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WAMSOTY Awards interview collage 2

WAM INTERVIEWS ► Song Of The Year Awards Party acts

31 Mar

On Saturday 9 April Fremantle’s B-Shed warehouse will see the WAM Song Of The Year Awards Party, the sunset-starting soiree return one last time to the incredible venue to celebrate Perth’s finest and freshest songwriting talent, and everyone’s invited (tickets available here). WAM’s Amy Doherty interviewed #WAMSOTY nominees Beni Bjah, Katie J White and Rag N’ Bone, who were all revved and spilled their thoughts on songwriting inspirations,  BBQ and onion chips versus great albums, racism and ignorance in Australia, bolt-upright nightmares, Boners and winning predictions for next Saturday…

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BENI BJAH

 

What are you nominated for? Outstanding Indigenous.

History in brief?
I didn’t start writing/MCing until I was 21, so 15 years now… making me show my age haha….but music has always been in and around my family and played a big part in my life, and especially performing – I love it! Ever since I can remember as youngin’, we were always clearing the lounge room out for some sorta show starring me and my brothers and with mum and a coffee mug for an audience. My three girls do the exact same thing to me and my wife every day, so it’s in our blood hahaha. My biggest achievements would have to be family my beautiful four daughters. My inspiration in life is my wife, most definitely – to see her come from a shy 17 year old girl to a confident mother of three who runs her own successful family business! Musically and all round nice guy Cortext, who produced all tracks off the album Survivor, also gave me the confidence to do this shit!

Your sound?
Dunno really? I don’t sound like anyone or thing (except maybe a fog horn ‘cause I’m loud as). I love Pac, Nas and DMX, but I wouldn’t say I sound like them? But I’m keen as for a review so hit me up peeps and give me a sound will ya!

What made you choose the songs you submitted for SOTY over other music that you’ve written?
I feel Survivor is a track that Australia has and needs to hear now!

Explain the creative processes involved in the writing of your nominated song/s.
That’s a hard one, I guess it all boils down to the “Adam Goodes saga” last year, or whatever you wanna call it, but I just had enough of the casual and blatant racism mixed with ignorance of most Australians. That and the fact it’s 2016 and Indigenous Australia is still not recognised in the constitution!

If you had to bet on one of the other songs to win your Song Of The Year category, which would it be and why?
Oh that’s a tough one, Terra is my boi and Select Few are on the same tip as me so either one. Hopefully Terra can get up in the Urban Category then Select Few could grab it.

Apart from possibly winning… What are you most looking forward to at the #WAMSOTY Awards night and why?
Is there any food there, or what? [ABSOLUTELY! – WAM] Na, definitely performing live to my peers in the industry is gonna CRAZY, and hopefully see and meet some of WAMusic royalty on the night would be too dardy I’m still pinching myself at the moment that I’ve been nominated let alone asked to perform on the night so thank you to everyone peeps! I’m humbled and blessed beyond words to get this opportunity to show y’all how I get down and what’s up on the night. We got a lil’ something special in the works too so I hope you will all enjoy!

What are three of the most important things you’ve learned about writing great songs
1. Think outside the box.. it’s a great view!
2. Write like the world is listening!
3. Be yourself, nothing is better than original!…. except BBQ flavor and cheese and onion chips. Well salt and vinegar too, but that’s chips and we talking ‘bout music, right?

What routines, superstitions, lucky hats or weird traditions do you have when you’re writing?
Bob Marley’s I’m The Air.

What are your three all-time favourite songs and why?
Oh man. That’s too hard so I’ma cheat and give you albums, and four, haha.
1. Tupac – All Eyes On Me.
2. Nas – Stillmatic.
3. DMX – Flesh Of My Flesh Blood Of My Blood.
4. Royce Da 59- Death Is Certain.

What’s happening for you in the near future?
Well you come catch me performing live on the night at the WAM Song Of The Year Awards! Plus I gotta bunch of other gigs over the next couple of months. Scorcherfest May 15 at Rosemount is one I’m really looking forward to. Plus the album launch around the same time and then when my brothaboy “Cortext” gets back from overseas – it’s on like donkey kong with a national tour later in the year, so exciting times ahead!! SURViVOR the album, featuring #WAMSOTY nominated song SURViVOR, out Thursday 7 April.

 

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KATIE J WHITE

 

 What are you nominated for? Blues and Roots.

History in brief?
I started performing when i was 15 and it has been a roller coaster of a ride since then. Leaving school to peruse music further at age 15 was the smartest thing i have ever done. Since then, I have lived and worded in the heart of the London world music scene, released three CDs, played all independent festivals in WA, and now, been nominated for four WAM awards in two years.

Your sound?
I like to call it contemporary soul roots. You can never be sure how someone will interpret your ‘genre’ but that’s the my best bet. I.e. It’s bursting with soul and passion, Has a bit of that sass that classic soul always had, but is laid down on a bed of roots/rock. I always feel the need to put an emphasis on the fact that lyrics are of uttermost importance to me. I sometimes feel torn between the folk and rock world, because I write like a deep poetic singer songwriter, yet play effectively, rock music. I just hope people tune in deep enough to gain the gems hidden amongst the groove. Influences include: Erykah Badu, John Butler. Ummm… ( I don’t actually listen to much music!) .

What made you choose the songs you submitted for SOTY over other music that you’ve written?
Last year we released an EP and I really love all 5 tracks on it. So I submitted them all except one that was nominated last year in the WAM SOTY. I am stoked that 2 more this year are in, meaning that EP has 3 out of 5 tracks on it nominated.

Explain the creative processes involved in the writing of your nominated song/s.
I have no set theory or process of writing. They come when they need to is all I can say.

If you had to bet on one of the other songs to win your Song Of The Year category, which would it be and why?
Probably Jordan McRobbie’s track. I used to play bass for Jordan McRobbie so I know that he is a great musician and songwriter.

 Apart from possibly winning… What are you most looking forward to at the #WAMSOTY Awards night and why?
Well we get to play as well which should be fun…and bumping into a few people you don’t see that often.

What are three of the most important things you’ve learned about writing great songs?
1. You can’t force them to come.
2. For me, a good song comes quickly and fairly completely. It may not be as good if you’ve got to keep moulding it.
3. It’s gotta be able to move people. To hit people somewhere deep down, or at least be relatable on some level.

What routines, superstitions, lucky hats or weird traditions do you have when you’re writing?
I don’t. As I said before, you can’t force it, and they come when they come. I tend to be either, crying, feeling very passionate about something, or something has just deeply moved me. They are they only trends!

What are your three all-time favourite songs and why?
1. Eryka Badu – Kiss Me On My Neck. Because it’s s full of female power in the right place. Do you know what I mean? Strong, sassy, so full of soul and the groove is just too good. The whole band is black after all…
2. John Butler – What You Want. Really moving, and heavy, and a great example of dynamics in songs. One of the first songs that got me hooked on roots music years and years ago.
3. Bob Marley – Sun Is Shining. Never get sick of this song, or any Bob Marley for that matter, but I love the darker tinge on this one. That chord progression is almost haunting, meanwhile remaining so groovy.

What’s happening for you in the near future?
To be honest, we have just been giggling non stop for months and months and where planning on slowing things down a bit for winter! but if we do win this WAM award we will probably go back into the studio.

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RAG N’ BONE

YOUR NAME & ROLE IN ACT: Axel – Guitar & yelling incoherent gibberish.

What are you nominated for?
Rock song of the year for our ditty about Australia’s beautiful refusal to its own history – Death Rattle Waltz.

History in brief?
The Boners, as we affectionately call ourselves behind closed and open doors, started jamming in early 2012. We’ve played countless (well, I’ve kept count) gigs, broken many strings and have released a single and an EP. We’re also very thankful to have previously won a #WAMSOTY Award for Wood & Wire last year and have just returned from our first international show!

Your sound?
We’ve been described as both ‘good’ and ‘ok’. Most press and conversations point to groups like The Birthday Party, Savages and demented David Lynch soundtracks – which are all on point, of course. I’d also throw in artists and writers like Jose Saramago, Albert Ayler and Nina Simone, to be a contrary bastard. Genre-wise, we refer to ourselves as sounding ‘scunge’ – beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

What made you choose the songs you submitted for SOTY over other music that you’ve written?
We released our EP A Woman Under The Influence last year and felt that some of the songs on there were strong, yet cruelly swept under the rug. Death Rattle lighted a new pathway for our sound; particularly lyrically; and showcases most of our strengths in spades – dynamic explosions, turning of the screw jams, angelic vocals and lyrics written in a fever dream of despair.

Explain the creative processes involved in the writing of your nominated song.
Well, I distinctly remember this one – jobless, waiting in Centrelink, reading an extremely dry and blind ‘History of Australia’ book from the 70’s, watching our then-Prime Minister eviscerate the working class with his silver plated idiot tongue – I didn’t get a job that day but the notes I wrote down in the ledger of the book became the lyrics of the song. It was topped off by a dream I had that night, of a gaggle of people dancing the waltz, while they gurgled the song of the grim reaper – lots of songs come from bolt-upright nightmares. Musically, my rough as guts sketch of diminished chords and half-baked riffs were mutilated and mangled to form by the other Boners, lilting a melody here, strangling a drum fill there – I think we had it sussed by a jam or two.

If you had to bet on one of the other songs to win your Song Of The Year category, which would it be and why?
Pat Chow – ‘Bad Thoughts.’ Besides Jamie’s complete conflict of interest being in two bands going up for the same category, these guys have a total lock on ‘vomiting your heart on your sleeve’ bangers. It’s a fantastic belter of a tune with great lyrics and Goldy’s harmonies are, in the parlance of our times, bloody great.

Apart from possibly winning… What are you most looking forward to at the #WAMSOTY Awards night and why? Mingling with Perth’s finest and greatest musicians, writers, media, representatives, the whole shebang. Also, giant cans of beer and wicked food. Also also, if last year was any indication, dancing about like a dullard.

What are three of the most important things you’ve learned about writing great songs?
Well, I still don’t know how to write a great song, if there is any greatness, that’s complete happenstance – but there are some things I’ve noticed about the method of writing.
1. Be present in whatever you do – conversing with people, reading a book, digesting a morsel of information, because that could inform your next tune.
2. Be consistent in writing – keep a schedule, keep it regular. Inspiration is a fickle beast, but so is grocery shopping, and you still do that every day.
3. Once you develop a method, try to ignore it once in awhile – collage your work, mush songs together, write alone versus with other people, listen to Gamelan or Japanese Koto orchestras, anything to break the habit, so you can form a new one.

What routines, superstitions, lucky hats or weird traditions do you have when you’re writing?
I have a journal and a certain pen I always use while writing. I also employ a technique of ‘gazing off in the middle distance like an idiot’ that seems to work ok.

What are your three all-time favourite songs and why?
1. Smog – I Was a Stranger. The most spectacular use of economy in music and lyrics I’ve ever come across – Bill Callahan is the master, and when the master gets a dry laugh out of a probable serial killer (I’m inferring here), you know you have my favourite song.
2. Talking Heads – This Must be the Place (Naive Melody). The Stop Making Sense If there’s a greater expression of how joyous and wonderful and breaking love can be, it’s not told in total non-sequiturs and is not the equal of this tune.
3. Songs Ohia – Just be Simple. As true a sentiment as ever heard across the plains of time. Like the other songs, I’m amazed at how simple, light and gentle this song is, yet it uncovers worlds. There’s a whole goddamned universe to the line ‘why put a new address/on the same old loneliness?’

 What’s happening for you in the near future?
Oh mate! Well we’re prepping our first album with a single and a video to be dropped later in April – album should be out by the end of the year. We’re playing a few shows over the next few months (check our FB or our website calendar for updates) and hopefully our gear won’t break!

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TICKETS TO THE AWARDS ON SAT 9 APRIL AVAILABLE HERE

 

#WAMSOTY proudly acknowledges the generous support provided by our:

Major Partners: APRA AMCOS, Audiofly and City of Fremantle
Associate Partners: Fremantle Ports, Patrick
Grand Prize Sponsors: Alberts, Perfect Pitch Publishing, RØDE Microphones, Berklee Online, CCA Productions, Firestarter Distribution, Sonic Lolly, Diskbank
Category Sponsors: Cool Perth Nights | Mojos Bar, Country Music Club of Boyup Brook, Nannup Music Festival, Perth Jazz Society / The Ellington, Sunset Events
Studio Sponsors: Artisan, Blackbird Sound Studio, Crank Recording, Debaser Studios, Fremantle Recording Studios, GibSONICS / Belltones Studio, Poons Head, Shanghai Twang, Sonic Lolly, Soundbaker, Sovereign Studios, Sumo Sound Studios, Tone City Recording Studio, Rada Studios, Underground Studios

Full list of  partners here and studio sponsors here.

 

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Government of Western Australia Department of Culture and The Arts Australian Government

WAM is supported by the State Government through the Department of Culture and the Arts, and is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.