For well over a decade, I’ve been waiting to have a conversation – for the wireless – with Holly Throsby. Then a chance came up and it was on my final day of live radio. Knowing in time I would make a podcast, I offered her to be my first guest on it and here we are. Some time has past between then (released book ‘Goodwood’ and ‘After A Time’ album) and now, to the point that another critically acclaimed book ‘Cedar Valley’ (Allen & Unwin) has been released. The chat here was recorded back on the 5th of March 2017 at Adelaide Writers’ Week.
Welcome to the first episode of ‘radionotes’, a weekly (it is hoped) podcast that is also made so radio can take it whole or in parts.
No whistles and bangs to the start, as taking still a little while to bring elements of my time in radio and new ideas to light. For that very much like to welcome YOU, if here from the start. It’s also going to be a place where I’ll dive into my archives, dust-off and share – this episode features a section of my chat from 2013 with Doctor Who’s Katy Manning who is a hoot – from the past.
To listen, click the green ‘play’ triangle…
(Transcript of the Holly Throsby below, check to delivery in audio)
SHOWNOTES: Holly Throsby episode
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IN THE BOX:
Juice – Lizzo
Wine Time – Beccy Cole
Medicine – Bring The Horizon
Mentioned within the chat:
What Do You Say? Feat. Mark Kozelek (Video)
Bec Sandridge version of ‘Your The Voice’ (via Musicfeeds)
All India Radio – Undulated thru Dynamo Tapes
Lachy Doley – Make or Break
Julianna Hatfield – Weird
Katy Manning’s ‘Not A Well Woman’
Theme/Music: Martin Kennedy and All India Radio
Web-design/tech: Steve Davis
Voice: Tammy Weller
(for direct quotes check to audio – first version by Ann.H at Rev)
John Murch: Holly Throsby joins us on radionotes, welcome.
Holly Throsby: Hello, thanks for having me.
John Murch: Was it the book that was the catalyst for a new album to be done?
Holly Throsby: In some ways, yes, because I had lost my feeling for playing music for a time and I think I just needed to do an entirely different creative project. I think I’m somebody, musically, who feels like what I do musically kind of is what it is, and I didn’t think it was time for me to, for example, release a dance record or something, you know? Like, I wanted to do something creatively really different, and I had done a children’s album and that was really fun and really different, and I had worked with Lover Seeker Keeper and that was different again. But, musically, I feel like I am just kind of myself and so I, I did feel like I needed a different medium in which to work, and so writing a book was that thing that I had always wanted to do. So, I writing that novel and completing Goodwood, which is the novel that I wrote, made me feel like I could go back to music and, and find a fresh feeling there that I had lost a little.
John Murch: The brand new album is called After a Time, which by that very answer it has been, and so these live shows, how are you feeling as a musician? If we were to see you in a couple of weeks or a couple of days-
Holly Throsby: Well, I haven’t done it for so long, I mean, we haven’t started the tour yet, but it’s so exciting to be rehearsing. Like, we had a big rehearsal in Sydney just the other day and I have an entirely new band, and it’s a four piece band, me and three others, and it’s so exciting to me. Like, I felt really, kind of, nervous going into rehearsals, just because it’s all new people, and … But, one of the people is Tim Kevin, who co-produced this record, After a Time, and played guitar in it, and then a bass player called Abel who played bass on On Night, my very first album, and a drummer called Holly Conner who’s a really awesome young drummer from Sydney. So, I feel really excited to play live again.
John Murch: As we speak, right now, Neil Finn is doing a sound check literally across the road.
Holly Throsby: You can hear the combination of Neil Finn and a really beautiful writer, who’s on the right of stage, called Armando Lucas Correa, who I can hear his voice in the background as well. So, yeah, these two amazing men are kind of book ending me right now. I don’t know Neil, but I did cover one of his songs for that Crowded House tribute CD called She Will Have Her Way years ago, and then we did a concert series called They Will Have Their Way, which did come to Adelaide. That was a really amazing thing to be part of, and he did send me a really nice email about my version of his song, which is good because some people hated it, I think, but he liked it.
John Murch: We’ve recently had tis thing, Bec Sandridge –
Holly Throsby: Oh, I heard about, Bec Sandridge doing a John Farnham cover and getting a lot of … for it.
John Murch: Yeah.
Holly Throsby: I mean, man, like-
John Murch: And then Johnny Farnham just goes, “Yeah.”
Holly Throsby: Good on anyone who covers songs. If someone did a … Like, I mean, for example, a band called Kisschasey covered one of my songs called Under the Town, and it’s like this crazy kind of punk version of it, but that’s so cool to me. For me, as an artist, it’s always the kind of … Yes, I mean, I’ve had a couple of different artists cover my songs and it’s so flattering. Like, that’s so lovely.
John Murch: And you’ve done the Red House Painters, haven’t you? And that became somewhat of a musical relationship.
Holly Throsby: Yeah, I did cover a Red House Painters song called Mistress, and I also did Berlin Chair by You Am I for Like A Version, and I mean, both Mark Kozelek and Tim Rogers were both really appreciative, I think. It’s a compliment to an artist to cover their song. And then, yes, I can’t remember when it was that I did that cover of Mistress, but either before or after that I toured with Mark Kozelek. We actually played here in Adelaide at Grace Emily together, and Mark lost his … that night because something happened with the sound guy and the reverb level or something and it was actually an awkward night. And Clanger, who was running it at the time, everyone handled it very well, and you know, Mark is a really intense, interesting person, and he appears on a song on my new record as a duet, and that was a great honor to have him sing on that song.
John Murch: The idea that a narrative can be interpreted, and you would’ve found this now as an author as well, that narrative can be interpreted in its own way, particularly even of the lyrical form as well. That song is gonna have many interpretations over the years. The less you talk about it, the longer it’s gonna go.
Holly Throsby: Yeah, I think that it’s definitely a song that people see in different ways. Some people have commented to me that they didn’t necessarily feel that the two people should be together in the song, because it’s a relationship song between a couple. To me, it’s kind of a sequel to Would You, which is a duet that I did that with Bonnie “Prince” Billy, which is a very romantic, kind of like utterly romantic song, and this is kind of the 10 years later song when you’ve probably had kids and you’re tired and older and …
Holly Throsby: Oh, that girl’s having a hard time. So, we’re near a children’s tent and the kids are losing it …
Holly Throsby: I’m happy for people to think what they will about that song. I think it does have a lot of tension in it, and I think Mark Kozelek’s voice delivers that kind of tension so beautifully. And, just through his performance, which is always so full of … Everything. So full of feeling and … He’s not kind of in one gear, he has a lot of depth, I think, to his voice and performance.
John Murch: And he’s also just finally on there as someone who gives his voice to a lot of different projects and collaborations, but every time brings something unique to what he offers. For example, in your song as well, has that been somewhat of a good feeling to have, working with him, that you know that you’re getting something unique even though he might’ve been around to a few different houses?
Holly Throsby: Yeah, although I’m not actually aware of his duets, as such. I haven’t … Not that I’m aware of, but he definitely does a lot of collaborations. And, like, the collaboration stuff, I think, he does is just so amazing and interesting, and I think he’s an incredible artist. I mean, in terms of covering songs he releases, you know, a whole album of AC/DC covers, and a whole album of Modest Mouse covers, and the record that he does of Modest Mouse covers, I think is so good. Like, it’s really beautiful and, to be honest, I’ve never been that into Modest Mouse, but all the lyrics are just brought out and there’s really new melodies and it’s so beautiful. So, I think he’s just someone who produces a great amount of work and he’s really interested in constantly making work, which is something that I’m interested in as well.
John Murch: Currently in conversation with Holly Throsby, author as well as musician. We’re gonna get onto the book called Goodwood because we are here at the Adelaide Writers’ Week. When you sat down with the idea of writing a book, did you think you actually had that book in you at the time?
Holly Throsby: Yes and no. I knew I had the desire to write a novel, but I didn’t plan it out before I wrote it and I wasn’t sure what was gonna happen in it. And, I had some ideas of the character and the setting, but I mainly thought that I lacked discipline because songwriting different, it’s so different. And then, making a record is an extremely intensive process, but compared to writing a novel everything feels short to me. I mean, novels take a really long time and they take a really sustained level of focus, which having not written anything beyond probably a 3000 word essay when I was at University, I had never written anything as big. And so, it was sort of about the stamina to kind of keep with it, was something I wondered if I had. But, the thing that’s surprising about writing fiction was that I felt very quickly that this world was real to me. Like, the world of Goodwood, the town and the people felt very real, very quickly, and then once that happened I felt more confident that I wanted to see it through and see them through and to work out where they were going and what was going to happen to these people.
John Murch: In terms of that character development you’ve always spoken about, there is another one on the way and that decision, I guess, you’ve got of whether or not you go back into the same world or there’s a connection between the two worlds, where’s that sitting as we speak, March 2017?
Holly Throsby: It’s sitting in a way that I really love the idea of fictional worlds that crossover and reference each other, in all different mediums, whether that be TV shows or films or books, I really like artists who reference their own work and who are kind of creating a universe of itself and then you can kind of visit that or revisit that. There’s this long-standing tradition in literature from Thomas Hardy on, there’s an author I really like called Ken Haruf, I think that’s how you say his name, but he sets all of his novels … He actually died recently. But, he set all of his novels in a fictional town called Holt, Colorado, and I mean the novels are all different stories, but I just love that idea of a place that feels more and more real because more and more work is sort of generated around it. And, for me, there’s always been, aesthetically all my album’s covers have the same font and the same borders so for me, my musical world is, I like to kind of relate my musical world to itself.
John Murch: How important is that consistency, maybe in the musical sense, at that point? Of having that?
Holly Throsby: The aesthetic consistency?
John Murch: Aesthetic consistency, yes.
Holly Throsby: Totally important to me. I just knew that I would do that all along. To me, I wanted to make a body of work, that’s what I wanted. When I was a kid and I went into the CD shop and the music shop, like you know, they had the little tabs and you’d see the band name or the artist name and then you’d flip through the tab and … I want it to have a tab and I want it to have a bunch of stuff in there. Like, that was just one thing, I want it to just … I always knew that I wanted to make a lot of records, and so I wanted to connect them and to … So, that intention just seemed deliberate, I guess, which it is. But, with writing the new novel, it’s set in a different town but the town is already referenced in Goodwood. It’s a town called Cedar Valley, which is south of Goodwood, and so the entire … You can read it on its own, you don’t have to have read Goodwood to enjoy this book, but I hope that readers of Goodwood will enjoy it more because of these things, and will get pleasure in those sort of self-reflective kind of elements of it.
John Murch: Mm-hmm (affirmative). What is, if there is at all, the difference of turn of phrase between writing a song and writing a novel?
Holly Throsby: It’s just entirely different in terms of prose … I think you need to establish voice in the novel, and then you need to sustain that voice throughout the entire novel, whereas songs are all kind of distinct and self contained, so you can switch really between different voices. And I have used, you know, I have explored a lot of fiction in my songwriting, people just wouldn’t know that though. I think everyone just assumes that I’m writing about myself all the time, which I’m not. But, I mean, I sometimes am, and it’s a lot, often filtered through my own experience, but it’s often about other people or it’s about just different kinds of things that I’m thinking about at the time. Yeah, the turn of phrase is definitely different, although I do think there is an inherent rhythm. I mean, I think all good writing is about rhythm, so I definitely would apply my own internal feeling of rhythm to writing prose.
John Murch: Let’s pick up on that point, that songs aren’t necessarily all about yourself, but sometimes they can be stories, maybe for those that don’t have a voice or for those that you want to give a voice to.
Holly Throsby: Yeah, sometimes it’s that, and I’ve actually been experimenting with that exact thing just recently in two new songs that I’ve just written recently that I haven’t released yet, because I feel strongly about certain things that are happening in the world right now, I guess, and I started to sort of write, sort of, very deliberately from different viewpoints within song, and I’m not sure how far I’ll take that or if both songs will necessarily see the light of day. But, I wrote a song for Perth Writers’ Festival last week for a panel about gendered language and empowering the female body, and it was really interesting writing to a brief. They didn’t ask for a song, but I just felt more comfortable writing in song for that topic. But I like the song that I’ve written and I kind of am interested in maybe writing songs in a more deliberate, sort of, semantic way. But, I don’t know, sometimes I don’t know if that’s quite what it is for me, it’s just something I’m exploring.
John Murch: There clearly is, in my view, more than two genders, so how important has that become for you as an issue?
Holly Throsby: Oh well, I mean, that’s always been something, and a live discussion in my personal world. I also don’t believe in a binary notion of gender and I think becoming a parent, that becomes a lot more apparent because you just are a lot more aware of fostering a new being into the world, without wanting those things to feel like they have felt forever, you know, culturally. And, I’m definitely aware of that. I mean, in the childrens’ tent behind me right now there’s a woman I just met who’s presenting her children’s book, which is about a trans teddy bear. I have a lot of trans friends and queer friends and friends that identify in a lot of different ways, in gender fluid ways, and I think it’s really fantastic that it is becoming a lot more of a kind of public discourse.
Holly Throsby: I was pleased when I was in the States over Christmas and the National Geographic came out and it was the gender revolution issue, and on the cover was, you know, a collection of people from various different gender identifications, gender fluid backgrounds, or whatever, you know? And it just had, like, a really interesting table with different terms explained and so, you know … And everyone around there, the house that I was living in, and my mum was there and my mum read it and everyone was, older people were reading it, younger, everyone was like, “Oh, this is interesting.” You know, and I think it’s such an important discussion, which is now finally becoming discussed in a more mainstream kind of forum.
John Murch: As a broadcaster your mother, of course is of great interest because she was a broadcaster for a number of years-
Holly Throsby: She still is.
John Murch: She still is, of course. Do you mind sharing with us how that might’ve actually influenced your decisions at a younger age?
Holly Throsby: I mean, I think everything influences you. So, tomorrow is her 50th anniversary at the ABC as broadcaster-
John Murch: Please send my regards.
Holly Throsby: I shall. I very much respect her career and how she has conducted herself professionally … They were just having their conversation about their holiday plans.
John Murch: I think that was the 18th, they were going away, maybe the 19th?
Holly Throsby: Maybe the 19th.
Holly Throsby: Being influenced in the fact that, because of my mother’s job I was definitely exposed as a child to a great deal of cultural, kind of, things of interest to me. Reading and politics are two things that were big in our household. You know, current affairs, music, the arts, all of the things that the Throsby family kind of, you know, which is my mother and also her brother and her sister and all of my cousins. You know, a lot of us are involved, a lot of my cousins are in academia, but it is an intelligent kind of family. We catch up at Christmas. You know, so it’s interesting … I think that the way that I’ve been influenced by that is, just being a very avid consumer of culture and art.
John Murch: Do you remember any times where there was a moment when it was like, “Nah, mum. It’s just not me. I don’t agree with you. I’m going to do something else in my life.” Was there ever a reactionary stage?
Holly Throsby: No, not like that. I mean, she’s always been very supportive of what I do, like incredibly supportive. She has some very strong, kind of, philosophical beliefs. For example, she would always pay for my education, which I think is a really amazing thing because I have a lot of people that have HECS debts and I’m kind of a very lucky and privileged person that doesn’t have a HECS debt because she … I mean, she could afford that, which is amazing and I hope that I can afford to pay for my daughter’s education, but she … Yeah, she always would make announcements like this, anything, any kind of education you want to get, that she would pay for it. I mean, that’s kind of an amazing gift. So, she was always happy for my interests to go where they went.
Holly Throsby: And, her mother was a working musician, she was a cellist in the Sydney Symphony Orchestra so she knew what it was like to have a working musician in the family. And they were very poor, like, that wasn’t a big money situation working in the SSO at the time. So, she understands that, you know, there’s a large degree of financial insecurity I think with being in the creative arts, and I think she might worry about that from time to time for me but she knows that that’s just what I do and that’s what I want to do and I think all creative people … Well, most creative people would rather deal with that insecurity than to give it all away. I guess I would just move into the smallest house on the top of the country hill and still do it.
John Murch: If I remember rightly, even when you did have a working job in a video store, it was an Arthouse video store, wasn’t it?
Holly Throsby: Yeah, it was. I worked there for eight years and-
John Murch: It wasn’t a Blockbuster?
Holly Throsby: No, it wasn’t a Blockbuster.
John Murch: It was, like, the real deal artsy kind of-
Holly Throsby: Yeah, it was a family run, husband and wife, specialist video, so I loved it so much.
John Murch: Specialist?
Holly Throsby: I know what it was. It was Arthouse/Cult, we had VHS tapes that you couldn’t get anywhere in Sydney, let alone the rest of Australia. This is before the internet people would literally drive for hours and hours and hours to rent a John Waters film they couldn’t find anywhere else, or they released La Belle et la Bete, which was the, you know, a very early surrealist film, and they would release Le Fantome du Louvre, these really obscure kind of foreign cult schlock films. So, I had this … I mean, I’m saddened now that a lot of my film knowledge has just disappeared. I can’t remember so much. But, when I was there, I was an absolute film expert and I loved it. I was very sad to leave the job in the video store, it shut down because that’s what happens and video stores don’t exist anymore, which is so sad for me because as I grew up it was my favorite place to visit, was the video shop. I worked at a video shop, I worked at a book shop, I worked programming music for airlines, like, at this company is Sydney that would program-
John Murch: Can you talk to us about that? Because, obviously as a broadcaster, when I go on an airplane I look at the playlist, for example, and I might see a Megan Washington or something and go, “Okay.” But, yeah … And, you were responsible for that?
Holly Throsby: I was responsible for certain channels, yeah. Like, at the time actually, Qantas was running this film soundtrack channel. Great, the guy that was the announcer, was such a film buff and I used to love organising the program because I would make them thematic in terms of, I’d do like three David Lynch kind of songs, you know, like in a row and then I’d link that through, maybe through Laura Dern to a song from … And, you know, I would link it through, and so he would have so much fun then doing the announcement and writing the script for it. But I was also, like I did Royal Brunei Airlines and we did all these kind of, like … Really, I had seven airlines that I was programming and it was a really interesting job. I didn’t always do the really, really mainstream, Top 40 channels but … I did comedy too. I used to piss myself laughing at work all the time, like, listening to stuff that I would then program, which … Yeah, so it was a good job. And, this is all the jobs I was doing, you know, when I was making my first few records, which was a fun thing to do at the same time.
Holly Throsby: You know, I enjoyed sneaking stuff on. I had a lot of easy listening channels to program, so I would enjoy just sneaking on, like, really obscures, you know … I’m on Spunk Records, and really obscure Spunk releases that were just so beautiful, but would never have been able to be played on an airplane. You’d put that in between, you know, Norah Jones or whatever, you know, the stuff that you kind of had to put on there, and then I’d sneak on something, sneak on a really beautiful Cat Power song or, like, some really … I remember when Iron & Wine’s The Creek Drank the Cradle, that first Iron & Wine record came out, so I’d sneak Iron & Wine on and I’d sneak, like, Palace Music or Smog or, like, that kind of thing, which was kind of fun. I think that the mainstream audiences, you can get Mazzy Star on really easy, it just sounds so beautiful and-
John Murch: It always reminds me Faith No More’s Easy, like, how that ever got on, and it must’ve been probably someone like you putting it on an airplane and executive going, “Yup-”
Holly Throsby: Faith No More’s Easy, don’t you remember? It was a number one hit.
John Murch: Don’t wanna-
Holly Throsby: It was. I remember watching Rage at the time, that was the number one. And, I did actually learn how to play that on piano at the time when it was number one, because I was quite young.
John Murch: We spoke about your mother who celebrates 50 years of broadcasting this year, but Holly Throsby is now a mother as well, and you touched on what sort of education you might be wanting to pass on. How has this motherhood experience been for you and your partner? But, particularly for you.
Holly Throsby: Oh like, it’s been so amazing. Like, I mean, we’re totally exhausted as all new parents are. Like, you’re just exhausted for years. But, it’s the kind of exhaustion that I really kind of enjoy in a way, and the hard thing for me now is going away. Because, touring used to be so easy because, you know, I was on the road and there was no responsibilities and now, you know, going away for tours is very different for me, and that’s why I don’t think I really will be doing much touring, to be honest. Like, this tour is a 10 date tour, I used to do 20, 25. I can’t really do that anymore and that’s okay because I kind of like to sit at home and write novels and be a mum and hang out with my family. And, it’s really lovely to … Don’t get me wrong, like, being here at Adelaide Writers’ Week is such a privilege. To meet amazing authors and to be able to speak about your work is an amazing privilege, but I miss my daughter and I can’t wait to go home.
John Murch: The album’s called After a Time and there’s one song on there I believe, at least one song, that is inspired if not dedicated to her. How much of an influence is she on the future writings and recordings of Throsby?
Holly Throsby: In terms of music, maybe if I make another childrens’ album that’ll be, you know, you get a lot of ideas … I mean, all of the ideas that I had for my first childrens’ album were from hanging out with kids. I would just hang … My god daughter, her brother, all of my friends’ kids. I was late in my friend group to have a kid, so I had a lot of little ones around that, they’re just so hilarious and just crazy, kind of dissociative, wild thinking and ideas that pops out of their mouth, like, that’s kind of really what inspired my children’s album, and if I do another childrens’ album I’m sure that my daughter and her kind of interests and stuff will inform that.
Holly Throsby: But, yeah, I mean, there is a song on my new record called Mountain, which, it definitely was inspired by having had … I don’t know … That will wait to be seen, in terms of how it influences me. I’m mainly, I’m interested in, you know, human relationships and human psychology and the way people connect with each other. So, it’s kind of like all other relationships in my life, inform that and relationships with people that I know and see and imagine.
John Murch: We’re in conversation with Holly Throsby, she’s our very special guest on radionotes. You mentioned that of psychology, a student of… Psychology?
Holly Throsby: I’m certainly not. I wish now that I had done psychology. I did a double major in English and in Government and International Relations, which is essentially politics, and I did a lot of-
John Murch: Sorry, I fell asleep. What was it?
Holly Throsby: Oh, come on. I did a lot of political theory and literary theory in my last year of University, and I did other subjects as well, but I never actually did study psychology. I do read a lot of psychology books, just as an interest-
John Murch: You’re not talking about self-help books here, are you? You’re talking about real, hardcore psychologists’ theory?
Holly Throsby: Sometimes I don’t mind a good self-help book, to be honest.
John Murch: Nooo.
Holly Throsby: It depends how you classify a self-help book, though. Because if you go to the airport these days, there’s like these massive sections on mindfulness that … You know, like, that section-
John Murch: Someone with like PhD at the-
Holly Throsby: How to be happy, how the brain works, I actually like that in terms of those popular books about how the brain works, I do find them really interesting. I don’t know, I don’t think you would probably classify them as self-help, but it’s kind of more like popular science or popular psychology. I do enjoy that, and I also do enjoy some more kind of rigorous text-y type of things. But I just, I don’t know, I find it interesting, I find all realms of the human brain fascinating.
John Murch: What about the idea of, talking about the human brain, but politics and how people seem to be very wired to a particular kind of politic or a particular kind of view, and how they don’t move from that.
Holly Throsby: I guess I would wonder if that’s true. I mean, I think that what we’re seeing now in politics, there’s a lot of swing voters in this country. And, my cousin actually did a PhD on swing voters in Australia. But, you know, if we see what’s happening now with the kind of split of the Right and with the split of the Left really, I mean, I was reading in the paper just the other day that a lot of the new One Nation voters are actually old labor voters, not necessarily old Liberal and National voters. So, you’re getting a lot of people that … I think it’s difficult in Australia because you can be socially Left but, you know, economically Right, which is someone like Malcolm Turnbull, and then you get into problem trying to govern this Party, who’s splitting off in all these various ways of being, like, how much more Right can you get? Or, how much more Centre-Right, or … So, I think that-
John Murch: You’re aware that you’re currently in Adelaide where we have Senator Wong here and then we’ve got Bernardi over here.
Holly Throsby: Yeah, and like … Yeah, I mean, you couldn’t get two more different people. But you’ve also got Nick Xenophon, you know, who’s like a really interesting character in terms of kind of bringing specific issues into a kind of Centre world, and probably getting a lot of votes from people … I mean, everybody, I think politics are always run by people with personal experience.
John Murch: Right.
Holly Throsby: Whether that personal experience is being incredibly altruistic and et cetera, or whether their personal experience is more, you know, a personal economic hardship or, “Someone in my family is this, and so I feel this.” Or, whatever. So, I think it is a malleable kind of thing, in terms of, I think people can easily go, to vote from one party to another because certain things will rise up in their life as being more important for various personal reasons.
John Murch: But, at the same time Holly, that’s got to do with engagement of the issues as well. Is there an issue of the presentation of the issues when it comes around time to deciding?
Holly Throsby: Yeah, I think it’s, the presentation is the issue, and I think it’s just also the momentum around issues. Like, everything is kind of … The media cycle drives the issue. And so, you know, something like gay marriage just kind of goes up and down and up and down in terms of … And, asylum seeker refugee policy goes up and down and up and down. I mean, these things … That particular issue, I can’t believe that people aren’t talking about every single day, but of course there is a certain fatigue, there’s a massive fatigue that people get around certain issues and then another one kind of takes over, whether it be coal, or whether it be climate change, or whether it be, you know, politicians’ entitlements or wire tapping in the Trump Tower or whatever. Very nebulous field. And I think, yeah, often unfortunately driven by media interests.
John Murch: Have you changed your political views over the years?
Holly Throsby: Not really, no. No, I don’t think I really have.
John Murch: You said some of the songs you’ve been writing recently have been of a political nature, and you may not release them?
Holly Throsby: That’s because I think a political song’s made to be done very, very well, and I just, I’m only just … You know, when things are fresh, you’re sometimes unsure. I don’t know, I think that politics through art is a very, a tough one. I would always go for a more subtle approach when it came to discussing politics within my work, I think. That’s not to say that I don’t like extremely political art, because I think sometimes it’s just the most powerful thing in the world, but it’s not necessarily what I do. I can be political in other ways.
John Murch: Who do you still want to collaborate with? Because, at this stage in your career, you’ve got that chance to tap a couple of people on the shoulder. Is there any particular ones that you’ve got in mind?
Holly Throsby: I don’t really think of it like that. I think of it a lot more in terms of, if I was to write something in the idea for … Like, for example, with this song with Mark, I just felt like I could hear his voice. As soon as I started writing it, I felt like it was his voice that was in my mind.
John Murch: So, the song decides that?
Holly Throsby: Yeah, and I mean, of course I really like doing those kinds of collaborations, but it’s not like I would have a person in mind and think of that person, it’s more like it might just happen that way and that person might be in my mind and that person might feel like the right person to work with.
John Murch: The importance of letter writing?
Holly Throsby: We just did Women of Letters at Perth Writers’ Festival, and that was a really, really great event. I’ve been asked to do it before and I turned it down because I was scared of it. I was scared of writing the letter, but I was also scared of, mainly of having to read it out in front of an audience of people, because I have … People always think, “Oh, but you’re a performer. Why would you be scared of that?” But, like, public speaking is really scary for me as well, and so I was nervous about it, but I was glad that I did that. And, I think letter writing is, I think it’s a really important and sadly kind of lost art, especially because of how sort of bite-sized our communication has become.
Holly Throsby: But, I got this really beautiful email from a friend who I mentioned in an interview recently, and he’d seen that I had mentioned him in this interview and talked about how when we were in high school he was this person I connected with musically and how important that was to me at the time, and he wrote me the loveliest letter because he didn’t realise that I had felt that way, and that it was important to me. And he was saying “I was so touched that you would even remember that”, you know, because he’s not a musician these days, he’s actually this incredible space photographer and he does these amazing space photos that NASA has used. Like, I think it’s that thing, if you always look at what other people are doing, I just think, “Wow, I can’t believe he does that. How fantastic and amazing.” And I think he probably thinks, “Oh, wow, you’re a musician. How amazing.” You know? But, he just sent me this really beautiful letter, well it was an email but it was a very long email, and then I was just so touched by that, because I think the thing about sitting down and writing to someone is that you express stuff that you don’t really express when you’re just talking. And sometimes it’s nice to be reminded, or to remind other people of how they’ve kind of affected you in ways.
Holly Throsby: So, I mean, it’s the same with giving cards, like, I’ve gotten really into cards. Because I used to think that cards were just the annoying bit that goes on the present, and that they may as well just write on the wrapping paper and just say, “Here, happy birthday or whatever.” But, recently, after staying overseas with a family who were really, heavily into cards, and often at birthdays or Christmas they don’t give presents, they just give a card, and then you open the card and it’s got this long message in it. And, that’s just so much more … Like, how much more do I treasure that then I would treasure whatever gift they were gonna give me? Like, if it was gonna be a pair of socks or something like that? But, the card was so lovely, and so now I’m, like, this card person, and I think that everybody should be more card people, letter and card people, because it’s just a nice space to express the way you feel, I mean, which you kind of just forget to do otherwise.
John Murch: If Holly Throsby was to release a range of cards, may they be greetings or birthday, apart from your good self, which artist or artists would you get onboard for that project?
Holly Throsby: I’m lucky I have a lot of friends that are artists, and I-
John Murch: So, this could happen?
Holly Throsby: This could happen. One of my old friends, whose name is Agatha Gothe-Snape, we went to primary school together, she’s such an amazing artist. I have another friend called Anna-Willi Highfield who’s a sculptor, but she does photographic prints of her work, which are really beautiful. And then, recently, I don’t know their name but they’ve got this, their Instagram is mignon_steele and they did a tour poster of me recently. I just love the painting so much I keep just creeping on them on Instagram and sending them messages saying, “Can I buy that?” And then they’ll be like, “Oh, yeah, that’s not for sale.” And it’s embarrassing and then I have to wait a couple more paintings before I message again, but yeah, there are so many beautiful artists, there’s a really good artistic community on, what they call the coal coast, which is just north of Wollongong, south of Sydney. I like abstract paintings and colour and, like, different texture pallets. I don’t know, I’d ask heaps of people. This would be a great card range. Get Mick Turner, the guitarist and painter, Dirty Three, get him. He’s done a series of art cards, they’re really beautiful. This is a great idea, we should start discussing this.
John Murch: Well, we should, yeah. Because I was gonna say that you’ve just re-released the childrens’ CD, but this sounds like a much more … Because everyone’s doing tote bags, it’s like cards are the next thing.
Holly Throsby: Yeah, you’re gettin’ me thinking.
John Murch: What is it about colour and your sight, your engagement with it?
Holly Throsby: I think color and language is really important. I mean, I feel like … I hope that Goodwood has a lot of colour in its sort of lyricism-
John Murch: We’ve gone from greeting cards back to book.
Holly Throsby: Yeah, well, I just think, when I think about colour I often think about …
John Murch: Language?
Holly Throsby: Language.
John Murch: Yeah.
Holly Throsby: Yeah, like, to me, if I’m reading something that feels really flat, it’s just not my thing. Like, I’m not so into the incredibly kind of stony, stock, serious, emotionally flat, kind of, bare writing. I like writing that feels really alive and vibrant and kind of conversational and in the vernacular and-
John Murch: Well, Goodwood’s very playful in a lot of parts.
Holly Throsby: Yeah, well, it’s kind of like a comedy. I mean, Goodwood is kind of a comedy to me, although, it is also a mystery, a kind of mystery story, and a coming of age story as well. But, it is a comedy and I hope that it has colour. Like, when I was writing it I tried to project that into the prose.
John Murch: Which comedians are you enjoying at the moment?
Holly Throsby: Oh, god, these questions are really left field. I don’t actually get much time to consume these days, in terms of that kind of thing.
John Murch: There’s the old ones you could name, probably. The ones that used to inspire you.
Holly Throsby: Yeah, but I did watch Trainwreck on the way home, on the plane the other day, and I had thought it was really funny, I think Amy Schumer’s really funny. But, yeah, I can’t really answer that question because I’m not-
John Murch: Okay.
Holly Throsby: I mean, my partner loves Portlandia and that Podcast called My Dad Wrote a Porno, but I just don’t have much time to consume any of these things.
John Murch: Do you consume the Podcast world, or is it just the partner that does?
Holly Throsby: Sometimes I just need to have a clear brain and just to have space in my head, whereas other times I go through stages of just needing constant company and information and stimulation.
John Murch: Yeah.
Holly Throsby: But, when I’m doing this kind of work, talking about work, and practicing to play and all that stuff, I feel a little bit like I need more space, so I like silence.
John Murch: Well, Holly Throsby, it’s been an absolutely beautiful joy to speak with you, thanks very much and congratulations on both the book and the CD.
Holly Throsby: Thank you very much for having me.