Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Single release: 'Just Like Magic' by Casey Barnes

As I'm fond of saying, country music is a broad umbrella - which is why I like to cover the odd bit of country rock/pop if it's well done. Casey Barnes is an Australian artist and ARIA Top 10 artist with his recent album Live As One. His new single 'Just Like Magic' is a great, upbeat tune - and, frankly, at the end of this year the up-beats are in order.

The video was a family affair: Barnes’s eight-year-old daughter chose the dancers from amongst her teachers at the dance studio she attends. It is released ahead of Casey's appearances at Tamworth Country Music Festival and elsewhere (dates below).


Sunday, 22 January, 2017 @ 1:00pm
Toyota FanZone Stage (Corner of Fitzroy and Peel Street) - Tamworth Country Music Festival
Sunday, 22 January, 2017 @ 5:00pm
The Albert Hotel w/ Ben Ransom & 8 Ball Aitken - Tamworth Country Music Festival
Monday, 23 January, 2017 @ 3:30pm
ABC Stage (Intersection of Peel & White Street) - Tamworth Country Music Festival
* Monday, 23 January, 2017 @ 7:30pm
Flags of Country International Muster, Tamworth Town Hall (with McKenna Faith - U.S.A)
* Saturday, 28 January, 2017 @ 7:00pm
Johnny Ringo's, Brisbane QLD (With McKenna Faith and Band - U.S.A)
Friday, 17 February, 2017 @ 7:00pm
NIGHTQUARTER (with full band) - Helensvale, Gold Coast QLD

* shows with McKenna Faith. Tickets and info: http://mckenna-faith.com/tour

'Just Like Magic' is available as a single on iTunes or as part of Live As One

Single release: 'Somnus' by Hayley Wilson

Singer-songwriter Hayley Wilson turned to some experienced hands to produce her debut album, Further Than Forever (to be released on 24 February 2017): the late, much missed Karl Broadie and Glen Hannah. 'Somnus' is the first single from the album, and it's a piece of melancholic wonder, a wistful, sweet tune that will stay in your head for a long time.

You can watch the video for Somnus below. 

Buy 'Somnus' or you can receive the track when you pre-order Further Than Forever on iTunes

Monday, December 19, 2016

Single release: 'Porcelain' by Gina Horswood

A big, turbulent year needs a great, gutsy ending - just like the new song 'Porcelain', the title track from a new album by Gina Horswood.

Gina originally performed with her sister Melanie, sharing bills with Kasey Chambers, amongst others. In 2013 Gina headed for Nashville to write and record, and started playing to North American audiences. She has found success in Canada and is heading home to Australia for some shows in January 2017

Watch 'Porcelain' on Youtube or buy it on iTunes here.


Interview: Rachel Collis

Sydney singer-songwriter Rachel Collis has a voice and a talent that can't be ignored - thankfully, both are well documented on her new album, The Remains of the Day. I very much enjoyed speaking with Rachel recently about the album, her songwriting break and her musical background.

In the past you’ve written songs on piano and this time you wrote a bit on guitar – did that shape the songs differently, to use a different instrument?
I think so. I really don’t play guitar well at all. I’ve always wanted to, but piano’s always been the main instrument for me and the one that I studied. But I think with songwriting any change in your process is a good thing, it’s going to evoke different sounds and ideas, so I wanted to play guitar well enough to be able to write and explore songs on the guitar and see what comes. I think it really does change where things go.

I suppose there’s also the fact that you play gigs and pianos aren’t that portable – a guitar has that benefit.
Absoutely. I think I’m somewhat of a whinger when it comes to lugging a big, heavy keyboard around [laughs]. I tend to do shows where there’s a piano there already. But sometimes if it’s a folk club or if I’m just doing a few songs, it’s a real pest. So I though if I can play the guitar at least I can do a few songs. So I’m working on it. I have done a few performances where I’ve got the guitar up for one or two songs. Still needs time, I think [laughs].

I saw a video of you playing guitar onstage, so I know you’ve done that. I saw something on your website – the song about the duck.
Oh, that’s a ukulele, that one.

Clearly I wasn’t looking closely enough!
I’m quite short, so it probably looked like a guitar.

Since you play the ukulele I’ll divert and ask you a question about that. What do you like about the uke?
The funny thing is I only play the ukulele marginally better than the guitar, but it was a very similar thing. Part of the reason why I’ve never taken to guitar is that I have very small hands and I have a thin, small spread between my fingers, so playing Bach has always been a huge challenge. A few years ago I thought, Why don’t I get a ukulele? They don’t cost too much money. So I did, and I wrote a couple of songs on that. Then a year ago I woke up and thought, I’m going to get a mini guitar – and that was the problem solved. So I have a ukulele and a mini guitar, and that’s how I’m coping with it all [laughs].

You’ve been writing collaboratively with Peta Van Drempt and your husband, Steve – what you do you like about collaboration?
Two heads are better than one. I think that in the creative process you’re trying to bring ideas together. You’re constantly trying to generate ideas and ditching the bad ones and creating new ones and combining them, and you get stuck when you run out of ideas. But when you’ve got someone else with you, they throw in ideas and create new ideas for you. There’s more rubbish to ditch because there’s two people generating lots of bad ideas, but there’s also two people generating good material. All my favourite songwriters out of Nashville cowrite and I think it’s the best practice. The only thing that stops me is my ego that says, ‘I have to write this song on my own to prove to myself or to the world that I’m a genius’. I do write on my own but sometimes I think, Why not grab Peta, my friend, she’s such a great songwriter and let’s work this idea out together. So I do that a lot more now. I think both of us probably write better together than we do on our own. I mean – she’s written great songs on her own and I’m really proud of songs that I’ve written on my own but I think together we can be more productive, because so many of the songs that never get finished because you get stuck, we’ve been able to finish together.

When you were talking about how it was your ego demanding that you write the song on your own – of course, you are very well qualified to write songs because you have a Masters in Composition [laugh]. When you have that background, are there things you need to unlearn to write songs that you want to sing?
I think as a performer there have been things that I’ve needed to unlearn. Writing wise, I haven’t found that to be so much of a problem. I’ve always been able to separate the way I approach writing folk or something really simple from the way that I approach something that’s musically much more complex. Whereas I think performance wise that was a big jump for me, particularly vocally, that I had sort of let go of the need to sing something properly or even well. To just allow the voice to crack and show emotion and to let it be no big deal – that was a process I had to go through. Not that I regret doing the classical training but I think unlearning that really affected way of singing is really important when you’re trying to sound like you just spontaneously picked up the guitar and the singing and it’s just got to be so relaxed and natural, and I think that’s a challenge for a lot of formally trained musicians.

I guess you’re trained to sing in service of the song, whereas when you’re performing your own things, you’ve got to sing in service of the story you’re telling.
Absolutely. And emotion is shown in the vulnerability of your voice, and if you’ve been trained for your voice to be flawless and powerful, and suddenly it needs to sound vulnerable and weak, that just involves a very conscious process of letting go of the need to control everything, which is hard [laughs].

Very hard when you’ve had professional qualifications in getting that way.
That’s right, and spent many years doing it. It’s amazing how much becomes unconscious as well. I’ve listened back to – this was before I started pursuing music, when I was about twenty, and I had recordings I’d done of just singing folk stuff, but at the time I was right in the middle of my classical training. And even though I thought at the time that the way I was singing folk was completely different to my classical stuff, it’s very, very obvious that I was classically trained in the way that I was singing there. It’s something that you just do unconsciously because you’re in a world. I don’t think I would ever go back and do further classical voice training because I think that would interfere with singing the folk-rock stuff too much.

And because you are classically trained, your voice could have gone several different ways – you could have become a jazz singer, or you could have become a classical singer, and you’ve chosen a style that really suits your voice. I think it takes a certain amount of courage to come from that background and say, ‘I will sing the way I want to.’
Yes, it does. My old singing teacher has been such a powerful musical mentor for me and it took me ages to get him out of my head. The very first professional gig I did was a one-woman show back in 2012 and when he came along to that opening season, I was terrified that he would disapprove of all these horrible technical things I was doing that he’d taught me not to do. But of course he didn’t – he was pleased and proud. But that was a big fear at the time. Now it feels like no big deal.

Your voice certainly sounds relaxed, so you must be at a point where you’re comfortable.
That’s right [laughs]. I’ve gotten over it.

I saw a note saying you’d started writing songs five years ago for the first time since you were a teenager. I’m curious about what made you stop writing songs then.
I think fear. Probably lack of self-esteem. I’m a big believer that one of the most important things in being able to be creative is that you need to have a strong sense of self-worth because you have to be able to tolerate your own mistakes and trust your own instincts. And I think that there were times in that period when I wasn’t writing that I would try to write again and I just had no compass for, ‘Is this any good?’ Because I just didn’t trust myself even remotely … I think something just switched in my brain when I decided to start writing again and I just said, ‘I’m going to write something good. That’s all I have to do. If it’s not good, just write it again until it is.’ But I think it takes a certain amount of confidence as a person to be able to do that. And I know some people don’t ever struggle with that but for me that was a big thing, that I had to get over that anxiety about not being perfect, about not being brilliant all the time. I gave myself permission to be terrible – [that] was also part of that transition, was to go, ‘I’m going to start writing songs and I don’t care how bad they are.’ And then I was surprised when people were suddenly turning heads and I thought, Oh, I might actually be all right at this. So that was a lot to do with it. And I didn’t have the courage to pursue a music career so I pushed all that aside. I still played a lot of piano because I would get work as a piano player but in terms of doing my own stuff for a while there it just disappeared off my radar.

It’s a good thing that it’s back now – and speaking of songs, do you have a favourite on the album?
I have two. One is ‘Twenty to Nine’ which is a song I wrote based on Miss Havisham from Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. And the other favourite is a song called ‘Rest Assured’, which is this sort of unpretentious track buried all the way – I think it’s track seven – it’s just such a simple lullaby-type song. I really love songs that are simple lyrically and musically but are elegant and I’m really proud to have written something like that. I guess referring to the classical training and the composition training, it’s kind of easy to make something interesting by adding complicated features to it but to write something that really only has a couple of chords to it and not that many notes and not that many words and make that interesting is always a great challenge.

How did you choose your producer, Sean Carey?
I worked with Sean for my last album. My drummer, a fellow called Mike Quigley, does a lot of session work for Sean. Mike played with me for my first album and was gigging with me, and I was talking to him about the things I wasn’t pleased with on the first album and what I wanted to achieve, and he said, ‘I think you should check Sean out. I think he might be a good fit for you.’ So I madly researched Sean’s music and people who he had recorded and listened to the sound, then I went into a meeting really prepared – just really clear on what my ideas were, what sounds I liked, what sounds I didn’t like, which artists I liked, which artists I didn’t like and why, and presented that to him and he was absolutely on board. I’d say, ‘I think the piano sounds disgusting in this track’, and he’d say, ‘Absolutely – it sounds like they shoved it on a football field and covered it with a blanket.’ He understood exactly where I was coming from and I thought, This is somebody who has similar taste to me. Because what I took for granted beforehand is that everybody’s different, everybody has a different style and taste and you can go in any direction, and it’s so important to find somebody who agrees with you so that you’re not pushing this uphill battle where you’re trying to get them to create a certain sound. They have to be inspired by what they’re doing too. So we did Nightlight together and it was a no-brainer to work with him again for this album.

It sounds like you had a lot of fun recording it and it sounds like a blended whole, if that makes sense.
Yes, absolutely.

The Remains of the Day is out now and availble on iTunes.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Buddy Goode has More Rubbish

Connoisseurs of fine music will already be familiar with Buddy Goode - and if you haven't introduced his Christmas album to your Yuletide festivities, do not hesitate to buy it immediately. This Christmas, however, Buddy has no new carols for his fans. Instead, he is offering them More Rubbish, a brand new album of brand new songs. And he's launching the album - his first launch ever - at Rooty Hill RSL in Sydney on Saturday 17 December.

Ahead of the launch, and the release of More Rubbish, I spoke to Buddy and, maybe, to his alter ego, Mike Carr.

The first thing I have to say is that I have not heard the album.
Well, the reason why is that we only finished recording it about ten days ago. No, it was delivered about ten days ago so it was finished recording about fourteen days ago.

And when did you start writing it?
Oh, about three days before that [laughs]. No, I started writing it a while ago but there wasn’t going to be a new album this year because I didn’t feel inspired. But I got some inspiration one night. I woke up and spoke to L Ron Hubbard and just got the inspiration. The next day I rang ABC [Music] and said, ‘Look, I’d love to do another album’, and they decided it would be a great idea, so we thought we’d do it. And it’s done and it’s here and, to be honest with you, I think it’s one of the best ones I’ve ever done [laughs].

Maybe that distilled process of creativity and productivity was the trick.
I think so, yes. And when you spend extended periods of your life really bored, the only way to get out of it is to be creative. I’d had a great break from it this year. I hadn’t done many Buddy shows this year – I only did a couple of things during the year because my alter ego, Mike Carr, was doing other things [Adam Brand and the Outlaws] and then I thought I was going to take the whole year off, but then I guess I got a little bit of itchy feet.

There is now a lot of thinking and writing about the value of boredom when it comes to creativity. The kiddies aren’t getting bored any more, they’re always occupied with the screens – it’s not good for them.
No, it’s not. I believe the children – and a lot of this album I dedicate to the kids out there, hence the reason why the very first album launch that I’m doing on December 17th at Rooty Hill – after all these years, I’ve never done one for the other albums.

Why not?
I don’t know. I can’t answer that question! I just never thought it was something I wanted to do. I haven’t even had an unofficial launch or anything like that. I’ve just released an album and gone and done the gigs. This year I thought, Oh, you know, let’s do it a bit differently. Have a launch. But it was mainly for the kids, as I said. My album launch is twelve plus – the families can come along. Not meaning that I’m going to change anything that I do in my act.

[Laughs] I was about to say, ‘How does that fit in with your act?’
Well, you know, the whole things is [that] you’re not watching Kevin Bloody Wilson. There’s no swearing in the show. It’s all double meanings. So it’s entertaining for the kids because Buddy’s just entertaining – I could be the fifth Wiggle, in all honesty. Over the years I’ve just discovered that there are a lot of families who do enjoy it with their kids and the kids like certain songs, and they’re not necessarily the dirtiest songs. Sometimes they are but [the kids] don’t have a clue what it’s about, they just think it’s funny. I’ve only ever had half-a-dozen walkouts before in all my shows, and I’ve performed to a lot of kids and families over the years. I don’t see it as a problem. It was a problem for a lot of people for a long time because they didn’t quite understand. But I said, ‘Look, you’re obviously not fans, you’re not listening to the albums – you have to listen closer.’ And once they got closer to it they could see the value in it for their children [laughs].

There’s a lot of colour and movement in a Buddy Goode proposition – the kiddies love that.
That’s right. It was Cruisin’ Country, I did a show one night in one of the bars and there was a family of six sitting right next to me – Mum and Dad and four kids – and I just looked down and the kids were all singing the words to one of my songs. Probably not the most appropriate one, but they were all having a wonderful time. So I just thought it was about time [for a show for kids] considering, as you said, technology – they’ve all got an iPad, they’ve all got a smart phone, they’re all on them all the time, they’ve seen a lot worse than Buddy Goode on there.

It must be pretty fantastic when you can look down and see people singing along.
Especially ten-year-olds. It’s amazing, you know. Because there’s nothing out there for them, ten-year-olds. What have they got to pick from – Miley Cyrus? The Jonas Brothers and the occasional two-week wonder that pops along? Buddy’s something that can stay with them forever, you know what I mean?

Just like a bad Christmas present.
That’s right. Exactly right. Like the knitted reindeer jumper. There’s a lot of influences for the songs. There’s nothing that child friendly on here but there’s some stuff that they can have a good giggle at along with their mums and dads.

If you only delivered the album ten days ago, how did you organise that cover photo so quickly – with a garbage truck, no less.
It was quite random. I had my photographer with me and we were driving round the streets looking for some alleyways and some garbage bins, just to have some shots. I drove round this corner and there was this garbage truck pulled over with three garbos having a smoko [laughs]. So I just drove in, fully dressed, and I said to the boys, ‘What are you doing for the next ten minutes?’ and they said, ‘We’re smokin’.’ And I said, ‘Can I take some photos on your truck?’ and they said, ‘Absolutely [laughs]. As long as you don’t put the numberplate in there.’ So that’s how that happened. It was totally random and I promised them all an album for Christmas. I’ve got all their addresses. So they were stoked. They had no idea what was happening to them and neither did I.

And I love the fact that they saw a fully dressed Buddy Goode and said, ‘Yep, mate – go ahead.’
[Laughs] Absolutely. They did. They were in shock.

In the press release for More Rubbish it mentions that this is a good album for the ‘average Joe and Joelene’. Does Buddy Goode relate to the average person? I’m not convinced that Buddy Goode is average.
Well, no, he’s not. He can mix in any circle, you know what I mean. He can certainly lower himself for any occasion. And the proof is on the record that he can lower himself for any occasion. The reason the album is for the average Joe is because the last two albums have been specifically themed albums: Songs to Ruin Every Occasion and the Christmas album. This time I’ve gone back to The One and Only Buddy Goode and Unappropriate. Unappropriate won my first ARIA and I think it was a great album. So this is a bit of a return to those days of Buddy Goode. There’s no themes. It’s just writing songs about the wonderful world that we live in.

When you come to write these songs, what sort of inspiration is there – is it an object, is it a person or an experience that sparks things? Or is it all completely random and you never know when an idea is going to pop in?
It’s completely random and it all depends on whether my prescription’s run out [laughs].

Prescription glasses, you mean.
Of course, of course! It depends on a lot of things. Sometimes it depends on the weather. Lots of people ask me how I write these songs and I tell you, I find it a lot easier to write these songs than I do to write normal songs because normal songs have to mean something – these don’t have to mean anything, and you can write about anything, you can make up anything you want. You can even make up words that sound funny. So I never find much pressure in writing these songs. But I do like there to be a strong meaning – at least a message that one person in the world, whether he be a garbo in Kazakhstan, something that someone can latch on to.

The fact that you can have more fun with these songs means that you can play with language more, which would be part of the fun.
Absolutely. And I have a lot of influences from my life, and I like to incorporate these people that have major influence in my life. On this album Kevin Bennett and Lee Kernaghan both get mentions.

Well, Lee and Kevin are both big presences in Australian country music.
Absolutely. Kevin just recently got nominated for 400 Golden Guitars. I was really excited for him and I was there at the party, at the nominations. I went            up to him and said, ‘I’m really thrilled for your nominations – you must be too’, and he said, ‘I heard on the grapevine that Buddy Goode has mentioned me in a song’, and I said, ‘Yes, he has’, and he said, ‘Well, that’s much more important than the six nominations I got.’ [laughs]

[Laughs] It would be pretty special to be immortalised in a song! Now – as you mentioned the Christmas album, I do have a related question: what is on your Santa list this year?
That’s a good question.

And have you been naughty or nice? That’s the next question.
Oh, I’m always naughty.

I figured that would be the answer.
Well, you have to be naughty to be nice. Because if you’re not naughty you don’t get anything out of life and if you don’t get anything out of life you can’t be nice to anybody.

Words to live by.
And my Santa list … to be honest, a Golden Guitar nomination is high priority, because I feel like the ARIA has embraced me for many years but I feel that the Golden Guitars haven’t quite embraced Buddy Goode, considering that’s where he started – his first gig was at the TRECC in Tamworth. I opened for Adam Brand, I did three songs. My very first song was an instrumental – it was ‘The Magnificent Seven’ played on the bottle with wooden spoons.

Do you remember what you wore?
Yeah – I had a white jacket on, and a white skivvy, and blue jeans tucked into wonderful white cowboy boots, snakeskin leather. No one remembers that – the gig was with Adam Brand and Michael Spibey from the Badloves, and James Blundell and Buddy Goode. That was the very first gig. I only had one song out at the time – it was before I got signed to ABC – and I walked out on stage and did ‘The Magnificent Seven’ with the bottles, then I performed my one song, then I think I finished with ‘Thank God I’m a Country Boy’ and walked off. [laughs] So I’d love to be embraced by the Golden Guitar awards but I can’t seem to get a look-in. Maybe I’ll have to do a duet with Kasey Chambers.

Or maybe give Adam Brand an alter ego and you two can duet –they love a duet at the Golden Guitars.
[Laughs] They do. Well, we’ll see what happens.

Before I wrap up I will ask you about Tamworth do you have a show or shows?
I have the one big show on the 25th of January at the Diggers Showroom at 7 p.m. I’ll be doing the charity event, Country Turns Pink, as well on the Saturday night where I’ll be introducing special guests to perform a song with me. And a few little bits.

And I imagine you’ll have special guests at that Diggers show too.
Last year I had Adam Brand and Seleen McAllister. Adam and I did a wonderful version of ‘Shaddap Your Face’ just for Adam to get in touch with his Italian origin. This year there is a surprise but I’m not going to announce it until the week out.

More Rubbish is flooding your neighbourhood on 16 December, courtesy of ABC Music. You can order it here or buy it on iTunes.

Buddy Goode is on Facebook.