Monday, February 16, 2015

Album review: These Wilder Things by Ruth Moody

Ruth Moody’s album These Wilder Things was released in 2013 but online all things are eternal … or, at least, I can allow myself an extended deadline to review the album, given that Moody is Canadian and she’s only just touring the album here now.

As with so many albums I fall in love with, it’s taken a while for this review to form itself. Language – perhaps just the English language – can seem too limited to describe an emotional response to music. Music itself seems to be the only language appropriate enough to express that emotion. But I can’t command music the way Moody can, so I’ll do my best with the written word.

These Wilder Things seems composed of elegance and sky, yearning and directness. There is space in these songs – space for the listener to sigh with the beauty of it all. This is especially true of the title track, which seems like it could be played as accompaniment to an epic journey on the prairies as much as a journey to the interior of oneself.

Moody’s voice is strong and sweet, never letting sentiment become twee. The instruments supporting her voice are restrained and, well, perfect. It’s pretty much a perfect album. Even Moody’s choice to cover Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Dancing in the Dark’ seems to fit perfectly, providing a jaunty counterpoint to Moody’s own cadence, which is a little slower.

Moody was born in Australia yet we can’t really claim her – not just because she’s lived in Canada most of her life but because this album is redolent of the place where she grew up: the space of those prairies; the respectful, rather than habitual, politeness of Canadians; the independent music scene that stretches from coast to coast across that massive interior, picking up influences with an alert curiosity and half an ear on a rich musical past that has marked Canadian music for decades. That’s a lot for one album to hold; Moody is more than capable of it, of holding the past and future in each hand and standing fully present between them.

These Wilder Things (True North) is available now.  

Ruth Moody is touring Australia. For tour dates and to read a short interview with her, please click here.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Interview: Ruth Moody

Many moons ago, I spent a year living in Canada. During that time I came to know and love a lot of great Canadian music - and so much of it is really great. So if you see the odd Canadian on this blog, that's the reason: I'm always willing to listen to Canadian music. And never more so than in the case of Ruth Moody, whose album These Wilder Things is a work of incredible beauty. Ruth is about to tour Australia, and she answered a handful of questions by email ahead of her arrival.

Canada has a robust indie music scene. For a while Halifax was the epicentre but the prairies are producing fantastic music. What's the music scene like in Winnipeg? 
Winnipeg is a great town for music. I don’t know quite what it is - whether it’s the cultural diversity or the fact that the winters are long and harsh, and buckling down with music is one way in which people are able to cope. Whatever it is, it’s a thriving scene. There is a lot of cross-pollination between genres too, which is cool. There are also two great organizations in Winnipeg  that offer support and resources to artists right from when they are first getting started to later on in their careers. It makes a huge difference. 

You're holding a banjo in a photo in your CD - is the banjo your first love as an instrument?
I do love the banjo. I actually haven’t been playing that long - my first instrument was piano and or course voice, but in the end I didn’t follow a classical path with either of those. I started playing guitar in my mid-twenties and then banjo a couple of years after that. I think the reason I love the banjo so much is that it doesn’t hold any emotional baggage for me. And it is ridiculously fun to play - I highly recommend it. 

Why did you choose Bruce Springsteen's 'Dancing in the Dark' to cover? 
I just learned it one day for fun - I thought it would be cool to put a folky spin on it, and also thought it was interesting to think of the lyrics from a female perspective. When I brought it to the band and everyone added their ideas, it kind of ended up taking on a life of its own, and we knew we had to record it.

Coming back to Australia, does it feel at all like a parallel universe? If your parents hadn't decided to move back to Canada, you could be playing Tamworth every year …
Well I don’t actually know about Tamworth, but it sounds like I should! Sign me up! I’m really excited to come back to Australia. I do sometimes wonder who I’d be if I’d grown up there - I’d certainly have more of a tan, I reckon. I have a lot of Aussie relatives, and I’ve been back several times, some of them particularly formative times in my life, so I feel a very strong tie.

Ruth Moody in Australia

Thursday, February 19th Marrickville Camelot Lounge
Admission: $25/$30. 
Address: 19 Marrickville Rd, Marrickville NSW 2204. 

Friday, February 20th Milton Milton Theatre
Admission: $34. 
Address: 69 Princes Hwy, Milton NSW 2538. 
Venue phone: (02) 4454 3636. 

Saturday, February 21st Candelo Candelo Town Hall
Admission: $20/$25. 
Address: William St (Cnr Eden St) Candelo, NSW 2550.

Sunday, February 22nd Yackandandah Yackandandah Town Hall
Address: High Street, Yackandandah.
Wednesday, February 25th Ararat The Red Room

Thursday, February 26th Adelaide Trinity Sessions @ Adelaide Fringe
Admission: $33/$36. 
Address: 318 Goodwood Rd, Clarence Park, Adelaide, South Australia 5034 SA. 

Friday, February 27th North Fremantle Mojo’s
Admission: $25. 
Address: 237 Queen Victoria St, North Fremantle WA 6159. 
Venue phone: +61 8 9430 4010. 

Saturday, February 28th Nannup Nannup Music Festival
Address: Lot 31 Warren Rd, PO Box 216 Nannup WA 6275. 
Venue phone: 0897561511. 

Sunday, March 1st Nannup Nannup Music Festival
Box office: 0897561511. 
Address: Lot 31 Warren Rd, PO Box 216 Nannup WA 6275. 
Venue phone: 0897561511. 

Wednesday, March 4th Carlton Melbourne Folk Club
Admission: $28/$30. 
Address: Bella Union Trades Hall 54 Victoria St, Carlton VIC 3053. 
Venue phone: 03 9650 5699. 

Thursday, March 5th Oakleigh Caravan Club
Admission: $28-$35. 
Address: 95/97 Drummond St, Oakleigh VIC 3166. 
Venue phone: +61 3 9568 1432. 

Friday, March 6th Geelong Port Fairy Folk Festival
Box office: 03 5568 2227. 
Address: Geelong VIC. 

Saturday, March 7th Geelong Port Fairy Folk Festival
Box office: 03 5568 2227. 
Address: Geelong VIC. 

Sunday, March 8th Geelong Port Fairy Folk Festival
Box office: 03 5568 2227. 
Address: Geelong VIC. 


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Interview: Rose Carleo

I've been listening to Rose Carleo's music for a while but only recently had the chance to interview her for the first time - and was so pleased to have done so. She's a talented, passionate performer and songwriter and she was a delight to interview. Her new single 'Time is Now' is out now, with an album to follow in March.

Your mother was a country music promoter, and so I was wondering if you had any option not to go into country music when you were younger?
[Laughter] Well, look, she was such a big fan of all music, but especially country music. So she loved her favourite bands, and loved country music especially, so when she had the opportunity, she started a country music club and we'd also started a kids' country music club to help promote and to nurture young talent, and we'd enlist the help of experienced musos and things to come down and mentor them and things.  So, yeah, I probably didn't really have a choice as such, but I just loved the stories and the lyrical content, and it was, like, wow.  And I'd find myself at 12, 13, 14, listening intently on what was going to happen next; was he going to end up with her [laughter] – probably one of my favourite country songs in the world is George Jones's 'He Stopped Loving Her Today', and I remember crying when I heard the end of it.  I was bawling [laughter].

It's a very sad song, that one.
Yeah, and it is such a great song.  So I probably didn't have a lot of choice, but that's all good [laughter].

As you were young and getting exposed to these sorts of influences, had you already started singing by then?  Did you know you had a voice, or did that spur you on to start?
Oh, look, it spurred me on.  I played the lead in a school production when I was in Grade – I think I would have been Grade 4 maybe, around that time, and I went for the lead and I didn't get it, 'cause I was always probably the loudest singer, and so I just loved it. No one told me I was good or bad or anything, I just loved it, so I didn't care, I sang at the top of my lungs.  But they gave the lead to another girl.  She was probably a bit quieter, and I think, in hindsight, they probably gave it to her so she would come out of her shell a bit more, but what happened was she fell sick – and I didn't do anything to make her sick [laughter], she had the flu, I think – and I was devastated I didn't get the lead, and then they said, "Well, you know, she's sick" … So I got to do the lead.  But other than that, it was probably when Mum had started the first sort of country music club, she approached the pub and said, "Well, can we have this resident band?"  And basically, the pub paid the band, we got the people in, and one of the regular walk-up artists we had a barbecue with the night before, friends of ours, and we were having a good old sing-a-long, and of course, me, I was thinking I know the words to that, I'll sing that.  And he called me up the next night to sing, and I just looked at Mum – I was allowed to go 'cause I'd done my homework, see.  It was a Thursday night [laughter].  I was 13, and back in the day you were allowed to do that, and he called me up to sing a duet, and I looked at Mum across the table and shook my head.  I said, "No, you're not getting me up there."  And she just turned around to me and she said, "I dare you" [laughter].

Well, they're fighting words.
Yeah, I reckon.  Then I terrorised all the bands in Perth after that [laughter].

So do you mean you just performed consistently from that age on?
I just realised I really loved to sing, and I really wanted to pursue it, and I practised – I'd come home from school every day, grab a drink, go in my room and practise until dinner. And then if we'd go to see bands, they'd get you up to have a little sing, and it was years ago now, so it's when kids were allowed in a pub with an adult, and things like that.  And then, I guess, another reason Mum started the kids' club too was [that] I was the MC – I was 15 or 16 and compering a little kids' Country Music club, and trying to help kids, and I've actually just finished judging for the Western Australian Country Music Awards. And because when I was 15 or 16 – I'm trying to remember what year it was – I won the Encouragement Award; it was one of the first years, mid‑'80s, and I always wanted to help young talent, anything I could do, because I obviously had help from older people mentoring me.  So I've judged the last couple of years. And I tell you what, some of the talent – or all of the talent, but some of the young ones, my goodness, and it sounds silly, I almost get teary, but knowing that there's so much young talent out there, and being from WA too, it just really makes me feel good that it's alive and well.

It probably doesn't look like there was a direct relationship between your mum's kids' country club and this sort of thing, but I often think that those things boil away in a culture until change happens, and what I see across country music in Australia is that the standard is so high that everyone wanting to come into it has to be very professional from a very early stage, and so I think all those little things that happen, like your mum's club and other things – and even having awards that children and young people can enter – they have to be professional, and that means it's great for the audience because they get this whole raft of fantastic artists, but the standard is so high.
For sure.  Absolutely.  And I'm teaching a few kids singing at the moment, and we've spoken about going down the track of talent quests and all that kind of stuff, and I've said to them, "If you want to, that's okay, but it's not the be-all and end-all, and at the end of the day, it's just opinions of the judges, it doesn't mean you're X, Y or Z."  And one thing that someone told me at a very early age was there's going to be lots of people giving you advice, and you take it in and you just sift out what you need and what you don't need, you just let it go, because there's going to be so much you're told.  But I just sort of really reiterate to the kids that as long as you're having a good time and having fun, that's all I care about at this stage.  And if they don't win or whatever, it's all about going in and learning and experiencing life, I suppose.

Now after you'd been playing in Perth for a while, you left Perth and moved to the east coast.  Considering that musical community you'd grown up in, was that a hard decision?
Yes and no.  It was because I was sort of writing original stuff on and off, but I was doing a lot of cover scene stuff, as many of us still do now to help pay the bills and whatever. But I needed a change, it was time for a change, and we moved to Brisbane, and then not long after that I'd sort of made contact with a few people and I think we moved there in August '05 – '06 – '07 – I think it was '05, yeah, August '05, and then by December or something, I found I was in the studio recording my first EP with Brendan Radford, and he was, like, "You're like a bull at a gate."  I said, "Yep, that's what they say [laughter]."  But I just thought I'm just going to explore, and I'll just peruse every country music website, I emailed and called anyone I could talk to to find out stuff, and I just did it.  January '06 was my first Tamworth – January '07 I was in Star Maker, January '08 I was a Golden Guitar finalist. So I just thought, I'm going to fast-track it and just do whatever I can to learn what I need to do and contact who I need to contact, and just learn from other people.

And that trajectory sounds quick when you say it like that, but you had years of development behind you.

It sounds like you were born ready, in a sense, in that when you arrived in Brisbane, you were ready to go.
Oh, absolutely.  And I think Bonnie Raitt and a few others, they were 'discovered' – and I'll put that in commas – later in life, but they'd been playing and being musicians for 20 or 30 years … and that's what the people don't always see.  'Well, where did you come from?'  'I've been signing since I was 13, you know, so …'

And you sang backup for quite a few people as well, didn't you, on tours?
I got to do a couple of shows with Barnesy, and then we did a support for Vanessa Amorosi, and I did a Beccy Cole support, and Adam Brand.  Yeah, I love Beccy, she's awesome.

She is, it's very true.  Now I'll turn our conversation to your new single.  You've had an identifiably country sound on the first couple of albums, and 'Time is Now' is co-written with Drew McAlister who, of course, is a country music artist, but there's definitely a more rock feel to the song.  I read that you demoed the song on acoustic guitars, so I'm really interested in the trajectory of getting from that through your country sound to where it ended up.
I guess when we write, we write on acoustics. Drew and I actually live in the same suburb.  I live in the Blue Mountains because of him and his wife.  They were, like, "You've got to move up here [laughter]." They're two of my closest friends.  So I guess, whenever we write, if I write with Drew, or whoever I write with, it's always at least one acoustic and voice, or two acoustics.  That's how I've always written all my songs, on acoustic guitar.  So we'd finished it and I said to him when I was writing for this album, I said I want to write some four-on-the-floor kind of stuff – because I am a bit of a rock chick, I sort of always have been, and because I have such eclectic taste in music, I don't know what's my favourite style is [laughter]. I'm partial to some, but I just really love a lot of different styles because there's something in each of those styles that I go, yeah, that's really cool or grabs me.  So I said to Drew, "I want to write some four-on-the-floor.  It doesn't have to be too heavy, but I just want good old rock 'n' roll," and I said, "but what I want to do, the whole formula I want" – I shouldn't really call it a formula, but it was – I wanted to have rockier stuff, but I still wanted the country element of the great lyric and the great story, and the great message in the song. So I just didn't want the whole of the song saying, "ooh ah baby", or "shoo-wop", you know what I mean? [Laughter] I still wanted that element of the story, or the message that's really important.  So he said, "Okay.  Cool."  And I said, "I reckon we can meld them both.  I'm sure we can do it."  So we wrote 'Time is Now', and I literally had sat down to him saying, "You know, I don't want to die with too many regrets.  Obviously people have them, but I just really want to" – 'cause Mum passed away at 50. You wouldn't know she was sick to look at her or talk to her.  She wasn't a victim; she was just so inspirational and she lasted about 13 years. They said 18 months.  So I was lucky to have her for that time. 

So I said, "I don't want to die wondering, and don't want to" – and all that, and so almost some of the lyric in the chorus, I actually talked it and said, "I don't want to die wondering what could have been or should have been."  So we wrote that, [I] was really happy with it, but I said, "It needs to rock a little bit more and we need to write a cool solo" … I said, "Can I take it to Mick [Atkins, Rose's partner]?"  He goes, "Yeah, of course you can."  And Mick's a rock player and has shared the stage with a couple of mixed members from Angels and AC/DC and Screaming Jets and stuff, so I said, "What do you think of this?  I think it needs this and that."  And he goes, "Yep, yep," and he just made a few changes and tweaked some things and wrote the solo, and I said, "That's it" [laughter].

It just needed that.  I mean, Drew and I were really happy with the song, but I just knew in my gut it needed something just a little bit extra.  Mick was based in Tassie at the time; we were doing long-distance relationship for a little while.  But he went into his mate's studio there and said, "Oh, I'll demo it up from you from what I'm hearing," and I said, "Yep, no worries," and he sort of started, demoed it up with drums and bass and guitars and things like that, and then sent it to me, and he said, "What do you think of this?"  And it was just awesome.  So the electric demo was similar, obviously a similar sort of arrangement and stuff like that to the actual recorded version, and then we just sort of developed it from there.  So I suppose with the formula of wanting it to be four-on-the-floor rock, but still the country element of a great story and message, and then I went from the gut feeling of I just want it to – it just needs something else and I think Mick will be able to put that in that form; he'll know what I'm hearing.  And then we went into the studio and the rest is history.

Well, if he's been in Tasmania, those Wolfe Brothers are from Tasmania – there's obviously something in the rock 'n' roll water down there. 
Yeah, yeah.  They often say that he knows them.  Mick and I, it's a long, long story, but we were in a band together in Perth about 18 years ago. And we were just mates.  Then sort of shoot forward 16 years later, hadn't really heard from each other, and as fate has it, you sort of meet up again and/or hear from each other again and whatever, and we've been together now just over two years.

Oh, that's a good story, Rose.
Yeah, it's a cool story. 

Is he still in Tasmania?
No, no, no.  He moved up to the mountains July – or end of June 2013 it would have been.

So he saw the error of his ways and left that island, basically [laughter]?
[Laughter] Yeah.  We were both married and stuff like that, but unfortunately in a way [laughter], our marriages broke up and stuff. But the good side of it is I've got three beautiful stepchildren now too, so that's really, really cool.

Do they live with you?
No, they're still with their mum in Hobart, but we regularly talk to them and see them and see them, and things like that.  And I'm lucky I'm quite close to them all, which is really good.

The reason I was asking if they live with you is I was going to say, for someone involved in creative work, that would be a big change in how your day would run and how you manage your creative flow. 
Definitely.  But Sam, the eldest one especially, is really, really musically talented, like, incredibly, to the point where it's, like, are you serious [laughter]?  And he's 17 and just an absolute musical genius, and the part I love is if when he rings, he always rings his dad to talk to him about stuff, but he'll ring me for singing advice and stuff like that, and it's been really great, because I've been able to pass stuff onto him, and it's, like, 'this took me 20 years to hone, so just know that' [laughter]. 

So there's you passing on basically the teaching that you had.  He's the lineage of teaching now continuing.
Yeah, pretty much.

Now, your album's coming out in March.  Have you recorded the whole thing?
Yes, all the tracks have been recorded and I'm just going to add a little bit of percussion to a couple and maybe actually Drew and the Robertson Brothers – who are good mates of ours too – they're going to do a few backing vocals for me.  I did some backing vocals, but I want the boys on there, so we're just going to do that in the next couple of weeks and then it's ready to be mixed and mastered.

Well, Drew is such a busy man. I know that McAlister Kemp are either on a permanent or indefinite break, but Drew does a lot of writing and playing with other people, so it's lucky he could fit you in.
Oh, yeah, he was pretty much offering it up straight up, because we are good mates, but he is so flat out. 

So this is the first single.  Are you planning to release more singles before March, or just the single then the album?
I might release another one March/April.  We'll see how the timing goes. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Interview: Leanne Tennant

Recently I had the chance to interview - live, in person, which is a rarity! - Cairns artist Leanne Tennant, who has released the impressive debut album Pull Up Your Britches. Leanne talked at length about the strength of the music scene in Cairns, as well as what led her to take a break from music for eight years. 

I'll start off by asking you about Cairns, as I noticed you have Simon McMenamin playing on your album, and the liner notes mention Roz Pappalardo from women in docs, who lives in Cairns. So what's the Cairns music scene like?
It has its good points and its bad points, I guess, but for me it's been great. Because it's a community everyone's really supportive of each other. People don't compete with one another, and if you need someone for a gig – if you need a drummer or a bass player because someone can't make it – other groups say, 'Hey, use mine'. It's got a really nice vibe to it. They're the positives. But I guess the negatives are that there isn't a huge scene. But the scene that is there is really passionate. 

And the venues are supportive?
Some are, some aren't as much. Some are really supportive and they're your smaller ones – they're really passionate about getting a music scene up and running. And there are some larger ones – the Jack and the Tanks Art Centre, which Roz has a lot to do with, is a massive one. There isn't as much support as there should be, but it's getting there. There are venues that are really dedicated to making themselves live music venues.

Because your music has elements of country, as well as rock, folk and blues, is there a burgeoning country scene?
There is. It's funny you say that – there's a bit of a country scene in Cairns. I think because it's rural as well. That's what I love about Cairns – that's why I moved up there from Brisbane – I love the camping. Everyone wants to go camping and go fishing and go to the creeks. So with that comes a lot of folk music and a lot of country music. Because I wasn't a huge country fan when I moved up to Cairns – I wasn't even particularly writing music that was classified as country – but I guess then the alt country developed from being up there and doing a lot of gigs with other musicians are who are very country or bluegrassy. It's a bit of a scene.

Your voice sounds like it could have gone to jazz.
Oh, very much so.

But certainly there's blues and country in it too. And it's quite unusual to find a voice that can do a variety of things. Most voices seem to be born to do something in particular. Have you had jazz training?
No. I grew up with my mum listening to jazz. She loved jazz. And so I do as well – I really enjoy jazz. My mother-in-law hates it. My husband – I guess I had to pour it down him and now he really appreciates it. But I love it. And I guess from there I discovered a lot of the blues – and that's where my heart is. But I studied period music and played flute for five years, so that was classical, and I guess some of that comes out.         

Well, it does. I'm a believer in lineages in musicians, and it's not just in songwriting, it's in voices as well. There's a maturity in the voice and in the command of the song. So your album sounds very assured, even though it's a debut album – some debut artists can still be trying to work out where they fit. But that training probably gave you the foundation for an assured first album.
That's nice to hear. Because I like so many different styles of music – I grew up listening to folk. My dad loved folk, my mum loved jazz – so I grew up with that. Then I fell in love with blues and then discovered rockabilly, and off my own bat discovered what I label as 'horror country' – that sort of real alt country that's quite dark. Because I couldn't decide on the album I just wrote stuff that I felt connected to at the time, and there's definite shifts between genres. But I think that they all piece together kind of okay … But it's nice to hear you say that [laughs].

With the country music audience – even if you have just one song on the album that's country, the country audience is quite happy to have you, and I think for an artist who has a first album and it still relatively new in your career, that audience is a great one to have in your corner. And they don't mind if you're 18 or 80 years old, either.
That's good, because I'm 34 in a couple of weeks and there's a certain age – especially places where people are being discovered – that they want you to be really, really young.

I think you can be 60 and starting out in country music, and no one minds.
That's good! [laughs]

I also looked around Tamworth one year and realised that the artists were pretty much evenly split between men and women, and the audience don't even seem to notice whether an artist is male or female.
Yes – yes, definitely. I've never thought of it until you said that – you're dead right. Whereas in other genres it's quite weighted towards men. It's quite even keel [in country]. And a lot of respect for female musicians.

And age makes no difference, either. I remember one gig Harmony James played in Tamworth, maybe three years ago – it was her one gig for the festival, at Wests Diggers. Her rhythm section were in their fifties, her lead guitarist was about 23 and her rhythm guitarist was in his late thirties. The principle seems to be that if people want to play together, they just play together.
Well, that's what Cairns is like. My launch band, I had a bass player and a guitarist who I play with very regularly and they're sort of sixties, and a drummer my age, mid-thirties, and then a 21-year-old. But the majority of the time I play with older people.

That somewhat leads me to mentioning Bill Chambers … I was listening to your album and heard someone who sounded familiar on track 7, I think it is.
That gravelly voice.

How did that association come about?
I went down to Tamworth in 2011, I think it was – it was a while ago. Cairns did a little fundraiser and they got enough money to be able to fund a few of us – transport down there, petrol money, basically. And it was the first time I'd been on tour, and I went down there. And I was freaked out because I was predominantly very jazz sounding at that time, and I thought, I'm just going to get fruit thrown at me. They're going to kick me out. It's going to be horrible. But I played in one venue the entire time – I think it was called the Green Room, I don't know if it's even open now – but I learnt so much. And at that time Bill came and he was playing with another band, and I introduced myself to him and we just started chatting and stuff, and we just became friends. And he drove me back to the airport so I could fly home and on the drive we were talking about music we liked and I said that I really loved jazz and the blues and all this stuff, and he said, 'Well, you know, country's really great', and I said, 'I don't really like country' … He said, 'Right, listen to this.' That was the whole way to the airport. And that changed my writing style a lot. I was really na├»ve to think that I didn't like one type of music or totally understood one type of music. He introduced me to a lot of really dark alt country, which I just fell in love with – I really, really adored it and that brought down the walls for me a little bit and I started listening to other stuff off my own bat and discovering new things. And on the drive home I was showing him a lot of things I loved that he hadn't heard of before, and I guess opening his mind up a little bit to some other things that he wouldn't normally like. So it was an unlikely thing that we started playing together, because we're very different but it works and we get along really well, and I learn a lot from him and he's really supportive. He's very down to earth. No ego at all. And just says what needs to be said when it needs to be said.

I hesitate to say he's a mentor, because it sounds like you were already fairly well educated in music, but maybe he was a river guide.
Yeah. Him and Roz Pappalardo. Roz has been a big mentor to me, she's been great. But I guess someone of [Bill's] level and his experience to be so like your mate at a barbecue – it is good and refreshing and you feel comfortable enough to learn from someone when they're like that. It's good to cross paths with people like that, and Roz as well, because she's been doing it for so long with women in docs.

I've interviewed Chanel Lucas [from women in docs] and she's talked about how they essentially crowd funded their albums in the days before that was possible online. How did you find the experience?
It was really positive. I was really nervous about doing it because I thought if I don't succeed, the ego will obviously be bruised a little bit. But I couldn't afford to do the CD [otherwise] at that time. I still would have done it but it would have taken a lot longer, because I had half the money saved. So it was a bit of a risk, a bit of a jump, but I had a chat with Fleur McMenamin – [the McMenamins] also crowd funded their [album] – just researched other people who had done it and thought, well, look, it was the right time, and either I did it then or I didn't do it at all. Sometimes it feels right, and it felt right. And I had a lot of support and went over my target. I was so stoked. It was nerve wracking, though, I was biting all my nails off – 'Am I going to make it?' But it's the best thing I did, I think.

Increasingly country music artists are doing it, and I've noticed mostly women doing it – at least, that I've spoken to – and with great results.
It's a great concept. And it's a nice idea to know that you've already presold so may albums, because you know 'I'm not crazy in what I'm doing and what I'm trying to achieve isn't just some sort of weird idea that I have', and that people do connect with your music. I think that was the biggest thing for me, at the end of it, that, wow, people actually like some of this stuff.

And also being able to choose your producer, choose where you record and actually own your music.
Yep, it's great – I love it. In today's world it's very achievable to be an indie musician – there are just so many resources out there to tell you what to do, that are supportive. You don't feel alone.

I interviewed a woman recently called Martine Cotton.
Oh, I know Martine.

She's just launched this new website – have you seen it?
Music Industry Inside Out – yes. She's lovely. She's great.

So for you now – part of making a go of it is touring, and I know you have a small child. That's one of the challenges of running a household and being a parent, is how you manage that creative work, especially when it involves touring.
It's hard. I'm lucky that I have a supportive partner who's willing to – not just with touring but when I have gigs, things like this when I have to fly down to Sydney, he takes some time off work or he stays at home and looks after Willow. I'm lucky in that sense. I have a few friends who are doing it on their own and hats off to them – it's really tough. But I took my little girl on the road for a tour when she was three months old, so she got very used to being in a car and I wanted it that way. I didn't want to change my life too much because I knew that I would be unhappy and she would be unhappy, so she's adapted. But now she's getting old – she's nearly two – she's starting to get a bit more 'I'll put my foot down'. So it will get harder and harder. But, you know, you just make things work, and you just have to work at it a bit harder.

But as you said, it makes you happy to do it – and if you're not content then you can't be a content parent.
That's right, and I have had doubts. I put off having children for a long time because I thought, That's it – I can either have that or that, I can't have both. And I decided to do it and you can have both, but everything's twice as complicated [laughs].

You just had to be really organised with your time.
Really organised, but you just get sick all the time. I've been sick for about four months – it's this constant daycare disease, which makes doing things harder. But it's doable. We're born to do all this sort of stuff, aren't we?

Given that we're talking about touring – when did you start performing live?
At about16 or 17. I went to high school in Brisbane. Loved music – started busking. I used to wag school and go busking in subways. Hated school. And then when I was 18 I fell in with a group of musos who were a fair bit older than me but they were actively gigging around Brisbane, so they started getting me as a support act. So I did that for about two years but then I quit for eight years because of stage fright. Then I went up to Cairns. I just started getting really bad anxiety about the whole thing, and it didn't go away. It wasn't healthy nerves – it just got worse and worse and worse, and I thought, Why am I doing this? If it's not making me feel good, why am I doing it? So I stopped, and then I went over to London because I was born in England and my family's over there. And I went over and lived there for a year, and I was just totally immersed in all this stuff happening, like art and music and theatre, and I got that little fire back. And all I could think about was picking up the guitar again, you know, I was just obsessing over it. So I made the decision that when I went back to Australia I was going to get over this bullshit and make it happen – face my fears. And I did. I used to have to have a lot to drink before I got up on stage – that was a big thing, I had to do it alcohol free and just feel it, go through it. It was horrible, but it got easier.

The fear was horrible?
The fear was horrible – not the not having the alcohol. So I managed to get through that, and now I don't have it any more. I have natural, normal fears but they're not like I want to be sick and run away and cry.

That's a pretty profound thing. Eight years away from it.
It's a long time, yeah.

Did you sing to yourself in that time?
Not really. I just got allergic to music. I enjoyed listening to it but I also got to the stage where I was listening to music and picking it apart. Instead of just being able to listen to it and enjoy it, I was picking it apart and I wasn't even in a position to do that. I wasn't a good songwriter or anything, and it was just silly. I'd just started hating music. I don't think it's a good thing, you know.

Not when it's something that's brought you so much joy.  
Yes. But that break, I look at it and wish it wasn't so long, but it was so necessary because I wouldn't be back doing it now with so much feeling and determination if I hadn't done that and gone through those motions. I had to wait till I was ready.

So it was part of your maturation as an artist. But eight years is a long time.
It is a long time. And we were talking about age before and I was thinking, I should have just taken a three-year break to sort my shit out.

But it had to be whatever amount of time it was. If you're going to be Taylor Swift, a young age helps, but –
But if you're going to be Tom Waits, it doesn't matter.

If you're in a storytelling genre, people like you to have stories to tell, and they often come after you've lived a bit of life. For your songwriting process, when you came to do the album, did you have more songs than you needed?
I did – that was what I wanted to do with this album. I had an EP before that and I was scrambling to get songs for it and [for the album] I wanted to have more songs so I could choose my favourite ones. So I did have a couple that didn't make it onto the album that will hopefully get onto the next one. I just had a big writing spurt, because I was pregnant at the time – I had the time and energy to focus. I knew that the 'only thing I have to do now is nothing' and I had to allow myself that, whereas – you know you feel guilty, I should be doing this and I should be doing that? And when I was pregnant it was like, 'No, you shouldn't be doing anything right now'. So that allowed me the space to write.

So you took on the birth of a baby and the birth of an album at the same time.
Yeah – 100 per cent {laughs].

So for your next album …
I'm not having another baby! Don't even put it out there!

Pull Up Your Britches is available now.