Monthly Archives: July 2009

Sonics for Saturday

Looks like another day of exquisite winter sunshine. I am heading off to the Kev Carmody tribute – Cannot Buy My Soul this afternoon. Am sure this is going to be a very special gig. My head has been buzzing with alot of great music lately… here’s a few songs that have been rotating in the cavity of my skull.

 

Steve Kilbey & Martin KennedyMaybe Soon

This is from their debut album, Unseen Music Unheard Words. Lush and dripping with Kilbey’s trademark vocals. Can’t wait to see Steve perform Images of London at the Kev tribute this afternoon.

 

Decoder RingBeat the Twilight

Opening track from their latest instrumental double CD – They Blind The Stars And The Wild Team… a sonic journey that has been blowing my mind.

 

Muddy WatersMannish Boy

If there is a sexier song than this, I need to know about it. Muddy’s son, Mud Morganfield was in town last weekend as part of the Fortitude Valley Blues Festival.  Listen to this band wail …

4 Comments

Filed under who listens to the radio?

Black Stump Blues part VIII – Night of the Woolscour

I am still dearly missing Blackall’s big skys and open landscapes… here’s a few photos from a night I spent at the Woolscour. The light and sound of this place is something to be experienced. Hinemoana Baker who I traveled with recorded lots of audio at the Woolscour, so I am sure we will be hearing some of these sounds in the not too distant future …

 

039_Gimp

Walking toward the Woolscour at night, steam rising off the open bore.

 

046_Gimp

This big old boiler was used to produce steam for the engines.

 

050_Gimp

A neat stack of Gidyea … this is tough timber.

 

078_Gimp

Like something out of ‘Saw’, these claws separated the wool.

 

071_Gimp

And the old Federal still ticks over …

 

More info about the Woolscour can be found at: http://www.heritagetrails.qld.gov.au/attractions/blackall.html

Leave a comment

Filed under discussions

Tweet-Tweet

This Lost Shark is now on Twitter. Keep up to date at http://twitter.com/lost_shark

2 Comments

Filed under poetry & publishing

QPF 2009 presents: A Tangle of Possibilities

Opening Night of QLD Poetry Festival is a must see event on the poetry calendar. Over the last 6 years, I have witnessed some of the most incredible poetry performances you could ever hope to see – the sonic experimentation of emily xyz (2006), the dishevelled elegance of Sam Hunt (2004), the gutsy riffs and gorgeous vocals of Mia Dyson (2008). Tickets for Opening Night of QPF 2009 – A Tangle of Possibilities are now on sale from the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, so make sure you get in early to book your seat.

Here’s a taste of the possibilities Opening Night of QPF 2009 offers:

 

afhAF HarroldWatch

A.F. Harrold is a poet and performer who has been puzzling audiences with his words for quite long enough. He’s an Englishman who can confuse people of all nations and all ages. he does things that are not quite normal and gets paid for it. He is a popular poet on the stage and on the page, has a number of books available which, along with more information, can be found at www.afharrold.co.uk

 


ebachinskyElizabeth BachinskyHearsay in the valley of condominiums

Elizabeth Bachinsky is the author of three collections of poetry, Curio (BookThug, 2005), Home of Sudden Service (Nightwood, 2006), and God of Missed Connections (Nightwood, 2009). Her work was nominated for the Governor General’s Award for Poetry in 2006 and the Bronwen Wallace Award in 2004 and has appeared in literary journals, anthologies, and on film in Canada, the United States, France, Ireland, England, and China. She is an instructor of creative writing at Douglas College in New Westminster where she is Poetry Editor for Event magazine.  She lives in Vancouver, Canada.

 

 

nmurrayNeil MurrayLights of Hay

Neil Murray is one of Australia’s most respected singer/songwriters and has enjoyed a solo career since 1989. He has released ten albums Calm & Crystal Clear, These Hands, Dust, The Wondering Kind, Going The Distance, About Time (a 2CD retrospective compilation) Spoken, 2Songmen – live in Darwin and the latest Overnighter. Those who have read his novel Sing for me Countryman or poetry book One Man Tribe, or listened to his spoken word CD – Spoken or seen his play King For This Place would know of his affinity for the land and respect for indigenous culture.

 

 

hbakerHinemoana BakerTaxi + live performance of the Hone Tuwhare poem Where Shall I Wander

2009 Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence, Hinemoana Baker is a New Zealand writer, musician, producer and teacher of creative writing. Her Maori whakapapa traces from Taranaki and the Horowhenua in the North Island, down to the Otakou peninsula near Dunedin in the South Island. Her Pakeha (non-Maori) ancestors were from England and Bavaria. Hinemoana’s first poetry collection, matuhi | needle (2004), was co-published in New Zealand by Victoria University Press and in the US by Perceval Press, the publishing house of actor and artist Viggo Mortensen. Her first album, puawai, was a finalist in the New Zealand Music Awards and the title track was a finalist for the Maori language category of the prestigious APRA Silver Scroll awards. Hinemoana was one of 12 New Zealand recording artists chosen for the album and stage show Tuwhare, setting to music the words of renowned poet and laureate Hone Tuwhare.

 

Look forward to celebrating with many of you there!

Leave a comment

Filed under events & opportunities

QPF Spotlight #11 – Santo Cazzati

Santo Cazzati hit Brisbane last month for two gigs and left behind a trail of whirling words and smiling faces. Both gigs left people wanting more and lucky for us, Santo will be heading back in August to give us all another blast of his unique spoken word style. I asked Santo to tell me about where his poems begin, the importance of the the spoken word, song lyrics and the words he lives by. Here’s what he had to say …

 

Santo

 

How does a poem begin for you – an idea, an image, a phrase?

 

Absolutely never an image or a phrase. Always an idea. I could be going through a bottle of wine when “the idea” comes to me. The idea could be any or all of the following : a piece of music has a striking formal structure and I would like to translate that into poetic terms; I would like to respond to a political impulse but with a poem that is not too obviously “political”; I have been through some kind of intense or emotional personal experience which needs to find some equivalent or “sublimation” (Kant? Freud? Adorno?!) in aesthetic form.
 

You have chosen not to publish your work in the traditional print format. So just why do the words of Santo Cazzati belong exclusively in our ears?

 

Well, I used to try to publish. Got published half a dozen times out of about 500 form letter rejections. Now I know people will say that’s a decent success rate. But the real gratification came when I performed my work out loud. The reaction from listeners was immediate – every time I opened my mouth to perform. If you count all the open mic I do as well as gigs, I am opening my mouth in front of people about four or five times a week. My soul can live off that a lot more than the aforementioned 500 rejections. Besides, a vital component of my work is the use of very precise speech rhythms and intonation patterns. They cannot be notated on the page except in a very cumbersome way which would not be at all reader friendly. The record of the event for me is the CD, not the book. Books are better for novels, literary criticism and cultural theory.
 

It is often argued by critics that song lyrics are not poetry because the lyric is only fully realised when performed. Do you feel the same way about your work?

 

Oooohh these “critics” who so pathologically must define what poetry is or isn’t! What insecurities are lurking behind their endeavours? I’m pretty much an adherent of “reception theory”. It’s a “readerly culture”, to use the term that was fashionable in French cultural theory of the 1980s. If we want to read certain song lyrics as “poetry”, even “high art”, why not? They may not have been intended as such by their writers but they may have characteristics that lend themselves to being regarded in this way. As for me, I have very little control over how my performances are “received” or “read”. Fifty people in a room listening to me will undoubtedly receive in vastly different ways depending on their prior experiences, that day or over the previous ten years. But I love to explore those commonalities that make the live performance something where the overwhelming majority of the audience has tuned in to what we do as performers. That kind of sharing can give us the feeling – the illusion? – that we aren’t really individual fragments of the social whole.
 

Who are your artistic beacons and how have they shaped your work?

 

Mostly they are musical. I am highly influenced by detailed theoretical analysis of music. In addition to that, I am aesthetically and emotionally overwhelmed by music which has breathtaking structural originality and refinement. There are too many examples of this to list here but my greatest musical influences of the last ten years or so are : New York soulful house, nu jazz breakbeat, and salsa and related styles. As for actual writing with words, the shining beacon is James Joyce’s Ulysses. You can hear the musical elements in my use of rhythm and pitch. As for Joyce – oh well, many of us have tried to imitate him, I suppose; my efforts are directed towards his distortions of grammar and mentally fast-paced stream of consciousness.
 

What are the words you live by?

 

Words that sound good when they come out of the mouth. Words that seem to communicate something even when we are not really listening to them or trying to understand their meaning. Words whose “meaning” IS their sound. I don’t just feel this in the formal “performance” situation. Sometimes I find myself in conversations where people seem to be saying things to each other unwittingly and unconsciously. Why did we say that? Why did we talk about that? Why did we choose that peculiar word instead of this one?

 

About Santo:

Santo Cazzati is a spoken word artist. The son of
Italian immigrants to Australia, he emerged from past
lives as a classical concert pianist and avant garde
jazz musician to teach at an elite Melbourne private
school which must remain anonymous in order to protect
those concerned. He performs in a range of styles,
from fast rhythmical delivery to slow atmospheric
meditation, often with a strong world music influence
and critical ironic distance.

 

Catch Santo at QPF 2009:

 

Saturday August 22 – 2:45pm – 3:45pm

Merging into Volcanic: featuring Santo Cazzati & Burn Collective 

 

Saturday August 22 – 8:00pm

A Million Bright Things: featuring a short set from every bright thing on the 2009 program plus a feature set from the awesome Neil Murray

 

Sunday August 23 – 11:00am – 12:00pm

Choreography of Chance: featuring Santo Cazzati, Maurice McNamara & Rhys Rodgers

 

All sessions are held at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, Brunswick St. Fortitude Valley.

For full program details head to www.queenslandpoetryfestival.com

2 Comments

Filed under interviews/artist profiles

QPF Spotlight #10 – an interview with Hinemoana Baker

Hinemoana Baker has hit the ground running as the 2009 Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence. I caught up with her recently to have a chat about her experience so far.

 

Hinemoana walking down the long streets of Blackall

Hinemoana walking down the long streets of Blackall

 

Since arriving you have had the opportunity to travel to the ‘big-sky country’ of Western QLD, visiting Blackall and Longreach. How was your experience and what affect did the landscape have on you?

The landscape was deeply affecting for me. I felt pretty emotional most of the time, and since I’ve been back I’ve cried a lot. I told Sam Watson Sr after seeing his play ‘Oodgeroo’ that I might just be crying for the three months I’m here.

At the same time as there was this kinda subterranean panic in me (being so far from the sea?), as the land just rolls out and rolls out and rolls out even more, past the windows of the car or whatever, just on and on, a sense of real calm arrives. I began to crave the space the more I saw of it and the more I was in it. I would go back in a heartbeat.

I don’t wanna be glib but it really put me in mind of that quote that’s often attributed to Kermit the Frog (at least in my mind): ‘Wherever you go, there you are.’

(Check out her recent blog post – Packing a lunch to cross the road – to get a full run down of her expeience in Blackall and Longreach)

 

One of the highlights of the residency is that local poets can book a time to come in and ‘talk poetry’ with you. What are some of the things you are hoping to achieve through this consultative process?

I’m hoping to learn more about poetry, and about Australia, Queensland, Brisbane, through its writers. I know how valuable it is as a poet to get some feedback about your work from trusted sources who aren’t your mates or your partner. And I know poets aren’t usually terribly wealthy. So to be able to offer some input for free to local poets is awesome.

(Indeed… if you want to book a free consult with Hinemoana you can email her at hbaker@qwc.asn.au)

 

QPF 2009 is just around the corner. What are you most looking forward to?

My partner Christine will be here by then. To be honest, being the homesick old bugger that I am, at the moment that’s what I’m most looking forward to!

Apart from that, I am keen to catch heaps of the other poets on stage and off – especially Zenobia Frost and Noelle Janaczewska. Be great to experience the one and only Santo again, too! Wooo! That boy blew me away at Speedpoets the other week.

 

Hinemoana performing at the Blackall Woolscour

Hinemoana performing at the Blackall Woolscour

 

Finally, what do you hope to leave behind as a legacy of the residency and just as importantly, what do you hope to  take away?

I’ve started making a sound piece made up of field recordings from Blackall and Longreach. I’ll thread some text through and hopefully it’ll be just like a bought one.

What do I hope to take away? I’ll take the sounds with me, and the silences.

 

Catch Hinemoana at QPF 2009:

 

Friday August 21 – 7:30pm – 10:30pm

A Tangle of Possiblilties: featuring Elizabeth Bachinsky, AF Harrold, Neil Murray & Hinemoana Baker

 

Saturday August 22 – 4:00pm – 5:00pm

No Thrill Needs Faking: featuring Mofu & the Crepe Paper Kalashnikovs & Hinemoana Baker

 

Saturday August 22 – 8:00pm

A Million Bright Things: featuring a short set from every bright thing on the 2009 program plus a feature set from the awesome Neil Murray

 

Sunday August 23 – 7:00pm – 9:00pm

Just Kissed Goodbye: feat. Paul Magee, Janet Jackson, Angela Costi, Jane Williams, Neil Murray, Elizabeth Bachinsky, Geoff Goodfellow, AF Harrold, Hinemoana Baker and the QPF Committee

 

All sessions are held at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, Brunswick St. Fortitude Valley.

For full program details head to www.queenslandpoetryfestival.com

4 Comments

Filed under interviews/artist profiles

Sunday Morning Songs…

As a light mist of rain settles on the window, here’s a few songs that have been keeping me company lately. Enjoy your Sunday …

 

Fare Thee Well - Robert Fischer (Willard Grant Conspiracy)

WGC main man Robert Fischer here in solo acoustic mode. Word is the whole rambling ensemble are hitting our shores early 2010.

 

1897 - Seaworthy

Recorded in an a decomissioned ammunitions bunker, this album blends the bands atmspheric instrumentation and field recordings. Perfect for late nights and early mornings…

 

Lost Coastlines – Okkervil River

And to finish off… the perfect country-pop of Okkervil River. One of the live highlights of my musical year.

2 Comments

Filed under who listens to the radio?

QPF Spotlight #9 – Zenobia Frost’s Desert(ed) Island Poems

QPF 2009 features many local talents, including hat fetishist, Zenobia Frost. This Spotlight takes us to the Desert(ed) Island of her mind and (some of) the poems that inhabit it. So raise your sails and let these poems carry you away…

 

Zen

 

Enivrez-Vous – Charles Baudelaire

Don’t be martyred slaves of Time,
Get drunk!
Stay drunk!
On wine, virtue, poetry, whatever!

With its simple language and imperative tone, I always thought this poem would sound best shouted by a drunk or a preacher or a drunk preacher from a soapbox in a busy town square.

This poem has had more influence on me than any other. In my teen years I found its call to arms so rousing that I painted the poem, in its entirety, onto my bedroom wall. I’ve endeavoured to follow its instructions and make the very best of whatever situation I find myself in—something I might need to be reminded of now and then in the desert. Furthermore, thanks to this poem, I refuse to wear a watch on principle; I think a feeling of detachment from Time might just come in handy while stranded on an island. No use counting down the days, after all.

Read it here: http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/poems/581.html

 

You Are Old, Father William – Lewis Carroll

When I have gone quite, quite mad from thirst and boredom, I can make up an infinite number of tunes to set this to, and sing it over and over. Maybe I could even catch an eel and learn to balance it on my nose, as the hero of the poem claims to be able to do.

One has to entertain oneself somehow.

Read it here: http://thinks.com/words/nonsense/william.htm

 

Lines Inscribed Upon a Cup Formed from a Skull – George Gordon, Lord Byron

Frankly, if I’m faced with the prospect of years alone on a desert island, I would hope that I’m taking a lot of booze with me. Just as there are drinking songs, this is a drinking poem, and is made to be performed.

Where once my wit, perchance, hath shone,
In aid of others’ let me shine;
And when, alas! our brains are gone,
What nobler substitute than wine?

Not only does it make me smirk, it also has a beautiful rhythm. Its language is truly inebriated—both fearless and playful, but with undertones of growing melancholy. This is precisely the kind of poem that Monsieur Baudelaire intended for us to get drunk on. The poet has resigned himself to his mortality and hopes to pour himself into the grave inoculated against rot, or at least the knowledge of it.

Read it here: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/lines-inscribed-upon-a-cup-formed-from-a-skull-2/

 

Sexing the Cherry – Jeanette Winterson

Apparently this is marketed as a novel, but from the first reading I knew it was a novel-length long prose poem. Its dreamlike metanarrative stitches itself into your skin. It spins strange new myths into you. It elicits sighs of pleasure that you thought (foolishly!) only your lover could draw out of you. If I could, I would memorise large chunks of Sexing the Cherry and take it everywhere with me. What better place to learn it by heart than on a desert island?

When Jordan was a boy he made paper boats and floated them on the river. From this he learned how the wind affects the heart. His patience was exceeded only by his hope. I used to watch him standing in the mud or lying face down, his nose almost in the current, his hands steadying the boat and then letting it go straight into the wind. Letting go hours of himself. When the time came, he did the same with his heart. He didn’t believe in shipwreck.

 

‘i like my body when it is with your’ and ‘somewhere i have never travelled’ – e.e. cummings

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

I’m going to be naughty and smuggle both of these poems in, one on each side of a piece of paper. somewhere i have never travelled is such a delicate love poem, and i like my body when it is with your is its perfect match, with its tender, erotic zing. These poems speak of lovers who are so adoring of one another; it speaks to my head full of romance and, on my island, will remind me of what I am missing. cummings’ style perfectly embodies the wonder-chaos of new love as it feels to the lovers, not to onlookers; cummings is thrilling, without being sappy.

http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/i-like-my-body-when-it-is-with-your/
http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/poems/619.html

 

Tides – Hugo Williams

For that is happiness: to wander alone
Surrounded by the same moon, whose tides remind us of ourselves,
Our distances, and what we leave behind.

I read this poem for the first time a few weeks ago, and it felt like déjà vu, for it achieves, in theme, what I tried to do in my chapbook. It is eloquent and concise; in so few words, it speaks volumes about its characters, and about human kind, and our ties to place.

I shan’t go on; it’s best to let it speak for itself. This is a poem that needs to settle within you, and needn’t be overanalysed. Let it make its promises to you: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/tides/

 

The Summer – Josh Pyke

What a wonderful song, and what a delightful lyricist Mr Pyke is. The Summer is about nostalgia’s potential for both loveliness and devastation—after all, living in the past has its consequences.

There’s something characteristically Australian about the way Josh writes. He’s a great storyteller, and his words are warm and casual and genuine. After spending an album with him you feel quite sure you’d get on really well over a cup of tea on the verandah. In short, his poetry is trustworthy, and it reminds you to revisit the things in life you value.

On my desert island, I think I’d name a coconut Josh Pyke and tell it all my secrets. And it would sing this song.

Listen to it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1ABbLlKTlw

Read it here: http://www.lyricsmania.com/lyrics/josh_pyke_lyrics_27462/other_lyrics_57987/the_summer_lyrics_857025.html

 

The Cloudland Funicular Cha-Cha – Rob Morris

Black shellac solid vinyl
scratches sounds from a time
when the whole world wore hats.

This paean to Brisbane’s iconic Cloudland dancehall was the first Queensland poem I remember hearing performed, and it was the beginning of my love affair with the fifties. Its images—‘a gal in a Lindy satin skirt and mohair top’ and ‘heavens dripping from my powder-blue suit’—strobe past in the ‘musical hysteria’. This poem takes you skidding right back to those heady days, and I think a time ‘when the whole world wore hats’ is surely the best time to skid back to.

You can find The Cloudland Furnicular Cha-Cha in the book of the same name, published by Post Pressed in 2005.

 

Skin – Shane Koyczan

This suite of poems is, frankly, delicious. I remember seeing Shane, a Canadian poet, perform these at the Queensland Poetry Festival a couple of years ago, and every single person in the audience had warm fuzzies. Shane’s poems are the vocabulary of lovers. They are comfort foods and long baths. They are the literary equivalent of spooning.

looking at you it occurred to me
I could sit around all day
wearing nothing but your kiss

you make mirrors
want to grind themselves
back down into sand
because they can’t do your reflection justice

There, don’t you feel so much better now?

Shane’s poems work best when performed, so the ideal would be to take Shane (and his band, The Short Story Long) on an mp3 player to my desert island. I could charge it by plugging it into palm trees or something.

Listen to Skin here: http://www.myspace.com/shanekoyczanandtheshortstorylong or pick up his debut collection, Visiting Hours (2005).

 

Lost (or ‘Deportment for Young Gentlemen’ or ‘A Young Woman Trying on a Victorian Hat’) – David Wagoner

Apparently Oprah likes this poem. I guess that means she must have good taste after all. Lost is a poem brimming with quiet wisdom. It is a poem to be read aloud in a silent room, or to chant to yourself when lost. It is the ultimate desert island poem, in that sense, because its message is that being lost—or stranded—is only an attitude. You can be found anywhere; you can be content anywhere.

If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

If I could, I would sneak Mr Wagoner’s 1996 collection, Walt Whitman Bathing, with me too. The poems Deportment for Young Gentlemen and A Young Woman Trying on a Victorian Hat were close contenders for this spot on the the Desert(ed) Island list, but Lost won out because it would keep me sane.

Read it here: http://www.seishindo.org/david_wagoner.html

 

 

About Zenobia:

Zenobia Frost is a poetic adventurer, hat fetishist and protector of apostrophes who (when she remembers to) coordinates the seriously frivolous Ruby Fizz Society, which promotes local performance art and encourages cross-discipline creativity. Her poems have appeared in Going Down Swinging, Small Packages, Stylus, Mascara and Voiceworks, and her first collection, The Voyage, was published by SweetWater Press in May of this year. She hopes to one day make the perfect cup of tea.

 

Catch Zenobia at QPF 2009:

 

Saturday August 22 – 8:00pm

A Million Bright Things: featuring a short set from every bright thing on the 2009 program plus a feature set from the awesome Neil Murray

 

Sunday August 23 – 12:15pm – 1:15pm

Venus Walked In: feat. Jane Williams, Zenobia Frost & Noëlle Janaczewska

 

Sunday August 23 - 7:00pm – 9:00pm

Just Kissed Goodbye: feat. Paul Magee, Janet Jackson, Angela Costi, Jane Williams, Neil Murray, Elizabeth Bachinsky, Geoff Goodfellow, AF Harrold, Hinemoana Baker and the QPF Committee (of which Zenobia is a part of)

 

All sessions are held at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, Brunswick St. Fortitude Valley.

For full program details head to www.queenslandpoetryfestival.com

4 Comments

Filed under Desert(ed) Island Poems

Time to unravel – British Sea Power, Neruda & Bachinsky

It’s been a long week, but now it’s Saturday and the sun is warming my back as I type… time to unravel. Here’s a few things to ease you in to your weekend. Enjoy it!

 

British Sea PowerMan of Aran

I love an ambitious project and when I read about this, I knew instantly that I had to check it out. British Sea Power have recorded a soundtrack to a 1934 documentary about Irish fishermen, Man of Aran. The music and visuals combine stillness and grandeur, capturing the raw, unforgiving nature of the sea. This is one of the finds of 2009!

 

Pablo NerudaTonight I Can Write The Saddest Lines

Andy Garcia sounds like Cohen here…  one of my favourite ever love poems.

 

Elizabeth BachinskyHome of Sudden Service

Elizabeth Bachinsky is one of the international artists programmed at QLD Poetry Festival 2009. Here’s the title poem from her brilliant collection, Home of Sudden Service. Can’t wait to hear this live!

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under discussions, who listens to the radio?

QPF Spotlight #8 – Bremen Town Musician

My QPF 2009 program is already suitably inked, with many sessions marked that I just cannot miss. One of those sessions features the blistering soundscape rock of Bremen Town Musician. Their 2008 album, No one is holding a gun to your head (Songs to Run to), is still stealing my breath and I am busting at the seams with excitement to see them stretch their sonic wings at the Judith Wright Centre when they take centre stage on Saturday August 22 in the session, A Canary In Our Throats alongside Brianna Carpenter. To help build the excitement, here’s a recent interview with founding member of Bremen Town Musician, Marisa Allen.

 

Bremen Town Musician

 

How does a song begin for you – an idea, an image, a phrase, a chord?

All of the above really. It seems to be a combination of these things backed up by a strong feeling. When there is a feeling associated with these then there is a kind of momentum that kicks in harnessing all the elements of bringing a song together. They may not all happen at the same time, it may a period of minutes or even years to piece it all together. I’m finding that there is strong visual element to my songs, that the music and the words combined (on a song that is really working) tend to stimulate a visual side when listened to and from this a story is begun.

 

What role does poetry play in your songwriting process?

It’s actually very important. I started out writing poetry independently of songwriting. Being an instrumentalist first, words and hence vocals took a back seat in the process for a very long time and were a separate thing to any music that I was making. Then after coming out of a period of illness and journaling a lot I decided I wanted to write songs with words and indirectly that meant adding vocals. So I just wrote.  And because I had always written poetry first, it was familiar to me, that’s what I started writing. I gave myself 3 years to work on the craft and then another period of time to get co-ordinated enough to sing and play at the same time. Every time I had a strong feeling I would write it, that was the only guide I really gave myself. It was a very gentle process and I just allowed myself to write without critiquing anything. It was also a very disciplined process because I kept aiming for something, so there was a focus, I didn’t know what I was aiming for but when I hit it I knew, if that makes any sense at all… Through this process I like to think that I’m now able to discern quite well between what is certainly a poem and what is a song, at least in my own work. Sometimes though the line between what I would consider should remain a poem and what should become a song isn’t so clear but when that happens it can become a really unusual song.

 

Who are your artistic beacons and how have they shaped your work?

Oh dear! Everyone and no one??? Such a hard thing to pin point. I’ll stick to contemporary artists. If I said one it would be Polly Jean Harvey. I’ve been listening to her work since I was 15 when I first heard Sheela Na Gig coming down through a crackly radio reception on 4ZZZ (how we even picked up 4ZZZ  2hours north of Brisbane I’ll never know!) and I was like who! the! fuck! is that, it was 7 in the morning and I was going to school but that weekend I was down at the only independent record shop in town facing up to the independent record store guy saying have you heard of this person..?? can you order it in..?? I don’t think he really knew what to make of me and could’ve easily just said no, but anyway he ordered it in and I got the album and that was that. Whoosh! .and I cannot explain what it is that resonates with me but it just does. Certainly Dirty Three also. But then there are also such obscure and strange things that are like a light for me such as landscapes and experimental musical instrument makers that shape the entire way I do things musically.

 

 Nick Cave once said that inspiration is a word used by people who aren’t really doing anything. What’s your take on this?

Hey I answered this question in Pascalle’s spoken word workshop in 2007! Inspiration is like an elusive mist that you can never actually capture, some people spend their time chasing the mist, but they are misguided. Inspiration actually comes out of working and is like a muscle or a cog that starts turning once you actually start doing something.

 

What are the words you live by?

“Say it in as few words as possible”

 

About Bremen Town Musician:

Bremen Town Musician are a three piece with Marisa Allen on violin/vocals, Arron Bool on guitar/bass and Dave Bell on drums/percussion playing a blend of experimental/blues/folk at times accompanied only by a single violin to create mesmerizing performances.

Formed in 2005 Marisa Allen emerged as a soloist with the name Bremen Town Musician releasing her first independent solo EP ‘Silent Arrows’ a lo fi exploration of the violin.  Performing as a street musician since 1995 in Australia the U.K and Iceland she was mentored by Geoff Adeney (ex Bullamakanka ‘79 -’81) and Cleis Pearce (DHA, Michael Luenig).

She has toured the United States with Icelandic/American country rock act The Foghorns and performed at Bad Taste Records (Iceland), the Adelaide Fringe Festival, Queensland Poetry Festival and Yeppoon Village Festival and was invited to collaborate with Icelandic improv/jazz/noise collective Spuni/Graupan for the Governor of Reykjavik, at Reykjavik City Hall, Iceland.

Bremen Town Musician offer audiences a unique show. In a live setting the band take one step further bringing an album of songs to life with instrumental improvisations and delivering the raw energy the band harnesses.

Watch Bremen Town Musician perform a solo set at SpeedPoets here.

Find out more: www.myspace.com/brementownmusic

 

Catch Bremen Town Musician at QPF 2009:

Saturday August 22 – 6:00pm – 7:00pm

A Canary In Our Throat: feat. Bremen Town Musician & Brianna Carpenter

All sessions are held at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, Brunswick St. Fortitude Valley.

For full program details head to www.queenslandpoetryfestival.com

1 Comment

Filed under interviews/artist profiles