourne. Great energy, good vibes, awesome people. Driving on the other side of the road is always a little bit of mind mess, but other than that, I’m truly digging it.”

 

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J: What drew you to wanting to come to Melbourne?
N: “A friend of mine from Australia, who tours in Canada, told me Australia was the place to be. So when planning this international tour, I reached out and found that there were many people in the area and beyond who wanted to help me put together this tour. That made it much easier. It’s a long way to come for a month, but I’m only a week or so in and have a ton of amazing experiences so far that will no doubt find their way into future songs.”

J: What was the writing and recording process like for your album One of the Lucky Ones?
N: “When I was choosing the songs for One of the Lucky Ones, I started with over 100. I narrowed that down to 60 songs, and then to 40, and then finally to 25. At that point, I reached out to some close friends and trusted mentors in the music industry to get valuable feedback on the 25 and which ones should make the album. Working with my producer, Jay Lefebvre, on the album was an incredible experience. He was easy going, and very talented.”

J: What has been the highlight of your career so far?
N: “I have been fortunate to play on some pretty cool stages with some huge Canadian stars. I have played in front of 30,000 people, and won over $100,000 in competitions. The highlight for me was when I found out that a bunch of camp counsellors who came to my show once, were singing along to one of my tunes- word for word. They told me afterwards that they sing one of my songs at the campfire to all of the summer camp kids every night before heading to bed. There is nothing bigger than knowing people have been impacted by something you have created.”

J: What advice do you have for up and coming singer-songwriters, such as the ones that will be attending the event this coming Thursday?
N: “My advice is quite simple- continually evolve. Human beings have 6 basic needs in life, with the two most important being contribution and growth. Always give back and help others, and strive to continue growing at what you love to do. Find a mentor, someone who has been down the roads you want to travel on. Chase them, and learn from what they have done to get where they are. Oh, and make sure you love it because of your heart, and not some cloudy dream of financial success. The music industry is a difficult beast to navigate, but song writing is the best job on the planet- in this writers opinion.”

 

North will be contributing to The Real Songwriters of Melbourne’s first ever songwriters workshop, held this coming Thursday at Wick Studios. The workshop, which has since sold out, will give budding songwriters the chance to work with a knowledgable, experienced songwriter, such as North. For more information about the event, go here.

Follow North Easton on:
Facebook | YouTube | Website

 

Written by Jordyn Hoekstra

KAIIT

“Not only was it the first song I’ve ever written and released, it was also very personal to me. I got a bit overwhelmed at some points, but people have been giving me so much love for it, which is awesome.”

For most people, moving back and forth between any two places is a mean feat. For 19-year-old singer-songwriter Kaiit, it was a key part of her childhood. Between Australia and Papua New Guinea up until her late primary school years, Kaiit’s family finally decided to settle in Melbourne. She credits her heritage; however, as a major artistic influence.

“I feel my [Papua New Guinean] heritage has helped me visually, more than musically,” Kaiit tells The Real Songwriters of Melbourne.

“The ability to represent youth and young people like me who aren’t usually on TV or in videos is really important to me.”kaiitphoto.jpg

 

Kaiit believes her parents are also hugely influential in her artistry and creativity, both being artists themselves.

“Whilst [we were] in Papua New Guinea, they were both teaching at a performing arts university, which I thought was pretty cool!” she says.

This may suggest why Kaiit describes herself as primarily artistic also, even more so than musical.

“I never really studied music, apart from as an elective in school. I left high school in year 10 and started going to TAFE, where I was doing beauty, fashion and hairdressing- just trying to find out what I did and didn’t like.”

Kaiit’s cultural background, as well personality, is deeply reflected in her music. Her debut single Natural Woman, is a prime example of this. The music video was released earlier this year, and already has nearly 130 000 views on Facebook.

“The thought of the video being seen by so many people, already, is just unreal. It was really hard at first and I was getting really anxious over it, because not only was it the first song I’ve ever written and released, it was also very personal to me. I got a bit overwhelmed at some points, but people have been giving me so much love for it, which is awesome.”

The creative aspect of the video is also noted, with Kaiit admitting that it was filmed in a particularly freestyle manner.


“It started off with me and the director, Claudia,” Kaiit tells RSOM. “We were going about it by looking at the style of the song and looking at all the lyrics as a whole. We then copped a vibe of the song and what it should represent. We got this fun and feel-good vibe from it, so it was all very freestyle- especially within the actual filming. We had ideas about how we wanted the shots to look set out, but everything was created as it came.”

Despite only recently releasing her first single, Kaiit has been writing songs for as long as she can remember. She confesses; however, that up until now she never really viewed it as ‘song writing,’ as opposed to a diary-style form.

“I was always doing random songs in primary school and high school. I had this little girl group in primary school, called Princess Unicorn, and we wrote things together. We’d write about things that happened or we were going through. It often rhymed. It was how we expressed ourselves.”

Kaiit has come a long way since her Princess Unicorn days, however.

“I used to rearrange beats and write songs off of that. It can be tricky when you haven’t even listened to a beat yet. I might make a melody in my head and roll with that otherwise. I usually get inspired by the wording of things. Even just when listening to a beat, I’ll write something down straight away.”

To continue honing in her song writing skills and developing herself as an artist, Kaiit was involved in the ‘Dig Deep’ hip-hop mentoring program at the Arts Centre in Melbourne. Successfully helping her to find her feet, the program means a lot to Kaiit, who now helps run it.

“It gave me a new finding for music,” Kaiit explains. “They gave me so much support through opportunities to record my music and perform at so many different things. I took it all in my stride and now I’m able to continue to do what I love.”

With the recent music video, an upcoming single and an upcoming show, Kaiit is definitely one to watch.

“I just finished recording and mixing the next single. And we filmed the music video for that last week. That’s going to be a huge deal too.”

 

Kaiit will be launching her single Natural Woman at the Gasometer Hotel on Friday August 11. You can find more information here.

Follow Kaiit on:
Facebook | YouTube

Written by Jordyn Hoekstra 

TORI DUNBAR

Melbourne born-and-raised musician Tori Dunbar has always had a love for singing and songwriting. It is her love for audio production; however, that sets her apart from the rest. After studying audio production at Collarts, Tori went on to record, produce and mix the majority of the songs she has recorded for her solo project so far.

“I didn’t expect to like it http://production as much as I do. In saying that, my first official debut single ‘My Head’ wasn’t done by me at all. That one was much more experimental than anything. I’m not more excited about this one than the other songs or anything, but it was interesting to do. It was a total journey for me, having Anna Laverty produce it, just because it was something I’ve never done before.”

Despite experiencing a new way of producing music, creating music itself is definitely not something new to Tori. Hailing from the Eastern Suburbs, Tori began music at the ripe age of six and has stuck to her guns ever since.  Once she finished high school, she decided she wanted to turn professional as it was something she always wanted to do. So she started studying a Certificate IV in Music Performance at Box Hill.

“I played keyboard and guitar through primary school and high school. It’s pretty funny actually. My dad always played guitar too and when I was younger my brother and I shared a guitar. So dad used to set a timer and make up practice every night for half an hour. I always used to do the full half-hour, but my brother admitted to me not all that long ago that he used to cheat and skip some of the practice time!”

Tori also began song writing at a young age. From the age of 14 she first began to learn how to play the songs she knew from the radio. She then understood the idea of being able to sing and play at the same time, and then create her own chords, melody and eventually lyrics.

“[Song writing] came from a ‘I want to try that’ part of me. Once I learnt that I could do it, I wanted to do it. Nowadays, I will definitely start with chords or a rhythm- it’s got to have a colour to it. The lyrics I’ll write as I progress with the chords. With ‘My Head’, I wrote the first verse, then the rest of the song just predicted itself into the next section. My songs are often written together. It’s rate that I’ll write just the lyrics, or just the music, by themselves. That’s why I have so many unfinished songs because I get to a point where I feel that I can’t continue with them.”

And unlike many other artists, she finds herself writing songs for others rather than herself. Once again, ‘My Head’ happens to be the exception.

“I come from a place of unintentionally comforting others. It’s about me reflecting back to others about how they should feel about or sense themselves and trying to help them; give them hope. I try to write from a hopeful perspective rather than a dark place because I don’t like to send my audience there, not do I want to sit their either. The inspiration for ‘My Head,’ came to me after disagreement I had with somebody. You know when you’re in the heat of the moment having a big argument with somebody and they tell you that you’re making up things? It’s called ‘gas lighting,’ and it makes you question your own sanity. I’d never written anything with this sort of sound or feel before, but I enjoyed the percussiveness of the vocal and writing it in that way.”

With such an intense passion for the words she writes, and also how she conveys them, there is no surprise that Tori’s biggest musical inspirations range from Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday, to John Mayer and Jason Mraz.

“My music is very rhythmically and lyrically driven. To put it into a specific genre is hard- maybe it’d be singer-songwriter? But some of my songs borderline onto folk and some have a soul vibe to them. I really like it that way though.”

Tori’s debut single ‘My Head,’ was released on July 7. Despite it being the first single she’s released, she doesn’t expect herself to dwell on it before she brings out more music. The Real Songwriters Live #5, an event she’s very much looking forward to, will act as a ‘semi-launch’ of sorts for it.

“I released the video for it last Friday, but I’m looking at getting another single out in a couple of months. I want to push out back to back singles until the end of the year and then release my debut EP early next year. I want to get as much of my music out there as soon as I can. I’m really excited to perform it at The Real Songwriters Live Show #5 too. Working with Jena has been amazing, and everything she’s done has been so crazy helpful. My brain can’t imagine what Wick Studios is going to look like on the night because I’ve only been there before for rehearsals, but I’m guessing it’s going to be awesome. It feels almost inclusive to be working with the RSOM team!”

Tori is one of the featuring artists at The Real Songwriters of Melbourne Live Show #5 on July 22nd at Wick Studios. Tickets are $15 at the door. You can view more information about the event here.

Tori Dunbar

You can check out more of Tori on
Facebook | Soundcloud | Website

Written by Jordyn Hoekstra 

Natalie Nish

“I’ve always been a little bit weird, a little bit different. It can really set you apart. It’s so important to embrace being different rather than let it hinder you.”

Growing up in a Christian family and raised on Star Trek with her two brothers, and her two ducks, Natalie Nish comes from a musical family. A singer for a mother, and a local radio presenter for a father, singing, music and performing was always a part of her childhood and has since transcended into her adulthood. And despite looking at the pop genre as one that is heavily influential on her own career, she admits she was sheltered from most pop music as a child. From the likes of the Backstreet Boys, to the Spice Girls, to Stacie Orrico and Ed Sheeran- she appreciates pop’s structured way of writing when it comes to writing her own music.

“I love Ed Sheeran. I love his writing style and how he puts so much into a small amount of space without making it seem rushed. I love Stacie Orrico too, her voice and her style of singing is amazing. Her writing I haven’t looked into too much, but I noticed some of the songs she has recorded, she wrote back when she was 14 or 15.

 “I’ve always been told that it’s really important to describe your music, in case you want to change labels or something. But I’m really not sure- I guess honest and quirky. And probably heavily pop-influenced, especially in structure.”

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Similarly to Stacie, Natalie’s song writing career took off from a young age. From singing in the Church, to writing songs to sing to her younger brother, Natalie’s music and song writing abilities are still evolving, and always growing.

“I shared a room with my little brother as a kid and I remember always singing songs about fairies or something, just to help him sleep. A couple of years ago my dad found a cassette tape of songs I had written and sung when I was about ten. It’s always been there and I’ve always wanted to be a creator. Having a passion for music and wanting to create things kind of just came together into what it is now.

“For a very long time, I really wasn’t great. Even before I started studying it, I’d have ten songs I’d written at a time but I never wanted to show them to anyone, because I didn’t understand that it was okay to have bad songs. I then learnt that the most important thing is to just write, and write, and write. If you have crappy ones that come out, that’s fine- it’s just a part of the learning process and you can drop them. Once I found that mindset, it really opened up a lot more for writing. I’m still getting there though, I still try to challenge myself. I find I don’t write overly complicated chord structures or anything, so I’m trying to branch out more there.”

With years of experience and a progressive attitude, Natalie finds that her writing methods are not always typical. She admits that she won’t write a song until she has all the pieces ready to go, and will put them all together before fixing it up, rather than building up the song bit-by-bit. A lot of her lyrics come to her unexpectedly, or very much in the moment.

“I might be out somewhere and think of a word or lyric and write it down on a notepad, or I’ll be sitting at home and go back to those points later. I try to write things metaphorically a lot because otherwise I feel like I’m not doing justice to what I’m trying to say. Sometimes I’ll have my phone on record and just play around and sing whatever I feel like singing at the time, and then touch base with it later. If there’s anything I liked I’ll do it again, and then it’ll progress from there. It’s always the start of the song that’s the hardest part, afterwards you can just work on tidying everything up and making the structure more suitable. If I decide to write a song, it’s because I’ve already got all the pieces there to put it all together.”

As with her writing process, Natalie’s inspiration often comes in the moment. If she finds a particular event or emotion affecting her, she will write about it. And yet whilst most of her work is about herself and her relationships, she often finds herself wanting to write about the bigger picture- even if it is more of a challenge to do so.

“Every now and then, there’ll be topics or issues that are heavy on my heart and I’ll want to write about them, but sometimes they’ll be such a big deal that I don’t know how to write about them. I tried to write a song about homelessness a little while ago, and I’m currently debating whether or not I revisit it and write it a little bit better. Maybe to get some more knowledge about it before I go back into it.”

An evolving songwriter, Natalie is always looking for new opportunities to progress herself and show the world what she’s made of. Having only ever recorded in Melbourne, she’s been given the opportunity to record her next single in Sydney- which she says has been the highlight of her career so far.

“I contacted this songwriter in Sydney called Jeremy Fowler, whose sound I really liked. His manager said he’d be happy to work with me on my next song, so I’ll get to work with him in Sydney and get the song done. That was really exciting.”

Natalie launched her debut single ‘I’ll Leave You With This’ on June 9th. The single was premiered by The Real Songwriters of Melbourne thanks to The Backline Project. You can check out her live interview here and acoustic live performance.

You can listen to it here.

Check out Natalie Nish on
Facebook | Website | YouTube

Written by Jordyn Hoekstra

REVIEW: RYA PARK- THE WORKERS CLUB, FITZROY (15/6/2017)

The best kind of Thursday night is a Thursday night spent at The Workers Club. Luckily enough for me, I have in fact spent several Thursday nights on the corner of Brunswick and Gertrude Streets. This night, in particular, was one I was definitely looking forward to.

Thursday June 15 saw Rya Park headline the band room, with supporting sets from Bloom and Jack the Fox. Not only did Rya headline an incredible show, she played to a sold-out crowd- the first I’d seen for the very band room I have spent an awful lot of time in.

I managed to catch the second half of Bloom’s set, and well, this girl really needs no introduction. I was instantly a fan after seeing her come runner up in the 2016 Melbourne Music Bank finale.

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 I also then scored the opportunity to review her single launch back in January (you can find it here!)

From experience, Bloom puts on immensely diverse sets- she is possibly the most vocally diverse artist I’ve seen out of Melbourne in a long time, and this set was no exception. She moved away from the soulful jazz I had once seen her play and headed towards the electronic pop thing- something I totally appreciate. Playing an entirely solo set with her laptop and guitar worked entirely to her advantage, and showed the audience yet again that she is a powerful, emerging Melbourne artist and a complete force

to be reckoned with. I actually almost forgot how good she is until I saw her that night, so definitely look her up if you haven’t yet.

The next act of the night was occasional-duo, occasional-five-piece-band act Jack the Fox. I’d literally never heard of these guys before seeing them (I honestly prefer it that way sometimes- it’s so much easier going in entirely unbiased), but far out they were unbelievable.

Overcoming some initial technical issues, the lead singer especially just got on with it- which is literally what this whole live music thing is about. I was left speechless the minute he opened his mouth- before he’d even started the set. What a voice this guy has and what a band these guys are. The audience were introduced to some Mumford and Sons-ish, storyteller vocals with incredibly picturesque lyrics. The underlying haunting tone in his voice had me on edge the entire time, and yet each song was different from the rest.19397732_1065316940268264_1849820819_n.jpg

Oh it gets better, though. They managed to get a didgeridoo on stage. And play it whilst alternating with vocals. I mean, seriously, why have I only just come across this band? These guys were honestly just awesome, and totally embodied the rawness of the Melbourne music scene.

Rya graced the audience with her presence not too long after Jack the Fox blew everyone away. Rya Park also fronts Melbourne-based band Tempus Sun, who were the winners of the 2016 Melbourne Music Bank. She is one artist who can perform either way and still completely encapsulate everyone in the audience.

Watching Rya perform was like staring into the soul of Ella Hooper- circa Weir. She’s definitely got the potential to have a long withstanding career, too. Rya also embodies the power of women in the music industry, with her songs sharing the theme of freedom.

The highlight of her set was her cover of London Grammar’s Strong. Not going to lie, I was totally nervous when she announced it- they’re one of my favourite bands. And let’s not forget that Hannah Reid is one of the best vocalists going around. Covering any song of theirs, let alone their most popular, is a tough gig, but Rya nailed every second of it. It was just awesome to see an artist challenge themselves and succeed.

I’m finding it difficult whilst writing this to pull apart her set, just because she’s honestly so good. I did struggle to hear her speaking when introducing her songs, but considering it was a sold-out show that was to be expected. There were no flaws apart from that, however.

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Rya’s final (well second-from-final) song of the night, highlighted just how versatile and dynamic her range is. It was a powerful, assertive song that had everyone on their feet. The backing vocalists really came to light as well, with everyone both on and off stage becoming involved. The crowd loved it so much that they demanded an encore, and Rya was awesome enough to meet their demands- something I’ve definitely never seen happen at a small gig. She encored with an upbeat tune- quite contrasting from the previous one- to round out the night.

Rya Park is an act to watch, and a name to remember. Her free-spirited, yet passionate tracks are catchy, well-performed and just a whole lot of fun.

 

Check out more from Rya Park:
Facebook | Soundcloud | YouTube

Written by Jordyn Hoekstra

A Conversation With Chloe Violette

“This last year has been about celebrating women in the creative arts. Hence the film clip I’ve just released- it was done by an all-female team from the producer to the cinematographer, the camera assistants and the editor. It was a really liberating experience. We’re slowly smashing the patriarchy!”

RSOM recently spoke to the amazing Chloe Violette about her new music video, and her hopes for equality in the music industry.

I’m so amazed that everyone working on the ‘Hurricane’ film clip was female, it’s just so unheard of. How do you feel that completing a project in such a way will assist women in the industry going forward?

“Well it’s still very much a male-dominated industry, and it’s still very much a man’s world. We’re slowly, with the help of social media and other platforms that promote ‘girls to the front’ and everything, getting there. It’s a necessity that we need to have these things and have these conversations, even though it’s a bit unfortunate and honestly a bit sad. I looked over at one point and was like ‘Oh, we’re all chicks!’ which is amazing, but it is about exposing the fact that this isn’t considered normal, when it should be. The equality is still definitely not there. It’s one step at a time, I guess. It’s cool to work with like-minded people and if they happen to identify as female, then that’s really cool.”

Do you think that you’ll use the team that you used for the film clip in the future?

“Oh definitely, 100%. I’ve actually joined the collaborative of the filmmakers involved. I rounded up these girls and this was the first collaboration that they had done. And now they’ve gone on to do other work together. They’re currently doing a film clip for CHMBRS and other female artists in the industry. I feel really privileged to be a part of that connection. I’m working as a production assistant on their next project which is really cool.”

Hurricane Video Clip – an original by Chloe Violette

You talk about how hard it is in the music industry as a female, and it is. However on top of that you’re also in Melbourne, which is one of the most difficult music scenes to break out into in the world. Do you find yourself wanting to empower other women in the industry rather than compete with them?

“It’s such a competitive industry. There’s so many incredible musicians out there and it’s so daunting just to think about how many people are out there that want what you want. So there is that natural tendency to compare yourself to other women and think ‘oh wow they’re doing so much and they’re achieving this or that’ and that can sort of get you down quite a lot. I’ve learnt in the past year or so to just remember why I’m doing and why I’m pursuing music; why I’m playing it and making it. It’s a part of me. If you can join forces with other people just to remember why you’re making the art you’re making, it’s so much more thrilling. Collaborating and sharing that experience is so much more rewarding.”

 And so do you believe social media enhances or hinders this empowerment?

“It’s so easy to get caught up in that superficial love of the ‘double-tap love hearts,’ and the likes and followers, so it’s really easy to compare yourself to others. It’s just the reality of 2017 I guess, when we’re living in the digital world. It’s so important though to just go back to that authenticity and that organic nature of the fact that we’re musicians and we make music because it helps us make sense of the world. I think that’s the important bit- to bring back the perspective every now and again. It’s so easy to get lost in the idea of success on social media, but it goes so far beyond that.”

 Social media can be an entirely tricky thing regardless too!

“Exactly. At the end of the day when you’re promoting your music or art on social media, it’s your own business and your own branding. It can be really difficult to promote yourself, especially when you’re not used to it and have a tendency to have a lot of emotions, as many of us in the creative arts do. I have this saying on my bedroom wall ‘it’s both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so deeply,’ which really resonates with me because when you are an emotional person you can put those thoughts and ideas onto paper or onto canvas, but it also comes with the downfall of experiencing negative emotions and the thoughts that follow. But you do have to have an online business presence because you’re essentially selling yourself and your music.”

Going forward into the future, do you think even more must change for women to further progress in the music industry? What do you think should be done?

“I think it’s a matter of education and it’s a matter of conversation. It’s easy to be ‘pigeonholed’ as a ‘raging feminist.’ But every intelligent person should understand the word ‘equality,’ and therefore needs to be a feminist. There’s still a lot of stigma behind the word ‘feminism’ and for us to move forward and promote that equality, so that in however many years’ time this conversation is no longer necessary. I don’t know how long that’s going to take and I don’t know if it’s going to happen. I do know that for it to happen; however, we need to have conversations and we need to stick together and we need to educate. We’re doing it already though, the way we’re going is the right way and I don’t know how else we’re going to get the word across. But everyone who understand equality needs to understand feminism and promote it.”

 Who are your favourite female musicians in the industry at the moment?

“ I cannot get enough of Julia Jacklin, and I’m also totally blown away by Gretta Ray. She’s so young and her sound and song writing ability is so mind blowing. They’re doing an amazing job at representing women in the Australian music industry and encouraging other female artists to get themselves out there.

 The film clip was launched at the Malthouse Theatre back in May and was a successful night.

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Check out Chloë Violette on:
Website | Facebook | Instagram

Written by Jordyn Hoesktra

 

CELESTE KATE

“I feel like writing is a bit cathartic. I’ll write about it [experiences] because that’s my way to essentially be my own therapist.”  

For some artists, the ability to find their niche happens overnight. This wasn’t the case for Celeste Polson. Not at all. The Ballarat-born singer songwriter, who artists under the stage name ‘Celeste Kate,’ didn’t begin performing her original music until she was in her mid-twenties. This was following the completion of a Diploma of Musical Performance at Gordon TAFE in Geelong, and making the move to Melbourne to give herself the best opportunity possible.

“The Diploma of Music introduced me to Jazz, so when I moved to Melbourne I found myself performing in the jazz scene. In 2015, I was singing in a big-band style ensemble at a jazz club in Richmond, where I shared the lead with male vocalist.”

Celeste also undertook a Diploma of Musical Theatre at the APO of Arts Academy. Whilst her main passion is singing and song writing, she took a year off her original music to focus on completing the degree and becoming an all-rounded performer: “I wanted to incorporate acting and dancing into my singing- I wanted to be a triple threat!”

With jazz and musical theatre under her belt, Celeste’s most in depth experience as a musician comes in her song writing. Having begun writing at the age of 12, after keeping a lyric-filled journal, she began to compose music with these lyrics. She even remembers the first song she ever wrote.

“I do actually [remember it]! I did record it. It was called Nowhere. It was sort of just about feeling like you’re literally getting nowhere in life, like people are trampling on you and you end up feeling like you’re never going to get anywhere.”

Recording these early songs proved beneficial to Celeste, as they equipped her with the experience needed to go on and place highly in several song writing competitions around Melbourne.

“In 2010 I was a semi-finalist in a competition called the Melbourne Fresh Industry Showcase. Then last year I came fourth in a competition called the Emergence Festival.”

Similarly, her last EP I’ve Been Waiting, created a track that came in the top 30 at the finals of the Australian Song Writing Association Competition in 2015. Beating thousands of other songwriters for one of these positions, Celeste described it as the “highlight of my career- it was all very exciting!”

I wasn’t surprised to hear of her success after further discussing her song writing skills with her. I was in awe as she took me through a step-by-step process of a song she wrote, entitled Smile for the Camera and depicted the completely captivating concept she had for a supporting music video.

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“I wanted to write a song about people who appear to be really attractive and look like they’ve got everything together and look like they’re happy, but behind that smile it can be deceiving. It was about the point that you can be attractive and you can look like you’ve got all those things but perhaps behind those eyes there’s someone dealing with something really huge. I had this vision for this film clip that I just don’t have the budget for yet. There’d be these supermodels posing for the camera and looking all glamorous and beautiful; then in another scene they’ll be in the bathroom snorting cocaine with tears running down their face, which shows how they’re really feeling.”

This song; however, was out of the ordinary. Celeste admits she tends to write based on her own personal experiences, starting from the journal she kept as a child. The themes she addresses may not be a direct reflection of her own life, but rather those of her family and friends yet that have touched her in some way. When she does write about herself; however, she confesses to feeling selfish about what she’s producing.

“It’s a bit selfish really, it’s all very internalised. I feel like writing’s a little bit cathartic. If I’m feeling a bit anxious or particularly emotional about something that is affecting me in my life, anything that might be happening, I’ll write about it because that’s my way to essentially be my own therapist.”

Increasing her song writing experience has also meant that her methods and processes have changed over time. In the past, Celeste says she would come up with an entire lyrical structure and then add the chords in whilst at the piano. The lyrics would always be the primary feature, with the melody being added second. Nowadays, her song writing method consists of lyrics and melody after she has created a chord progression on the piano. Even then, no one process is set in stone.

“I wrote a song about a week ago and I sat there and wrote all the lyrics down until I was completely happy with them. It was kind of like this weird poem. Then I tinkered with different melodies, not even at the piano, I just sang them out loud until I was happy roughly with what I was coming up with. It’s kind of considered a really backwards way to do it but it seemed to work for that particular song.”

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If you needed further convincing that Celeste’s song writing is on par with some of Melbourne’s best, you only need to look at her musical influences. The style of music she aims to create and perform can be determined without even asking her. Discussing how she grew up inspired by artists such as Katie Noonan and Sarah McLachlan – and currently greatly idolising Kate Miller-Heidke – Celeste admits that it’s Kate Bush that takes the cake as the most influential artist on her career so far.

 “The way in which she wrote a lot of her songs  was very unusual for that era. A lot of female artists were writing ‘love’ songs, about having their heart broken and everything, but she was writing about lust and desire and all those other parts of being in a relationship that we don’t always hear about in songs. We often hear about the pain and the heartbreak of it, but she was writing about all the good stuff. I just love the way that she writes, as well as the sound of her voice. She’s a fascinating story teller, so I definitely look up to her as well.”

Celeste is launching her next single I’m Not Sorry at the Matthew Flinders Hotel this Friday (May 12). She will also be performing a few new songs that have yet to be recorded but hopes to add to her next EP. As for what to expect on the night: It’s going to be just myself on piano so it’s going to be a very intimate performance.”

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You can purchase tickets to Celeste’s single launch on the night for $12.
For more information go here

You can follow Celeste Kate on
Facebook | YouTube | Soundcloud


Written by Jordyn Hoekstra

LUCCA FRANCO

“Hopefully it’s the kind of show Aretha would’ve put on thirty years ago except in Melbourne, sung by a little Italian-Australian girl.”

You’d be correct in thinking Motown was a thing of the past, right? Wrong. Meet Lucinda, known musically as Lucca Franco. The 24-year-old from Oakleigh has always had a love for Motown and soul, and is now taking her passion and reinventing the sound. And how did it all start? I hear you asking. Well as Lucinda recalls, it all started with one talent show that took place 14 years ago.

“When I was 10 years old I entered a talent competition where I placed and ended up winning. From there I started singing lessons and it wasn’t until I was about 13/14 that I really started taking it seriously. I just fell in love with music and that sound. I found my first Aretha Franklin record at that age, it was kind of like a ‘Best Of’ record, and I just fell madly in love with her sound and that genre of music- the old soul singers, Motown. People like Aretha, Stevie Wonder, Etta James, Michael Jackson and I just started singing all her tunes all the time. I became obsessed with the soul sound.”

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The talent competition wasn’t the only competition Lucinda starred in during her youth, either. The up and coming soul star placed in a song writing competition at the age of 12, adapting her with the skills she ended up using to write her debut album from a young age. The song, There Are Days, was the first song she ever recorded. She also admits that she came across it on one of her old computers the other day and “completely lost it.”

“I was 12 years old and it was the school holidays and my dad had bought me a little keyboard and I worked out all these functions where you could make beats and stuff. At school I was severely bullied, like I didn’t have very many friends when I was younger and it was just this song about having your family and friends support you through any situation.”

So many achievements at such a young age, and Lucinda had realised that music was the path she had to be on. Many artists make sacrifices when they first enter the industry, however Lucinda was beginning before she even finished school. Despite this, she admits that moving to Sandringham College from an all-girls Catholic school for year 11 and 12 was the best decision she ever made.

“Sandringham had amazing music teachers that nurtured my music and my creative side. One of the bands I started in the classroom became the band I ended up playing in right up until recently. We were like a reggae, funk band and worked our butts off and gigged from the age of 16 to about 22. Then Michael, the guitarist went overseas and worked on a cruise ship so whilst we never disbanded, it kind of put a halt to our music which led me to start the Lucca project.

“After that, I was really lost for a couple of years. I knew what I wanted to write but because I wasn’t super confident on guitar or piano, I was just banging out a few simple cords here and there whilst the chords were all in my head. I got myself a vocal loop station so I started writing with that but I was never really doing anything with the songs I wrote, I was just keeping them there.”

Lucinda was fortunate enough to meet her current producer, Lee Bradshaw at an event 18 months ago, where Lucinda worked as a vocal coach. Describing their meeting as a “serendipitous” moment, she says he completely understood the artist she wanted to become. The two went on to work together, with Lucinda going on to record not only a song he wrote, but writing, producing and recording her entire up and coming album with him.

“We wrote a bunch of songs that I’m really happy with that turned into this project. I worked with some incredibly songwriters and had some cool people playing on the recording- we did live recordings of the album. We’d spend 9 hour days in the studio and played these songs and it came out incredible. We’d overdubbed different sections as we couldn’t fit all the musicians in the room at the time. I got other vocalists in as I wanted it to echo the old soul sound and it was just so much fun. It seems like a lifetime ago now even thought it was only 6 months ago but I’m really excited to get it out on stage. It is my proudest achievement.”

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The Lucca Project was written entirely on piano and according to Lucinda each song was recorded with up to eight different musicians. She emphasises the team effort behind the album through the writing, recording and production as inspired by the documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown. About The Funk Brothers, Lucinda describes the collaborative effort that they underwent and how she wanted to replicate that. Despite having been working on her debut single Sinking Feeling for years, she admits the support she had from her team was what solidified it into becoming her entrance into the industry.

“I started writing it ages ago. But I only ever had a chorus for it and it was constantly stuck in my head. I never knew where to go from there- I’m one of those people who has books and books and books filled with unfinished songs. When we started the process of writing Lee was like “Well what have you got? Bring your old stuff in” and he liked it. The way we worked on that song together was like thinking about what was going on and what I was feeling when I wrote it. It’s when you’ve got that ‘sinking feeling’ when you’re starting to date someone new and it’s all going cool and then things just start changing and getting weird really quickly. I write very differently by myself to when I’m co-writing as well but a lot of this album came out with just talking about what I was feeling when I was writing and it brought out all these cool songs.”

And the rest of Lucca’s debut album is set to have the same vibe, according to Lucinda with the ‘break-up’ theme no doubt playing a huge role. Fans are to expect it to be sassy and funky, whilst the sole love song on the able is sultry and sensual- “all of the songs are really different, but the theme of the album is definitely there,” she admits.

Showing just how much Lucinda wants to echo the Motown days, she will be pressing her album onto vinyl for die-hard vinyl fans. She also plans to head over to the United States and go back to where Motown all began, and also where her love for Motown all began.

“I want to bring my myself back to where this style of music was made. And if people like this project enough, then I want to create another one because I’ve already got a million ideas. I want to make Lucca my original – and full time – work. That’d be awesome.”

Lucinda is launching her debut single Sinking Feeling later on Sunday April 23 at The Toff in Town and hopes to replicate her Motown idols.

“Hopefully it’s the kind of show Aretha would’ve put on thirty years ago except in Melbourne, sung by a little Italian-Australian girl alongside some incredible musicians. There’ll be hooks that grab people’s attention and singalong music, especially with Sinking Feeling.”

Check out details for her EP launch on Facebook here

Check out Lucca Franco on
FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM 

Written by Jordyn Hoekstra