It’s been a good run of announcements for emerging Melbourne alt-folk/pop-rock outfit, Folk Bitch Trio. The band are on board for BIGSOUND 2022 in September as well as the Queenscliff Music Festival in November. It’s a liberating time for the trio who formed in late 2019 and then sat through lockdown after lockdown.
“Oh, yeah, for sure,” says vocalist/guitarist Heide Peverelle. “What’s funny is that our manager the other day was like, ‘I know it must be excruciating but you have to be patient,’ and I hadn’t really thought about it like that. It was very validating because it’s been a weird couple of years to be in the music industry and also to start in the music industry.”
Folk Bitch Trio – Live at Fight Night Records
The trio of Peverelle, Jeanie Pilkington and Gracie Sinclair are tight-knit, having all been to high school together, with Peverelle and Pilkington now sharing a house.
“Jeanie sent me a message suggesting that we start a ‘folk bitch trio’ with major seventh chords or something funny like that, and then we all just started playing and singing together,” Peverelle says of the band’s beginnings. “I had a couple of songs that I was writing, and so did Jeanie and we just started practicing in my bedroom and then at each other’s houses, and then we suddenly had a gig because of Jeanie’s mum [Melbourne musician Barb Waters.]”
At first, it was extremely casual. “We were just doing it for fun and as an outlet,” Peverelle says. “I don’t think any of us thought that anything would come of it at all. It feels very lucky and it really surprised us that we got to play shows in the first place.”
While it’s true that many people associate folk music with a certain gentility, it’s the same genre that saw Woody Guthrie write “This machine kills fascists” on his guitar and that Joan Baez and Bob Dylan adopted as a medium for protest. Folk Bitch Trio might be a humorous name, but it also echoes that legacy of confrontation.
“A lot of people had an issue with it,” Peverelle says. “Not really our parents – they were okay with it – but there were people of a certain generation who thought it was very inappropriate.” She adds, “We kind of thought about changing it, but it really stuck.”
You’ll find the likes of Dylan, Gillian Welch, Nick Drake and Roy Harper on an Folk Bitch Trio playlist, as well as Julia Jacklin, The Staves and Angel Olsen. But Folk Bitch Trio’s exquisite three-part harmonies are all their own. It must be joyful to be able to sit together and create such sounds.
“I think there’s definitely a magic to it,” Peverelle says. “When we all can hook in together, it’s quite beautiful and I feel like quite moved by just the three of us. Then being able to do that on stage as well and kind of share that with others is really special.”
Folk Bitch Trio – ‘Friendly Neighbour’ (w/Bones and Jones)
The trio’s gifts weren’t lost on Californian indie star Phoebe Bridgers who, when reviewing five triple j Unearthed artists in March 2021, remarked that Folk Bitch Trio’s song ‘Edie’ reminded her of “Boygenius if it was from the 40’s or something. I feel like they have a cleaner harmony vibe, more organised, I guess, whereas we’re more like cowboys? I love that, that’s awesome.”
“It was quite amazing and surprising,” Peverelle says of getting the Bridgers seal of approval. “We had no idea it was happening. I think we all felt very seen by her comments. It was pretty surprising and we probably all had a little scream at some point when we found out.”
Since Victorian lockdowns ended last year, Folk Bitch Trio have played as support and backing vocalists for The Murlocs and teamed up with good friends Bones And Jones for a double single, ‘If I Was A Man’ / ‘Friendly Neighbour’ and subsequent launch shows. The two bands will no doubt bump into each other at Queenscliff Music Festival in November.
“We did Port Fairy earlier this year and Bones And Jones were also there so we got to hop up with them to do a couple of songs, which was great,” Peverelle recalls.
“We don’t have that much experience with multiple-day, weekend festivals. So I think going up to BIGSOUND will be great, as will Queenscliff. We have a few friends that are playing as well, so it’ll be a lot of fun.”
The Queenscliff Music Festival runs from Friday, 25th–Sunday, 27th November. Full details at www.qmf.net.au.