Tuesday, February 13, 2007


An interesting interview

Today I spotted a cyclist with tinsel woven through her bike baskets, a cheerfully eccentric sight. There were a group of kids in their early teens outside the State Library this evening, hanging out and stepping from side to side and throwing hand gestures. When I walked past them, I realised that they were, fairly quietly, and intermittently breaking down into laughter, having some kind of rap battle! It was awesome - after being indoors reading and writing, to have such an organic spoken word performance just happening right there filled me with hope. Adelaide seems an intellectual and creative place - there really is a lot of interest in the arts here. I would have stopped to listen, but the kids were clearly doing it for their own entertainment rather than as a public performance. Sure, it happened in the 'everyday life' of 8 Mile ... but it surprised me to see it in South Australia!

I interviewed a south Australian guitarist-singer-songwriter, Laura Hill, this morning. She was different to the usual groups that I talk to for various reasons. Firstly, talking to just one person instead of a group, it's much more of a fair conversation. No-one's worried about saying something their bandmates will tease them for later. We could talk about much more personal issues - her mother's serious illness and how it motivated her to seize the day, overcoming stage fright and gaining the confidence to perform her own work, and what really troubles her about the music industry.

Then there were some things that struck me - and this is just my interpretation here - as being particularly applicable to women talking together, something I first studied as part of the Women's Folklore and Feminist Theory unit I took at uni. Firstly, when talking about following her dreams, there was a real acknowledgement of the doubts and difficulties she'd had to work through, and the impact of her decisions on her family and friends - none of that arrogant solo over-confidence I've occasionally observed with guys on the same kind of path.

She was also really interested in me, where I'd travelled, and what my dreams were - a slightly disconcerting experience for an interviewer to be put on the spot and asked about their musical background as well! (For a much more intense example of this, when the Australian Michael Parkinson, Andrew Denton, invited Richard E. Grant onto his chat show to plug Wah-Wah, Withnail completely turned the tables on him, having done a frightening amount of research into Denton's upbringing, star sign, and even how he reconciled with his estranged wife. I was watching it with friends in Melbourne thinking, "Wow! This is live TV and it's completely unpredictable!" Then a woman in the audience had a coughing fit and the onstage challenges momentarily ceased as they both strode out to pat her on the back and give her a glass of water.)

And finally, she was really keen to credit everybody who'd helped and supported her on her journey, from her parents to her partner to the members of the girls' surf club she founded. She made sure to mention every musician who'd assisted with her album, and stressed how much of a collaboration it was, even down to the fact that the cover photos were done as a mutual exchange with a photography student who needed to build up a professional portfolio. This just seemed really, well ... refreshing. I told her so, and at first she wasn't sure whether or not I meant it as a compliment. But it really was a tribute to her attitude. I hope she makes a go of it: the article will be out this week and her album launch is on the 3rd of March.

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