"I felt like they'd been reading my mail or spying on me or something."
"First of all, I just want to say how super excited I am to be comin' to Byron Bay," Magness gushes, on the line from her home where she's working on songs for the next record. As it happens, though this will be her first visit, Magness has already experienced something of Australia in the form of Australian songwriters Lauren Bliss and Andrew Lowden, who co-wrote When You Were My King and Standing with Magness for her most recent album, 2014's Original.
"Lauren and Andrew actually just got a song of the year award, which is very exciting, so, yeah, it's very, very, very exciting that I get to come to their home country and play some music. Hopefully they won't be on tour and we'll be able to have a little hang time. We've written a couple of tunes for the new record as well. This time around, I think this record is gonna probably have a happier byline," she laughs. "A little bit more joy, a little bit more happiness on it, because that's what's happening in my life these days, and I'm very grateful for that."
"It was very natural, very symbiotic, you know what I mean? It was lovely."
It was actually her bass player/MD/producer, David Darling, who brought the Australian songwriting team into the mix when Magness was recording Original, though he didn't tell her they'd be there before she arrived for the session.
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"He completely bushwacked me! And what a happy surprise it turned out to be. Once we started working together it was just the most bizarre and beautiful experience — I felt like they'd been reading my mail or spying on me or something," she laughs again. "They hadn't but it felt like that. It was very natural, very symbiotic, you know what I mean? It was lovely."
While she'd co-written a couple of songs for the album before Original, 2012's Stronger For It, Magness is still fairly new to the whole songwriting side of things. Born in Detroit, Michigan, she started out as a backing singer in Phoenix, Arizona before moving to Los Angeles in 1986 to try and establish herself as a solo artist, and until Stronger For It was principally an interpreter rather than a songwriter. After all, for many years she was married to a songwriter, Jeff Turmes. It was their separation in 2010 that really kick-started the songwriting, and Original was her first fully original album, though she only co-wrote seven of the 12 songs.
"I'm very open and not terribly fixed in the process of songwriting," she explains, "although I am much more of a lyricist than I am anything. So, sometimes I'll get a melody, sometimes I'll get a cadence, but mostly it is definitely the lyric, the story, the heart of the song that tends to come from me more than anything. With Lauren and Andrew it was wonderful because they had a couple of ideas melodically and a little bit of lyric and then we just basically finished the lyric together over the course of a couple of days on both the songs. What a delightful writing experience it was for me with both of them."