There's no doubting that Kasey Chambers is synonymous with country music in Australia, and in particular the sub-genre Americana. She's carved out a place all her own over a career spanning nine records, becoming over time one of the genre's more inventive and therefore recognised practitioners.
Prior to her headlining spot at Rolling Stone's Live Lodge on Sunday, August 9th, she talks all things Americana, a new double album, and where her music fits in the grand scheme of things.
You're just back from the US where you showcased at the Americana Conference in Nashville – how'd it all go down?
I've played Americana before, but this time it was just extra good. We had a couple of showcases... we played 3rd & Lindsley, which is an iconic venue, one of the main live venues in Nashville. It was great, we packed the place out. [We also played the Five Spot], which was great, part of the Australian showcase, with a bunch of other Aussies. And a lot of the people in the audience were American who'd come out to see these Australians play, we had a ball.
The rise in popularity of Americana in the past few years has been quite phenomenal, particularly in Australia, there's a wealth of talent here – why do you think this type of country music has struck such a chord?
It is quite incredible how popular [it's become]. And it's not just Australia, it's taken over the world (laughs), this Americana thing. And I love being a part of it, I've always been a part of that style of music anyway, the only place I've really fit. So I think it's a combination of a whole lot of things, certain bands having that flavour that are on the charts, like Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers and Ryan Adams and people like that who've been around for a long time – them getting some mainstream success is helping to push the Americana thing.
If you go back though, and through the movement going on in America right now, a lot of it comes down to one guy, Jed Hilly. He's the head of the Americana Association, I've known him for many years... he's really started this whole movement, to give it a place. [Americana] has always been there, but he started the Americana Association, and the Americana Awards and the conference – it's not like it wasn't there before, but he found a home for it, he created this name and now this home for Americana music. It's not new, it's just that now it has a home more than it ever did before, these bands and artists and songwriters, they just didn't know where to be because they didn't fit into these moulds of country music or pop music or folk music.
Do you think the rise of this sub-genre of country music has helped you at all, in the past four or five years?
It is strange to be an Australian artist and be called Americana (laughs). But they found this home, and now it has this home, it gets more publicity and then it gets more people realising where they feel more comfortable to be. I was lucky enough to be a part of that in Australian early on, before it had a place as well... now it's really nice to feel I have this home, and a name, a name to put to it.
What's been happening over the course of 2016? You released an EP, Ain't No Little Girl in August, what else has been happening?
I brought out the EP, [but it's a precursor] to a new double album, which I'll bring out in January. It wasn't meant to be a double album, but I went in and did this session with Paul Kelly as producer, to tick off a bucket list thing. That was a dream... so we went in to make four or five songs, and ended up with eleven totally finished. I was thinking I would do another session as well, with my live band and my brother, Nash, producing, we already had that booked in, so I did that anyway and it was sort of the same thing – we went in to do a few songs, and ended up with nine or ten.
So I had these two little records and I didn't want to let any of them go, and they kind of found their own little place – the Paul one felt like it sat here, the other sat over here, but they both felt as much a part of me as each other. So it'll be a double album, called Dragonfly, and it'll be out in January. One album will be the Sing Sing Sessions, which is Paul, and the other album will be the Foggy Mountain Sessions, which is with Nash and my live band.
And so the EP was a bit of both. The single was "Ain't No Little Girl" from Paul's session. "Ain't No Little Girl" [is quite bluesy] and shows that the most on the record...it's the song that's the glue that holds the two records together, it's the only song that appears on both records, different versions, because I feel like it's the song that's been a massive part of me personally and musically, everything (laughs).
Lastly, you're headlining the Rolling Stone Live Lodge this weekend – what can we expect from your show?
We'll do a few songs off the new album, but I'll mostly go back and play old songs. I still love going back and playing songs off The Captain, "The Captain" in particular is one of my favourite songs to play every night, I still love it, I feel it's still a big part of who I am. So there'll be a bit of everything, and yeah, I'll try a couple of new songs, a lot of old ones too.
Kasey Chambers plays the Rolling Stone Live Lodge on Sunday, October 9th at The Workers Club, Melbourne, with support from Grizzlee Train.
Topics: Kasey Chambers