Singing In Threes

23 October 2013 | 5:00 am | Tyler McLoughlan

“I think that's the future of independent music-making - if you isolate you'll be picked off like penguins. You've got to stay in the pack!”

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In the tradition of some of the world's best songwriters, Mia Dyson, Liz Stringer and Jen Cloher have formed a power-trio alliance to hit the roads of every state and territory of our vast country. Considering Dyson has enjoyed international acclaim with her 2012 album, The Moment, Stringer recently returned from showcasing Warm In The Darkness in Europe, while Cloher is riding high from the release of her third album, In Blood Memory, the group are tour fit and ready to bring new life to each other's songs after a debut run in the Northern Territory.

“We went out for Darwin Festival and then we went into the desert - we went to Katherine, Tennant Creek for Desert Harmony Festival, and then we finished up at Alice Springs,” says Cloher as Stringer pipes up: “It worked great actually I thought. Jen, did you think that?”

“Well I didn't think you were so great - obviously you have a very different idea of yourself,” Cloher chides playfully, showing a level of piss-taking mateship that only comes when you know someone well. “No, it was great…” she admits as the pair erupt into giggles.

The impetus to team up came from a mutual love of each other's work as well as the need to share the highs and lows with someone who knows that the life of a singer-songwriter can be a lonely one, even more so as self-managed artists.

“Jen just thought it would be a really good idea for the three of us to do something like this together,” says Stringer. “We've all been friends for a long time; we've toured together, I've played in Mia's band for three tours or something - it just makes a lot of sense personally but particularly musically because we're all quite different but we come from the same school of being songwriters and the song being the centre of what we're doing. It instantly made a lot of sense and having said that, I was pleasantly surprised particularly because we'd booked another thirty dates of the tour [after the Territory preview] that it actually did work on stage! It's like in any band - you can have three or four fantastic musicians but it doesn't mean that they'll be a great band. That was the most exciting part about the Territory [shows] and all the feedback we were getting was that people really liked that we were really different but they felt that it worked well together and that's great - that was the point. There was a chance that it wasn't gonna work, but thank God it did!”

Cloher admits she had to learn a new set of skills as a musician who had never played in someone else's band, but each of them brings their strengths to the showcase: a selection of highlights from their combined 11 albums alongside new material written especially for the occasion.

“The fun thing is that we've all got really different approaches to songwriting and performance and for me Liz sits perhaps a little more in that folk world, which is really exciting for me. I don't mean to catagorise anyone 'cause there's a lot of rock there as well, but Dyso's kind of more in that blues rock world and perhaps my latest album is kind of a bit more indie rock… Plus, it feels really lovely to have two other people just front a band with you, and you don't feel nearly as alone…”

“And if you're having a bad day or you need an hour off, you can do it whereas if it's just your tour and you're driving everything it's just relentless…” Stringer offers. “Over the whole course of the tour that will make such a huge difference as far as fatigue goes and wanting to be there and not having those moments when you're like, 'Fuck this - everyone get in the van, we're goin' home'. If anyone feels like that the other two can be like, 'Okay weirdo - you just go over there for a bit'.” She laughs, as Cloher puts on her mock telling-off voice: “'You can go and have a little bit of van time. Go and sit in the van in the corner'. There's a seat up the back if you're having a really bad day - we'll just tuck whoever's having a bad day right up the back and they can have a little sook!

“It's great to be able to team up with other artists and do it together,” says Cloher in summary. “I think that's the future of independent music-making - if you isolate you'll be picked off like penguins. You've got to stay in the pack!”