Toowoomba alt-country darling Pepper Jane is returning to Brisbane to perform as a part of Anywhere Festival next month.
Her shows, set to be both narrative and interpretive theatre performances, will involve the actual recording of her double debut, concept album, ‘Released (Waiting And The Lost Art Of Devotion/Starting Now)', as well as filming for her upcoming music videos.
You've spent time recently travelling Australia and the US performing in some locations for the first time. How were those experiences?
Since I began wandering with my first ever trip to WA last February, the past year has been so great. I just booked gigs (covers at the time) and went. Meeting other songwriters and musicians out there touring too keeps me encouraged to improve and press on.
The US trips were to meet up with other songwriters I knew through the online, songwriting community songfight.org – it's both exalting and humbling sharing your music far and wide and having it received.
The concept of Anywhere Festival to perform literally anywhere is quite unique and it's exciting to hear one of your performances will literally be on board a river cruise.
Haha! The Kookaburra Showboat Cruises just kind of happened because I saw they were keen to host some Anywhere shows and I didn't have to hire the venue. Those shows are going to be more intimate, preview kind of shows, without the rest of the band, plugging the live recording shows.
Your album will be recorded at your final shows in Salisbury, Brisbane, but what can audiences at the other lead up shows expect?
The aim is to film every show, so punters can make it into the film clips if they opt in; we'll run through the whole show just maybe without the brass section. You can expect laughs, tears and warm fuzzies: if I'm doing it right. (I also hope to have an AUSLAN interpreter at a couple of shows too.)
The album 'Released' is about the last five years of your life. Why do feel this segment of your life is important to record?
'Released' is a double concept album. The first disc 'Waiting And The Lost Art Of Devotion' is about the love of my life that I'm still waiting for. We met five years ago, he's an incredible guitarist and by osmosis shaped some of my playing styles, goals and attitudes.
The second disc is called 'Starting Now'. It's about getting on with my music career and generally giving yourself permission to do what you need to do and what might benefit others by you being that example. For me, it was really important to present these two ideas together since they've been happening concurrently over these five years.
I quit all three of my jobs at once three years ago to do music full time. I quit covers gigs at the start of this year and I've never been busier, so it must have been the right call.
The single from the album 'Keys' is soulful and sweet in both musicianship and in lyricism. Is the song a good representation of what's to come on the album?
As commercial as 'Keys' sounds, it kinda wrote itself. So I guess so, yes. I try not to extract songs too hard, but let them direct themselves a bit; while they come out from my soul or my hands via my grammar-Nazi brain. There will be some grittier numbers on the record, but also some much softer than 'Keys'. So it's probably a good median. It won't be on the album itself though. It doesn't fit with the concept.
Your final performances at Reload Espresso will be recorded and become your debut album. What inspired you to record your album with a live audience?
I've noticed as I tour and record in studios that I just can't replicate the authenticity of performing something on stage. Maybe a perfectly organic studio could feed my soul that way, but I'd rather actually involve people.
One engineer in Melbourne commented that the all the live performing I do is obvious when recording because I just press on through the mistakes. In fact I find the pressure of being on stage in front of a camera crew, like I was in Darwin last week, seems to bring out my best playing. So it makes absolute sense.
Are you worried at all about the final outcome?
Haha, no. Michael Jackson made a mistake at the end of 'Billy Jean', but kept it. Many mistakes I've made in studios recording demos grew on me with more listens (and time) and sometimes then became the way I play the song. I feel like the vinyl resurgence is a good indicator that listeners want to feel like they're there, so to present the album as real as it can be is the most respect I can give anyone who presses play.
Once the album is recorded, what can we expect from Pepper Jane for the rest of 2017?
I'm touring it nationally as soon as it's done, and will keep writing and keep touring. Music is for sharing.