radionotes podcast episodes

Abi Tucker has a new album – Who Do You Really Know? (Kellett Street Records) – about to be released, that takes a candid look at a woman turning from their 30s to 40s. Recorded at Electric Avenue Studios by Phil Punch and mastered at 301 Studios by Steve Smart, it also features a solid line up of musicians to. Tucker who has acted in various movies as well as Heartbreak High, McLeods Daughters and Secret Life of Us also has appeared on Playschool and is the voice of Hootabelle on Giggle and Hoot… has since the mid-90s had music as a major thread to their performance. In fact, there is a clear passion for singing in this artist’s career. First two Singles already released are What The Future Holds and When The Night Sets In.

Ahead of the album’s release Abi spoke with John Murch of radionotes

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SHOW NOTES: Abi Tucker

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Who Do You Really Know? (Album) – release date 30th January 2020

Feature: Abi Tucker

Next Episode: Kiernan Box of Augie March & The Blackeyed Susans

…if you have not already subscribed or following the show – can be found on Spotify, Apple and Google Podcast, Overcast, PocketCast and more…

More details on playpodcast here, thanks to Matt from them.

[Radio Production – notes: Abi Tucker chat takes full episode and Singles are available now with full LP at the end of January 2020]


Theme/Music: Martin Kennedy and All India Radio   

Web-design/tech: Steve Davis

Voice: Tammy Weller  

You can make direct contact with the podcast – on the Contact Page


First version provided by REV team member Leslie B – check to audio before quoting wider

John Murch: Abi Tucker, welcome to radionotes.

Abi Tucker: Thank you John. Thanks for having me on the show.

John Murch: Who’s the lineup that you’ve decided to take on board with this album?

Abi Tucker: Julian Curwin, Stu Hunter, Dave Symes, Evan on drums, Evan Mannell. There was Simon Frenchy, Julian D Thompson and Matt and Phil Punch and Jim Hoppy-Smith were the the ones that engineered the record. I was very lucky with the lineup. I played with Dave Symes over many moons ago. He was the bass player on Dreamworld and consequently One December Moon which was the second one. And Julian and I have played together on other projects. I met Julian through his solo music, which is fantastic. We worked on a project called The Falling Seeds together and that ended up sounding really great and I really love the way he plays guitar. And Stu played on my One December Moon album as well. So I was very lucky to work with some of the people I worked with back then.

John Murch: And One December Moon was an Adelaide, South Australia invention and recording.

Abi Tucker: I wrote that album while I was filming McLeod’s Daughters actually. And I was lucky because a couple of other songs turned up at the end of the series. Not only that it just had its own kind of flavor to it. So I was very happy with that one.

John Murch: What did you get from working with Phil Punch?

Abi Tucker: Well, Phil is just an astounding music man of all shapes and sizes. We were in the studio and just the sounds that he could pull and the way that he sort of worked and just even just his personality. He’s such a wonderful person to work with. It actually started, I went into the studio to record children’s tracks for my children’s project and it’s just I just wanted to get to a point where we’d recorded all the adult tracks as well. So sweet. It was like a combination of projects at the time. And Phil is extraordinary.

John Murch: You referenced there the children’s projects as well. Was this inspired from being on Playschool or was it the fact that you had two of your own now in the nest?

Abi Tucker: I loved working on Playschool. I just working in that world and I was touring a lot with Playschool over the years as well, so I’ve been very lucky. More so, I did a lot of puppeteering as well. I went over to Prague and did some workshops and I went to America and worked just very briefly that I worked on a project there. It’s interesting. I feel like the album isn’t coming from any particular thing. It just over the years it just sort of something that I love to go back to and writing is one of my things.

John Murch: What is it with particularly Australian singer songwriters of your quality ending up on children’s shows? I note that Megan Washington is in a show called Bluey that I haven’t had a chance to see yet, but she’s in that.

Abi Tucker: Oh, that is a fantastic show. You’ve got to see it, it’s wonderful. More like, I feel like music has been my life. I’ve always done music and I’ve been really lucky to get the acting roles along the way as well. So they kind of combine and especially with something like Playschool, you want to have a singing background. Because a lot of the songs, the presenters have to sing songs and just part of the course of my life really. I haven’t really categorized my life into things much. I just seem to sort of roll with it.

John Murch: Both kids are under five. They’ll soon be realizing that their mum is famous. How are they taking to your music at the moment?

Abi Tucker: I have to say like they… I’ve got a terribly supportive family. And the kids as I love, they have a little bit creative in their own rights and I’ve had them on tour with me at Playschool. And I even had like I was pregnant with Pepper when I was working on As You Like It and touring with that which was quite extraordinary as well. They seem to have grown with the whole rolling of where we are going.

John Murch: Poor Boy with Guy Pearce, which is the music of Tim Finn.

Abi Tucker: Tim’s amazing. I was very lucky too that Tim wrote a show with Dorothy Porter, which we managed to get up at the Spiegletent in the Malthouse theatre. I feel lucky. Yeah, Poor Boy was great. Matt Cameron directed that. That was at the MTC and then Matt Newton ended up doing it at the STC in Sydney. Working with Guy Pearce was obviously fantastic, but yeah, that was interesting.

John Murch: Guest vocals on Endorphins’ AM/PM album, which is an outstanding release.

Abi Tucker: Oh, yes. I really enjoyed doing work with him. At that period of time around 2003, around and then Secret Life period actually, I call it. I look at my life in show periods. Like when I was working on The Secret Life of Us, I was also doing guest vocals on a lot of different things and traveling a lot too. I was working the Alpine Stars. There’s another one that, they’re Manchester outfit and I was lucky to work on their music. We recorded everything and everybody, there are two songs with the sound system and the Wicked Beat Sound System and all that. It was a lot of programming back then. So it was interesting.

John Murch: How were you seeing life at that point? So you’re in your early 20s something back then?

Abi Tucker: Probably late for the Wicked Beat Sound System. We sort of Secret Life of Us era. Yeah.

John Murch: What did you see the future would be at that age when you’re doing the Secret Life of Us stage as you call it?

Abi Tucker: I came back, I went over to London and lived in London for a period of time after Heartbreak High and I scored a development deal with one of the majors. And we were working at… We were recording it AIR studios and places like that, which was extraordinary. And then I got Wildside in Australia and I was able to come back for that. From there, kept recording and writing and kind of partnership in London and then obviously came back when I was doing the Secret Life of Us. It was a lot of guest vocals and a lot of programming. And my vocal styles reflect more where I was at, I think. Because I was very quiet and very held back. And like it was different style of vocal. I wasn’t giving it full belt. Oh yeah, I really don’t know, really. That’s a hard question. I was just in the middle of a change, a transition in my life that I can’t actually even sort of explain really.

John Murch: I note that back then or maybe I’m just naive to it, that we had more variety even in our TV series where vocalists got a chance to belt out a tune during TV shows.

Abi Tucker: I’ve been really lucky from Heartbreak High, to Secret Life, to McClouds Daughters, all those shows I was able to sing on. I can’t believe that I actually got those opportunities because it was such a huge part of my life and I guess I was arriving and playing at the time. Maybe, that’s just where we went with it. I mean even like, with the film Angst that I did, I was able to write for the soundtrack for that. So it’s always been like a hand in hand thing for me. I can’t really sort of speak about what’s happening now. I don’t really know. I mean, I just think I was just lucky to have those moments where my music met my acting and certainly appreciate those moments. Because there’s a very good composer I can, he’s named Brett Apilin and he did the soundtrack for Surviving Georgia, which was a film with Pia Miranda and we got to do a track on that called All that She Loves. That was a piano vocal track. I remember working on it with him.

Abi Tucker: And then Brett also kind of heard my tracks and helped me, like he laid down some of the pianos for the demos, so he was building… He was helping me build something even while we were working on other projects. I have to say I’ve been so lucky along the way to meet the people offscreen as well as onscreen that have supported my music, or helped me by putting something down. It’s always been a kind of role, a process. It feels like I’ve just been writing one long draft of an album or a collection of songs that keep evolving.

John Murch: You don’t have to be in the Eastern States to achieve a quality record because you of course as we mentioned, released your second album in Adelaide. It was written and recorded here.

Abi Tucker: So it was recorded between Sydney and Adelaide, which was quite beautiful. Mick Wordley, he’s a fabulous mixer and the Zephyr String Quartet was on the second album, One December Moon, made from Adelaide. And then in Sydney I worked with the band that I was working with the Megaphone. It was interesting and I was doing that with Bob Scott.

John Murch: How important has the jazz scene or more importantly the improvisational side of that been to your musical creations?

Abi Tucker: Well, I think that, well I was very lucky with that because my friend Sean Peter, wonderful composer and incredibly influence who I did a show called the SuitCase with. He actually helped me and by doing that, by charting the things and so it’s like an evolution process I guess.

John Murch: Because I also look at lineup the likes of Stu Hunter and the like. You very much have still very much that jazz influence. Not saying it is jazz though. Well, it could be called that.

Abi Tucker: Interestingly enough, a lot of the songs to this new record, I wrote in weird tuning. I mean when we originally went to record them, the plan was to keep them there but it didn’t work out that way. It’s interesting how you start the original sounds, which some of the chords that I was working with didn’t quite connect with that standard sound. And I guess that’s part of what created that less sort of standard sound in a lot of places. But then Julian for example, he puts all the guitar tuning and he plays them is standards because that worked out better.

John Murch: Do you feel that maybe live down the track you would revive some of those sounds throughout a set?

Abi Tucker: Demos, after demos, after demos, they’re clogging up my hard drive. But I feel extremely lucky to have had the freedom to create something and then have the ability to work with such amazing musicians. And I guess there is a sense of trying to take that original tuning sound because there’s something about it that’s unique. There were a couple of tracks that I’m really had earmarked as songs that I wanted to have on these albums that never made it because they just sounded different. They just didn’t sound as was the thought that they might’ve sounded. We ended up scrapping them in the studio, but I think the songs that we ended up playing on the album are really strong. They’re their own collection and they reflect parts of my life going through so many different stages and drafts. It’s quite extraordinary to see them as one project in a concrete form. Because to be perfectly honestly, this album could have gone on forever.

John Murch: We’re currently in conversation with Abi Tucker, this brand new album she speaks of is called Who do you Really Know? It will be launched on the 30th of January at the Foundry616 in Ultimo, that’s in New South Wales, Australia. Abi, let’s hit the record and let’s start with the single track number three off the album, What the Future Holds. Is there a sense of optimism you’re seeking from this record that you’ve said just there, could have gone on and on in terms of the number of stories you could have shared?

Abi Tucker: Yeah, there is optimism. I think there’s a whole gamut of emotion in the record. Self-reflection is one of the hardest things when you’re a woman, going from your 30s to your 40s. As well as everybody else around us is going through something at the same time. And I think you collect these thoughts and you collect these experiences and you try and write about them and you put them into something. And What the Future Holds especially is actually about a fight that I had with my partner, so. But we resolved it so I guess that’s optimistic, right? It’s pretty hard. It’s solved, and I’m pleased when he actually rolled up in the video and we, the ending is pleasant.

John Murch: You mentioned women turning from their 30s to their 40s. Let’s go back. Do you remember the 20s to 30s?

Abi Tucker: Oh God, yes, I remember it all. It’s a strange time because I guess just every year something changes. I feel like musically I’ve changed so much over my life. And it’s interesting too because when I was on McClouds, and a lot of the tunes were more acousticy driven stuff. It felt more open, free or something else. Secret Life of Us, they were much more beatsy and I think my vocals were very held back and they represent a time in my life. I certainly want to keep exploring so many different things and so many different aspects of my life. And I think that it’s important that art is really honored. If you have an idea in you, you want to follow it. You definitely should be encouraged to bring art forward.

John Murch: I had a conversation recently with Mia Dyson of the Dyson Stringer Cloher and one of the points that Mia was bringing up is that of the storytelling and the voices of older women are not being heard. But that is changing. What’s your view on that as someone who’s currently in that position with a record just about to be released to the world?

Abi Tucker: I’ll tell you when we release it. I’ll tell you how it went because I have a voice. I’m older now and I feel like I’m more experienced in my thoughts of who I am. And I guess, I’ll just wait and see how it’s taken.

John Murch: The idea of friendship, how vital is it and how do you hold onto them?

Abi Tucker: Well, I think friendship for me is extremely important. There’s a track on the album called Friends for Life, especially if you travel a lot. If you’re in a job that is contracted or it’s just something that moves from job to job, you do need to really find friendship and maintain them. I’m not one to, I mean, if someone doesn’t ring me for two years and then they may ring me, I just cherish that. And that one moment might just be a 30-minute chat or something. But I do believe that friendship’s vital for people’s soul.

John Murch: You’re not huge on the social media, you are on some of them. But has that taken away, that idea of that beautiful essence that you’re talking about right there from hearing from someone from 30 minutes every couple of years actually is okay? To now if you don’t hear from them every two hours there’s something wrong?

Abi Tucker: I think that there’s a difference between someone really penetrating your thoughts and your heart when you see them, or when you hear from them and you actually have a very personal conversation with them. I think I love actually social media. It’s interesting how it has put me in touch with a lot of people I hadn’t spoken to or seen for ages. And it’s when you actually do get the chance to have the personal touch that makes it even more worthwhile. I mean I really, I value it for different reasons. But the friendship thing as far as being able to relate to a friend and sit down with a friend or even just chat with a friend. It’s a necessity.

John Murch: The track Best Friend, which is off the album, I get a feeling that’s a friend based in the US?

Abi Tucker: Well it’s just another time in my life. Yes. That’s probably as far as I want to go with that. Acknowledging friendship is really important to me. So whether it’s something that moves on and you change and it’s reflected in a song. So songs and film are so permanent. That’s where it remains. The feelings change all the time. I’m just glad that I have had good experiences with those friendships.

John Murch: How much of an open diary is the record? Who do you Really Know?

Abi Tucker: A lot of it’s reflection, but it’s also speaking about a character. So there’s are sort of other characters in there might come from a story idea or something that sort of featured in there. I started something years ago called Vanity Wars which is based around characters. But I mean, some of them turn up as puppets. So it’s like history and there’s fact and fiction. And that, so I think that’s everybody’s life but probably is real.

John Murch: Let’s ask the question though about the puppets. How much do they give you a chance to be creative in your experience of life?

Abi Tucker: My love of puppetry is in watching the masters do it and having a little bit of experience. I wouldn’t say I’m like, I’ve got a lot of experience, but I’ve got enough to know how masterful some of those people. I’ve been to Prague a few times and seen the Forman Brothers, there’s some beautiful puppetry out there. Marek Becka, Marek Tretch Nah he does public workshops in Prague and people just have so much to offer and they’re such expressive characters, puppets. A beautiful way of working, I think.

John Murch: Has it inspired your own storytelling through song?

Abi Tucker: There’s almost like the real feel to the image of a puppet. And the way that it moves and those this slowness says something about the beauty in that. And yeah, I’ve really certainly loved the idea of puppetry. It’s such a great thing.

John Murch: I’m always intrigued about the spatial awareness of puppets as well. And I guess that’s got to do with the slowness and the limitless of it as well. There’s a time and a place for a puppet to shine?

Abi Tucker: Oh absolutely. And even in children’s theatre and stuff like that, puppetry is such an expressive form. They can say so much. It sort of like reflects the person in mind, like the way that they are thinking. But really you’re saying it through another elements of yourself or something that you’re maneuvering or manipulating. Like storytelling to a lot of things.

John Murch: Let’s dive back into the album. Who do you Really Know? Is the title track from the album. Was it easy to decide to have that as the title track?

Abi Tucker: I guess, but I mean it’s about not really knowing. If you catch up and really know yourself then you’re not really going to explore other elements of yourself. I mean I just think there’s always something to find out about yourself. And that’s why I called it that because it’s… There’s always a new interest you might undertake, new passions. It’s like I find that really exciting.

John Murch: Cannonball.

Abi Tucker: I guess it’s the way we self-criticise. And I was trying to claw my way out of a bad moment. Just sort of thinking about the past, some moments that you’ve made some decisions. The sort of positive thinking, like bringing yourself to a better place with where you’re at. That’s where Cannonball came from.

John Murch: How do you conjure positive thinking in your life, Abi?

Abi Tucker: Melodically, melodically. Yes, melodically or a good friend and a cup of tea or whatever. I think it comes and goes. I think that’s everyone, isn’t it?

John Murch: Why Shouldn’t We? Which is a track number two off the album.

Abi Tucker: That’s also about sort of finding, like questioning what you’re looking for and feeling there’s a brightness there and looking for that brightness and wanting that brightness. And why shouldn’t we have that in our lives? That positive connection or the feeling or the experience. Like if you feel like you haven’t experienced something enough, go on, then go and experience it.

John Murch: What’s the blockage that people just don’t go and follow that dream or try to find the color, when the color is clearly there?

Abi Tucker: I just never have been able to speak for other people. I just feel, I feel lucky that I’ve done some pretty sort of risky things to take my career places. There’s always this thing of like, Oh come on, mate. Like just enjoy the experience. But it’s not always enjoyable experience. It’s like if it has to do it sort of thing. Like I love creating, it’s something within me. It’s it is what actually keeps me going, apart from my family obviously and friends and a lot of other things. But career-wise or personally, what makes me sort of feel like I’m okay inside is to choose something of purpose or meaning to me. And I feel that that’s something that we can all connect with is, is the purpose or meaning within ourselves. You know?

John Murch: Some say with no risk, there’s no reward. Is that the statement that you would take on board? And further to that, what of those that you can share have been some of the biggest risks that you think you’ve taken over the last few decades?

Abi Tucker: I’ve always sort of pushed the music thing, always sort of gone to the music and loved it. And the reward is in the actual making of it and creating it and bringing it to fruition. We’ve met great musicians, there’s a great reward in that. That’s the reward I talk about. And the risk is that you’re not just sort of thinking about the future, like, a working person in the world. You’re sort of putting yourself out there as an artist always. And that’s kind of what I’ve been doing. I appreciate the arts very much that I’m here now and releasing another record and going, “Oh my gosh, now it’s actually happening.” And the creativity of that is all gone. Like it’s now there, a finished thing. So now I have to find a creativity in the live thing or pursuing another song or so there’s always that. And coming to the end of something is a risk.

John Murch: Do you class music as your number one drive as an artist?

Abi Tucker: Music is with me most of the time. That’s the thing that I’ve found my companion in and that sounds weird. It’s not really weird. It’s just that if you’re working on a song, if you’re working on lyrics, you’ve got something going on. I think it’s like if you’re an artist, it’s so many different colors on your palette. Just keeps you out there and focused on the beauty. Like there’s so much beauty around us and it’s nice to have a friendship with that beauty and a connection.

John Murch: TV and theatre gigs can be a little far between, sometimes. Sometimes a little rare. Is that the case then that music is something that you can own? That it’s something that you can produce at the whim for which you wish?

Abi Tucker: I don’t want to use it as that kind of tool. I think it’s more than, it’s something that, it’s precious, it’s a rare thing to have a connection. If you can harness that connection or really grow that connection, I think that everyone should have a creative impulse or a creative idea that they’re nurturing. I find I get a glimmer of light when I’ve got something that is brewing creatively in my head.

John Murch: When did you first write a song? What was it that Abi, at I guess maybe a teenage year, maybe it was in your 20s when, “I can write a song?”

Abi Tucker: I was really lucky to start in a band called Jets and the Crackers when I was 14. And we used to rehearse in the carpet warehouse and it was a rock band. So I mean, my sort of influences when I was not really little, I mean, I was always doing little bits and pieces. Even then I was working with great musicians that played in this band and we’d play at the school concerts and stuff. So that all started somewhere.

John Murch: Where are Jets and the Cracker these days?

Abi Tucker: Oh, I think they’re all over the place. That’s what it is. And then also, musical theatre when I was… I started acting when I was nine in the youth musical theatres and I think they were really great. They had a profound impact on my life. Because back then also microphones weren’t as important. So you have to project your voice from the back of the room. That to me is a really great lesson learned.

John Murch: In terms of music you’re listening to right now, apart from The Wiggles, what are those tunes that are currently getting a play?

Abi Tucker: I like all sorts of music. My partner’s got a great taste in music. He’s got lots of different styles of… And I mean, I love the Tom Whites and the Nick Caves. I’ve got such a massive library of music around me. Also friends that are playing in bands or making music. Lee Martin’s, one of them, she’s brilliant and a couple of friends that you might see their band every so often. I do love music, live music especially. I really love seeing, Kurt Vile, I saw him at Moore Theatre. That was a great gig. I just loved it.

John Murch: Let’s take another track off the record.

Abi Tucker: No Goodbyes, especially is my favorite. It’s actually that was an interesting track to write because I wrote that when I was in Melbourne when I was doing Poor Boy. And I was actually doing that while at Melbourne Theatre Company shows. That was an experience. The chorus itself was something that came along and I mean it’s just we didn’t produce it much. We just left it very simple which is interesting.

John Murch: What do you get from travel, Abi?

Abi Tucker: Life experience. Even touring with Playschool was fabulous because it was always different experiences. And going to different towns, seeing the world was just like a real thing for me. And I want the kids to experience it as well. Long-haul flights, we haven’t tried with the girls yet so we’ll see how it goes.

John Murch: This album is about a woman turning from their 30s to their 40s. When you look at kids that you have, your children, what do you see their future to be like?

Abi Tucker: I just want to give them as much optimism and as much grounding as possible. I want them to feel like they have the tools that they need to go forth and find themselves. That sounds so daggy. It’s true. I mean, I don’t want them to do anything that I want them to do in terms of career choices or anything. I just want them to see some optimism and have their feet on the ground.

John Murch: Where do you write the songs?

Abi Tucker: Well, work on Pro-Tools basically. I mean, I’ve started off on key base 155,000 years ago. But yeah, I literally before the kids came along, traveled the world with just a small set up and worked as a winch. And I would spend hours in that space working and working. And that’s where I got my pleasure and my love. It’s like met amazing people, just experience. Got a new keyboard, that I just ended up getting in, I sort of plonked some ideas down. But I mean you’ve got players like Stu Hunter who plays piano and such beautiful piano. And Julian with his guitar and stuff like that. I’m going to work with him as well and co-write more tracks to get back into that head space. So I feel like something that’s a comin’.

John Murch: Are you a tactile singer, songwriter, aka a Moleskine or a notebook or are you more of a keyboard kind of songwriter?

Abi Tucker: A bit of both, I think. I sort of used to always have a book, and a notebook. At the moment it’s more of a diary because I’m trying to keep meetings and schedules happening. And I’ve always got my notebook on the side. Yeah, all sorts of ways of writing. I love my computer. There’s so many hard drives, that are building up with ideas and stuff like that. It’s probably time I stopped and just clean things off before I start it again.

John Murch: In wrapping up, the album is about identity. It’s about understanding. It’s about, as we’ve mentioned, a woman going from their 30s to 40. Where do you see this album being listened to?

Abi Tucker: Well, I think people may enjoy it if they have this strong visual people. I mean, that sounds weird. Have to like, I mean, I often listen to songs and I imagine an experience. It’s most story than not, I guess. Like I might not just imagine it. So people who just hang out and listen to music, I don’t know. It’s hard to say. That’s one of those questions isn’t that? It’s like, what genre is that? Well, it’s really, that’s the question. I mean, I guess it would suit maybe, maybe suit some women in my age. Maybe it’ll suit men. I’m not sure. I don’t know. I’ll leave it up to you to decide that.

John Murch: I’m going to recommend a very, very dark forest with some candlelight, but that’s just me. Abi Tucker, when this chat’s released, you’ll be a less than a fortnight away from your 47th birthday. Happy Birthday for them.

Abi Tucker: Thank you very much. Thank you.

John Murch: Any big plans for it apart from doing a corker live show the week after?

Abi Tucker: No, I just think that the girls might sing me a Happy Birthday. I’ll just settle for that. That’s fine.

John Murch: It’s been an absolute pleasure to listen to you.

Abi Tucker: I really appreciate the chat.