I was a bit hesitant to go into full detail of the meanings of some of these songs off my album. I’d feel strange about giving away all their secrets in plain writing or sentences. Instead I think I will hint what they are about and the reader/listener can decide for themselves what its about, hopefully drawing inspiration in relating from their own lives and stories.
It’s a 17-hour flight to get to Austin Texas. It was the first of my many trips overseas.
This song was written on ‘Escalator’, my piano. My first goal in moving into a house was to have my own piano. I scoured the internet and found a lady at the sunshine coast who wanted to give away her mother’s old piano. I wrangled my two housemates into hiring a trailer and travelling up to her property to help move this piano into our tiny house. We didn’t realize how heavy a piano was and after a whole day of struggle we finally moved it to our lounge room, where it took up most of the space. I’m surprised it didn’t fall through our floorboards. This piano was to be an important friend in writing Vs head Vs heart. I wrote most of the album songs on this piano and it was to travel with me, house to house, many more times.
Having not learnt how to play piano, I was learning with each song I wrote (and still am learning). 17 hours is written in 3 main sections, as I see it in my mind.
These sections changed when I translated the song onto guitar and re-worked the song in the studio with Matt Redlich and Graham Ritchie. The main structure, melody and chords stayed the same but it was taken to a completely different place by what was laid underneath its bones. The accapella beginning of the song was born when the piano I played at the introduction of the song didn’t flow as well as we’d hoped. We took out the piano and I layered some chordy-beds with some vocal harmonies. Inspired by Steve Reich, this song had the most guitars layered on it.
As a child, it is a rite of passage to overcome those innocent fears of creatures that lurked in the dark. Be it Aliens, Monsters or Ghosts.
When a person is taken over by a metal illness you start to reflect on those innocent fears more analytically. Wondering if what they were scared of was actually much more real to them. Empathizing with their fear in those things you knew weren’t really there, just a projection of your imagination. It’s about how a family adjusts. This song is written reflecting over those things we were scared of as a child in a more magnified way after a loved one is wrapped in the thorns of mental illness.
This is another song I wrote on ‘Escalator’, my beautifully neglected piano. She got her name from a sign I found while riding my bike to West End. I bet I looked really interesting riding with a big long sign that said ‘ESCALATOR’ tied to the end of my bike. I thought people might have been thinking I was experimenting with time travel, an escalator to another dimension, via my bike.
Atlas Eyes was a song that came together very naturally and quickly. I think that happens with songs that are so deeply connected to me personally. In the studio, recording ‘Atlas Eyes’ mirrored the writing process. We had a few ideas and they unfolded neatly over the song.
Nothing seemed to hold us up and by the end of the second day we had the whole track finished. When everything falls so easily into place I sometimes question whether there is another force helping, like an angel working quietly and humbly above us, dropping the pieces and parts into our minds like cents into a wishing well.
Boy is a song about subtle, stinted frustration directed at a person who smokes too much of the green grass and doesn’t help himself in moving forward.
I had experimented with a few different producers before I recorded with Matt Redlich. When I felt comfortable in his studio, Grandmas Place, we started recording songs and the process felt smooth and easy. There was an obvious change and development in the sounds we were dressing the songs in after we recorded the third song. That creative turnaround was with the songs Boy and Cages. We ended up not using those first 3 songs off the album and started on a clean canvas with ‘Boy’.
I had written the song on guitar and at first it felt a little uncomfortable putting the Rhodes in its place for the beginning of the song. We ended up replacing most of the guitar on the album after that little experiment… which lead to me not playing much guitar live. That growth in performing felt very organic and almost meditative when I played the new set live.
Graham Ritchie. I first met Graham on the couch of my manager’s house in Toowong. My manager promised me I’d learn a lot from just one lesson with him so I reluctantly agreed to sit down and try learn some guitar chops from this guy Graham, who played in this band called Skinny Jean. After a few minutes of drawing lines and dots on pieces of paper I think we both gave in and I ended up playing him a few of my new songs. I don’t think I learnt much guitar shredding skills that day, but over the past few years of working with Graham, I have learnt more than a mountain of knowledge you can’t get from textbooks. Graham’s knowledge in music and arranging is it’s own defined energy in flecks and layers of texture, colour and feeling throughout the album.
These skills mixed with Matt Redlich’s talent in hearing ideas and sounds hidden beneath sonic beds and blankets only he can find, made what we affectionately labeled ourselves, The Dream Team. I think we all learnt so much off each other. I remember recording ‘Boy’ was very exciting. It was like finding out we had
all these extra limbs and we were just learning how to use them. Experimenting with ways to make them move in subtle ways that could still express the art and feeling we wanted to create with the song.
It’s very easy to write a love song. Love is such a strong feeling that has the power to make us or destroy us. I could have filled this whole album with songs about my love for a special person. Unfortunately its already been done a million times… and I don’t think I could out-do The Beatles. This song was an exception.
I fell into love when I first moved to Brisbane. I didn’t have a job and just spent all my time sinking into this feeling I’d only just stumbled upon for the first time. After a year of existing on a solitary planet of him and I, my music started making a move forward and for the first time I experienced moving in a direction without him. I was a tree that fell into him and had forgotten how to grow. That’s what this song is about.
I wrote this song on ‘Escalator’ just before I was about to leave again on a trip to America. I actually can’t remember too much about recording it for some reason. I remember Graham tracking the arpeggios on the acoustic guitar; we were very excited about that. I also remember that a very special person played the piano.
I wasn’t very confident with my piano-playing-in-time-with-the-click skills. Hannah Shepard, my soul sister in music and life played piano on this track… in one take. We weren’t surprised though… Girl power. I remember suggesting we put morse code throughout the second verse. I was very happy I got to play it and I felt like it was me sending messages back home to Tom. I also learnt the power of the MS20, an analog bass synth. I loved the way it emotionally growled with discontent under the song, like it didn’t want me to leave either.
Feeling threatened by other people outside of a relationship is a real and rotten side of love. Lately I have been identifying how people deal with their lions. I like to see these threatening beings, as lions. Outside of our relationships looking in with hungry eyes and wet lips, preying on my lion king. I am learning how to feel less threatened bythese animals and working on building my defense. I guess this song is a cowardly way to say, stay away from my man. I imagined my cat back arched while I hissed these lyrics behind a microphone.
Mirrors we got right third time lucky. I wrote the song on guitar and had trouble fitting any ideas around it. I saw the song as very skeletal and everything felt awkward trying to fit into it. By the end it was the creative, troubleshooting minds of my Dream Team and my Drummer, Danni Ogilvie that got it across the line.
By the end of the second time trying to dress the song up in fancy clothes, I was ready to throw it to the sharks and watch them rip in to shreds in front of me. I’d given it all I had and it had failed me. I imagined the water filling with blood and watching bits of flesh float to the surface… needless to say. I fucking hated the song. Its funny how a song you once so deeply connected to and nursed into life can turn into a friend that betrays you and punches you in the neck. Lots of frustration came to a boiling point and I exploded. I never wanted to hear Mirrors again.
That’s where my Dream Team and dear friends came to its rescue. They threw out a life raft while the sharks were circling around it. They told me that they’d work on it for one day and they wouldn’t ask any money for it. Generosity, faith and the love of music in the form of my three close friends, I am very grateful for that.
The next day I came into the studio sunken and defeated and they stood around the desk like three school boys ready to show their teacher a diorama they’d made in their free time, hands behind their backs with small grins. They’d been up until 3am working on reviving the track from its death bed.
When they played what they’d done I said I hated it. Froze for a moment, felt their hearts break and then sowed them back up again, laughing and hitting our hands together. They had made it work! It took a while for me to really feel comfortable with the song, and forgive it in a way. We put our past behind us and Mirrors is now one of my favourite songs on the album. Matt says there’s always one song on an album that takes a long time to finish… that made me feel better.
Most of my songs mean everything to me. They are like little extensions of myself wrapped up in foil and ribbon and hand delivers to anyone who wants to listen to it.
This song means absolutely nothing to me. It is not my friend. It is my rude neighbor who comes over unannounced at my birthday party and introduces itself to all my friends. My friends fall in love with it’s infectious bubbly personality and I am to sit uncomfortably next to it as my friends ask me one by one, “why can’t I be more like it?’
I hope that I will re kindle my relationship with this song and connect to it on a different level I haven’t yet discovered. For now though, I am so grateful of anyone who enjoys listening to it, and will enjoy playing it live to people who want to hear it. Maybe that’s what it’s waiting to show me. I haven’t played it live yet.
When you know that you’re paying for every hour in the studio it puts a kind of pressure on you that shouldn’t be there in the creative process. Especially being an independent artist and not having all the money in the word, I was very aware of every hour. This is something I hope not to worry about next time because what happens when you’re not concerned about time and money is what happened with this song, B’races’.
This song was the only song I’ve ever recorded that was written inside the walls of the studio. Grayman was playing guitar and Matt was pressing buttons on his space ship. Matt’s space ship had many different components. Lots of lights, knobs and wires. He had many tools to take our minds to different galaxies with his soundscapes as our guide. I later learnt that the buttons he was pressing grabbed parts of Grayman’s guitar and looped them in different times. All the sounds were so new to me so I was very inspired. Matt set up a microphone for me and I started singing vague lyrics over the top. I wanted the words to be very hard to hear, like they were as lost and confused as what the lyrics were about. I didn’t know whether ‘Braces’ could fit on the album and was so relieved when it found a place. I see its place on the album as a cleanser. I felt like the album needed to refresh itself from Freedom before moving into the next half of it with Cages, Pontoon and To Keep me warm.
I moved around a lot when I was growing up. I’ve been to 7 different schools and lived in around 14 houses. My parents renovated houses in their free time and my brother and I were more than happy to pack up and move around with them. I think I have inherited my mother’s gypsy feet. I am only 21 and have lived in 4 houses outside of my parent’s latest home in Cairns.
I have noticed in retrospect the pattern of friendships that I had growing up. At each school I would find a kindred spirit and tie myself to that person, almost shutting out the other clicks and groups around us. I left a path of three close friends from the different schools I went to. It’s a type of friendship that doesn’t need constant needing and attention. Like an old jacket, I can slip into comfortably without having to feel guilty about not washing it.
I left Cairns, the place my family had made our home for the last 6 years of our school life, in a car with my best friend Grace. We’d packed the car full of our belongings and played a mixed CD that we made in grade 10 when we’d planned this getaway. The first track was ‘save tonight’ by Eagle Eyed cherries. We stayed at her family’s house at the Gold Coast for a few weeks before I found a small share house I could move into.
I made my small nest in a tiny house in a big city, not knowing anyone. It was in this space I brought home a very special tiny animal, Henry.
I was driving to my manager Rick’s house one day and thought I’d drop into a pet shop I’d always passed on the way over. At the back of the store I saw a cage with some of the most beautiful looking parrots I’d ever seen. It was then I instantly fell in love with a small blue Indian Ringneck, who seemed to be picked on constantly by his brothers and sisters. Having just got fired from my job for shaving my head (that’s a long story) I had no money to get him, but I knew we were destined for each other. When I got to Rick’s house I must have used up all the air in my lungs talking about him. Rick gave me $50, I spent the rest of my money on him and took him home that night.
I was never seen without him on my shoulder. I moved into a blue house with my blue bird, Henry. He was my best friend and we were bonded together. I was slowly meeting new people and making new friends and Henry was with me the whole time, chatting away on my shoulder. My new friends knew Henry as much as they knew me. I busked at the west end markets to pay my rent, with my loyal blue son mischievously putting on a show of his own, crawling around my body as I sung. I can honestly thank him for the money people threw in my guitar case. He was a good investment in many ways.
The song cages is written about one of the hardest things I have ever had to sacrifice for my music. When I started touring it pulled Henry and I apart and it broke my heart having to hear him scream at me when I left for a string of shows. When I got back he would ignore me because he was angry with me and I knew it wasn’t healthy for him to go through the stress of having me leave him every few days. I was having him looked after by an amazing couple that I had met at the West End markets where we would busk. They had three other birds,
including another Indian Ringneck, Stevie. Each time I’d pick Henry up he’d be more displeased with me and eventually I knew it was time to give him to this couple and their birds who Henry had bonded and made friends with. It was the most emotionally devastating thing I have had to deal with in my freshly adult life. I see Henry a few times a month when I am back home and he always remembers me. I don’t think we will ever forget each other and will always share a special connection.
Cages was written fairly quickly, I think because my feelings were still so raw. It was a very sensitive time and I struggled to play the song a whole way through without getting a lump in my throat. I was playing the song in the tracking room of the studio and Matt told me he wanted to record it the next day. At first I sang it as another character called ‘Joseph’. We sped up the track on tape and I sung to my chipmunk sped–up voice so that when it was slowed to real time my voice became a soothing low male-like voice. I really loved the way it sounded and was tempted to just leave the vocals like that.
Cages as a song became a space I didn’t want to touch. Like it was such a neat bundle of all my feelings about Henry that I didn’t want to risk diluting it. I ended up singing over Joseph but leaving his voice travelling softly beneath mine like he was cradling me through the song with his masculine hands while it hurt me to sing.
Pontoon was a song I wrote the same night as I wrote Jungle, a track from my first EP. It’s written about the same experience. I remember I was very torn up inside. At the house where my boyfriend lived there was a pontoon anchored into the dirty Brisbane river. On the morning after a foolish mistake I went down to the pontoon and dipped my head into the river. That’s where this song begins.
I had already tried recording Pontoon with two other producers and felt the song had something against me because it never seemed to work in my favour. I showed Matt and Grayman the song and they said they wanted to give it a go. Previously I had tried to limit and control the dressing of the song in different sounds and parts so this time I was very open minded to the ideas we were voicing. This song has the most layers in all of the tracks and we were inspired by a lot of different artists for different parts. I remember getting very excited when Matt found the synth line that starts the song and it took about 5 days in total, or even more, before all the parts had been neatly piled onto each other. We used a lot of vocal collage for this track. We sampled my voice singing different melodies and scattered them throughout the song, pitch shifting some melodies and heavily effective others so they were hardly recognizable as my voice. We also made a friend, the Koass Pad. It took a while for us to stop getting distracted by running different things through it and fucking shit up, it was awesome. Once we’d stopped crouching over it like children in a schoolyard, we started using it to scatter the vocals and drums by looping and reversing small sections of the melody/beats. I liked how it expressed confusion in my lyrics.
To Keep Me Warm
This song is another love song, strategically placed far away from the other love song on this album. I wrote this song about not liking to sleep alone. I wrote it in winter before I discovered that I could buy a heater to keep me warm. Having come from Cairns, the idea of a heater was quite foreign. I was living with two beautiful couples that had each other to keep close and warm at night. At the time Tom had gone away on tour and I realized that without him I still hadn’t made too many friends, apart from my darling blue bird, Henry.
Overall I think the clothes we dressed this song in fit it the best. I wrote this song on Escalator and the core of the song’s structure was still there and was really elaborated by what we fleshed it out with. When Danni came into do the drums for this song, it was a special few hours for me. I had explained to him in my less then basic non-drummy lingo what I had imagined for the track and he took it to where I wanted it to go and further.
Has anyone heard the secret track? Shhh it’s a secret.