By Alex Teitz
Kasey Chambers 11th studio album is bigger and better than expected. It is called Dragonfly and is a double album featuring Keith Urban, Ed Sheeran, Foy Vance and many others. Chambers is an ARIA winning singer-songwriter. We first interviewed Chambers in 2001. That interview can be found at: http://femmusic.com/wp/index.php/2001/08/01/kasey-chambers/
Chambers is not an artist to pin down. She has played country, folk, rock and breathes easily in all environments. She has been compared to Lucinda Williams for good reason. FEMMUSIC is honored to speak with her again. Chambers is touring the US with the album now. For info visit http://kaseychambers.com/#
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?
KC: It’s a fairly natural approach overall but sometimes I like to challenge myself and write in a different way than I have before just to push my own boundaries and step outside thd box but I still try to do it in an fairly organic way. I go through spurts of writing. Sometimes I don’t write for months but I think subconsciously I’m writing all the time so they pour out when I open the gates. I try to write around sounds a lot and then fill in the gaps around what sounds good to my ears. I write on a lot of different instruments even tho I don’t play them well but it puts a different sound in my ears for a different headspace.
FEMMUSIC: What was your vision for Dragonfly? It is rare to want to do a double album, and a lot more work.
KC: I didn’t set out to make a double album. I was going to do two sessions of about 5 or 6 songs and put them together but both sessions we ended up with so many more songs than planned and I became to attached to them all and couldn’t let any go.
FEMMUSIC: You used 2 producers, Paul Kelly & your brother Nash. Each produced a separate album. Obviously both know your work. I was wondering why you choose them vs someone else? Why did you choose them to do separate albums vs having having one producer for both albums? What did each bring to the project and your voice in the albums?
KC: To be honest I had always wanted PK to produce an album for me and I pretty much annoyed him until he said yes. We thought we’d just start with a few songs to see how it worked but it fell into place so easily that we ended up with 11 finished tracks. The other session was with my live band I’d been working with for a couple years and I felt Nash was the best producer for these songs and band as he knows me live more than anyone. Each session is just as much me as I am right now but both have some new sounds as well.
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Dragonfly?
KC: Honestly none of it felt like a challenge really. It all fell into place really easily but I think it was important that I was open to it taking shape in its own way and I tried not to control it too much. I let it find its own feet and walk on it’s own sometimes. It’s a balance of not getting swallowed up by it and losing too much of yourself while still letting it have its own path.
FEMMUSIC: Are there any experience during production that stuck out for you?
KC: I loved finding the beauty in all the musicians as much as anything. I worked with some very experienced musicians for some parts and learnt so much from them and the brought out new sides of me but I also worked with a couple of young musicians (21 yr olds who have been in my band for the last few years but had barely recorded before) who brought a fresh reckless ‘nothing to lose’ attitude to the record that helped to bring out another side of means my music. They have been a big part of my growth over the last few years and they have their own band too called Grizzlee train. They will be on the road with me throughout the america tour.
FEMMUSIC: What is the best thing you’ve learned over time that you wish you knew earlier?
KC: Give yourself hard days! I used to not allow myself to have hard days and fall apart sometimes. I’ve learnt to be more real over time. To not try to live up to anyone’s expectation. It’s only your own that really matters. You are never going to make everyone happy. Mistakes are part of life. And without the hard times I would write songs-ha
FEMMUSIC: As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
KC: To be honest I’ve never felt discriminated against in this industry for being a woman but I also don’t allow myself to approach the industry from a females point of view. I approach it as a real person being creative and doing what feels right to me. Not what people expect of me. I do my own thing my own way. It doesn’t always work but it’s always mine. I get to own it. That’s a powerful feeling.
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you change about the music industry?
KC: Only one?? Ha. Na I’m not a bitter songwriter who hates the music industry. I love being a part of it in the way that I am and it’s been good to me. Not every aspect of it would feel comfortable to me and there’s a lot I choose to stay away from. Not because I disagree with it but because it’s not for me. Everyone has a different path and the industry is big and beautiful enough to just find you’re own path and walk it. The hard (and fun) part is being realistic about what you truly want your path to be. So my answer is nothing. I wouldn’t change it. It’s not for me to change. It’s for me to create my own place in it that feels right to me. (Oh ok I would change one thing-I’d make Bruce Springsteen play in small venues just for me. Yep)
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like like to tour with or collaborate with?
KC: I would LOVE to tour with Foy Vance so I get free tickets to see him play every night.