A song inspired by a sea eagle and mountains in Mullumbimby has taken out this year’s ‘Pop’ NT Song of the Year and put the enchanting sounds of Syren into the hearts of many Territory music lovers. Syren’s track ‘ A Feather to the Sea’ is a reflection of the land that Darwin artist Lulu Madill loves and she took a moment to chat to us about the winning track and making music in the NT.
This interview is part of the MusicNT presents series with Off The Leash magazine.
Syren is Lulu Madill.
Tell us about Syren and the music you've been making?
At the moment I'm wring my next album, working title "The Quickening". It's about how people all around the planet are awakening to the reality that Humanity and the Earth are now entering a heightened phase of activity and time feels like getting faster. It quiet a mixture of different music production styles like upbeat delicious hypnotic beats, to town tempo sultry lush melodies.
How long have you been making music and what got you started?
My mother has worked with a number of music festivals like The Country Music Muster, Woodford Folk Festival and Tamworth Country Music Festival since I was a toddler, so I was always surrounded by musicians and the festival culture. I started learning music when I was a child, at 8 playing the classical piano and violin then singing and playing the keyboard in bands at High School and so on, but I found my love with the synthesizer and a drum machine when I was living in Scotland in 2002 and all of my friends were producers and DJs. In 2004 I came back to Australia to study Audio Engineering at SAE in Melbourne. I did 6 months and then decided I would invest the rest of my money in all the gear I needed to set up a studio. Then I started to really get creative and play with electronic music prodution and mix my self.
How did you feel winning the NT Song of the Year for Pop?
Gee I really didn't expect it, there was a lot of quality in the pop category this year and I felt maybe a more indie pop sound might win it so I nearly jumped out of my skin when I heard my name. I get really scared making speeches so I was happy i survived it.
How does living in the NT influence your music?
I love living in the north being inspired by the wild nature and by the Indigenous culture. I have worked out on Indigenous communities recording music and I see how it has influenced the way I write now. I wrote a lot of the music from 'A Feather To The Sea' EP while living over in Harney Beach (Mandorah), it's one of my favourite places to go and have quiet time to sit and meditate and write new material and be inspired by the between worlds of the raw earth kissing the ocean.
Tell us about the track 'Feather to the Sea' where did that come from and what does it mean to you?
This song was a journey to write. My friend and I would jam for hours on the piano lines and I tracked it late at night and wrote the fist beat in my old Melbourne studio. The melody and the lyrics came later, one day I was writing on the beach and this beautiful sea eagle dropped a feather and lyrics and the melody came to me in that moment. It was like a gift from the eagle. The chorus came to me in the studio in Mullumbimby I was tracking the vocals looking out at the mountains. The chorus came and my sound engineer was like, 'let's capture that, it's gold'! It a story of Syren reflection on the world and singing to the land.
What are you looking forward to for the rest of 2014 and big things we should know about?
I hope to get an Arts grant then take my demo's to the studio for some production work then do a full mix on it. I want to release a single at the end of the year and go on the festival tour again over the summer with my new material.
What other NT musicians do you enjoy?
Shellie Morris is a incredible story teller and powerful passionate performer. I really love Leah Flanagan's work, she is a grounded soul that one! I dig Sietta's fusion of electronic production and live instrumentation it creates a beautiful flavour with Catie's emotional depth to her voice.
What advice do you have for other musicians in the NT, particularly female musicians?
Learn from other musician's you love, get in touch with them and hang out with them and watch how they play. Write a duet with someone you admire. Get work experience or work at a live venues, learn about different sound systems and learn how to mix yourself live. Have discipline in your life, a routine, I do yoga most mornings and I write about 3 to 4 times a week and I make myself do it. Learn from youtube work-shops. Learn from the masters. When I was learning different production techniques I would sit in the studio with musos like Spoonbill and learn his style.