I am so impressed with these three beautiful and talented young women, there’s a gentleness and stillness about their presence and strength and genuine focus for their art.
I meet with Irena and Genevieve before Aimee joins us later for a chat in the warm Brisbane sun. The three met at school, Gen and Irena at primary then later with Aimee at high school. They found themselves in the same choirs and classes at All Hallows, just up the road. I’m not sure why but I asked if it was a Catholic school. Yes, it was, the Sisters of Mercy. I too was taught by the Sisters of Mercy so we get into a bit of a random rant about nuns and how they were really like the first feminists. Autonomous in their cloistered convents. Though there was not much mercy when I was under their jurisdiction. They were tough and regimented. Powerful women.
So how did it come about, the forming of the band, I ask.
“At choir, we started to do our own arrangements and harmonies. Just covers at first, like some Beach Boys songs. Start off a capelaa with our voices, adapt it to folk music, then we’d bring a guitar to the group. We all play guitar,” they tell me.
The girls had performed the night before at the opening of BIGSOUND at everyone’s new favourite venue, The Triffid.There were so many opening parties I think everyone was already a bit weary, but these girls are coming to the end of a ten date tour which included Yeppoon.
“They (Yeppoon) put a lot of money into the arts and they really treated us well,” Irene said. “Put us up in hotels and paid us really well for the gigs. Normally we’re used to getting really shitty money, so getting good money and accommodation was awesome. The following week we played at The Triffid for the Fleetwood Mac Tribute Show, then Byron Bay on the Saturday then this week, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday was Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Adelaide. Flew back Monday night then played last night at the BIGSOUND opening show then tonight we’re at Brightside”.
Phew. And they work full-time to boot. To get time off work to tour, “we like, sell it to our bosses,” says Aimee. “Playing live sucks so much energy out of you. Sucks all your adrenaline. Even playing last night, today I have no energy, no motivation. I think I’m still feeling the ramifications of the tour. You’re up early. Drive, perform. Up early. Drive, perform.”
No wonder they are a bit tired, though they don’t seem it or look it. But they are passionate about their music and wouldn’t want it any other way.
They tell me that a few years ago they toured with Matt Corby.
“Those eyes. They look into your soul,” we agree. “We did the SECRET GARDEN tour with him, playing in people’s backyards. Then we did it the following year. They asked us to do the NSW leg of the tour”.
I asked how they chose whose houses to play.
“People volunteer. There’s no venue hire, maybe ten dollars on the door. BYO food and drink. People bring picnic blankets. We finished those tours and decided we wanted to move out of folk music. We started to write stuff that was a bit more funky, it had a bit more groove”.
“Also we were struggling to play bigger venues because our sound would just get carried away by the audience. We struggled for a few years with our pitch,” Genevive says.
“Then we moved into more electronic stuff. We worked with a producer in Brisbane called Matt Redlich. He’s actually in Holy Holy. He’s worked with Emma Louise, Ball Park Music, lots of Brissy acts,” Irena adds.
Talking about the Brisbane music scene, I mention how Black Bear Lodge used to be The Troubadour and how The Saints originated the punk scene not just in Brisbane but the world.
Aimee says she learned about that at Uni. “I did a master class with Ed Kuepper,” she tells me. I’m impressed.
I tell them the last gig I went to there and possibly the last gig held at The Troubadour, was with Chris Bailey and Ed Keupper. It was like coming full circle. Iconic musicians in an iconic venue. Then I mention how The Saints really shook up Countdown.
“We’ve seen so many specials of Countdown. Why doesn’t our generation have a Countdown. It’s such a shame. Molly had such an influence on the music scene. He could just pick a song,” the say.
But back to Matt Redlich. “We were moving into more electronic music. Matt recorded two tracks of ours and after that we got the most amazing, out of the blue, opportunity,” Irena continues.
“This tiny, independent record label from LA just happened to see this video that went on Facebook from a friend of a friend, and decided they wanted us to be on their label and they paid for us to travel to LA and record. This was in March last year. So we did a full length album over there, came back here and decided we only wanted to release five tracks – the EP that we are finally releasing now.”
And they have plans to return to the USA too.
“We cottoned on to Culture Collide in Los Angeles which is similar to BIGSOUND but they have a festival which we are playing. Then there’s the AUSSIE BBQ at Culture Collide in LA. Then we go to New York to play at The Aussie BBQ for CMJ. That’s in four weeks.”
Such beautiful, genuine, dedicated artists are Avaberee. I see them that night at The Brightside – an all female line-up this evening at the venue. I noticed there were a lot of female performers this year at Bigsound. Yes! I also attended a Women in Music meeting at the start of the whole thing. A few quiet ales in the sun with the “ladies”, from all aspects of the industry, to get us lubricated and in the groove.
Avaberee sing like angels. Their harmonies are perfect, heavenly. They are tight and polished and mesmerising. Twiddling with their electonic thingies and swapping places physically and vocally. It’s been a pleasure and an honour meeting them and hearing their sweet sweet sounds and I can’t help but wonder how they’ll evolve and grow with such exciting musical adventures on the horizon.
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Avaberee’s EP In Your Arms I Found My Secrets is out now.