Felicity Lawless: martial arts and music

As Felicity Lawless prepared for her photo up the stairs at Board Culture, we chatted about props. She had three options. Her dog Bjorkie, her trusty guitar or her sword.

Wait, what? Sword? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s reasonably well known around the Gold Coast music scene that Felicity is a ninja. True. She’s been to Japan to train with the grand master Soke Masaaki Hatsumi.

As she stands there pulling it out of its scabbard I joke about Julz Parker (Hussy Hicks) who recently bought a rural property and went nuts with a machete.

“She’s actually into martial arts too,” Felicity said before telling me about a gig they had Bayside in Brisbane. They decided they should turn up three hours early seeing they’d never played together before. But instead of rehearsing, they went head to head with rad martial arts maneuvers.

“She can copy anything,” she said. By now Travis Buchanan who runs the surf store is beside himself with joy at the antics going on in his shop.

Felicity is just about to release Cowboy Camerman. It’s the first single off her new album, recorded at Lovestreet Studios. Not surprisingly, she tells me the “whole Gold Coast contingent” plays on the record.

“Scotty French, Alex Elfes, Nastaij (Annie), Brennan Smith, trumpeter Matt parker,” she reels them off, and then tells me that the album has a very different vibe to her previous offering Ouroboros.

She says Ouroboros was about a personal healing journey to find inner peace. “But this one is about bringing it out into the microcosm, making it a lot more external,” Felicity said. “It’s a lot of other people’s stories.”

One of those stories is that of the protagonist in Felicity’s lead single – Damian Lang, AKA Cowboy Cameraman. He made the film clip for the song which is named after him.

“He’s got a pretty epic story of having gone to war and had a big realisation – a wakeup in the middle of it all – and then finding myself.”

“He met Rebecca Cunningham at a coffee shop and started filming a lot of musicians for free for experience. He’s had this realisation that he’s going to give to the community and get skills up at the same time.”

Felicity tells me about some of the other tracks.

“Well, there’s one called Happy Ending,” she said, as she roared with laughter. “I don’t really know what to say about that. It speaks for itself.”

Another one is a a homage to people in pain. I had some deaths around me – and in supporting people realised that everyone’s pain is really similar and I just wanted to create a song to recognise the pain in everyone else, to be able to have compassion and raise everyone up to pull out of the pain.”

I remember the days prior to the filming of the clip for the new single, when Felicity put a call out for friends to descend on BreadnButter in Kirra in their best bohemian garb.

“It’s a collaborative effort. I basically got a crew together of the most bohemian individuals I could find on the Gold Coast. I’m playing myself, which is a guitar and sword-weilding superhero and it’s about the superhero within all of us.”

Made by Cowboy Camerman himself (Damian Lang Productions), Felicity says it’s a Hollywood epic in the style of Kill Bill with some mariachi and Mexican dance party vibes thrown in for good measure.

Felicity has shows at Blues on Broadbeach and Earth Frequency festivals and will also support Tijuana Cartel’s Paul George in his folk project Black Rabbit George in January.

“For Blues on Broadbeach, we’re definitely going more along our rock vibe – and I’ve written a bunch of new songs that are quite rocky on the new album.”

She says the highlight of Earth Frequency will be just being out in the trees making music – her two favourite things.

And for the Soundlounge show?

“Paul and I have played together a lot and often share bands. It’s a real collaborative night. We’ve been talking about doing a folk album together as a duo, we both have lots of folk music. I guess we just want to put something together that’s really basic – just two guitars and singing.”

And that is something to look forward to. Because when those two guitars are being wielded by Felicity Lawless and Paul George, you have something much more than just “basic.”

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Felicity Lawless will join Julia Rose for a dual album launch at Brisbane’s Powerhouse on 6 March. She supports Black Rabbit George at The Soundlounge on 22 January and hits Earth Frequency in February, NightQuarter on 12 March and Blues on Broadbeach in May.

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