Jen Cloher and her Endless Sea compatriots are sailing strong on the release of their second full length album, Hidden Hands. A subtle mix of country, pop, bluegrass and straight out rockier moments, Hidden Hands has helped to establish Cloher’s position as a unique and intriguing singer/songwriter. Jesse Hayward caught up with Cloher recently to get the low down on the new album, touring the festival circuit and meeting the Dalai Lama.
Music Feeds: So how’s the new album going? Have you been paying attention to people’s reactions?
Jen Cloher: I like the responses at the message board at jencloher.com – they keep it real.
MF: Where in NZ were you, to write the album?
JC: At my parents house in Auckland. I was there looking after my mother.
MF: You recorded the album live over seven days. Now was this an artistic, financial or logistical decision?
JC: Predominantly financial. We rehearsed the songs live for a couple of weeks and then took them into the studio and recorded them live track by track over a week. This way we had access to a Neve desk and quality Neumann microphones. It was a crazy week without much time to sit around and do too much listening. It wasn’t until we left the studio with the tapes that we really got an opportunity to sit down and hear what we had got down.
MF: You’ve played a few festivals in the past, which was your favourite?
JC: We’ve played festivals like Homebake and Falls but to be honest my favourite was a small festival in Red Hill Victoria called Harvest. It had the feeling of being run by human beings rather than corporations.
MF: Will you be hitting some festivals this year?
JC: Yes – Mullumbimby Festival, Woodford, Peats Ridge, Nannup in WA and Port Fairy next year in Victoria.
MF: Did you actually get to meet the Dalai Lama? If so, what did he smell like?
JC: I did get to meet the Dalai Lama and he smelt like teen spirit.
MF: You seem to bare yourself quite a bit in your lyrics, how do you see the role of lyrics in your music? Do they tell the story or are they simply part of the story?
JC: I like story telling narrative style songwriting but I think for the next album I might get all Jim O’Rourke on my @*!% and write a one track album that goes for forty minutes.
MF: Is the band still the original line-up?
JC: Word. It’s a solid line-up. Solid.
MF: And are you the head honcho, the big cheese, the director of operations? Do the other members of the band help with writing songs?
JC: I am the cheese, the honcho, the main man – you hear me? And if they step out of line I get all James Brown on their skinny @*!% and dock their pay for every mistake they make onstage.
MF: Do you think your performance suits festivals or smaller, more intimate gatherings best?
JC: Both, just like an arctic fox I adapt to my surroundings.
MF: The lyrics of Hidden Hands seem to invoke a mysticism of some sort. Do you believe in God? Fate? Guardian angels?
JC: I believe in mystery not mastery.
MF: I know you just released some, but when can we expect more new stuff from you? (Never satisfied, we).
JC: Perhaps a year? I am keen to get back in writing soon.
MF: Ever had any weird stuff happen on tour?
JC: Yes, just spend a day with my band and weird shit will happen.
MF: Are you a dog person or a cat person? (think carefully)
JC: I am a cat person but I recently saw the light and now I’m a dog person.
There you have it, straight from the source – Jen Cloher is a converted dog person. Catch Jen Cloher & The Endless Sea touring nationally right now. Hidden Hands is out now. Find it on