SOUNDS OF THE GOLDFIELDS INTERVIEWS► The China Blue Experiment
Having recently completed his recording for WAM’s Sounds Of The Goldfields compilation CD and now readying to tour the Goldfields, singer/songwriter Darren Forster from the acclaimed Kalgoorlie blues outfit The China Blue Experiment, was interviewed by WAM’s Claire Logan, sharing his exciting experience of recording for the album as well as the other challenges and occasional craziness of performing in regional towns (including uninvited strip teases mid performance).
History in brief?
China Blue was a solo/duo project for me when I was living in Byron Bay around 2008. It slowly grew into a fairly improvisation heavy kind of outfit that regularly saw different and talented session musos and mates joining me on stage – and so The China Blue Experiment was born. In the last 12 months, TCBE have played Beerfest Asia, headlined WAM’s Wheatbelt touring circuit and were the runner up in Pirate FM’s Regional Song of the Year awards. The band have also held the #1 position on the Reverbnation local blues charts for well over a year. TCBE were finalists in the inaugural Bridgetown Blues Festival’s Winter Blues Challenge and Gordon (keys) was nominated in the best keys player category of the 2015 WAM Awards. On top of this Darren has just performed two sold out and critically acclaimed shows with London’s ‘House Gospel Choir’ for the closing nights of the Perth International Arts Festival. The bands brand new single Harlem is already enjoying national airplay with the support of Triple J’s ‘Roots n’ All’ program, which has been a massive buzz!
Blues soaked pop – Richie Havens, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, The Cold War Kids, The Broken Bells.
What was it like being involved with Sounds Of The Goldfields and how do you think the program benefits regional artists?
The program is of immense value to regional artists. It brings top producers to town to work with acts on their tracks and help them to develop their music to a professional standard. There is also great exposure that comes with a program such as ‘sound of’ and it gives something back to the town that everyone can be proud of. Regions have a way of creating their own unique art and this opportunity also showcases that diversity right through WAM’s extensive network. In regards to Matt, Sean, Joel and Nige, well they’re all legends!! Great musos, great lads.
From your experience during Sounds Of The Goldfields, what are three of the most important things you’ve learned about recording a great song?
- Work with great and talented people
- Enter the studio with an open mind and soak up the constructive debate about where a song might go
- Get better at your craft(s)
What do you believe the biggest challenges facing regional artists are today, and any specific to Goldfields artists?
The biggest challenge is how do you remain relevant in the Perth scene and get exposure to the interstate and potentially international opportunities. Also, the costs of recording are significant for everyone, but when you add in a few days travel, accommodation and general fuel (or flight) costs etc they really do blow out for regional artists, particularly for artists that aren’t within easy striking distance of the city. Another difficulty is the fact that the Goldfields has long had a strong cover scene. Getting audiences to really engage with new original music is quite a challenge in this region.
Can you tell us a bit about where you write/play/rehearse your music? What’s the environment like and do you think this influences your music at all?
I write and rehearse at home, often highly distracted by my beautiful kiddies and all the other distractions of a home. I play in most of the local venues that support live music. I do try and cover the vast expanses of the Goldfields/Esperance region and try to make sure I head up north to Laverton and down to Esperance at least a few times a year for gigs.
What’s the most un-expected/funniest/craziest thing that’s ever happened to you while performing?
We were playing bit of an old school crowd favorite (Leave Your Hat On) by Joe Cocker in a local and always entertaining live music venue in Boulder – The Rock Inn. It was only the second time we’d played there and things were getting a little loose. Someone (a middle aged man) jumped up and was dancing on one of the tables, doing a strip tease in line with the (very descriptive) lyrics to the song. From the stage we had a great view of the antics, then suddenly I saw him slip and to my horror was falling towards the brick paved ground of the beer garden… Then, with about 6 inches left before disaster, the bloke behind him caught him!!! Best catch I’ve ever seen. Saved his head from smashing against the ground and received a rapturous applause from the entire band and of course the rest of the crowd. Then of course, we all proceeded to party even harder! It was one hell of a Sunday session.
What’s your dream gig?
Sydney Opera House or Splendour in the Grass – Family and friends in the front row. Opener is a very tough question. So many great acts getting around at the moment! Maybe Ben Witt or Meg Mac. Both doing really cool stuff. Would likely go with a WA act.
What’s happening for you in the near future?
Friday, April 15th – 8.30pm The Rock Inn, Boulder
Sunday, April 17th – 5pm The Rock Inn, Boulder
Sunday, May 1st – 2pm The Kalgoorlie Hotel (Judds) for “Roots and Blues”
Friday, May 13th – 3pm The Kalgoorlie Golfcourse (PGA Tour), Kalgoorlie
Sunday, May 15th – 3pm The Kalgoorlie Golfcourse (PGA Tour), Kalgoorlie
Saturday, May 28th Sounds Of The Goldfields CD launch – Goldfields Arts Centre, Kalgoorlie (more info soon)
Monday, June 6th – 3pm The WA Museum (WA Day), Kalgoorlie
July and August I’m doing a solo tour of the NT and the top end of WA, then in November I’ll be back in Melbourne for a couple a shows.