Category: interview

Interview: Jess Moskaluke

500x500.jpgOne of the great things about the recent Country2Country festivals in Sydney and Brisbane was the opportunity to see artists who haven’t yet toured Australia, and that includes Canadian Jess Moskaluke, who wowed the audience from the very minute she started. Moskaluke is an outstanding performer who’s had what would once have been considered an unconventional path to a music career (were it not shared by her countrymen Shawn Mendes and Justin Bieber). I had the chance to speak to Moskaluke when she was in Sydney.

What is the best thing about your job?

The best thing about my job is that I get to travel to beautiful places like Australia. No doubt. And also the people. I get to meet a lot of incredible people, whether they’re artists or fans or bloggers or whoever. I’m really fortunate to go a lot of places and meet a lot of people that I wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to.

And what’s been the most difficult thing about it – if there has been anything difficult?

I would actually say that part of it is the same thing, although it’s one of the best parts about my job. The travel is also one of the most difficult parts. I often leave my husband and my dogs at home and, and my friends and family behind, and I don’t have a lot of time. I also don’t have a lot of routine in my life due to that. So it’s certainly rewarding and I do enjoy it, but it certainly is a challenge.

I lived in Canada for a year, a while ago, in Vancouver, and I volunteered at CiTR radio station and worked on their magazine. So I had a lot to do with Canadian music. Australia is a big country geographically, but Canada is bigger. So I used to think about the logistics of bands from the Maritimes, trying to come to the west coast. People in the Prairies, where you grew up, trying to get around. So even if you’re touring just within Canada, that must be logistically difficult.

Yes, absolutely. And with the Maritimes, it’s just as hard for us to get over there. I’m very fortunate that I have fantastic support over in the Maritimes, but it’s really tricky to get over there, so we don’t get there as much as we would like to. It’s a massive country. So every time we do a radio tour just to get across the country to get to all the proper radio stations and things like that, it takes us weeks, and you can maybe only can hit a couple of cities a day.

Continue reading “Interview: Jess Moskaluke”

Interview: Adam Brand and the good life

image009.pngLast year Adam Brand celebrated twenty years in Australian country music with the release of his album Milestones; this year he has been relatively quiet – because his life has just changed, in a big and wonderful way. No mystery, then, that the first single from his upcoming album (due for release next year) is ‘Life’s Been Good to Me’. We talked about the song, the very good change in his life, and the reason why his album was recorded a year early.


Your new song is another cracker and you certainly have a knack for catchy tunes. Is that a skill you’ve honed, in identifying those sorts of tunes, or is it innate?

I have no idea [laughs].

But you keep doing it, Adam! You keep finding these great songs and writing these great songs.

Look, the fact that you’ve said that is very touching. Thank you very much. But you know, when you’re writing or even choosing – I don’t write all my own stuff these days, I listen to songs from other songwriters and things like that – I just want to sing stuff that gets me going, that gets me really excited or emotional. So I guess in some ways I’m representative of a normal music fan. If it gets me excited, then it’s possibly going to excite someone else.

And maybe also part of the skill of it is in not overthinking that – it’s actually trusting your response to the song and not sitting there wondering, Am I right about that?

Second-guessing and overthinking are probably an artist’s and songwriter’s worst enemy: ‘Have I done too many of those songs?’ or ‘Will people get it?’ ‘What will they think?’ And all that kind of stuff. I learned long ago that I’ve got to shut those voices out and just go with what my heart feels. Am I excited? Does it feel good? Then it doesn’t matter, you know. Because you aren’t going to please everyone. People aren’t always going to get it. And then there’s that thing called people’s personal taste! [Laughs] They’re just not going to like it, so don’t try. Just make sure that what you’re singing, you believe in it, you love it, you love doing it yourself, and then leave the rest in God’s hands.

Continue reading “Interview: Adam Brand and the good life”

Interview: Andrew Farriss

Andrew-Farriss-Come-Midnight.jpgLet’s start this by stating the obvious: yes, Andrew Farriss’s name will be familiar to you, and that’s because he was not only a member of Australian band INXS but also its songwriter-in-chief. And that’s when he wasn’t writing songs for and with other artists, such as Jenny Morris and Tania Kernaghan. His output is such that he’s been inducted into the Australian Songwriter Hall of Fame, an accolade that joins his Producer of the Year ARIA for Shiver by Jenny Morris, not to mention the awards won by his aforementioned band.

Farriss’s name has not, in the past, been associated with country music. However, once you hear him talking about music of any kind, the progression is not a surprise. He is a passionate songwriter, musician and all-round musical craftsman, the sort of creator whose curiosity takes him to all sorts of places and whose abilities mean he can do something special when he arrives there. Country music is the place he’s in now.

Ahead of the release of his new album, Farriss has released a single, ‘Come Midnight’. We spoke recently about the history of the song, about taking a piano apart – and started with a subject that is close to his life and his heart.


I believe you live in the Tamworth, area, is that right?

My family and I have a property out in the northwest [of New South Wales]. I really like the region that we live in and we’re also experiencing a very serious drought along with many other people. Very serious.

And you’ve been associated with some drought relief concerts and fundraising.

Yes, that’s right. And, one of the ironies of me putting out my own solo album, doing what I’m doing, is the platform for me to be able to do it started really with the Haymaker concert in October of last year. That was televised nationally and was a great idea of everyone involved, to get together to do it – Glenn Wheatley and John Farnham, everyone that came on board to do that. And also with Jon Stevens and Daryl Braithwaite, the Davidson Brothers – they performed with me. That was really cool. That was sort of my introduction to the live performance of where I am now. I’d already been working on an album, but it was just are ironic to me, I thought – almost beyond ironic – that I’m going through this really severe drought and the drought relief was the thing that got me on stage. And I still think it’s really strange. I don’t know how to put it.

Continue reading “Interview: Andrew Farriss”

Interview: Darlinghurst

image001-2.jpgDarlinghurst are a four-piece band who recently announced their arrival on the Australian country music scene – in great style – with the single ‘Sorry Won’t Get You Back’. The band is made up of singers Pagan Newman and Cassie Leopold, guitarist Matt Darvidis and songwriter Jason Resch. All four members sing, creating beautiful harmonies. All four also have extensive musical backgrounds, and I found out more about Pagan Newman’s when I spoke to her recently.

You’ve been a musician for a while. When did music first come into your life and what did you grow up listening to?

I started singing lessons when I was about eight years old. Growing up, I think my big main influences were Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, I was very much R’n’B, soul, pop influenced. I did countless amounts of tribute acts growing up and into my twenties. Then I met Cassie and we started playing together and we have over the last eight, nine, ten years. That’s when the country stuff started coming in because of the harmonies and the stories. We love harmonising together and I think a lot of those songs really stuck with us.

You mentioned tribute acts, and of course that’s different to playing covers because it’s a whole concept. Which sorts of tribute acts were they?

The first one was a Meatloaf tribute act, and I did all the female parts, obviously, which was slightly outrageous.


Continue reading “Interview: Darlinghurst”

Interview: Whistle Dixie

WD Album Cover.jpgNewcastle, NSW, band Whistle Dixie have a wonderful new album, Blast Off, that captures their old-time sound and wonderful harmonies. But while the band’s sound is firmly in the country music pantheon, they are now known to all sorts of audiences, having appeared as a support act for artists such as Diesel and The Whitlams. This year they’ve appeared at the Groundwater Music Festival and this weekend they’ll be at the  Gympie Muster, and the Deni Ute Muster in October. I found out more about the band recently by talking ot multi-instrumentalist John.

How did the band form? I did my research but could not find that story.

We formed about five years ago. I met Sheldon first. We were friends through church and then both had a love to for this style and genre [of music]. We got together and played and it worked really, really well. We then started auditioning a few years later for a new singer and Sheldon had grown up with Kyla. Kyla was singing with Seven Sopranos. We contacted her to see if she’d be interested in auditioning. She was the last interview out of a whole bunch and she blew us away, and the rest is history. It just really blended beautifully.

So you said you and Sheldon had a love for this kind of music. Where did that start for you? What’s your musical background?

My dad used to listen to country music while I was growing up and had a brother who was spinning records and playing fifties rock and roll record. So I guess I never had a chance! As I got into my teenage years I got into rock, as you do, and country wasn’t even a thought. But then I heard a song called ‘I Found Jesus on the Jail House Floor’ by George Strait. I was with some friends and heard this song on the radio and I told them basically to be quiet. I remember listening to the guitar and the music. That moment changed my life, I guess. It was just one of the defining moments. I later found out the guitar player was Brent Mason, who is one of the most recorded guitar players in the country. So I kind of fell in love with it from that point onwards. It comes down to a single song and, and now it’s just how we are and how we live.

Continue reading “Interview: Whistle Dixie”

Interview: Lucille

Lucille 02.jpgMelbourne singer-songwriter Lucille has released two fantastic and very distinct singles, ‘The Killing Season’ and ‘Best of Me’. The first was inspired by an ABC TV series about the internal ructions of the Australian Labor Party. The second is a ballad with more romantic tones. Lucille was born in Berlin and raised in Germany, the UK, New Zealand and Australia, and she has been steeped in music since childhood. It was wonderful to have the chance to talk to her recently so I could find out more about her musical past and her eclectic present.


Your musical background was folk, gospel and classical. Was there anything in particular that you loved growing up or did you love it all?

It was very much a mixture of everything. What I really loved about it and what I guess is really the underlying passion all the time, regardless of the particular genre, was the playing and singing with other people. And that’s where that sort of roots music hooks you in because it’s very much about the interaction with other people and creating music together. So that’s where my bedrock is, in a way.


And so that was with your siblings initially?



Did it strengthen your relationship as siblings to have that together?

It totally did. And even when you go through teenage years – which are sometimes eventful – we as a family, the four of us, would bond through song and we would often just spend time singing together, learning songs together, whether that was Simon and Garfunkel or a gospel song, and just have so much fun with the harmonies. So it definitely strengthened us in our relationships and I think it’s carried on till now. My younger brother, he’s a full-time musician. My older brother sings with the Melbourne Symphony Choir. So it’s carried on through.

Continue reading “Interview: Lucille”

Interview: Kendall Smith of JoKeria

JoKeria-Red-Country.jpgJoKeria are a Western Australia duo, with members Kendall Smith on vocals and guitar and Josh Philpot on drums. Their new album, Red Country, has its lineage in traditional country music yet it is distinct and unique. It has a way of hooking itself under your skin, and a lot of that is to do with Kendall Smith’s lyrics and voice. He delivers his stories directly to the listener, and he puts his heart and mind on the line. Therefore, I looked forward to speaking to him recently and I discovered a thoughtful, pragmatic and passionate artist.

Often when I talk to people for the first time, I like to find out about their musical background, what music you grew up listening to. So I’d like to start with that if I could.

Music I grew up listening to, I would have to say real country music. I grew up listening to Randy Travis. A lot of Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn. A lot of Slim Dusty. Australian country music. Joy McKean. The seekers. So this is a lot of influences from a lot of older people from when I was a lot younger. After primary school I used to have to go back to stay at my grandmother’s for the afternoons until my father finished work at about four, four-thirty in the afternoon so that we could then be picked up and then head back out to our Aboriginal community that I grew up living on. And in that time I’d be giving my grandmother a hand with whatever she needed and there’d always be music playing in the background. So that was my first real, focused exposure of country music. And I just started to catch onto the tunes. You start singing along and then got to a point where I try to start mimicking the artists that I was listening to.

Was your grandmother musical?

Musical in the traditional sense, most definitely. In the Aboriginal culture, for sure. She could sing lot of the old traditional songs that had to do with corroboree and ceremony times. But non-indigenously, no, she could not play an instrument or anything like that. But she really enjoyed music. She loved the storytelling side of music.

Continue reading “Interview: Kendall Smith of JoKeria”