“Country is a storytelling genre, and everyone has a story, so it shouldn’t be just for one specific group of people. It should be for everyone."
Country-pop-rock darling Siobhan Cotchin has been kicking around for a short while, releasing songs and playing shows in her home state of WA, but it wasn’t until last year, after releasing her debut E.P, Highways and Heartbreaks, that she started to make shockwaves around the country.
Sitting down to chat with us, she’s still bubbling with excitement from her last gig at Laneway Perth, which she won through triple j’s competition.
“It was unreal. The whole day was hectic in the best way. It’s the craziest thing I’ve done so far.”
“People actually showed up, and I was preparing for people not to. But I was secretly manifesting it.”
“Performing is my favourite aspect of what I do. Because it’s the time I really get to connect with people, and that’s really special. And I love being the centre of attention, I’ll be honest.” she laughed.
Off the back of that gig, Cotchin released her most vulnerable song yet, When The Curtains Close. Soft and introspective, the single delves into places that Cotchin has yet to go, usually focusing on upbeat songs made bigger and better by her band. However, this single keeps everything reserved, honing into the country-side of her talent. Interestingly, it’s quickly becoming a new crowd favourite.
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“It all happened really fast. I was going through something at the time, and I just knew exactly what I wanted to say. In terms of creating the sound, I wanted to create something very ‘Pheobe Bridges’ and very melancholic.”
“My last song, How Does It Feel, was very 90’s nostalgia, and I wanted to keep that going but in a different way. We drew a lot from Elliot Smith as well.”
“It just kind of happens naturally. I don’t like to think too much about the end result when I’m writing. Sometimes, as soon as I start writing something, I’ll know where it’s going. Usually, I’ll write a song and then bring it to the band, and that is where it will start forming as a rock or country song.”
Getting her start in the country scene when she was much younger, Cotchin has always understood that country music wasn’t always perceived as the ‘cool’ genre, but lately, she’s noticed the tables turning. More friends are jumping on the country bandwagon, she tells us, plus the industry has started to take note, playing more country artists on commercial radio and not segregating country artists from the rest of the scene.
“I feel like there are so many new artists coming out, specifically in like the Alt-country scene, where country is just becoming cool again. People like Orville Peck and Lil Nas X are also bringing queer culture into the genre, and it’s becoming more accessible.
“Country is a storytelling genre, and everyone has a story, so it shouldn’t be just for one specific group of people. It should be for everyone, and I feel like Orville Peck is really paving the way for that.
“I don’t wanna brag, and I don’t know if I've contributed to that, but I really hope that I have.”
Cotchin’s contribution to the 'cool-ification' of country music goes beyond her songs and also delves into her style, which is just as important to her as her music. Bright colours, big hats, feathers and gemstones are always featured in her stage outfits, and they reminisce back to the days of old country artists like Dolly Parton, who would dress up to signify a performance.
“I feel like I’m in drag when I’m onstage. It’s a completely elevated version of myself. For some people’s brand, it’s very casual, and I get that, for me, that just doesn’t fit. I love being glam and hyper-femme.”
“I wouldn’t have as much confidence if I didn’t do that. Don’t get me wrong, I always put 100% into a performance, no matter what I’m wearing, but that layer of makeup and the exciting outfit is like an armour that helps me get that confidence up a bit more.”
It’s no surprise then, that Taylor Swift is a major inspiration to Cotchin in both of those departments, from her massive stage shows to the unique vulnerability in her songs. Naturally, when I ask to talk about Taylor Swift, Cotchin jumps at the chance.
“How did you know?” She said jokingly. “I talk about her in every interview. It’s so embarrassing.” She continues laughing.
“The whole premise of her record Speak Now, was just really important for me. She kinda explained that the album is all the things she should have said to the people in her life, and I embody that as well. If I’m writing a song about someone, what do I want to say to them?
“Aside from songwriting, she’s also just such an important woman. She’s such a great role model for so many young women and people in general cause she’s just so strong and such an amazing businesswoman. Being a woman in the music industry is so…interesting.” She says vaguely.
“So I feel like having someone like Taylor saying, 'Nup, we’re doing this my way,’ is amazing. She’s such a boss.”
Idoles for women in the industry are notoriously important. Especially for times when being a woman is less than easy. Sexual harassment, lower pay than their male peers and fewer festival slots are just a few of the things that women face daily in the industry. Cotchin is no exception, finding that the small day-to-day interactions are where she feels least welcome in the industry.
“It’s those little small interactions that just make me go, wow. It’s just so casual, like it’s ingrained. Australia is such a casual place for a lot of horrible things.
“I get anxiety still going into music shops because the staff are probably going to be all male, and I’ve had interactions with guys in there that are like, ‘What, you play guitar?’”
“Being a woman is hard, but it’s also an act of defiance, so I’m proud…and scared at the same time.”
Saturday 18 March YMCA HQ Perth
Saturday 1 April Bluesfest Perth
Wednesday 22 April Wessy on the Green Westonia
Thursday 25 May Dunsborough Tavern Dunsborough *
Friday 26 May Mojos Bar Fremantle *
Saturday 27 May The Rosemount Perth *
Sunday 28 May The Carine Carine *
Thursday 1 June Nannup Town Hall Nannup *
Friday 2 June The River Margaret River *
Saturday 3 June Six Degrees Albany *
Sunday 4 June Farm Hotel Treedale *
Wednesday 7 June Sound City Port Lincoln *
Thursday 8 June Sound City Port Lincoln *
Friday 9 June Fat Controller Adelaide *
Saturday 10 June Western Hotel SA *
Sunday 11 June Hotel Victor Victor Harbour *
Thursday 15 June The Royal Bondi
Friday 16 June The Retreat Hotel Melbourne
Saturday 17 June Felons Brisbane
Friday 23 June The Rosemount Perth