“From a place steeped in reverence, tradition and storytelling, with a hint of mischief and playfulness, comes We Two Thieves, the side project of two of Australia’s most unique songbirds: Mama Kin and Emily Lubitz of Tinpan Orange,” so said the bio that came across my desk as I was putting this piece together.
They are songbirds, it’s true. A look at the individual biographies of either Mama Kin or Emily Lubitz and their incredible musical offerings hints at a genuine love of the creative process, and a near spiritual approach to their music and to the way they work together. When these two ladies sing together, something special happens, and it’s quite different to what they’re able to produce apart.
The new album of We Two Thieves, the collaborative project of these amazing ladies is At Midnight We Ride. It was written and rehearsed around a kitchen table in Fremantle, with chickens, a dog and a pride of children in the background and another on its way. The album was recorded on the other end of that hot summer in a house on a hill with pretty reverb and magpies on the roof. The pair of singer-songwriters and their multi-instrumentalist, Dave Mann huddled around a small cluster of microphones and sang the songs together, as you hear them recorded.
“There is something so uplifting and expansive about singing in harmony,” Mama Kin (Danielle) said. “Singing with Emily is one of my greatest joys. When our voices combine I feel completely released and invigorated. It is the closest thing to spooning without hopping into bed! This project has been such a pleasure in every phase. We wrote the songs together and separately and recorded it all in just four days, in live takes, capturing performances of which I am so proud, and can’t wait to share.”
Before they headed this way for a special gig at Miami Marketta, I hung five with both ladies (via email, as you do) to dig a little further below the surface …
1. How did you two meet?
EMILY: We met at a festival in WA. We had hotel rooms next to each other. It was called the Loose Goose Chalets but I never saw any geese. We got loose though. Mama invited my band over to her room to play some music and drink some whiskey. We did both. We sang together till the wee hours and that was that. We’ve been singing together (and drinking whiskey – sometimes) ever since.
DANIELLE: Singing with Emi that first night felt so exciting and familiar all at once. One of my favourite life experiences is to sing in harmony, it is always a great feeling, but with some voices it is like an embrace, like flying, it is transcendental.
2. When was the moment that collaboration became unavoidable?
EMILY: I just kept going to Fremantle and hanging around Mama’s kitchen table till we found a moment to write a song together. Then other songs started coming and soon there was enough for a set and an album. Suddenly we had a band!
DANIELLE: The Nannup festival (where we first met) got the ball rolling for us though.. They asked us to present a collaboration piece for the festival. We said yes before we had any idea what we were going to do, so suddenly we had a deadline, and the rest rolled from there.
3. When did you truly find your voice?
DANIELLE: I might have to answer that after a life fully lived, I’m not sure I have truly found it yet, It feels more like a process than an arrival.
4. What’s the most challenging thing(s) about being a touring musician?
EMILY: Missing out on things back home. Weddings, births, bar mitzvahs.
DANIELLE: Yeah I agree. Being away from home feels more and more difficult. I actually get quite homesick now. I also really don’t like flying. I get panicky every time, not because I am scared of flying, I just get unsettled by the feeling of moving all of the time, and I just want to swear to never fly again. But I keep flying. I really do love performing and connecting with audiences through the medium of songs and melodies and rhythm, just the travel sucks.
5. What’s the one piece of advice you’d give your 80 year old self?
EMILY: My advice would be, never give advice to anybody older than you. Especially if they’re 80. Then I’d ask them, what was their greatest regret, and then I would make sure it didn’t happen.
DANIELLE: That’s a good one Emi. I think I would say don’t regret anything. I always did my best with what I knew at the time. I’d also say.. keep taking risks, make sure you keep walking with bare feet, keep stretching, sing every day and stay fit.. you got a while more to go! Hopefully I’ll be less bossy when I’m 80!
We Two Thieves | At Midnight We Ride album launch
Sunday 9 November, Miami Marketta