Claire Anne Taylor proudly from Tasmania has released their sophomore album All The Words and while in Adelaide South Australia chatted as well played some tunes for radionotes.
Soulful voice that straddles genres and has warmth that radiates the earthly tones of where they grew up. Hear the full chat and taste of their latest album here…
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(Transcript of Claire Anne Taylor chat below, check to delivery in audio)
IMAGE CREDIT: WESTERLY
Tunes performed by Claire Anne Taylor LIVE for radionotes – all from their album All The Words: Pick Your Bones, Nothing On You and The Fire.
SHOW NOTES: Claire Anne Taylor episode
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Feature Guest: Claire Anne Taylor
Music is such a healing force
- Official Site
- Instagram – Facebook – Twitter
- My Mother, The Mountain – Claire Anne Taylor (Official Music Video)
- All The Words (Album) Apple Music and on Spotify
- Tasmanian Devil (Parks & Wildlife Service)
- Half A World Away – R.E.M. (BBC live version) on Spotify
- Hold Me, Darling – Claire Anne Taylor (Official Music Video)
New Release: Want It All by LITTLE WISE
- Bandcamp (for Vinyl/CD and digital)
- All Other Digital Platforms
- Devil off my Back (Official Music Video) and Single from LP
Next Episode: Graftician
Coming Up Soon: Peter Drew (Poster Boy) who posts Aussie across Australia
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[Radio Production – notes: Claire Anne Taylor chat plus music takes the whole episode]
Theme/Music: Martin Kennedy and All India Radio
Web-design/tech: Steve Davis
Voice: Tammy Weller
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For direct quotes check to audio, first version of transcript by Valerie W at REV
John Murch: Claire, welcome to radionotes.
Claire Anne T.: Thank you, thanks for having me.
John Murch: Let’s take you back to the beginning of your musical life. You’re born in a barn, is what I remember, in Tasmania at the edge of the beautiful Tarkine Forest.
Claire Anne T.: Yep, that’s true.
John Murch: What a magical experience being in that region was.
Claire Anne T.: An incredible place to grow up, and just, I guess I didn’t really appreciate how unusual it was until I moved away from that place. Until I kind of started living in cities and things like that, I started to appreciate, wow, that was really unusual to grow up the way I did. In a place that was built by my parents and very simple, using recycled materials and timber from the bush on the property. And I guess it was really unusual.
John Murch: Also, the beautiful touch regarding, well your birth your first moments, is that bond between your mother and father, where you were handed to your father as soon as you were born.
Claire Anne T.: My dad actually had an incredible, from what I’m told, he had an incredibly calming presence when it came to births, to the point where he was actually asked to attend the births of other friends and women in the district because he gained a little reputation as being quite the midwife. Having no medical experience or anything. But he just had a really amazing presence about him, from what I’m told. And so, he delivered all of us babies out there. Except for my oldest brother who they labored for a long time and ended up going into hospital.
Claire Anne T.: And when they got to hospital, this was back in, I think he was born in the late ’70s, when they got to hospital, the doctor was so rude, and said to my mum, “Is that your husband?” Saying that to my dad. She said, “We’re not married, so no, he’s not my husband, but that’s my partner and the father of my child.”. And he said, “Well, if you’re not married he cannot come in.” So they locked him out of the room. Didn’t allow him to be there for the birth.
Claire Anne T.: So I think that’s probably a big part of the reason that he wanted to be so involved and hands-on in the future birth, because that’s a really special time, and to not be allowed to share that is pretty crazy.
John Murch: That was in the ’70s, you say?
Claire Anne T.: Yeah. Really old school ideas.
John Murch: And you were in Tasmania as well.
Claire Anne T.: Yeah, exactly. So some of those really old school ideas that still persist down there. But I think that we’ve come a long way. Back then you were considered a bastard if you were born to unwed parents. So yeah, I’m a proud bastard.
John Murch: This Tasmania we speak of in the Australia, for our international listeners, is where the wonderful Hannah Gadsby grew up as well.
Claire Anne T.: I am the youngest, and there were four older brothers in my family, and my older sister, too. So I feel like mum was pretty comfortable with the whole birth thing at home by the time I came along. But some of the births weren’t without their complications. Like I know I had the umbilical cord wrapped around my head, and I was in a weird kind of pose.
John Murch: Why do we do that?
Claire Anne T.: I don’t know. I also had my arm up, near my head, and it was really quite uncomfortable, but I think my parents believed, some people would say it’s risky and dangerous behavior to think that you can go through births on your own in a natural environment, but they did it with success for most of them, so it’s only that first birth where they felt unsure and that’s when they drove into the hospital.
John Murch: Back to your father, we’ve heard there that he is a calming factor, a midwife type. What else is there about your father that we need to know?
Claire Anne T.: He’s a really philosophical kind of person, and he’s got a beautiful deep wisdom about him, and he’s an incredible poet and songwriter, too. So I feel like I owe a lot of my lyrical passions to him. And also I think one thing that I really admire about my dad is the way that he, when he sings a song and he just puts all this passion and heart into it. And I feel like that’s something that I try to do when I perform, too. I really give a lot of myself and I’ve seen that in my dad, too. Something that I really admire.
John Murch: Is it true on this latest record that your mother makes an appearance on a song?
Claire Anne T.: Yes, she does. We recorded her vocals in the family barn, actually, and she sings on the last track on the record on the song called Rise To Your Door. And to me that is the pinnacle of the album because I just feel like every time I hear her voice come in I just get shivers, because I think there’s something about the voice of your own mum that you probably heard since you were so little that it does something to you. It just cuts through you.
Claire Anne T.: But she also just sings so beautifully. It sounds like an angel singing. So, for me, that was just like, ah, that was gold to be able to share with people on the album.
John Murch: What are some of your fond memories of your mother as you grew up?
Claire Anne T.: It’s hard to pinpoint the exact memories because all of them were fond. My mum is just such a joyous, beautiful human. She just has such a joy about her. I don’t ever really recall her ever getting upset or angsty. I recall her getting sad at times when, through great losses in the family. But she was never a negative person. Just such a positive force, and always so much joy and music. She just has this warmth about her. Other people have spoken about that as well. A lot of people describe this gorgeous light that just emanates from her, and I see that, too.
Claire Anne T.: It’s just, she’s a golden goddess, John, that’s for sure.
John Murch: She’s still with us?
Claire Anne T.: Yeah.
John Murch: Is she your guiding light in that respect?
Claire Anne T.: Absolutely. We’re very close, and it’s just so nice to have someone like her who I trust and who I value her wisdom so much, that I feel like with both my parents I’ve been so fortunate to have them in times of uncertainty with music and where I’m going. They’ve always backed me and they’ve always had my best interest at heart. So sometimes I think in the music industry, you can feel like you get forced to make decisions based on what’s best for your career. But you don’t always consider what’s best for you.
Claire Anne T.: And they have always been those people that have gone, hang on, is that best for where you’re at emotionally or physically? They’re always considering that first, and I think it’s just been so nice to have people in my life who really recognize when I might need a break. It’s good to have people that are thinking of that first.
John Murch: Living in the barn right through to teenage years, what does it mean to live in a barn?
Claire Anne T.: Well, in my case this barn is similar to a normal house, but just a big creakier and a bit colder in the winter. But the main thing is, that, there was always a lot of laughter and chatter and musical things going on. I think we were all a very creative kids.
John Murch: So all the siblings lived in the same bedroom?
Claire Anne T.: There’s sort of, between my oldest sibling and I, there’s quite an age gap, so it’s about fourteen years between my oldest brother Jeb and I. From my young memories, he was already off at Uni when I was quite young. So it’s not like we were all young kids packed into a space. But basically the youngest kid spent longer up in the loft with the parents, until they were ready to go and sleep in the big room at the end of the house with whoever else was there. Often when kids reached, in the family, reached their teenage years, they would move out to like a caravan or another room we had over by the dam.
Claire Anne T.: So there was space for people if they needed. Space for my brothers and my sister. But I think there was a real sense of togetherness, and always a lot of harmony amongst the family. I don’t really recall any major fights or anything except for a couple of childish heckles that went too far. But apart from that I don’t recall us struggling to get along.
John Murch: Any pets?
Claire Anne T.: We had some dogs in the early days. My parents had some beautiful dogs earlier on. One dog, Sage, and then another Caramel. And then we had a dog, Bimbo. She died when I was quite young. And then we had cats from then on, really.
John Murch: Dog called Bimbo.
Claire Anne T.: Yeah. I’m glad that you stopped on that because, have you ever heard that idea where how you derive your porn stage name is like you use first pet and the street that you first lived at?
John Murch: Yep. Fred Gladstone.
Claire Anne T.: Fred Gladstone. Mine is Bimbo Detention. Detention Falls Road, that was the name of our road, because we had a falls there, it was called Detention Falls.
John Murch: What kind of dog was Bimbo?
Claire Anne T.: Bimbo was a spaniel.
John Murch: I can’t believe I just asked that question.
Claire Anne T.: She was a beautiful girl from my memories. I do remember the day she passed. She went out under the clothesline. She just laid there under the shade of this tree that was nearby and she just didn’t move. Yeah, she had a nice life out there. It was pretty special.
John Murch: You had other pets as well, those of the very rare Tasmanian devil.
Claire Anne T.: We did. Yeah. That was when I was a little bit older. One night my brother and I were sitting in front of our beautiful big open fireplace, and we heard this growling. At first, we didn’t know where it was coming from, but it was this strange growling sound. And I think my mum was more clued on to what it was than we were, because she had probably heard devils up close, but my brother and I were quite shocked at first but really wanted to find out where it was coming from. So we were putting our ears to the walls initially. And eventually we worked out that it was coming out from under the floorboards.
Claire Anne T.: So then we got our torches and we went outside and down to the bit where you could shine underneath the house, under where we thought it was coming from. In the dark, with the torchlight, we could see this mother devil and her little baby devils that were suckling off her and fighting for the milk, I guess. Was really a special time. So we had these baby devils growing up with their mum under the house. I didn’t actually, again, realize how unusual that is until years later when even Tasmanians don’t usually get an experience like that.
Claire Anne T.: We really had a very intimate time with them. I remember having a bath once, and the mother devil came into the bathroom and sat there for a bit. Now I don’t know what she was doing, but she was checking me out. I just didn’t want to move because I didn’t want to make her leave. Beautiful creatures. They’re not at all like your aggressive, the stereotype that they have. They’re really quite timid and quite shy actually.
Claire Anne T.: For a while we’d bring home roadkill and we chucked it in the back of the old Datsun and we’d throw it under the house and they’d have a feeding frenzy. So, yeah, they came to know us as people that were safe and were providing them with a bit of food. So it was a really special time. I wish they’d never grow up and never leave, because it’s inevitable that devils will then, once they’re big enough, they’ll go out on their own and find their own den and hopefully start a family of their own, too. But it was just so special to have them.
John Murch: Near to the barn, is a cave with a bit of a hangover.
Claire Anne T.: We just called it The Caves. That was the name. We’d have Cave parties. So it’s this beautiful big cave that is not too far down the road from our place, and it became a meeting point for a lot of young teenagers back in the day. My brothers were the main ones who started it with their mates. We’d have these big, wild cave parties. When it all started, I think the cave was quite small, and it was built up with all the dirt. But my brothers dug it out quite a bit so that it was quite a big, cavernous space.
Claire Anne T.: Yeah, they ended up always having beautiful big fires out the front of the cave, and playing music down there. And I remember, too, we had this funny thing called the townie jump, which, it was basically when you’re a kid that grows up in the bush, you get a bit of flack for being from the bush sometimes. But by the same token anyone that was from town that would come out to the bush and hang out, we used to call them townies. The townie jump was basically a rite of passage for the townies. So they would have to jump off this pretty high rock ledge onto the ground to prove that they had what it took to be a bushy, which is just so hilarious. I look back on that now and go, that was dangerous and pretty stupid. It was a bit of a joke, but a drunken joke that often actually happened to a lot of townies that would do the jump.
John Murch: When did you start the realization that you could be a singer-songwriter?
Claire Anne T.: Actually took long time to come around to that as a possibility. Considering I was kindergarten kid who, when asked what they wanted to be when they grew up, I said I wanted to be a rock star. Big aspirations for a kindergartner.
John Murch: Who was big when you were in kindy? What was inspiring that?
Claire Anne T.: I grew up with a lot of older music. I grew up with a lot of stuff that was influenced by my parents, like Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell and Dylan and Tom Waits and The Doors. But then I also had my older brothers and my sister influence me with their music, too. I think I used to, like in terms of vocalists that I used to love as a kid, I remember loving Tracy Chapman. I thought she was a man for a long time until somebody told me one day how much they loved her. And I said, what do you mean. Like, I love him, too. But it’s her. But yeah, Tracy Chapman-
John Murch: Did that help you with your own comfort, with your own deep tones?
Claire Anne T.: Maybe. I don’t know. I think that I was quite shy and a little bit embarrassed about my voice for a long time, because when I was in primary school I do remember a couple of comments and things, getting a little bit teased about having a voice that sounded like I was a bit sick. I remember people saying, what’s wrong with your voice? Other kids. So I had a little bit of a complex there that I didn’t sound like everyone else. I had a huskiness to my voice, even as a kid. So I think I was a little bit embarrassed about it, so I didn’t share it for a long time.
Claire Anne T.: It wasn’t until I was about 16 that I first sang in front of somebody outside of home.
John Murch: So that question of when you started becoming a songwriter-singer, was it around that 15, 16?
Claire Anne T.: Yeah, it was. It was, actually I remember my music teacher probably recognize that I had a bit of knack for it and sent me a challenge to say you have to write a song by the end of the year, and it has to have a color in it. That was the challenge. Part of me was like, oh, that could be a thing that I actually do. I just, til then I loved writing stories. That was the big, ever since I was very little story writing was my favorite thing to do at school. I just loved it. Feels inevitable looking back that I would have gotten into writing songs because they’re just stories, too.
Claire Anne T.: But yeah, probably wasn’t until about that age that I had the confidence enough to not care too much about what other people thought. And the first times that I did do it in front of people, I did get quite an amazing response, so it made me feel good, and it made me feel like, oh, maybe I have something.
John Murch: How did you work through that? How did you get from teased kid to admired voice?
Claire Anne T.: I think partly, it wasn’t an easy process. I think that there was a lot of … I remember being so nervous before my first performance in front of the school. But I feel like there was something inside of me that said this is something I really want to do. And maybe the feeling inside of me helped me with the courage that I needed to just get out there and do it anyway. But yeah, it took a lot of courage. And I remember it being so scary, just being shaky and feeling so sick beforehand, because in those moments it feels like this is the biggest deal in your world, to sing a song of your own in front of your peers. At that high school age is where the thing you’re most frightened of is being judged by other people, that is the biggest thing at that time.
Claire Anne T.: I owe a lot probably to my brothers and my sister for helping me to learn the guitar in the first place, and teaching me songs and stuff.
John Murch: Two albums later, that’s two, full-length albums later, where are you getting your confidence from now?
Claire Anne T.: I don’t know that I would definitely call it confidence, but where I get this desire to get up on that stage is it’s become more of a humble place for me now. It’s actually not about putting on this incredible performance and having it reviewed. And it’s not about all of that stuff for me. It’s actually just about that beautiful moment of human connection that you experience when you’re onstage. Like when somebody, when audience members are crying in a song of yours, it’s like, to me, that’s the pinnacle. I feel like you can’t get any better.
Claire Anne T.: It’s like this internal purpose too that I have, this feeling that what I’m doing means something to someone. And that, in some way, it overrides your sense of whether you’re confident enough or worthy of being on that stage. Because it takes you out of your own self, then, if you’re thinking about just giving something to someone else. You’re not so preoccupied with whether you’re good enough or not.
Claire Anne T.: For me, it’s really about that connection and realizing the beauty and that power of music to heal and to bring hope and to bring joy or anger or all those emotions that are really important at times to feel. It’s been nice to come to that space where I’m not so in my head of being worried about whether I’m going to be received well, or whether people are going to like me or not. That, to me, isn’t as important. It’s more about that connection.
John Murch: November of 2019 you’ll be playing at Mullum’s as well as at the Queenscliff Musical Festival respectively.
Claire Anne T.: Yeah.
John Murch: You mentioned regarding the music industry and fitting into a mold or finding a way of selling the music. There really is no other way of stating that. There’s no sugar on top. How have you navigated or avoided some of those tropes?
Claire Anne T.: I think, actually, it has been a hard one. The most stressed and anxiety-proned I’ve been on this journey in the music industry is when I have been putting the music industry first and all those aspects of what it means to be an artist and follow that line, rather than putting myself first. And so, that has been really difficult to come to a place where I am able to say, oh, that doesn’t work for me, because it doesn’t work for where I’m at emotionally. Or, I’m not feeling well, I need time off. That’s okay. The music industry, and some people in the industry, they want to tell you that, oh, there’s these opportunities, you have to take them for the exposure, you have to jump in and take everything, and you really need to be making the most of all this stuff. And if it costs you a fortune to go and do something, that’s a great opportunity, just for the exposure. Oh, do it anyway.
Claire Anne T.: I don’t know. I think there’s certain times when, yes, it’s great to say yes to things. And it’s great to have a goal, because doors might open. But I also think it’s so important to just be able to listen to yourself, take a moment to go, do I need that for myself? Am I actually burning out? I have pushed myself at times to the point where I’ve just been so exhausted, emotionally wrecked that it doesn’t mean that you perform well anyway. So those opportunities aren’t really being utilized to the best of your ability.
John Murch: Is there a void there that starts to occur between this music industry that we’re speaking of, and that of the audience engagement that you are so wonderfully lit up just moments ago speaking about this?
Claire Anne T.: I think so. I think that the music industry has, it’s all about smoke and mirrors, and you’re always trying to present this best side of yourself and say that, oh, everything’s perfect, and everything’s going so well. But the times when I’ve had the most connection with my audience, times when I’ve been brutally honest, like honesty is everything to me. And I actually think my audience really respects that. They know that they’re going to get honesty from me. In a way, it fosters more of a genuine connection between you and your audience.
Claire Anne T.: I think it’s actually just important to not play by the rules of the music industry, but play by your own rules.
John Murch: How does the audience inform the music that you then decide to produce and put forth?
Claire Anne T.: That’s a good question, because sometimes I take different roads with my songwriting. I feel like sometimes in the earlier days, I was more conscious of wanting to be liked. Wanting my music to be received well. And I feel like that was a big factor in determining how it turned out. I was a little bit preoccupied with, oh I hope people like that. So I was too worried about what my audience wanted. But now, I’ve actually come to a place where I don’t really, I don’t mean to say I don’t care about what my audience wants, but I think it’s the wrong way to go about creating something, just to be pleasing someone else.
Claire Anne T.: And I’ve realized that the more I am just making choices based on what feels right, that intuition is so important. Time and time again, I might have recorded a part for a song, for instance, like added this other instrument. And then my gut says, no, that just doesn’t work. It’s making the lyrics lose their power or it doesn’t need to be there. Listening to that has been really important for me.
Claire Anne T.: So, actually I probably don’t write and produce music for my audience. It’s more about producing it true to who I am. So thinking about what feels right to me. In turn, I think my audience resonates with that because they can feel that it’s a choice that’s been made for the right reasons. Because the other thing is, you can’t please your whole audience, and you can’t please everybody. That’s something that’s been a really beautiful thing to learn.
Claire Anne T.: If I tried to make music and produce music that sounded and pleased, sounded good to everybody in my whole audience, then I wouldn’t be honoring what I wanted. And also, everybody wants something different of you. That’s the hard part in the music industry. Some people want this one side of you that a more angry rock chick or whatever. Others, they want this really soft folks side. Other people, the want this soulful side. Then there’s blues people who want that. Everyone wants something different of you anyways. So trying to please all of those people is impossible. So you may as well just please yourself.
John Murch: Skateboarding. Are you a good skateboarder?
Claire Anne T.: Well, I’m glad you asked me that question, because I am terrible. And to be honest, I don’t think I have ever actually tried, and I don’t think I’m capable of it. But it’s a good question because I often have dreams about skateboarding. It’s only since I’ve been with my partner, who is mad about skateboarding and an incredible skateboarder that I now have these dreams about skating.
John Murch: It’s extremely liberating, being a skateboarder.
Claire Anne T.: Oh, I think I might have to take it up, because if it wasn’t for the fact that I am just, I just don’t think I’ve got very good coordination or balance. But maybe I should. I remember being a kid and my cousins and stuff would all be rollerblading and doing really daring things on wheels. I was the kid sitting on the side, laughing and just hanging out, but not ever the one doing the risky stuff on wheels.
Claire Anne T.: So I think that I haven’t really changed a lot. I’ve got somebody who can teach me to skate, so maybe I should.
John Murch: How, outside of music, do you find joy?
Claire Anne T.: So many places, and from so many people. But the biggest place that I have found a space of solace and joy is actually the garden. So when I have time off, I’m mostly in the veggie garden and mostly planting things or weeding. I’ve got a pretty impressive vegetable garden with my partner down in the Huon Valley now in Tasmania. Yeah, we love spending time out there, just away from phones and computers and just getting back and grounded again. Because as a musician, you spend a lot of time on the computer. And a lot of people don’t realize that. That’s such a large part of your job, is sitting in front of a computer.
Claire Anne T.: People just assume often that your job just involves the travel and the playing the shows. That’s the fun part, after all the work’s been done. Yeah, the garden for me is really is my little space where I really just take away all that stuff. All the responding to emails and the phone calls, and I leave it all inside, and I just go out there and just have the birds for company and our dog. And yes-
John Murch: Bimbo two?
Claire Anne T.: No. But she’s testi, but yeah, might have to have another little Bimbo down the line. But I really came to ask my parents where that name came from now, thanks for asking. I think I’d say the veggie garden is definitely my happy place.
John Murch: What’s gone well in the veggie patch at the moment?
Claire Anne T.: Oh mate, if I could show you, I would. It’s incredible. All of our garlic is just going incredibly well. And that will be ready to harvest just before Christmas. I’ve got heaps of garlic in. We have potato onions, carrots, we’ve got broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages, bok choy. All those brassicas and the grains. Kale, silverbeet. Everything’s just looking beautiful at the moment. It’ll be, really soon, it’ll be ready to start planting some of the spring seedlings, like popping them in the ground. So after I get back, soon I’ll be planting onions and popping some lettuce seedlings in the ground and carrots and things.
John Murch: Can you talk to us about the quality of the soil in Tasmania? And particularly in the area that you’re at.
Claire Anne T.: The area I am in, in the Huon Valley doesn’t have the same richness as the soil where I grew up. So I grew up in the northwest of Tasmania, which, it’s just the most incredible, volcanic soil. Really like that beautiful red soil. Just so rich and incredible. It’s like crack for vegetables. They just grow so well in that soil. Whereas down where I am, it’s not that same rich color. It’s more of a sandier, kind of black color. Not black, but it’s just not that same red, beautiful earth.
Claire Anne T.: And it’s more clay, actually, where I am. It’s very clay kind of soil. But also, it’s just about bringing as many manures and grain manures and things like that into the soil.
John Murch: How do the carrots, turnips go with that clay?
Claire Anne T.: That’s why a lot of the beds that we’ve created, we’ve gone up. Because we started off, when we were first working the ground on our property, we started off digging down, and it was so difficult, because you’d just have these handfuls of proper clay that’s so hard for a carrot to grow through clay. So that’s when we started building raised beds and we brought soil in. Cultivating that soil can take a long time. So we’ve still got some beds where we’re working it and trying to bring in lots of manures and planting grain manures to fold back into the earth, and hopefully keep breaking up that clay.
John Murch: Great sort of pottery mud clay, type.
Claire Anne T.: Totally make bowls and things out of it. Like proper chunks of clay.
John Murch: Self sufficient? Sustainable?
Claire Anne T.: We’ve had a really wonderful first year for our veggie garden. And we’ve only had the one year with a productive garden. But yeah, we’ve had so much produce from the garden when it was in full force, and I can see that being the case for this next season, too. And we don’t buy a lot of vegetables because we have so much from the garden.
John Murch: While we’re talking about produce, talking about food, let’s ask Claire Anne Taylor regarding that of food, the favorite recipe.
Claire Anne T.: Oh, gee, that’s tricky. I actually think that probably my favorite is my mum’s lentil lasagna. I don’t know. It’s something about it. Lentil lasagna just gets me every time. And it’s just such a good staple in our family. Everyone loves it. Even people that are real meat eaters always love the lentil lasagna.
John Murch: Lentil can do it.
Claire Anne T.: Can it.
John Murch: A decent lentil. We’re in conversation with Claire Anne Taylor. We’re currently talking on the back of an album called All The Words.
Claire Anne T.: It’s interesting thinking about the title. For me, it was, basically I feel sometimes that there are, I don’t know, I look back and I think these are just some of the words that I could put into an album, of course. I feel with music and songs, it’s like you do choose those words quite carefully. And when I was thinking about one song in particular, that line comes from is, where I say, “All the words I wish I had said, they weigh me down like a stone, heavy with regret.” And I feel like I don’t have any regrets having put these words out there for people on this album. It’s nice to have been able to share these songs.
Claire Anne T.: So these are words that I won’t regret not having said, basically these songs.
John Murch: Words often, especially these days in the forms of the, at least not so much song, although they can be, words can be easily misinterpreted or interpreted for their own means.
Claire Anne T.: Totally. I think it’s … partly, I think it’s a beautiful thing that they can be interpreted for their own means, because personally, I’ve had a lot of people contact me about some of my songs. And they tell me that this song of mine; for instance, My Mother The Mountain, that song has been, it’s really had an amazing life of its own, just how the way it’s connected with people. And some people would say to me, oh, this is my song. This song is so important to me. And I think, well, it’s not mine anymore. That’s okay. Because it’s being played at a lot of people’s funerals, actually. A lot of people have contacted me to say that we played this at my mum’s funeral, and this has become the song between my mum and I.
Claire Anne T.: So the fact that people can interpret things and take it into their own story and make it their own, I think is the beauty of songwriting. I used to be worried about writing songs that were deeply personal, because I used to worry that, well, how on earth are people going to connect with it if I tell it so personally? If I go down into the fine details of saying, “My mum in our apple orchard, lying on her back, amongst the forget-me-nots.” How on earth is anyone else going to connect with that, because that’s my story and that’s so personal
Claire Anne T.: But, there’s this notion that I’ve come to really appreciate of the personal becomes the universal.
John Murch: How do you deal with grief?
Claire Anne T.: I think that music is such a healing force when it comes to grief. I lost somebody actually not too long ago, and that was that song that I just said some of the words from. It was about her and, and one of the ways that I found to be really helpful for me was just singing for her, just kind of wailing and singing. And it didn’t really make any sense in the beginning. I wasn’t writing a song. But it was just a way of getting it out. Getting it off my chest and sending it up into the aethers. It’s this way of honoring that loss and that person.
Claire Anne T.: So I think that songwriting and music is just so healing, and for me it helps me, it helps me understand what I’m going through.
John Murch: there’s a sense of anchoring those thoughts as well?
Claire Anne T.: I think so because you’re not just lost in the grief, then. You do have a bit more of a something to cling onto. And that could definitely be the case. It’s a really great way to, instead of all these emotions just being trapped in your heart and your body and your head, it’s like songwriting often gives you a way to interpret what you’re going through, and look at it from another perspective, like almost it gives you that perspective, I think. Sometimes when you write words, you don’t fully understand what the meaning of them is at the time. So you might write them and just be writing from the emotion, but you’re not really fully understanding what they mean.
Claire Anne T.: And it’s not til afterwards that you look at it from more of a critical songwriting space that you go, oh, that’s probably what I’m going through. That, very telling that line, yes. So, I feel like it’s a great way to understand the emotions you’re going through.
John Murch: You mentioned that your own song has become others through funerals, for example. What’s your funeral song?
Claire Anne T.: At my funeral, one of the songs that I would probably love to be played is a song by REM called Half A World Away. Something about that song that every time I hear it, I just, it’s hard to describe the feeling it gives me, but it’s something otherworldly. And it gives me just such a rise in emotions that I just, oh. So I’d say, yeah, that song.
John Murch: Where do you feel most home in terms of genre? So not necessarily saying you’re that genre, but which genre do you feel most welcomed in?
Claire Anne T.: That’s a really good one. I’d say folk. I consider myself a storyteller mostly. And most of my songs are very story-based songs. Probably comes back to being that kid who just adored storytelling. Very young, all I wanted to do was write stories in class. That was my favorite thing.
John Murch: We started by mentioning the barn for which you were born in Tasmania. Tasmania has this wonderful thread throughout your life and I feel that’s where your home is, as we’re talking about the veggie patch as well. The latest record has 13 Tasmanian artists on it.
Claire Anne T.: A big part of me wanted to say to the rest of Australia, look what we can do. Because I feel like there is a little bit of a stigma around Tassie and a lot of Tasmanian artists; for instance, they go to the mainland to record, because there’s a bit of a perception that Tasmania doesn’t have, on offer, what the mainland can do. And I think that I just, I’ve wanted to overturn that a little bit and say look at all these amazing Tasmanian musicians. And we recorded it in Tassie in the Huon Valley, too.
Claire Anne T.: So, I think it was really important for me to go back home and to place these songs back home where they really formed. I feel like you can really hear that in the album, too. That warmth of home and how comfortable I feel as well. That is really important in the delivery of the songs. I did consider going and recording in Melbourne before I came to the decision to record at home. But it was mainly that idea of being in a city where I didn’t feel comfortable, and thinking about going and taking that unease into the studio just felt like the wrong choice. So that’s why I felt really strongly about being home when I recorded.
John Murch: These 13 artists, they’re also the future, together with yourself, in terms of Tasmanian artists. What was the vibe from those musicians of what you were allowing them to be part of?
Claire Anne T.: I did have a really wonderful conversation with Beau, who was the incredible drummer who played on the album. And he’s so intuitive with his playing, and so incredible. And he was saying how much it meant to him actually that, he’s been part of a lot of projects, but I think that this album has just felt very close to his heart. So, he was saying it was quite an honor to be a part of. And I felt that connection with him. That’s part of what makes an album special is that feeling of people being in there and loving being a part of what’s being created.
John Murch: That crossroad, that juncture for which arts and the environment meet and collaborate.
Claire Anne T.: I think it’s a space that we should be looking more into. I still would like to lend my voice more to conservation and that sort of thing. So, I feel like personally that’s something I haven’t explored enough. And I haven’t put enough effort into. I know Bob Brown would be very encouraging of it. He’s done it himself. He’s done poetry and written songs and he’s obviously a huge activist and environmental conservationist. So in some ways, I think that it will be really interesting to see where my next music journey, where it takes me next.
Claire Anne T.: But I hope that I can be more of, more involved in that. Yeah. I think my first albums have been more involved in terms of my own personal emotions. But it’s only a matter of time before you want to lend your voice to other things that matter to you. But I am seeing there are a lot of artists who have been very active in making climate change a priority. There’s like a green artist movement, too. So it’ll be interesting to see the way that has an impact on the way people vote and consider the environment.
John Murch: Heading towards what may be the third album. Firstly, is there a third album in the works?
Claire Anne T.: Well, that’s a very good question. At this stage, I am not putting any pressure on myself. It’s a really nice place to be, where I’m sort of saying no promises, no pressure. Because actually that’s when you get more creative. I think when you take, creativity, I think, is the worst under pressure. If you sat over the top of a kid with a crayon and said, draw something now, and make it really good. That kid, I think most kids would respond by feeling overwhelmed and not feeling relaxed to create a masterpiece.
John Murch: It’s always the case, if you ask the kid to draw or color within the square, their best work is all the marks outside of that square.
Claire Anne T.: Absolutely. Yeah. Totally. And so, I think it’s the same with music. Not having any expectations that I’m setting for myself, and just seeing, watch how it unfolds, it’s a nice feeling because I’ve noticed that songwriting has started to flourish for me again because I’m not feeling any pressure. I don’t have that expectation. I may end up going, look, I’m just loving this, all these songs that I’ve written, and I feel like they need to be recorded, and maybe I will have another album. Or maybe I will just take a break for a while.
John Murch: But fans shouldn’t get nervous that you’re retiring. More that you’re creating.
Claire Anne T.: Let’s say that for now, for sure. I think that’s safe. Very hard to retire from something that you love so much. And the favorite thing for me in the world is actually being on a stage, connecting with my audience. That’s just the thing that gives me chills. So, I don’t think I’ll ever retire as such, but I may just take long, extended breaks and just take more time where I don’t feel the need to be on tour all the time.
Claire Anne T.: So, then I feel more refreshed and ready for the shows when I do play them.
John Murch: Claire Anne Taylor, thanks very much for coming to Adelaide for the tour.
Claire Anne T.: Thank you, John. Thanks for having me.