Covering All Bases

24 March 2012 | 11:51 am | Tyler McLoughlan

To say she’s been busy of late would be to greatly understate the creative energy of Holly Throsby.

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For someone who has released three very different records in a relatively short period of time, Sydney's Holly Throsby is clear and collected as she runs through her list of creative achievements of the past 18 months, beginning with ARIA-nominated children's album See! Her fourth solo album Team followed to critical acclaim, and then of course Seeker Lover Keeper became a 2011 highlight as Australia's newest supergroup. Throsby looks back at the period in which she was also a part of the national They Will Have Their Way Finn brothers' tribute concerts and begins at perhaps her most surprising accomplishment to date.

“It started out as a kind of a joke because I have a goddaughter who's five now and, you know, she's very important to me, and she has a little brother who's three,” Throsby explains of her inspiration to make a children's album. “I spend a lot of time with them and I find them really entertaining and fascinating because I haven't spent a huge amount of time around kids in my life, and I guess it started as an idea to write some songs for them because if I was like borrowing the car and driving them around and listening to the kids' music they had in the car, I always found it really patronising and it drove me crazy… I thought it was probably the dorkiest idea in the entire world. But then I started talking to Tony Dupe about it – he's produced a lot of albums for me before – and he's got such an interesting mind, and he's just very illustrative with music and with sounds and loves illustrating words with different sound effects and stuff, and I just knew that he would be the perfect person if he could harness that part of his imagination to make the record with.”

Some people employ elaborate strategies to stay on-track when dealing with a full workload of varied tasks, though Throsby seems to have switched her creative hats with little effort, even though the writing for all three projects overlapped.

“We did the children's album first and then when we did Team, we had to be careful that a crazy elephant noise wouldn't fall out a trapdoor or something,” she giggles, “but you always kind of know where you are I think with that kind of stuff. I think it was good for me because I'd done four albums of my own, and I guess I'd always been doing this one thing, exploring this one side of myself musically which is writing my own songs. …Making the kids album which is just like a pop album that had lots of crazy sound effects and weird lyrics, and Seeker Lover Keeper as well, I got to really explore writing pop songs which I found really enjoyable. And since then I've been starting to do co-writing with various people and I've been enjoying exploring different sides of writing songs. Because I think the songs that I will always put on my album, I write really personal stuff and it's really important to me that it is a certain way, but I have a lot of other stuff in me too so it was kind of fun to get it out in different areas.”

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Following on from four weeks touring Europe alongside Spunk labelmates Tiny Ruins and Jordan Ireland, Throsby is pleased to be finally touring her project proper nationally before she retreats for some well deserved down time.

“I haven't actually done my own tour in Australia for like a year which is why I'm doing this one, because I feel like I really need to take a long break from doing shows because it's been a lot of travelling and a lot of playing,” she says in a spritely tone with no indication of weariness. “I really love it but I kind of want to be able to sit down and write new songs and stuff like that. It was a really busy time recording the kids' album and then Team, then the Seeker Lover Keeper album and releasing them all in quick succession. It's so interesting because the three records were so different and appealed to completely different people. I just did these kids' shows for Sydney Festival, which I didn't think I'd do when I released the album – I said to ABC I don't want to be a children's entertainer, I don't want to do any live shows and I just want to release the album. Then a year later I was, like, 'So I'm gonna do these massive kids' shows', and I totally changed my mind! But it was really fun and I kind of thought I would either just find it completely humiliating and hate it and wanna die, or it would be super fun, and it turned out that luckily it was super fun so I'm going to do a few more of those throughout the year for some festivals.

“I am doing a handful of kids' shows throughout the year, but in terms of doing a tour for my normal music, I think this will be the only tour for this year and probably the only tour until I make a new album, which is just gonna take me a long time, I can feel it. I think it's time for me to take a break. I really did wanna do one more tour here before I did that because I love playing with [bandmates] Bree [van Reyk] and Jens [Birchall] and we have such a nice time so this is like the farewell before I go away and make some new stuff.”

Though she now has a considerably broadened fanbase following such a prolific period of new endeavours, Throsby is ever aware of those that have followed her intimate folk persona since the release of her debut record On Night in 2004, and she has designed the setlist for her current tour just accordingly.

“I've been trying to teach myself how to play [Seeker Lover Keeper single] Even Though I'm A Woman on the piano which is much harder than I thought it would be… and I guess I'll obviously play stuff from Team, but we've also been taking some requests by email,” she says of the fan consultation process.  “I think that just comes from being a music fan, like going to see shows and sometimes just like [saying] 'Oh I'll die if they would only play that song', and a lot of people forget about their songs. I always forget about songs I've written if I haven't played them for ages and then someone says, 'Oh I like this song' and I have to sit down and learn it again. Everybody likes something different so it's nice to think that the underdog song might be appreciated by someone out there.”