Here's my new song, Lost Years. You’ll hear it’s a departure from my usual style. My creative process for this one was quite different. Trawling through my 'voice memo' app late one night, I came across a simple but catchy guitar motif, I hit repeat and wrote the lyrics in a short time, then headed upstairs and started recording the song.
There was no pressure. Enveloped in the adrenaline of creating, I laid down tracks and tinkered with the arrangement and instrumentation to my hearts content. I sent the song to my email and spent months listening to it on repeat as my run sound track, diggin’ the vibe and thinking about maybe re-recording it with someone else at the helm, a little faster and in a higher key.
Eventually I decided that this was how the song was meant to be. It was created without my usual background anxiety of wanting acceptance or to impress my peers.
In 2018 I had the classic ‘post-album burn out’, crushed with my own expectations and punishing myself for not doing certain things better or being more organised. From the outside it probably looked like a pretty well executed album release and tour, but even before the tour had begun my brain was already deep in despair feeling under prepared musically.
Doing this single release has been a really great process for me. When I got bogged down in decision-making I reminded myself that nothing will ever be perfect and to try to keep my viewpoint zoomed out on the big picture.
My goal going forward is to release music more often, track by track, to be aware of my anxiety, it’s causes and deal with that it a healthy and compassionate way.
It’s really easy to do nothing with your music, keep it private, dream big in your spare time. I’ll keep reminding myself it’s better to do something, anything, that spending time chained to my sky-high expectations, wishing I did something with that song.
Thanks so much for reading and listening, keep dreaming big, and putting those self-doubts in the back of your sock drawer where they belong.
No one has ever asked about this song, but there’s a backstory and I’d like to share it with anyone who wants to listen.
Pentridge Wasteland isn’t account of actual events, but it is built from a personal experience.
When I was 8 years old I struck up a friendship with a boy who lived a few doors down from me. We started playing everyday after school and soon more kids who lived in our street joined in and we formed our own little gang. Across the road lived a man, Alex (not his real name), who was in his mid 30’s. He’d often have friends drinking and hanging out on his porch while we played in the street. Alex was really friendly and would walk his dog around the neighborhood so everyone knew him. All the boys in our gang really looked up to him and would try endlessly to impress him.
Our gang of friends continued playing in the street and tearing up the neighborhood until we were all in our early teens.
When I was 15 I feel in love with one of my girl friends and we started seeing each other. We were the only same-sex couple at our school and we were lucky to have a group of incredibly fierce friends who protected us from any bullying. Alex was bi-sexual and being someone I’d known since childhood he was the first adult I wanted to tell.
One afternoon I went over to his house, he gave me a beer and we sat in his backyard with his housemate and I told him the story of how my girlfriend and I got together. I wanted my girlfriend to meet Alex so I took her round to his place one evening when she was staying over at my house. We all got into Alex’s car and went to the bottle shop to buy alcohol. Later, back at his house we got drunk and Alex came onto me. I said no, and we left. I was 16 at the time.
Three years later I heard from my parents that Alex had raped a minor and was going to jail for 2 years. The circumstances were similar, high school students who were known to him getting drunk late at night in his home.
Fast forward to the summer 2017. I’m writing music in my garden under the lemon tree. Daily the radio brings revelations from The Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse. Thoughts race through my head and I realised for the first time that I had never told anybody what had happened that night. I starting thinking all the time about the person Alex raped. Thinking about what it would be like to be in their shoes, to suffer what they suffered, to testify in court. This is how the song Pentridge Wasteland started its life.
I’ve been performing the song at gigs since late 2017. Each time I feel the audiences unease as the story unfolds. The last chord rings out, people clap, but the unease still saturates the air. I hear their minds ticking.
Are we supposed to clap?
Is this her story?
Was she raped?
What this song has given me is an avenue to understand and acknowledge what happened to me. To understand my friends and I were groomed and for the first time I feel I truly understand just how vulnerable we are as children.
Since my album was finished I found out that Alex went to jail a second time, again for the rape of a child in his home. I’m told since he was released from prison he sold his house and moved on from the neighbourhood.
Wherever he is, I fear so deeply for the children who live nearby.
I am powerless to do anything.
The only thing I can do is share this story and hope.
I believe everyone has stories that need to be heard.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this one, I hope it inspires you to share some stories of your own.
For the purposes of sharing, I’ve simplified this story substantially.
More than happy to talk to anyone about it anytime, or any similar experiences you may have had.
Hey all! I was really thrilled (and surprised) a few weeks back when I got word ABC Radio was playlisting my song 'How Crazy I've Been'. The song is about an egotistical singer who laments her band mates leaving, whilst simultaneously justifying her own bad behaviour and questionable (non existent) moral judgment.
Originally, each Verse/Chorus was to written from a different band members perspective... With three characters in total, I wanted each of them to be whinging and bitching about each other in a harsh but slightly comically way.
Band breakups are a funny (well not FUNNY) thing. What I mean is; when a band implodes it is really upsetting because through hours crafting songs, rehearsing, performing, drinking and spending exorbitant amounts of time together you create this real bond and sense of togetherness. In short, when it's good it's incredible, when it's bad... it's, well... it's pretty bad. I wanted to capture this in song, but with a sight tongue and cheek edge to it.
After spending months getting nowhere with the song I decided for practical reasons to pare the concept back, having just one character. I felt the most interesting character by far was the lead singer. In short she's been a total cow to her band mates, but she shrugs it off like it's no big deal and continues to suggest and they come back and play music with her again.
Once there was just one character to deal with the song really start taking shape. The song, up to this point had been a 6/8 country barroom ballad type feel, but I decided to change it up to a rockabilly 4/4 type feel to match the vibe of the lyrics and kick the song along at a faster pace.
A few weeks later, I found myself getting lost and bogged down in the final lyric details, this was when I got some input from Justin Bernasconi and Chester Cooney who made some cracking suggestions which helped lock down some choices and finish the song.
From the get-go I started writing 'How Crazy I've Been' thinking "wouldn't be amazing if Dolly Parton sang this song"... reality kicked in once it was finished, I would have to be the singer.
Thanks for reading... lyrics are below.
HOW CRAZY I'VE BEEN - LYRICS
I saw a picture, three of us singin’
Back when we used to be friends
Songs and the whiskey never stopped flowin’
Till the sun came up again
Feelin’ so low drivin’ the highway
Wishin’ that you’d stayed, cause
Nothing compares to that good time feelin’
When we used to play
You’ve both forgotten the magic that happens
Right up there up on the stage
I wish you’d remember what you’re both missin’
And what we’re throwin’ away
It doesn’t matter if I stole your lover
Write it down in a song, cause
Fans who love country, love all the heartache
It’s what keeps em comin’ along
Nobody cares that you don’t like me
No one cares you’re mad
You don’t have the guts to go it alone or
Make it without my band
You’ve both forgotten the magic that happened
Night after night on the stage
I wish you’d remember the high times you’re missin’
And what you’re throwin’ away
Cowboys can solve all their trouble
With beer at the end of the night but
Women like us never forget those
Shit things you said in a fight
I’ve been pretending it’s not my problem
I stabbed you in the back
I shoulda known all those years ago
Not to treat you like crap
With rose coloured glasses I looked back across
Those years we spent on the stage
If only I’d seen how crazy I’d been
You wouldn’t be walkin’ away
🥝 Two years ago I started making trips out of Melbourne to play small country pubs alone. It was really exposing for my voice, songs and guitar playing and made me want to work on all three; in particular it propelled me towards focusing on my lyric writing. Since my teens, local songwriters have always been my primary source of inspiration, and writing for this album was no different. I was looking at the songwriting of Jed Rowe, John Flanagan and Michael Waugh for cues on strong narratives and lyrics as well as songs about Australian life. I wanted push myself further in my writing and to look back and know I’d given each song every possible chance of reaching it’s fullest potential. 🥝
I can listen back to the songs now with satisfaction ‘cause I know how much I put in… I didn’t quit when in the past I would have thrown in the towel, I didn’t settle on things when I knew they weren’t right or could be better. Hopefully when you hear these songs, you won’t hear the work, the frustration, the endless drafting, loosing the plot and the point and then finding them again. Hopefully you’ll hear songs that sound complete, whole and perfect, like they’ve always existed that way.
The area known as Melbourne’s ‘inner north’ is where I grew up, and still live today. Northcote, Nth Fitzroy, Thornbury, Preston, Reservoir, Fairfield, Alphington, Clifton Hill, I know their streets, shops, houses and people. I am, what I like to call ‘obsessively nostalgic’. Everywhere I go here, I have memories. I can look at the landscape through my eyes or through the eyes of me as a child. My mother, grandmothers and one great grandfather also grew up in this area. I travel the same streets; ride the same trams, and where ever I go I wonder what their lives looked like. I know some of their history, where they worked and lived, some of their stories.
The songs on Inner North are either set in the this area or are about it’s people, now or in times past. It wasn’t meant to be a concept album; I was just trying to follow that famous writing sentiment “write what you know”, and whist it’s a really personal record, they’re not all my stories, some belong to others, some are real, some are imagined.
Thanks so much for reading, loads more exciting things to announced in the coming week, stay tuned.
If you’d like to pre-order a copy of Inner North, private message me on FB or flick me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
After recording this track, I'd been dreaming of doing a DIY music video for it. My original idea was pretty simple, video a bunch of skaters down at Fitzroy Bowl interspersed with point of view shots from the skateboard in the different locations the character in the song sings about. After scoping out a few skateparks I realised pretty quickly that asking another skateboarder to do tricks for you on camera, for your own purposes, is a little bit like someone coming to your gig and asking to record them for a project they have no idea about nor connection too... it's not cool, and really puts someone on the spot.
During a visit to the bowl a young BMX dude of about 12 saw me with my skateboard and said “So are you gonna have a skate?”. I explained I used to skate here as a kid and haven’t done so in about 15 years. To this he replied “Ohhhhh, that’s cool! You should just do it, just drop in. You’ll remember how!” And so I did, and it was amazing! That was the beginning of me learning to skate the bowl again. I’m not great skater by any stretch of the imagination, nor was I when I was a kid, but that doesn’t matter. So this video in a way has turned into a document of me learning to skateboard again at 30 years of age, and why not! You gotta do it while you still can.
Aside from this, there are deeper issues, that Fitzroy Bowl touches upon. There are other elements, in between the lines of the story, that are hard to express in words. The spaces where this story takes place I know well, the primary school (North Fitzroy Primary School) in the story is my primary school, Edinburgh Gardens is somewhere we did sports days, I learnt to play tennis there, it's where we had Carols By Candlelight each year, we marched through it when our school protested the closure of the Fitzroy Pool in 1998.
All Nations Park was constructed when I was at Northcote High School and part of the push for Darebin Council to build a skate park there. My boyfriend and I were both skaters and we met at that skatepark. I worked at Kmart in Northcote Plaza (behind All Nations Park) for a few years after High School.
I was working the cash registers the night Tyler Cassidy was shot dead by police in All Nations Skate Park. I saw him walk into the store, and saw him walk out with the two kitchen knifes. Shortly after there was a lock down at the store. Once we were allowed to leave through the back, I asked a police officer what was happening, he said "Well, it's just about as bad as it gets over there" in a solemn voice.
It was only later I found out Tyler lived less that 100m from me, basically at the end of my street. It still think about his death every time I drive past the plaza and the skate park.
Fitzroy Bowl is about a lot of things, the loss of friendship, the feeling of powerlessness and distress you feel when you're unable to help or have any control over a situation. The way we as adults distance ourselves from situations that are uncomfortable. How disadvantage, poverty and family violence are intertwined and have huge implications on lives of children in those situations. It impacts on their health (mental and physical), their education, their working lives and their lives as parents. As a teacher I feel so sad and angry when I hear discourse in the media about educational outcomes for children being about 'hard work'.
It doesn't feel like I wrote the song anymore, it feels like I am the singer of this song, and that the song has a life and message of its own.
Thanks to the musicians who performed on this song, Justin Bernasconi (electric guitar), Ben Franz (bass) and Justin Olsson (drums), and to Jeff Lang for producing it.
This video was shot by Justin Bernasconi and myself on iPhone, and edited my myself on the humble program iMovie.
Thanks for reading x
Here's my new song 'Fitzroy Bowl’. I'll be launching it at The Spotted Mallard on Thur 15 Feb with my band! You can buy tix here ➡️https://goo.gl/A2jKGb
There are so many songwriters in Melbourne pushing their boundaries and creating new and exciting work, feel so lucky to live in such a supportive and vibrant music community!
Thanks to all the Radio DJ's who've given 'Fitzroy Bowl' a spin, Crispi at Radio City Radio Show on PBS FM, Timmy Thorpe at Vital Bits (RRR), Myles at 5 Feet High And Rising on PBS FM, Tony at On The Blower (RRR), Vinny at The Outpost 2ser FM - Real Radio and Knecki on ROOTS N ALL
Community radio is such a massive part of the music scene in Melbs, they help us get our music out there and spruke our gigs. But they're also the best place for discovering new music - both local and international... at least that's how I feel anyhow!
Set between All Nations Park (Northcote) and EdinburghGardens (NorthFitzroy), ‘Fitzroy Bowl’ is the story of two children from different socio-economic backgrounds who form a bond through their mutual love of skateboarding. The song explores the kindness and compassion of children, whist reflecting on social privilege, disadvantage, and the isolation experienced by those who are failed by the system and fall through the cracks.
I spent lots of time at Fitzy Bowl through Grade 4/5/6 at Nth Fitzroy Primary School. Pretty much always the only girl back in those days. Skateboarding dissolves boundaries between people - young and old. There’s an incredible skate culture here in Melbourne and I really can’t wait for governments to finally acknowledge this and give it the recognition it deserves ... They could start with putting some night lights up at Fitzy, and by integrating skateable structures into urban design - rather than capping ledges and stairs so they can’t be skated.
The State and Local Government in Victoria and Melbourne did a total backflip on the Melbourne Music scene once they had a report to show what it was worth in dollar terms... it’s kind of disappointing that bureaucrats can’t see the cultural and social value in things until they’re presented in $$$$ signs. Rant over.
Hope you enjoy the new song.
Shared many stories at Fitzroy Bowl
Edinburgh Gardens, both 9 years old
Hung out in the grandstand at every game
Skating and footy, those were our days
You lived in the high rise up Brunswick St
Your Mum had schitzed out on bad LSD
She was always too freaked out to get you to school
So you jumped on your board, rode on down that hill
Your Dad moved back in, you just had to go
He smashed up your stuff, wasn’t safe to go home
I begged my folks to take you in
We can’t interfere son it’s just one of those things
A few months went by, you were hardly at school
I heard you’d been fostered near Clifton Hill
You weren’t at the bowl, you weren’t at the game
Did we drift apart or did you drift away
Last time I saw you was in All Nations Park
Collecting those soft drink cans after dark
Pushin’ your trolley down Merri Parade
Past Rushall Station to where the homeless stay
But they don’t understand you, avert their gaze
Just an angry young man a tattoo on your face
You’ll never tell ‘em what you’ve been through
Cause men don’t talk, boys don’t cry
Trucks on the coping, skate hard or
Men don’t talk, boys don’t cry
Trucks on the coping drop in and fly
Cat – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
Justin Bernasconi – Electric Guitars
Ben Franz – Bass
Justin Olsson – Drums
Super excited to announce the first single from my new album is coming out in a few weeks, it’s called ‘Fitzroy Bowl’ and there an awful lot to tell you about the song… in due time. My banjo pickin’ brother Ben Mastwyk and I are teaming up to launch our respective singles at The Spotted Mallard on Thursday 15 Feb, we hope you’ll join us! Tix here ➡️ https://goo.gl/A2jKGb
Announcement! I’ll have a brand new album to share with you in 2018, I’ve been secretly working away on it behind the scenes this year 💪🏽 I wrestled with a lot of self doubt and uncertainty whist recording and I wanted to share this photo because it captured me in one of my darker moments.
I’m really excited to share the new album with everyone. I feel I’ve reached a new level with my songwriting, singing and guitar playing, and that’s certainly a great feeling!
2017 has been a difficult year... but there’s lots of things to celebrate. Biggest one for me is the legalisation of same sex marriage. As someone who doesn’t identify as heterosexual it’s was a huge moment for me personally. There’ve been countless people who’ve spent their lives fighting for Queer rights and when the law was past I thought about all the couples who never got to marry their partners (all the rights they were denied), all the men who were jailed in Australia for being gay, and the people cast out from their communities because of who they love or what they are.
Australia still has a very long way to go but it’s important to celebrate the miles stones when they happen 🏳️🌈
May you follow your dreams and achieve all you set out to achieve in 2018 ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Happy New Year
Absolutely love this new song by Bill and Ross Jackson... killer words, killer feel.
"If you're not angry, you're not listening"
Professional procrastinator. Drummer, swimmer, runner, rider.