Tia Gostelow’s sophomore record ‘Chrysalis’ is aptly named.
Almost two years on from the release of her debut album, ‘Thick Skin’, the rising star is entering a new chapter defined by growth – both personal and musical.
Tia’s love for music can be directly traced back to one influential moment in 2009 when she was ten years old. “I remember going down to the Snowy Mountains to this festival called CMC Rocks the Snowy, and I saw Taylor Swift playing,” Tia shares.
“She was still wearing the blue, sparkly dress and had the silver, sparkly guitar. I just remember instantly falling in love with her and thinking I wanted to be exactly like her.
“That was the thing that ignited this passion for music in me.”
Upon returning to her remote home of Groote Eylandt in the Northern Territory after the festival, Tia asked her mum to order her a guitar from eBay. With no music teachers on the island, Tia taught herself to play and held living room performances for her parents every weekend.
After moving back to her birthplace, Mackay, with her family in 2010, the young musician worked her way to competing in country music contests most weekends and eventually playing in pubs in her high school years.
“It was cool to balance out all those sad and anxious moments [on the album] with really fun, vibrant music.” - Tia Gostelow
Tia’s music career gained traction after she wrote and recorded her first song, ‘State Of Art’, when she was 16.
After uploading the song to triple j Unearthed and getting into 2016’s Unearthed High top five, she started working on her debut album ‘Thick Skin’ – a concept she was “petrified about” initially.
A Queensland Music Award and triple j Feature Album later, the Queensland musician is thrilled to be releasing her second album.
Produced by Oscar Dawson of Holy Holy, the record blends Tia’s indie-pop sound with a lush ‘80s influence. Importantly, it also marks Gostelow coming into her own and taking control of her creative output.
“When I recorded ‘Thick Skin’, I was less confident and didn’t really know what I wanted. I found it hard to get my input in. I had so much self-doubt that I didn’t know what I was doing because I was so young,” Tia says.
This time around, Tia knew she wanted to explore an ‘80s-inspired synth-pop sound.
Heavily influenced by Broods’ ‘Don’t Feed The Pop Monster’, Gostelow decided she wanted to take a stylised approach to the project, leading to the album’s distinctive ‘neon-noir’ aesthetic.
“I used [‘Don’t Feed The Pop Monster’] as a drawing point for the things I wanted to do on my own record. It made me want to get a really good creative team together to make sure that my visuals are just as important as the music.”
On the musical side of things, Tia met with producer Oscar Dawson and hit it off instantly. “Oscar’s a dag and I love it – he’s super fun and sarcastic.
“I feel like there are some people that you really click with and work really well with, and he’s just one of those people,” she says.
In contrast to her experience working on ‘Thick Skin’, Tia felt comfortable expressing her ideas and taking a more hands-on approach to the recording and production of ‘Chrysalis’.
“I played the bass, piano and the synth in some songs. I really wanted to be more involved and express my opinions a lot more – and Oscar worked really well with me to do that,” she says.
“He was encouraging me to do things that he knew would sound great on the album that I probably wouldn’t have done if he wasn’t there, like some of the big notes in the songs. I was very hesitant about doing them, but they ended up sounding amazing. He’s so talented at what he does.”
In addition to working with Oscar, Tia co-wrote with a variety of musicians for ‘Chrysalis’ including Tim Carroll (also of Holy Holy), Japanese Wallpaper, Ben Stewart (Slowly Slowly), Sam Telford (Vera Blue) and LANKS, who Tia previously worked with on the chart-topping ‘Strangers’.
Despite the album’s danceable, upbeat sound, its themes draw on Tia’s difficult personal circumstances over the last two years.
She wrote many of the songs while living alone in Brisbane during “the loneliest and most anxious state I’ve been in”, struggling to navigate life away from her family and partner.
Regularly flying to Melbourne and Sydney for co-writing sessions was a welcome reprieve. “It was really good to go into those sessions and just write about it and deal with all those emotions that way,” she says.
“The other day I was reading out the lyrics to figure out what to put on merch, and when I was reading, I thought these are pretty depressing songs – but when you hear them with the music it doesn’t seem that way. It was cool to balance out all those sad and anxious moments with really fun, vibrant music.”
With COVID-19 restrictions easing, Tia is eager to play her first shows since February at the end of October. She currently has three dates booked in Brisbane, Toowoomba and the Gold Coast, and hopes to continue promoting ‘Chrysalis’ with a national tour when it’s safe to do so.
It’s been a big, few years for Tia, and with her exciting new musical direction and ever-growing confidence, her future will undoubtedly be even bigger.
‘Chrysalis’ is released on 30 October. Pre-order it.
Tia Gostelow plays The Outpost (Brisbane) 30 October (2 shows), The Met Hotel (Toowoomba) 31 October and Miami Marketta (Gold Cost) 1 November. Tickets are on sale.