Podcasts & Books

Two Minutes with Adalita | Magic Dirt

By Pip Jarvis
17th Sep 2013

Magic Dirt frontwoman, rock goddess and all 'round lovely lady, Adalita, is about to release her second solo album, All Day Venus, on Sept 20 and hit the road on tour. We chatted with her about the challenges she faced working on her first album without her friend and musical guide, Dean Turner (co-founder and bassist for Magic Dirt who sadly passed away in 2009), collaborating with Jim White (Dirty Three), and her favourite spot in Melbourne.

TUL: This is your second solo album, can we expect a similar sound to the first or is All Day Venus a new direction for you?
In one sense it's very different to the first album. For one, I have a band playing on this record so it's much louder. I tried initially writing quieter stuff but just couldn't help putting on my distortion pedal and playing loud. And I wanted to write more upbeat, pop and danceable stuff too. In another sense, though, I wanted to keep the minimalist aesthetic running throughout the whole record, so there aren't many overdubs and everything is kept to its bare essentials so that the voice, lyrics and tones of the guitar have centre stage.

TUL: Dean was a guiding force on your first album but this one was completely out on your own. Did you find that a challenge? And how do you feel now it's completed?
Yes, it was really hard without Dean on many levels. He was always there to guide me and support me and help me with everything from song choice to arrangements and overall production. And because I was doing a lot of this record on my own, besides the recording/mixing parts, I was confronted with all sorts of self doubts, shaky confidence and second guessing. But I got there in the end and I feel a real sense of achievement. I think Dean would be really proud of me and I feel like he was kind of there all along anyway. I'm always thinking about what he would say and what he would think of my progress.

TUL: Did the songs evolve much from the demo to the final recording?
They stayed pretty close to the demos actually. I even used the demo of 'Rolled In Gold' for the final piece on the album. The main thing that changed was the songs just got bigger. Some of them turned into quite a big beast by the time we were done.

TUL: What do you think influenced your work on this album – was it anything you were listening to and reading while working on it?
I tend to be influenced mainly by my own work, but as well as that I was listening to a lot of traditional Balkan folk music. I love those really old folk songs about love and death, and the a cappella group singing and the traditional instruments, like the oboe-type sound, really set something off in me. I was particularly obsessed with a piece called 'Skaros'. I had it on repeat at the recording studio, in my car, on my iPhone, everywhere.

TUL: You live in Melbourne – do you find your surroundings impact on your writing? Or do you draw on memories of your hometown of Geelong, or other places you've visited?
I definitely attune to whatever area I happen to be living in at the time. I pick up on a vibe of my surroundings and I think that definitely seeps into my psyche, which then comes out through the music. It's not something tangible but there's a certain mood, or flavour, or space that happens in the songs according to where I'm living. I think Geelong will always inform my music. The beaches and marshlands and some of the more haunting, desolate and mysterious places of Geelong are very near and dear to me. I kind of feel at one with my hometown, like we are in sync.

TUL: You collaborated with some interesting people on this record, can you tell us about them?
Jim White from Dirty Three played drums for me for a couple of songs, which was amazing. He worked really hard and was totally into the project. It was very last minute though. I worked up the courage to call him after my producer Lindsay Gravina egged me on and Jim happened to be in Melbourne at the time (he resides in New York) and he was like, yep, I'm there!

TUL: You're about to head off on tour, do you have any road trip rituals? What gets you through the long drives and travelling?
I love travelling. Mostly I love going on the long drives. I hate flying, not because I'm afraid, but because it makes me feel so nauseated. But driving is awesome. You get to see the countryside, listen to music and just relax and drift off. It's one of my favourite things about touring.

TUL: The album is out on September 20th, how will you celebrate?
I'm going to hang out with my best friend and take us both to a fancy restaurant.

TUL: Where would one find you on a weekend in Melbourne when you have time off?
I love going for a really long walk on the Merri Creek trail. And I found out recently that they've extended the trail so that it meets up with the Yarra trail, which will be so good. I'm a bit of a nature girl so that's where you'll find me.

All Day Venus is released on 20th September
Adalita is playing at The Corner Hotel on October 13th
. Buy tickets here.

Image Credit: Adalita by Warwick Baker.

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