Melina Marchetta – Tell The Truth, Shame The Devil (Literature Review)

Melina Marchetta is arguably one of Australia’s best-loved authors, particularly in young adult fiction. If you were a teenage girl going through school in the late 90s/ early 00s, it’s likely that you read one of her books, either as assigned reading or because all your friends were recommending her work.

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Marchetta’s novel is published by Penguin Randomhouse. Get your copy here.

From the break out smash hit Looking For Alibrandi to Saving Francesca and On the Jellico Road, or even her more recent work, The Lumatere Chronicles, her books have been loved by many and earned her numerous highly prestigious publishing awards over the years. Continue reading

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Keeping Up with MOZA

Sydney-based electronic duo MOZA may be best known on the Australian music scene for their collaborations with the likes of Running Touch, Paces and even Tina Arena. Now, MOZA are set to step into the spotlight for real with their latest single, Keep Up.

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Get your copy of “Keep Up” on iTunes.

Given that their previous single, Empty Streets (featuring Kota Banks), has just clocked 12 million streams on Spotify, you would be forgiven for thinking that Cam Nacson and Toby Chew Lee would be a little nervous when it came to releasing new music. Rather than shying away from the challenge of matching the previous hit’s statistics, however, they chose to see it as an opportunity to grow and really push themselves as musicians. Continue reading

J.L Carrell – The Shakespeare Secret (Literature Review)

“If you open it, you must follow where it leads.”

J.L. Carrell’s thriller, The Shakespeare Secret, has drama worthy of The Bard himself.

A university professor and part time director for the local acting troupe, Kate Stanley lives and breathes Shakespeare. But she never imagined living in one of his plays … until now.

The Shakespeare Secret JL Carrell (Goodreads)

Get your copy of “The Shakespeare Secret” here

When her mentor and best friend, Roz, is found dead after a fire at The Globe, where Kate just happens to be directing a production of Hamlet, the authorities mark it down as chance, a tragic accident. But Kate knows something they don’t, a secret Roz divulged before she died. Continue reading

Interview with Andy Black

I was recently reminded that it’s been a year since I interviewed Black Veil Brides’ lead singer, Andy Biersack. In honour of that, I thought I’d share some of the best bits from that interview.

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Having had the career of which most musicians can only dream, Black Veil Brides’ frontman Andy Biersack considers himself fortunate to still call the industry home. In this interview, he discusses debut solo album, The Shadow Side (released under the moniker Andy Black),  his love for Australia and preparing for the band’s next record.

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Image supplied.

For this album, was the song writing process different compared to that of Black Veil Brides?

Absolutely! In the band, you’re writing in conjunction with the other band mates, whereas with this it was just myself and John Feldmann, my producer. I was able to have a lot of my friends come in from different bands to collaborate. I had my friends from Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance and The Used, and a bunch of other groups that came in, helped me out and played instruments on the record, added their flair here and there. It was great!

 

What can people expect from one of your solo live performances, as opposed to a Black Veil Brides show?

To tell you the truth, it’s a very different show. Obviously with Black Veil Brides, there’s five band members running around and there’s big staging and video screening and pyrotechnics and everything, whereas an Andy Black show is meant to be a much more stripped-down experience. There’s just three of us on stage: myself, my drummer and guitar player, and it’s a lot more interactive.

I like to tell stories from my youth, touring and everything I’ve done over the years. I like to talk about each song individually and it’s meant to be a bit more personal.

 

So what makes Australian fans in particular so special?

From the first time we played in Australia, I had a really positive experience. There’s a level of dedication that you experience when you go to different countries. With Australia we just connected. I remember as a kid … I would watch my favourite band, KISS, and they went to Australia, and there was hysteria in the early eighties and late seventies. Australia just went wild for KISS. I always thought that would be so cool to go to a country that has such an amount of admiration and fandom for artists, particularly rock artists.

We’ve just always had a very positive experience in Australia.

 

Do you have any songs from The Shadow Side that you specifically enjoy performing live?

… Well, I like all of them, I guess (laughs). I love performing the singles, so I love doing Ribcage, my latest single from the record. That’s probably my favourite to perform live.

 

What have you found the reaction has been like with this record so far, particularly as it is completely different from Black Veil Brides?

I mean, it’s been really positive, to the point where it seems that most of my fans – fans of Black Veil Brides previously – understand that this is a separate project. It’s also brought in a lot of new people who maybe didn’t always listen to my band. I’ve been very pleased with the reaction.

  Continue reading

Interview with Missy Lancaster

Australian country music starlet, Missy Lancaster is set to release her latest single, Forget on August 25th 2017. Last year, I had the opportunity to interview her about her then-recent signing with Sony Music. Catch up on some of the best bits with this little flashback.

After doing the hard yards as an independent artist, Australian country music singer Missy Lancaster has recently been signed to Sony Music. On the eve of re-releasing her second EP, Missy, she spoke about the recording process, her love of country music and being Keith Urban’s biggest fan.

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Missy Lancaster’s new single, “Forget” is out August 25th 2017.  [Image via Artist’s Facebook page]

 

 

Congratulations on the upcoming release of your second EP, Missy. It was originally released earlier this year independently but now that you’re signed to Sony, it will be re-released tomorrow (8th July 2016). Are you nervous about that?

 Yeah. I suppose it’s just being put up on a much bigger platform, but it’s great, you know, that something I did independent[ly] is good enough to be released through Sony.

 

How does it compare to your previous release, ‘Til I Figure It Out’?

I think this EP just really suits my personality. It just sums me up really well. It really shows where I’m at in my life. I suppose [with] my first EP, I didn’t really know where I was at, what kind of music I wanted to make whereas this EP, I knew the style of music I wanted to make. I had a really clear direction of what I really wanted my songs to be about.

  Continue reading

Paul M. M. Cooper – River of Ink (Literature Review)

British journalist, editor and archivist Paul M. M. Cooper bewitches readers with his debut novel River of Ink – a foray into the depths of medieval Sri Lanka.

As court poet, Asanka has something of a privileged life. Spending most of his days in the luxury of the apartments afforded to him by the king – to whom he has dedicated his life – he teaches his mistress, a servant by the name of Sarasi, the secrets of language while assisting his master the best he can. Continue reading

Kylie Ryan – Got Me In (Single Review)

Sydney-based country musician Kylie Ryan announces her arrival with the recent release of her debut single, Got Me In.

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Click here to buy your copy of “Got Me In” on iTunes. [Image via Artist’s Facebook]

Kylie Ryan isn’t really your stereotypical country artist. Trading dreams of making it big in the music business for family life, it’s only recently that Ryan has been able to focus on kickstarting her music career. Having graduated from WSI Entertainment (Western Sydney TAFE) with qualifications in music theory, Ryan is ready to take the next step on her road to success.

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In Conversation with The Bedroom Philosopher

 

In 2014, I caught up with Justin Heazlewood (AKA The Bedroom Philosopher) following a  performance at Queensland Poetry Festival. In August 2017, he will return to the line-up with his highly-praised “Cat Show”. As such, I thought now would be a great time to share some of the best bits from one of my favourite interviews.

Justin Heazlewood (Image Provided)

Do you still get nervous when you perform live? How do you conquer those fears?

Yes. It used to be more of a loose shock, like weeing on an electric fence – these days it’s more of a focused buzz – like eating good Indian. The key to success is cutting down the amount of ‘nerves’ time before a show. In the early days it’s anywhere up to a month. These days it’s perhaps the morning of the gig. Yoga helps. Meditation helps. Arrogance helps.

If you weren’t a performer, what would you be doing?

Being mentally ill, probably wandering the streets. I would make a good social worker/ guru touring schools and helping kids with issues about self-esteem. This is something I am trying to do more of.

I’m fusing my Bedroom Philosopher skills into a presentation that can fire up school kids and remind them that everyone is messed up and lonely and that it will probably all be okay. That said, I can’t cure cyber bullying – that’s one complex dude.

 

Who inspires you, both professionally and personally?

I am inspired by artists who have ignored commercial trajectories and just made the work they wanted to make. I recently interviewed over 100 artists for my book Funemployed.

In particular, I was taken with Tony Martin and John Clarke’s attitudes. They don’t have agents, they just keep firing up and making their own work and relying on their personal networks and collaborations. It was a very similar ethos to the one I’ve had – and I’m at a stage in my mid-career where I really need to hear from older artists who are still doing it – because in some ways the world is screaming at you to give up and go away and have kids and disappear.

Continue reading

Kesha – Praying (Single Review)

“It’s from our darkest moments that we gain the most strength.” – Kesha in her personal essay for Lenny Letter.

Pop superstar Kesha is reborn with her power-ballad, Praying, the first from her long-awaited third album, Rainbow.

 

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Get your copy of Praying on iTunes. Kesha’s upcoming album, Rainbow will be released on August 11th 2017 through Sony Music/Kembosabe Records and is available for pre-order. [Image via Artist’s Facebook.]

I’ve never really been a fan of Kesha, who first came to prominence with her debut single TiK ToK in 2009. While her debut album, Animal (and the follow up record, Warrior) garnered her millions of fans worldwide and accolades that most musicians only dream of, I couldn’t help but be put off by the “poppiness” of her material, that commercial vibe that, to me, sounded a little too manufactured.

But Praying, written in the aftermath of a hellish five years which prevented the pop singer from releasing any new music, is something else entirely.

There’s a richness and vulnerability to Praying that has been missing from her previous songs. A piano ballad, Kesha explores her unique vocal range in a way that, in my opinion, has been previously left untapped. The husky edge to her tone, and the skill with which she has arranged this heartfelt composition shows true talent. Aussie folk band, All Our Exes Live in Texas lend the song a slight gospel feel, and the combination of these two artists is almost perfect.

All Our Exes Live in Texas (c) Cybele Malinowski (2)

Aussie songstresses All Our Exes Live In Texas’ vocals feature on this song. (c) Cybele Malinowski

Lyrically, Kesha allows the song to speak for her, fighting against those who tried to drag her down. While it is heartbreaking in some points, there’s also a sense of empowerment that cannot be ignored.

Kesha will probably entirely lose that pop vibe that has earned her such success, but Praying signifies a turning point in her career, a strength and awareness that can only mean that the best is yet to come.

 

[Editor/Author Note: Don’t forget to check out my review of All Our Exes Live in Texas’ debut album, When We Fall. You can also read more about their involvement with Praying here, and the video clip for the song is on YouTube.]

Emily Brewin – Hello, Goodbye (Literature Review)

Debut Australian author Emily Brewin delights with her historical coming of age novel, Hello, Goodbye.

It’s 1968 in Nurrigul, Victoria.  Good Catholic girls like seventeen-year-old May Callaghan aren’t expected to conquer the world. If you survive school, marry a hardworking man and raise a family, you’ve done enough. But May knows there’s more to life outside her small hometown, and a war in Vietnam. She dreams of being a part of something bigger.

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Hello, Goodbye is published by Allen & Unwin. Click here to get your copy from Dymocks.

When her boyfriend Sam leaves for Melbourne, May seizes the opportunity to catch a glimpse of what it might be like if she were to follow in his footsteps. But Carlton isn’t what she expected. It’s so much more.

There, people aren’t afraid to say and do what they like, to step outside the norm and face challenges head on. This is especially the case when it comes to opposing Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War, something which May can relate to given the impact her father’s military efforts have on her family life. And at the forefront of it all are Sam’s housemates, Clancy and Ruby, both of whom seem worldlier than May could ever imagine.

Soon, she finds herself caught up in the chaos of these new surroundings. The culture, the social scene, and the politics. The desire to be a part of it is strong she begins to question her beliefs, and who she really is. But is her longing for adventure going to lead to more trouble than its worth?
Despite touching on the basics of the Vietnam War in school, I – like many Australians – was not overly familiar with Australia’s involvement in the conflict, and the impact the revolutionary change of the 1960s had on the nation as a whole. Hello, Goodbye introduced me to that, and it’s a scene as alluring in fiction as it was in real life.

In this novel, Brewin has created a world that is captivating, full of vibrant three-dimensional characters who seemingly take on a life of their own. Their story is powerful.

When writing on a topic that is as politically and historically charged as this one, it can be difficult not to get bogged down in the research. Even the best and most-loved historical authors can trip up occasionally by providing too much information, and subsequently, bombarding the reader with facts and figures. This was never the case with Hello, Goodbye. Brewin’s style is effortless – hypnotising even – as she leads us on a journey of what it was like to be a teenage girl growing up in the late sixties. A time when the world was full of promise as well as danger.

Hello, Goodbye is a fantastic novel by a great new writer. It’ll leave you breathless and stay with you long after the final page. I can’t wait to read more.