Jen Cloher on her new self-titled album and working with Courtney Barnett...
Singer-songwriter Jen Cloher has a well-established career in her native Australia, but she's only just beginning to make waves elsewhere in the world. We chatted to her about her new self-titled album, an LP she made with partner Courtney Barnett and with a lot of vigour and passion...
How did you want your new album to move on from what you’ve done on your past LPs?
"I realised with the success of Milk! Records and my partner Courtney Barnett that this album would reach a wider audience both here and overseas. I wanted to use this platform to say something meaningful, to comment on the political and social challenges we face both here in Australia and around the world."
Which song on the album took the longest to get right?
"That would be 'Strong Woman'. Mainly because the vocal is so demanding. I’m really happy with where it ended up and I love playing this song live now."
And which came together most quickly?
"'Regional Echo'. We’d been playing this song on tour quite a bit already so it went down on tape pretty quickly."
What kind of album is this lyrically? Is there a theme tying the songs together?
"Direct, honest, unflinching, candid. The main theme is the isolation we experience as artists in this country. We’re so far away from the rest of the world that breaking into other markets is an expensive undertaking. Just flying a band to America is close to $20,000 in flights and VISAs and that’s before you’ve even played a show. Most bands never make it out of Australia not because they aren’t worthy or talented but because they simply don’t have the financial resources."
When did you decide the album would be self-titled?
"I tried to find a title for the album but nothing seemed to stick. It feels like an eponymous album lyrically. This is me and what I think about the world in 2017."
You collaborated with Courtney Barnett on a lot of the record, what did she bring to the process?
"Courtney has been the guitarist in my band for six years now and has made two records with me. Her role is very much as a musician. We don’t write together or make any kind of suggestions to each other unless an opinion is asked for, which helps to keep our roles defined. Her guitar playing on this album is exceptional, she knows when to sit back and let the music breathe and when to push it forward."
What are your plans to take the album out live?
"We head on tour around Australia from the 24th of August to the 10th of September and then head to Europe and England for a couple of weeks and then onto the States for a month. It’s going to be a good two and a half months of touring. I’m really looking forward to taking these songs out there!"