Where are you currently based and what is the music scene like?
We are based in the northern suburbs of Melbourne and we think the music scene is incredible! There are gigs on anywhere and everywhere. It’s this incredible melting pot of different styles, genres and sounds.
How did GraceJean form?
We were introduced by Fiona’s partner at University, and after having a play and writing a song or two together (these said songs may have been about pizza, but no one can confirm), we recognised that there was a special musical understanding. And from this GraceJean and a pretty beautiful friendship was formed.
What’s been happening recently?
SO glad you asked. We have been busy getting ready for our album launch on Saturday the 5th of October at the Thornbury Theatre, arranging violin and cellos, trying on sparkly costumes and practicing our banter. Fiona has some solid tales about her cat ready, and Ailsa is poised to deliver her best dance moves.
Your new album ‘Long Black Road’ is out now, what influenced the sound and songwriting for this album?
This album is a musical time capsule for the first two years of our songwriting, so thats a pretty big question for us. I guess a big thing that shaped our music at this point in time was taking the songs we wrote in our living rooms and performing them, seeing how they sat with the audience and what effect they had, and if that effected was the one we wanted to create. Celebrating if it was, changing or scrapping a song if it wasn’t.
Alongside the experience gained from playing we also listened to a lot of music, and often (and still do) shared bands we like with each other or head out to see gigs together. As we said before, the Melbourne music scene is a bustling riot of all different kinds of diverse music so that’s been awesome to live amongst and has definitely influenced us. Specific artists like like Wallis Bird, Oh Pep, The Staves, The Gloaming, Joseph, Haim, The Maes and the Paper Kites were all bands we were listening to and taking inspiration from over this time period as well.
How did you go about writing the music?
We sometimes write parts of the songs by ourselves and then bring that in to develop together, but as we’ve grown the trust in the duo, we more and more find ourselves writing the whole songs together- someone bringing in a concept and then both of us map out the chords, lyrics and melody, usually getting the majority of the song done in one sitting. After that we might let it sit for a bit and refine it through testing it at gigs or listening to a recording we’ve made- analysing it to see if we can make any improvements. Ahah, that parts a bit arduous but really satisfying, when at the end of it, the puzzle pieces click into place and we have a finished song.
Where and when did you record?
We recorded in two lots. The majority of the album was recorded September 2018 at Newmarket studio. We then, early in 2019 decided that the album simply must have drums. So we went back in to Newmarket and did retrospective drums which is just as fun and carefree as it sounds ahah, but our drummer, Sean Newell, did such a brilliant job with it so it all worked out.
What programs/instruments did you use?
We keep things really acoustic at the GraceJean headquarters. We like acoustic steel string guitars, electric bass, voices, banjo, mandolin and drums all dosed in a healthy coating of reverb.
Who did you work with during the recording, production and mastering process?
We worked mainly with the brilliant Anna Laverty, who did the bulk engineering for this album and coaxed us through the recording. She also did all the mixing for the album and we were stoked with the way she listened and understood the sound we were going for. For engineering and recording the drums Guus Hoevenaars was superb and mastering was masterfully handled by Joe Carra at Crystal Mastering.
What influenced the songwriting for your new single ‘Turn Away’ and what does this single mean to you?
Turn Away is a love song and our favourite opener for a set. We wanted a song to get the audience excited for what was to come and so we’re influenced by that desire, to make something loud and fun and exciting.
What do you like to do away from music?
Spending time with our friends and significant others, getting our into nature, reading, listening to other peoples music, taking photos, watching movies, having a causal existential crisis. You know, the usual 20 something hobbies.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
Oh Pep! and the Mae’s recent albums are certified bangers, and right up our alleyways in terms of style of musical musings. We’ve also had the Staves Album “Dead, Born and Grown” on repeat for the last two years, as well as the self titled album by the Irish Band ‘The Gloaming.
You have a tour coming up and an album launch this weekend 5th October at the Thornbury Theatre in Melbourne, what do you have planned for this show and the upcoming tour?
As previously mentioned there will be sparkles, but there will also be heartfelt songwriting, intricate melody lines, delightful storytelling and possibly tales of well loved cats names Hazel. Whats really cool about the show at the Thornbury Theatre, is that it’s going to be with the full extended line up which includes violin, cello, drums and bass. The theatre itself is gorgeous and the whole thing is going to be filmed. The tour is also really exciting for us as we’ll be making appearances at Queensclif Festival, Tablelands Folk Festival and Happy Wanderer.
How do you prepare for each live show?
A barbaric sacrifice of tea and cookies. And a fair few strange sounding vocal warm ups.
What’s planned for the remainder of 2019 going into 2020?
We’re heading on a regional tour of Victoria after the album launch, playing at Queenscliff festival, Happy Wander, Tablelands Folk Festival (QLD) and then continuing with an easy coast tour in January 2020. We also have plans to head back into the recording studio in 2020, which we are excited about.
Favourite food and place to hangout?
Hot Chips, CERES
Saturday 5th October Thornbury Theatre Melbourne, VIC *ALBUM LAUNCH*
Saturday 19th October One Tree Hill Spring Gully, VIC
25th, 26th, 27th October Tablelands Folk Festival Yungaburra, QLD
2nd, 3rd November Happy Wanderer Festival Benalla, VIC
23rd, 24th November Queenscliff Music Festival Queenscliff, VIC