Having just released her new single Why’d You Have To Kiss Me So Hard, and with a select run of shows booked in support, singer songwriter Laura Imbruglia is finally coming out of hibernation for the first time since her 2010 album The Lighter Side Of… The single, produced by Liam Judson of Belles Will Ring, as well as the man who manned the mixing desk on Cloud Control’s Bliss Release, sees Imbruglia embracing a more psychedelic sound than her earlier folk based work.
We caught up with the songstress, talking to her in her new Melbourne home, to discuss the new direction the music has taken, the impact her move to Melbourne has had and more.
MF: So this is the first new music we’ve heard since the move; would you say that that has had an impact on the music? If so how?
LI: Yeah, I guess any change of scenery or circumstance would probably influence my writing, but it would usually only be a subconscious thing. I tend to just soak up my experiences and they slowly ooze out, with no rhyme, reason or warning. There’s definitely a more vibrant live music scene down here, particularly for bands, which has made me excited about playing rockier songs of late.
MF: The sound is much more psychedelic than your earlier work; is that a direction you think you’re going to follow with the new material or is the song more of an isolated experiment?
LI: It’s hard to say at this stage, but I’d like to try and make a more musically cohesive album, which has in the past eluded me. If all goes well, yes, I would like to make a bunch of material that somehow fits in the same broad musical family as this song, but I tend to have musical A.D.D. I just go wherever the inspiration carries me and hope that the listeners’ ears will follow. I am enjoying the psych at the moment though. I just bought a compilation of Indonesian 70’s psych called ‘Those Shocking Shaking Days’. It’s so groooooooooooovy, maaaaaan.
MF: How was it working with Liam Judson? Did you go to him because you were wanting to move the music in a more psychedelic direction or was that a result of working with him, or neither?
LI: Working with Liam was great; I’m glad I finally introduced myself to him! I spent 10 years playing around Sydney and saw Belles Will Ring play many a time, and was always too shy to say hi and that I liked his stuff. Those sideburns are quite intimidating! Haha. Once I worked the song up with the band, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate producer for it. It just seemed right up his alley, and something he could add to and make even better (which he did). I sent him a Facebook msg asking if he’d be interested and he was! Easy peasy. It seems confusing that I would work with Melbourne producers when I lived in Sydney and vice versa now that I’m living down here, but these things sometimes happen. I like to keep things fresh and work with new people. It lets you see things with a different set of eyes and hear them with different ears.
MF: Tell me about the backing band? You’ve really picked up players from some really great bands; do they play a role in refining the songs, or is it more a case of just coming up with parts to fit what you’ve written?
LI: Hmmm, well it depends on the song and how clear the end point is in my head. They all definitely grew this song to be a bigger better beast than it is when I play it solo. I usually bring a complete song to the band and have a fairly strong idea of what I want to achieve, but I’m terrible at explaining it. Luckily they are instinctively switched on to my brain and have similar taste to me. Ben (drums) and Stiff (bass) have been playing in my live band for a few years now. Stiff is an old mate, has been on board since the 1st album, and came overseas with me when I toured Europe in 2008. I met Ben through Talons, who were my label mates on Chatterbox Records. He filled in for a few shows and ended up being so lovable and enthusiastic, I asked him to keep playing with me. Sam (lead guitar) only really joined the band in June this year and he’s really added a lot to the sound. I often hear wailing guitar solos in my head and in the past have simply left gaps in songs and asked guest lead guitarists to play on the records (like Davey Lane from You Am I and Dave Rennick from Dappled Cities). It’s much better to have someone in the band who can add something good to every song, as opposed to me missing really important parts of the recorded song in the live show that I don’t have the ability to play!
MF: How do you work as a writer; do ideas come out fully formed from the writing process or do you refine them over time? Do you collaborate with others to polish ideas or do you work more by yourself?
LI: I have 2 writing methods- neither of which I can control. I either find myself with an almost fully-formed song that virtually writes itself over the course of an hour (rare method), or I labour over the same tiny riff or melodic idea for months until I get another spark to help me add to that piece and the story continues (the usual situation). I prefer to nut it out myself until I get the song finished, as whenever I play an embryonic song to another songwriter and ask for help, it usually results in me getting more confused about the hazy parts and less confident about the parts I was happy with. I really like playing them to someone once they are finished and I’m at least 98% happy with them. At that point, I either demo them or take them straight to the band to try and work out the band arrangement. Sometimes this comes together really easily and sometimes it’s painful. It depends on the nature of the song. I’m getting better at keeping things relatively simple.
MF: You have shows coming up over the next month or so; how do you find your work translates into a live forum? Do you try and recreate the album or put together something altogether different?
LI: The live shows will be quite different to any of my recordings as my live band on this run is my Melbourne band who are very fresh to my world. The band features Dave Rose (Ground Components, Zebras), Chris Baker (Anthony Atkinson, Joni Lightning), Tom Heathcote (Midnight Woolf) and Sam Cross (previously mentioned- Jewel & The Falcon). Chris plays pedal steel and banjo almost exclusively, which is a pretty amazing luxury. I don’t have pedal steel on any of my recorded tracks, but as lots of my songs are country tunes, he fits in like a charm. Sam is the only other member I’ve recorded with, so it really will be a unique thing for me. I’m looking forward to it; the guys are all super talented and loads of fun.
MF: When you’re in the studio do you think about the live show, about holding back from going crazy because you won’t be able to recreate it live or do you just let loose and explore the possibilities of recording?
LI: I tend to just let loose and do whatever I like in recordings. Occasionally, I will end up with a 10 minute keyboard opus that requires a discman to be taped to the keyboard and d.i.’d on stage and I have to play keys, trigger the discman and also have a whistle in my mouth whilst singing. This keeps you on your toes and makes you appear to be a genius to the punters in the rare case when you pull it off.
MF: Are you working on any songs at the moment? Should we be expecting a new album anytime soon?
LI: I’m focusing on writing a lot more in the next 3 months, which I have set aside especially for this purpose. The aim is to be ready to record in mid 2012 and release the album soon after, but I will just have to play it by ear. I haven’t been known to be prolific in the past, but let’s see how we go!