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TALKING AUSTRALIAN SOUL WITH EMMA DONOVAN

Photography by Bonnie Savage

Tone Deaf recently did a wrap-up of the Australian artists breathing soul back into music. Do you think this is a fair statement to suggest that there’s a soul revivalism going on in Australia?
Yes and I think it’s fair to also say that there has always been a lot of soul bands and singers that express more soul in their voice or style. People are now listening to it more — there has been a revival of soul vinyl too. We all know how much better soul music sounds on vinyl. You can get just about any good soul album on vinyl right now.

Tell us about your latest recording with The Putbacks — Dawn. Explain the collaboration and the recording process. Is there anything you would do differently next time when approaching another recording?
I’m not too sure if the next album will be approached differently. The Putbacks played in a room together with me in a single room. We kept doing live takes and feeling stronger every time and most of the song writing came together really naturally. I had a lot to say so most of the lyrics came together quickly. It was personally one of the best collaborations I’ve ever been involved in.

There’s nothing like playing and recording music with a whole bunch of people, yet still feeling like yourself. That was the most important aspect.

Your music has been described as indigenous Australian soul. How accurate is this description and were you conscious of this particular style when writing and recording?
Well that pretty much sums up what we are, look out hey! I’m a proud indigenous woman writing and collaborating with my brothers The Putbacks and we play soulful tunes. The only thing we were conscious about was making honest music that we loved.

Who are some of your favourite soul artists/bands in Melbourne?
One of my favourite vocalists is Vika Bull. She is so humble, yet at the same time gutsy and honest. I love watching her perform with Paul Kelly and The Merri Soul Sessions. I can’t keep my ears and eyes off her and her sister Linda Bull. They remind me a lot of the voices I was surrounded by growing up as a kid. They also remind me of my favourite aunties whose voices I will never forget.

I am also a huge Kylie Auldist fan and I can’t get enough of her tone and voice. There’s something about a voice so familiar — like they’ve been somewhere before…

What’s the best advice you can give to emerging artists in Australia?
The more you put in, the more you get back. Also, play and write music for no other reason than for the love of it.

www.emmadonovan.com
www.facebook.com/emmadonovansmusic

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