Category: interview

Amber Lawrence on her ‘Outrageous’ new song

outrageousSydney-based singer-songwriter and multiple Golden Guitar winner Amber Lawrence is constantly creating music, whether it’s for her country music albums or her popular songs for children. Recently she released ‘Outrageous’, a single from her forthcoming country music album. It has Amber’s trademark great musical hooks and lyrics that speak straight to the listener, with a dash of outrageous inspiration to go along with it. We spoke recently about the song and how her young son, Ike, fits into his mother’s musical life.

Congratulations on the new song, ‘Outrageous’, which is the first single off your new album. So does that mean the album is already recorded? And, if so, why do we have to wait until June? I’m a fan. I want to hear it now!

[Laughs] That’s just a technical thing of a wedding that I’m having. I decided I wanted to enjoy my wedding and I’m not doing what I always do and try to get everything done all at once. I decided to have the wedding late April and then I’ll be ready to release an album and dedicate to that. It was going to be sooner and then I kind of put it in perspective and thought, you know, I am only going to have one wedding, so let’s not be doing radio interviews the week of my wedding, promoting my album.

And I suppose also there’s the potential of going on the road to support it. So, yes, I would imagine you do need to block out months.

Yes, that’s right. Once it’s out it’s only got that short time to really make a splash. And I’m really, really excited by this album. The single is really an indication of the album – it’s all very uplifting and fun. So I’m proud of it and I want to give it all the attention it deserves, but definitely not at the expense of having a good time at my wedding [laughs].

I imagine it must feel like quite a relief because you’ve done it. There must be this nice sense of, ‘Okay, well, I’ve drawn a line under that and now I can just enjoy the next few months of preparing for the wedding and, and, and know that there’s nothing else to do on, at least on the album front.

Definitely. And that’s different to how I’ve always done it. It’s always been so much more rushed. And it kind of feels a little like, ‘Oh, come on!’ There is that anxiety of ‘why do I have to wait so long?’ Normally I’ve done the album, and then you’re rushing to get the video and the photos done in time for the release date. With this, we’ve kind of got it all already sitting in my computer.

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Interview: Brittany-Elise

image003.jpgQueensland singer-songwriter Brittany-Elise recently released her debut album, Something More, and saw it go straight to number 2 on the iTunes Country Chart, and 20 on the iTunes All Genres Album Chart.

Brittany-Elise has been singing and performing since she was a seven-year-old growing up in Mackay.  Her talents were recognised early by Lee Kernaghan, who asked her to open for his Mackay show when she was just 9, although she didn’t take him up on his offer until she was 12. When I spoke to Brittany-Elise recently I found out more about her impressive musical journey and about the new album.

Congratulations on the album, which I really loved listening to. It must feel great to have it out in the world.

It is an amazing feeling. I think it’s been a really long time coming. I’m quite speechless with the response to the album. It’s just incredible that people you don’t even know are loving the album just as much for their own experiences and their own stories. It’s just such a humbling feeling to have it out there and hearing so much great feedback.

How long ago did you record it?

It would have been August 2018.

So you’ve been waiting for quite a while to get it out.

Yeah, I have [laughs]. Just waiting for the right timing and I just knew 2019 was going to be the right time. I just kept working at it and there’s so much to the business of producing an album anyway, so between August and February there was plenty of work to do.

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Interview: Ryan Daykin

image001.jpgVictorian singer-songwriter Ryan Daykin has just released a new EP, Keeping Secrets, that combines his wonderful voice with his songwriting talents to produce something that will please country fans and also satisfy those who love a great pop hook. I spoke to him recently about his new work.

The last few years you’ve written with a lot of people, you’ve played so many different places. Do you just manage your time really well?

I’ve kind of had to, jamming as much as I possibly can into the short periods of time I get off. Occasionally I might throw in a cheeky long weekend here or there if I have to. I’ve managed to squeeze a lot into the time [laughs].

You have, absolutely. Even just the list of people you’ve written with is extensive.

I’ve been very fortunate to do a few courses in the Country Music Academy, songwriter retreats at the Dag [in Nundle, NSW] and stuff like that, which I squeeze into my annual leave. And the Tamworth Country Festival and doing multiple things while I’m up there. You learn what you’ve got to do to keep going.

I guess you also need to have that commitment to your mission, in a way, and keep the focus on what you want to achieve.

Exactly. I think you’ve got to really, at the end of the day, that’s the one thing that keeps you going. So you’ve got to really be focused on what the end goal is.

When did that passion for country music start – that vision for wanting to have a career?

Well, it was really probably about 2010/2011 was when I started getting paid to play music. I was, like, I’m doing something I like and I could get paid for it.It was a fascinating thing [laughs]. Then I went to the Country Music Academy in 2012. I applied for that not thinking that I was going to get in, to be honest, and I managed to get in on scholarship. That really kicked it off. And I’m not surrounded by a lot of musical people where I am, so I don’t have a lot of musical conversations with people, I don’t have the ability to talk about the industry or stuff like that as much here. But when I went there I thought, Oh, these people get me, they understand what I’m looking for, they understand what I want to do. And they’re all the same.So it opened up a whole new network of people and avenues to explore.

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Jenny Mitchell sets the world ablaze

JENNYMITCHELL-7.JPGI interviewed New Zealand singer-songwriter Jenny Mitchell late last year, but waited to post the interview until after I saw her perform at the Tamworth Country Music Festival, where, it’s safe to say, she had audiences spellbound. Her voice, her presence, her songs, her everything captivated everyone who saw her. She’s a fairly regular visitor to Australian shores, so make sure you catch a gig if you can. In the meantime, here’s Jenny talking about her new album, Wildfires.

What a wonderful album. You must be very proud of it.

I am very proud of it, I feel like a proud mum. It’s awesome to be on that side of it. The pressure and stress beforehand is quite colossal, so I’m happy to be celebrating it now rather than worrying about it.

I guess it’s that nerve-wracking thing where you know you’ve done good work but then you don’t know how people are going to receive it.

Yes. You want to have everything as well organised as you possibly can. You want to do as good as you can for your product when you know that you’re really proud of it. So I did feel worried about having all the right things in place and how are people going to hear it and all that stuff. But I’ve been really lucky. I’ve had a great team and I think we’ve done a good job.

You’ve done a very good job! I didn’t actually notice whether you’re with a record company or not.

No, I’m not. I’ve opted for this one to stay independent because I just feel that right now where I am in my career, it’s not possibly the best time to sign up with a label, but I don’t know what will happen in the future. It’s really my label, which is called Little Acorn Records.

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Interview: Riley Catherall

image003.jpgRiley Catherall has already appeared on this site because of his outstanding singles, ‘Watered Down Man’ and ‘Robin’. He’s an emerging artist who is already a very well-developed musician and songwriter – when we spoke recently I asked about his long musical history and about his introduction to country music. Riley is appearing at the 2019 Tamworth Country Music Festival – dates after the interview.

You started playing guitar at the age of four – did your parents encourage you to start, or was it your own decision?

Dad taught himself guitar. Some of my earliest memories involve him playing guitar for me. Mum was a piano teacher. So I think there was a combination of influences there. Much like a lot of kids get thrown into guitar lessons – and myself being a teacher as well – you see kids who get guitar lessons where their parents have sort of forced them into it, and once they get a little bit of independence they stop doing it. But I was hooked on it enough to continue it. There was definitely good encouragement there with my family, which was fantastic.

Was there a reason why you weren’t put on a piano?

Not really. Because I was the first child I think Dad was super stoked to have a son – ‘This one’s mine, we’re gonna do guitar’ [laughs]. My younger sister plays piano. Maybe Mum got her turn [laughs].

Did you enjoy playing guitar as a child or were there times when you thought, I don’t want to do this – I want to go outside!

From a young age I’d go into show and tell at school and sing a song. I was that kid [laughs]. I always had this entertaining mindset. I went through the stage of learning classical guitar – that’s how I started. Then you discover rock ’n’ roll – you want to be a rock star – and Mum’s getting really worried because I’m playing ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ in my bedroom at eleven years of age. I’m always inspired by new things, with the change of the seasons, so it’s good that [guitar] is such a vast thing that you can be introduced to new things. Nothing really gets stale; nothing really gets repeated. There’s just so many different versions of it.

Can you remember which songs you used to play for show and tell?

I used to play a lot of bush ballads. ‘Tenterfield Saddler’, ‘Redback on the Toilet Seat’. There was a couple of Australian Classics CDs that we’d have in the car on repeat that I’d then go into school and sing. My nana loved Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’ so I used to go in and sing all thirty verses of that [laughs].

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The Wolfe Brothers headline at The Albert Hotel during TCMF 2019

unnamedThere’s a fair bit of coverage of Tasmanian band the Wolfe Brothers on this site, and there’s a reason for that: they’re great. Complete professionals who put on amazing live shows and continue to evolve because they want to make the best music they can. It is always a pleasure to interview them, and this time I chatted Tom Wolfe about their headline show at The Albert on 23 January during the 2019 Tamworth Country Music Festival, and about yet another big year during 2018.

 

It’s been yet another year of underachievement for the Wolfe Brothers: five Golden Guitar nominations, an ARIA nomination and national tours. When are you guys going to start putting in some work?

That’s a great question! One of the things we’ve been really good at is a great work ethic and I don’t know whether that comes from our parents but we’ve always kept gigging, kept working, kept writing … and it’s really cool. It’s really nice to see all this hard work starting to pay off a bit, with these nominations – especially at the ARIAs, it was so nice to be there and be a part of that. It was really gratifying. It felt like we were doing the right things.

 

The ARIA nominations in that country music category were a good representation of Australian country music. I was really pleased to see Fanny Lumsden in there with you guys and the others.

Absolutely. One of my favourite country music albums of the year has been Fanny’s album [Real Class Act]. It’s a fantastic album. But you’re right: we’ve really grown in Australian country music and we’re now recognising that diversity is the key. And the key is also picking each other up instead of putting other people down. That’s how we really feel, and I feel like we’ve had a lot of support this year, so that’s been really, really nice.

 
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Paul Costa to headline two TCMF 2019 shows

PC Promo copy.jpgMultiple Golden Guitar Award nominee Paul Costa is always a crowd favourite at the Tamworth Country Music Festival – so much so that for the next festival, in January 2019, he’s playing two headlining shows. Paul Costa and Friends will be at the Capitol Theatre on 19 and 26 January, I spoke to Paul recently about those shows and about his latest single, ‘Road Train’.

 

What is special about the Tamworth Country Music Festival?

It’s one of the biggest country music festivals in the world and we’re so lucky to have it here, accessible to us. For me, it’s helped my career a hell of a lot, building up a fan base. You’ve got country music fans coming from all over Australia. I started as a young fella playing in the street then progressed to my own shows, and now I’ve got two shows at the Capitol Theatre next year, so it’s been a continual ride. I guess I’d have to the festival a big salute for helping me get where I am.

 

Everyone who has visited the festival knows that there’s a lot of talent on Peel Street, and the performers aren’t just playing one show – they’re there day after day.

It is amazing you get caught up in the excitement and the atmosphere. I’ve always said that the atmosphere is electric. There are people who want to hear music, and sometimes they dance along to your music. But it can be fairly taxing [laughs].

 

Also, you’re outside and it’s a very warm time of year.

Definitely. But with the atmosphere your adrenaline starts pumping and you do it. When you’ve got the fans there who want to hear what you do, as a performer you find a way to do it.

 

The audience is never as close again as when they’re watching you on Peel Street. So many great artists, like you, start on Peel Street and I guess you learn so much about how to connect with an audience when they’re right in front of you like that.

It’s a great research and development thing [laughs]. Honing your skills as an artist. A lot of artists – Troy Cassar-Daley, Felicity Urquhart, Keith Urban – played on the street in Tamworth. Just to hold an audience is an art in itself, so without even thinking you do pick up those skills as you go along and they stick with you and become part of your style.

 

As you said, you’re playing at the Capitol Theatre and you have two shows, and I’ve noticed that you’ve spaced them really well so there’s one on each of the weekends, therefore capturing people who aren’t necessarily there the whole time.

Yes, that was the plan [laughs]. We normally spend the whole ten days there doing interviews and all the rest of it and that was always the build-up to the show. For the last seven years I’ve had my Capitol Theatre show on the last Saturday. And a lot of people I speak to say, ‘We’re only here for the first weekend’ or ‘We’re only here till Tuesday’. So we thought let’s try a show on the first Saturday, get everyone who wants to come on the first weekend as well as the last weekend, and we’ll see how we go. It seems to be shifting from where it used to be a build-up [towards the last weekend]. Because of school holidays I think the festival’s moved slightly later and holidays cut out towards the end of the festival now, so you get a lot of people who seem to be going just for the first weekend. So this is the first year doing two and we’ll let you know how it goes at the end [laughs].

 

Beccy Cole’s done both Fridays for a long time.

I think Adam Harvey’s another one who’s played two shows for as long as I can remember.

 

The show is Paul Costa and friends – can you reveal who the friends are yet?PC-Tam2019-A3-PREVIEW-002.jpg

Some of them are surprises and some of them want to be surprises. I can tell you that Ben Ransom – who opened the show for me last year – is going to be back opening the show on the last Saturday. He does a great job – he’s a great artist in his own right, doing very well on radio channels and that type of thing, so I’m happy to have him on board. But we like to keep the surprise guests a surprise otherwise it wouldn’t be a surprise [laughs]. In the past I’ve had Amber Lawrence, Aleyce Simmonds, Graeme Connors, James Blundell sang a couple of songs with me last year. So we always get some great artists and friends of mine.

 

It’s one of the really special elements of Tamworth that you have all these artists in the one place but also part of the country music industry is that you’re all so willing to collaborate and perform with each other. It makes it so special for the audience.

It does. It’s a funny thing – someone’s doing a show, but as soon as another artist comes up and joins them, the whole atmosphere lifts and the cameras come out. People want to capture that special little moment and that interaction. It doesn’t necessarily have to be perfect but just the way two, or three, artists interact makes it a little bit different and a little bit special.

 

Because you are there for the whole festival, and I know you’ll be doing media and other things because it does get very busy for the performers, is there anything you’re looking forward to seeing or doing?

I’m always there for the opening concert – I always like that. It’s a great to kick off the festival. I just like getting around. We haven’t filled our calendar yet for where we’re playing, so once that’s locked in I’ll check out what else is available. But I love to see as much music as I can. The Pickers’ Night is always a big, big plus. I love Lee Kernaghan and James Blundell, Amber Lawrence and Aleyce Simmonds – all people I know but I’m also fans of their music and how talented they are. I’ll see as many shows as I can.

 

You’ve also released a new single off the album, and that is ‘Road Train’, which is named after a person you met. After you met him and he told you his name and a bit of his story, did you make notes straightaway, thinking you might write a song?

When he stuck his hand out and said, ‘G’day, they call me Road Train’, I said back to him – without even saying hello yet – ‘Wow, that’s a great idea for a song’ [laughs]. He looked at me funny and then we shook hands. I got his phone number, and the idea stuck with me because you know when something will work. I got together with Drew McAlister, because I always figured it would be a contemporary rock song, and who better to write something like that with than Drew? While we were writing it we rang Road Train and started talking about his story. He was just a character. Some of the things he said, as they came out of his mouth we were writing them down. There’s a line about hauling cattle that’s precisely how he said it. He grew up on a farm but that wasn’t the life for him, he wanted life on the road. The album’s been out for a while but it’s one of those songs that almost every reviewer and a lot of fans mention as their favourite. So I thought if we were going to release another single, heading up to Tamworth, that would be a good one.

 

After I met Road Train, I was invited back to the same event, the Gattan Festival, twelve months later. I’d written the song and we played the song. Road Train was there and so was all of his family. And given that it was a song about trucks at a truck show, you couldn’t really go wrong. He loved it and the reaction was great, so that made it really special – and that’s even before we made the album. So Road Train was pretty happy.

 

When you have a song you know your audiences love, do you put it in the main set list or are you tempted to keep it for an encore? Keep them waiting for it.

It all depends. You always like to have a couple up your sleeve, and given that it’s a kickarse song, I always like to finish the set with high energy. It leaves people feeling pretty good.

 

The idea for this song stayed with you for a while. Before you write songs do you let ideas sit in your head and see which of them stay?

When I come up with the idea the challenge is writing it down. Even if I’m driving somewhere and I come up with an idea – a feel for it, or a melody – I’ll record that on my phone so I’ve got it for reference down the track. Plenty of times that’s happened. And once you’ve got it down and you go back to it, that will turn into a song.

 

Earlier in the year you were a nominee at the CMC Awards. How important has CMC become for artists and country music in general?

Very important. It’s one of our main outlets to get our film clips out so people can see them. Especially now they have the awards – it was a big thrill to be named as a finalist in the Male Artist category. There were some massive names in there, and some massive names missed out on it, so I felt very fortunate to be part of that, be invited and do the red carpet. Not to mention the CMC Rocks show – if you’re reading this, Tim Daley, I wouldn’t mind being on that show! [Laughs] Any time you like! It’s an international showcase at the highest level. So CMC is a big part of our industry now.

 

Obviously Tamworth is sorted, but after that, what are you up to in 2019?

Starting to work on new music at the moment. I was actually speaking to my producer, Matt Fell, only yesterday to let him know that we’ve started the process. It will be a little while before we head to the studio – the best work you can do is make sure you have your songs right and up to standard. I’m really getting that itch now to start to produce new music and get it out there.

 

There will be some touring. We’ve got a Rail and Sail holiday happening shortly through Tamworth Travel and they’re keen to do more, so hosting holidays might be part of it later on next year.

 

Look at all the places country music takes you – it’s wonderful.

It’s incredible, really. It’s taken me all over Australia and different parts of the world. I just came back from a three-week tour of New Zealand, and that was magnificent. We did eleven shows over three weekends, North and South Islands. I’m very fortunate.

 

 

Paul Costa’s latest album is Whisper in the Crowd.

Apple Music | iTunes | Sanity | Spotify

 

TAMWORTH COUNTRY MUSIC FESTIVAL SHOWS

Saturday 19 January 2019, 10 a.m.

Capitol Theatre, Tamworth Country Music Festival, NSW

 

Saturday 26 January 11 a.m.

Capitol Theatre, Tamworth Country Music Festival, NSW

 

paulcosta.com.au