Dyson Stringer Cloher started back in 2013, though it took another six years – with the three based in different locations across the globe – before a debut LP (and a solid one at that, out through Milk! Records) from the Trio was to be released. Each of three have extensive catalogues already out of their own work, though together brings their musical output to a new level. The record was made in Jeff Tweedy‘s studio ‘The Loft‘ in Chicago with Wilco‘s Glen Kotche joining them on drums and GRAMMY-winning Tom Schick as their engineer. First Single ‘Falling Clouds’ from the release, is a firm nod to bands Jen Cloher saw in the 90s – Falling Joys and The Clouds – while they were in Adelaide, South Australia (Australia) in their younger years that set them on a musical path.
In the Green Room of the Grace Emily Hotel before taking the stage – in Adelaide – for their final show of a National Tour to promote their debut album, the Trio spoke to radionotes…
To listen, click the green ‘play’ triangle… [note: may take few seconds to load]
IMAGE CREDIT: radionotes shot at the Grace Emily Hotel show on November 17, 2019 during their final show of the National tour.
Personal Reflection: Back in the 90s got to program Falling Joy’s tune Black Bandages on Breakfast radio, which was also such a joy to time it up to the 8am News with a quick back-announce between the last guitar riff and the News Theme – Official Music Video for it here. Might wish to watch, before heading into this episode’s chat.
SHOW NOTES: Dyson Stringer Cloher
Where to find the show to subscribe/follow:
- PlayPodcast – this link directs you, to the Podcast app on your device (subscribe to not miss an episode)
….or you may prefer to Search “radionotes Podcast” in your favourite podcatcher.
- Jestesmy Energia – Energia5 (Bandcamp) – Moja Laleczko (Official Music Video)
- This Is My Year – Woodes (Spotify) and Video Teaser
- Overdue – Fantine (Official Site) and album on Spotify
- Another Year – Charlotte Carpenter (Bandcamp)
Feature: Dyson Stringer Cloher
- Official Site
- Instagram – Facebook – Twitter
- Mia Dyson – Liz Stringer – Jen Cloher (Individual Official Sites)
- Falling Clouds (Official Music Video)
- Lock It – Falling Joys (Official Music Video)
- Jodi Phillis (Official Site) and album Becoming (Bandcamp)
- The True Sea – Paul Dempsey (Official Music Video) with shots of Tom and the studio
- Maps – Host Fee B-Squared (RRR) chat with Dyson Stringer Cloher
- Mark Greenberg (Official Site)
- Anna Cordell Clothing (Facebook) and album Nobody Knows Us (Bandcamp – Pre-order)
- AFLW (Official Site)
- Believer (Official Music Clip)
- Dyson Stringer Cloher – Self Titled LP on Bandcamp (inc. vinyl), Apple Music and Spotify
Next Episode: Abi Tucker ahead of the release of their new LP
…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: Dyson Stringer Cloher take the full episode. Suggest play Falling Clouds at start and Believer at end of chat]
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 Mary Y – check to audio before quoting wider
John Murch: Mia, how has the touring experience been for you?
Mia Dyson: It’s been amazing. Such a joyful, wonderful experience for me. Very different to touring my own solo project. It’s something special with sharing both the challenges and burdens and jobs of touring Australia as well as the successes and glories of being on stage together, that with two of my closest friends and two of my favourite musical collaborators, so it’s been an absolute joy is the short answer.
John Murch: What we’ve got here is three very much solid singer songwriters in their own right based upon three different places across the globe. How have you found that experience being based in LA as you are?
Mia Dyson: Well, I love that I get to incredible worlds really and I don’t really miss out on either. I live and work in the States for a good chunk of the year and get to experience that. I was always drawn to the States and it’s been sort of a like a musical Mecca for me growing up, listening to American music. But then I get to come back here and there’s nothing like returning to the Australian landscape, the birds, the trees, the friends. I feel very blessed and very like I have a very abundant life right now.
John Murch: Liz, you’re avoiding minus four degrees at the moment in your home town. How’s that all going?
Liz Stringer: I currently don’t have any fixed address in Canada. I moved out of my apartment in Toronto, but I kind of started a particularly professional life there. So I’ll be spending the summer here and then going back when the weather starts to get bad here.
John Murch: Extremely smart move. And you were at the beach today.
Liz Stringer: We were discussing that South Australia has its own unique, really distinctly unite coastline and it’s beautiful and the light here is different and I really love South Australia and we were staying right on the beach. So we just had to open the back door and go walk over the dunes when we were there. So yeah, it was lovely.
John Murch: Jen, you’re back here in South Australia. In fact, this is where the Falling Clouds all started for you. Possibly streets away from where that experience happened.
Jen Cloher: Yeah, well I was actually trying to work out what venue it was because it was not, I think circa 1990, ’91 was there a venue called the Old Lion? I think it could have been there. It’s a bit of a dim memory, but I only remember it because it was not an all ages gig. So there was a high level of danger sneaking in first and foremost. Adelaide is notorious for letting underage people into venues though.
Jen Cloher: In fact, friends of mine who lived like sort of near Warrnambool said they used to drive to Adelaide to have weekends to get into bars because it was so much easier. So yeah, I snuck in, I would’ve been about 16 I think, snuck in like probably with fake ID. I probably had a few West Coast coolers and I ran down the front, not really knowing anything about The Clouds or the Falling Joys. I wasn’t a fan as such. The Clouds were onstage. It was loud, like really. The first time I think I’d heard brutally loud guitars and being played by women no less, and unapologetically so. In my excitement I started headbanging, but I hit a speaker at the front and knocked myself out momentarily, which is why I remember it so keenly.
John Murch: What a huge double bill. Both the Clouds and the Falling Joys because these were bands that were doing The Big Day Out a few years later.
Jen Cloher: Yeah. Yeah. So it was right on the, I think the cusp of that guitar pop, but like heavy fuzz laden guitar pop that was obviously happening all around the world with bans like the Pixies and the Breeders and then Nirvana a little bit later on. It’s kind of good to remember that Australia had its own bands that weren’t necessarily directly influenced by American bands that were just doing it as well.
John Murch: Mia, what was your first experience with the Falling Joys or The Clouds?
Mia Dyson: I think it speaks to perhaps the erasure of some of our female artists in this country that I didn’t know about them until Jen wrote about them. That was my first experience, getting to know them through Jen and then touring with Jodi Phillis has been an absolute treat. She is a consummate pro and incredible singer and a wonderful person and we just bonded on this tour and we were so lucky to have her play a Falling Joy song with us at the end of the set where she came out, sang lead and we backed her up, sang backup as well. It was just an absolute treat every night.
John Murch: Do you get a sense that there is a bigger book opening up now thanks to the Falling Joys and yourself?
Liz Stringer: There’s been so many amazing female artists in every genre of art. In fact, Jodi Phillis is a visual artist tune has worked very high profile companies and doing art and she said that it’s the same in the visual art world. It’s the same in any facet of Australian society that women have been, as I said kind of a raised from the books. You see all around the world kind of field recording starting to surface and it’s not like none of this stuff existed. There’s been rich veins of culture that have existed and they’ve just been buried and haven’t been documented.
Liz Stringer: Now it’s much easier for women, for people of color, for groups that have been kind of marginalized in the music industry, I can only speak for a long time kind of to get their out there just because of the nature of the internet, which has been a massive part of it. It’s no longer just controlled by kind of 50 plus white men. The song book is going to continue to open.
Liz Stringer: We’ve spoken a lot this tour, which has been a really great byproduct of what we’ve been doing is that we’ve been having really interesting conversations. We just talk about this stuff and Jen has said that she’s making it her mission to not allow that these artists to go down with the sinking ship of white man history. You know what I mean? And that’s been really powerful for me too. And I think touring with Jodi and all these things kind of coming together where as women and as musicians who have been active in this industry for over 15 years there’s a feeling of connection and togetherness that hasn’t happened before, before now and it’s really powerful.
Jen Cloher: I guess for me it’s just a natural process of coming up through a very kind of tightly knit music community in Melbourne. And on that journey, obviously I’ve been drawn to women and nonbinary artists who can show me what’s possible and Mia and Liz are obviously two artists that I hold in greater steam who have released plus five studio albums each and all of the other stuff that they do.
Jen Cloher: And I think for me like the whole idea of Dyson Stringer Cloher is to just come around again and just remind people of the body of work of how important it is to receive work from artists who are a bit further down the track. I mean, I’ve loved watching artists like Aldous Harding and Julia Jacklin and Courtney Barnett and incredible songwriters from this country and New Zealand or to Roya really taking off and having these international careers. It’s been heartening.
Jen Cloher: But I think it’s important to remember that for them, artists like ourselves and many others had we not been making the music that we’ve been making kind of behind the iron curtain a bit, because of the tyranny of distance, because of the expense of touring overseas, because of the team that you need to have in place in order to have this flourishing international connected career. I feel like a lot of Australian artists, not just women have been held back and I think it’s timely that as that curtain kind of opens that we don’t just look at the latest, newest thing.
Jen Cloher: And the main reason I say that is because what people have to say in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, is very different to what people have to say in their late teens into their 20s and certainly the records that I was writing in my 20s are vastly different to the records that I’m writing in my 40s and that it’s really important that all of those voices are represented.
Mia Dyson: Culture generally adores the young and youth. And I think particularly women, I mean maybe this is just true across the board, but I think we come into our own and as we get older and I think we have so much more wisdom and so much more to say that I certainly didn’t have in my 20s and I certainly got more attention in my 20s, but I don’t think it was as deserved as it is now. I think I’m a much better songwriter, but culture would sort of say, “Well, no, we were interested in you and in your 20s, but now we’re less interested just because older women are traditionally have been relegated to the back of culture.” I think it’s us about, frankly, because we just have so much to say and to bring to culture.
John Murch: How do we go about bucking that particular trend and maybe more broadly, have you seen examples in your travels?
Liz Stringer: Canada is a very much more socially aware country on a political level. I think they’re conscious to kind of keep up with the times and to represent their constituents, all of their constituents as much as they can. There’s all sorts of things that Canada doesn’t do very well. Same with Australia, and I’m not saying Canada is better than Australia or whatever, but that is something that they have done, particularly since the Trudeau came in his first term.
Liz Stringer: And I know that they, for example, have lots of grant programs that are specifically encouraging women and nonbinary artists, engineers, musical entrepreneurs, all of these people so that they can equal the scale of who’s working in the music industry because ultimately it’s … I often say this, that to me it’s counterintuitive to discount any group in a society because you just miss out on so much potential wisdom and skill and innovation. So that that applies to any kind of group that’s been systematically ignored and including people over 45 or whatever, in the music industry, particularly women. It doesn’t make any sense to me, even on purely on a fiscal, political level to marginalize groups.
Liz Stringer: To answer your question, I don’t know what you do. I think that what we do, what Jen, Mia and I do, is that we do what we’re doing, which is we continue to play. We continue to have flourishing careers. We continue to make stronger art. We continue to hone our craft. We continue to be visible and available to younger artists, particularly women and nonbinary artists who want guidance and advice and want elders. That’s what we do.
Liz Stringer: As far as how you kind of turn it a very old heavy ship around or change its course, I don’t know. And I think all we can do is just continue to have these conversations. In Australia I think particularly important to respect our artists and try and build a culture that’s based on inclusivity and reflect in art, the visible art, the multicultural society that we have.
Liz Stringer: If you looked at the ARIA awards for the last kind of say from five years ago for those last 10 years, like you’d think there were 10 bands in Australia. It’s not just the ARIA awards. I think that we’re on the right track. I think there’s a lot of incredible stuff happening. People are starting to make record labels. They’re starting to spring up out of all parts of the country and just take it into their own hands and represent their communities. And that’s massive.
John Murch: Recording in the loft studio, walking in and seeing those guitars,
Liz Stringer: I’ve said quite a lot on stage. I tell the story about when we’re playing shows about being in tears a few times from tears of joy from being in the studio. I’ve never had this particular set of feelings really. The loft is everything that you imagine it’s going to be as far as the collection of instruments and how amazing it is, and then just times a hundred. It’s incredible. It’s a great space. It made me feel so connected to music and made me feel so happy and I felt like I was in the right place. I felt like I was meant to be doing what I was doing. It was affirming and joyful.
Jen Cloher: It was a treat. I mean, particularly for me working with Tom Schick who is Wilco’s in house. They’ve got their own fabulous engineer and he’s done all these incredible records before he even came to work for Wilco, but he would just know what you needed before you even realized it and everything was, there was no waiting around in the studio like is so common while someone sets something up and gets a sound and that inspiration just slowly dies while you’re waiting for something to be ready. It was like boom. As soon as we wanted to like, “Oh actually this song needs like kind of a fuzzy” and he had it ready to go. He’d shut passes a pedal, he’d have an app and plug in go. He’s already got his whole chain of microphone and compressor and blah, blah, blah going and that’s where we could make a record including mixing in eight days and it wasn’t rushed. It was really easy.
John Murch: My understanding is that you went with 10 or maybe a few more, but just the right amount of songs to go in and record, but I also have an understanding Mia that you’re the one out of the three who’s most excited about album number two?
Mia Dyson: Oh.
John Murch: Is that true?
Mia Dyson: I mean we haven’t rated our excitement levels against each other yet, but certainly very excited. It really didn’t occur to me until we hit the road with this record because we have been working away, beavering away for months.
John Murch: Is ego beaver?
Mia Dyson: Ego Beaver is one of the potential titles of this record, which may make it all the way to the next record. I’m not sure. Also Bury Me in Harmony is another one. But there’s tour is finally the moment where all that work’s come together and it’s finally like, “Wow, this is amazing. This is something really special” that I think goes well beyond what we did in 2013 with our little AP. That was really just three individual songs that we put together on a record versus creating from scratch many of the songs on this record and certainly arranging and producing and recording them as a band and not as individuals.
Mia Dyson: The response to this album and to the show has just suddenly opened up like, “Well, maybe this has legs beyond this one round.” We just hadn’t thought it beyond this round until now. And then when we all sort of said, “Well, maybe” … Suddenly we’re in the car and like, “Hell, this could be, yes, album number two.”
John Murch: And whilst a trio, Glenn who was in the studio as well, doing some of the percussion.
Liz Stringer: Glennifer Coachee who drums for Wilco. We asked Glenn if he would do it and he did. And it goes without saying that he’s an incredible drummer and a lovely, lovely man. Yeah, he was really engaged and had great ideas and was really invested. Really wanted to make it as good as what you did and he was a legend. Just a dream.
John Murch: How amazing has that connection been to have that working relationship with the Wilco band, so to speak? So Jeff Tweedy and the rest?
Jen Cloher: Well, I mean it’s been an interesting journey because I guess that relationship really started with Tom Schick when I heard the Tweedy album, which Jeff made with his son Spencer, and I thought it was a great album, but I loved how it sounded and I was like, “Oh, who recorded this?” and did some research and discovered it was Tom Schick. And then I kind of looked around a little bit more at the work that he’d done and discovered that Paul Dempsey had in fact made a record, a solo album at the loft with Tom Schick.
Jen Cloher: And so I got in touch with Paul and said, “Would you have a contact for Tom?” And he did. And he sent it across and I emailed Tom and just said, “I’ve got these songs ready to be mixed. I recorded them with Greg Walker machine translations, Greg at his amazing studio and Jumpburner in Gibsland Victoria.” And Tom, had to listen. He was like, “These songs are great. I’d love to mix it.” And I said, “Well do you want to trial mix and send something across?”
Jen Cloher: And, and then, yeah, probably like a month later myself, Greg Walker and Courtney were in a plane heading to Chicago for a week to mix the record together and that’s when I first walked into the loft. Courtney had been in there previous on tour because I think that Jeff’s a pretty big Courtney Barnett fan. But it’s interesting, that connection was actually through Paul Dempsey not through Courtney.
Jen Cloher: When I was in Chicago, perhaps a year later playing some shows opening for Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett. I dropped into the loft and I did a few live songs in the studio with Tom. And then when it came to thinking about making this record with two of my friends living in the US and Canada, it just seemed like a no brainer to make a record in the States where it is sometimes often cheaper. And Tom was keen as a bean, he’d been in touch saying, “Can I make your next record?” And I was like, “Well mate, slow down. I need to write. I take like five years to write every album so that might be a few years down the track.”
Jen Cloher: So I think by the time we kind of got into the studio with Tom, he was pumped. He was like so up for it, which was great. There was just that feeling. The minute we walked in, Mark Greenberg, who’s the loft studio manager and probably one of Jeff’s oldest friends just looked after us and it just felt the whole time like there was nothing you could ask for that was a hassle. If you wanted something, they’d get it to the studio. If you needed your guitar set up, they’d send them off to be set up. It was just this lovely sense of being taken care of.
Jen Cloher: And what I really love about the Wilco crew, the people that revolve around that studio and those musicians is that they really do take music on face value. And even with the covers record that was done recently, yeah, you had big name artists like Kurt Vile and Low and Cait LaVon, but then you had loads of other people that no one would’ve ever heard of.
John Murch: What was one of the favorite guitars you’d liked when you were in the loft?
Liz Stringer: I’ll tell you, I mean there were so many, there was like a kind of a Gritch. There was so many guitars. There was a bass that I particularly fell in love with, a P bass that I wanted to take home, Brown P bass and it wasn’t just like, you say, “Oh, I’d love to have it like a tele sound on this.” And Tom would be like, “What do you want? Like a ’60s or ’70s or like a ’63.” It was a candy store.
John Murch: Let’s talk about fashion. The suits have been done by Anna Cordell. Talk to me about how you first got to meet the wonderful Anna Cordell.
Mia Dyson: Well that was actually Jen’s idea. We had the concept of the three colors, red, green and blue from some tarot readings that Jennifer did for herself and for me. And we kept landing on the three of cups, which is in her pack, three women in the red, green and blue outfits. And this card is all about like a three way collaboration and in alignment with what we were feeling and thinking about this project.
Mia Dyson: I think we knew early on that we wanted to be a bit more bold than perhaps any of us would in our own careers with the imagery and photographs and film clips and things around it, and a chance to be a little bit playful. I think all of us, sometimes it feels a bit heavy and serious in our own careers. Chance to explore a little bit. And so as soon as we had the idea of for suits as the outfit, then Jen actually knows quite a few local Melbourne designers and Anna is renowned for her suits in particular. So we went to see her and got measured up and crossed our fingers that we would like them and feel good in them because it was all a bit of a new territory for us all to sort of wear a uniform on stage. And actually it’s been this massive blessing because we don’t have to think about what we’re going to wear. None of us like thinking about that for going on stage. So it’s been fantastic.
John Murch: Anna Cordell’s debut album out of vinyl is out in February, 2020 where did you first meet Anna?
Jen Cloher: Well, it’s a funny thing actually. I didn’t meet her until our suit fitting and I can’t even recall whether I had discovered her through music first or through her suit making. It’s such a great thing because it’s going off like she’s making suits for Marlon Williams and Courtney Barnett and international stars. It’s really cool because I think in a way she’s found a way to be visible and as a result people are probably going to hear about him music as well. I love it when you see people in music who do other stuff around it and sometimes that thing that they do around it can be how you discover their writing.
John Murch: How comfortable are the suits?
Liz Stringer: Oh, they’re really comfortable. Generally, we always go on stage with the jackets on and sometimes it’s hotter rooms than others. It’s so awesome to not have to think about what to wear and it gives you, I don’t know, just ties the show together in a way I didn’t anticipate. Yeah, it’s really fun.
John Murch: Mia, which AFLW team are you supporting next year? I know you’re in America.
Mia Dyson: I know. Well, I think I should go for Essendon to do my nana proud.
John Murch: Liz?
Liz Stringer: Well, I’m a Hawthorne fan, massive Hawthorn fan. Warthen don’t have a team. They’ve applied to have a team for the last couple of years and haven’t been successful yet weirdly. So in lieu of having a Hawthorn team, I’ll probably support the Bulldogs until the Hawks get a team going.
John Murch: Jen, what about you?
Jen Cloher: I know kind of zero about AFL-
John Murch: I know nothing about sport.
Jen Cloher: … or anything, but I’d say the Bulldogs as well because what I do know about the Bulldogs, the West Bulldogs, is they were the first women’s team.
Liz Stringer: One of the first. Yeah.
Jen Cloher: Right. So I’m going to go with them because they were leaders in the field.