Special Interview: Monique Brumby

theaussieword.com catches up with Monique Brumby!

Early years
I started playing music at my school, weekly guitar lessons with with a guitar teacher who encouraged me to write and perform original music. I also developed a love for the written word and lyric writing through inspirational teachers. I fell into music, it found me in a way. my mother had a beaten up guitar in the cupboard at home and when I was very young I would pull it out and strum it and mess around for hours. I always wanted to play music and write my first song when I was 10. It was something about the sun and the ocean from memory.

I’m inspired to make music through the satisfaction of getting ideas out an in an art form. It is exciting to me to be able to express ideas and thoughts in this way. Like most writers, I want to connect with others through the language of music and I want to feel that connection also. I studied sound engineering and have had brilliant mentors over the years who have passed on their skills and techniques to me. I love experimenting with different compressors, microphones and preamps when recording as we’ll as the layering of instrumentation. Taking recorded works into a live setting is nerve racking but exhilaration at the same time. Always anxious about how the new material will be received but also keen to share my thoughts with people. I aim to write music that will inspire others and really carve out the songwriting process. Some songs take shape really quickly, others I can tinker with over for several years until it is realised. My grandfather used to work in his garage on wooden carvings, soldering metals and always making things. I think I am a little like him in this way. I have loads of guitar pedals, effects units and software plugins that I use to get varying sounds live and on my recorded work.

Tour date and new single 
My tour dates are as follows in support of my latest single ‘Silent War’ from my 5th studio (self titled) album. ‘Silent War’ is a song about my support of marriage equality.

Biggest goals as artist
I’d love to have the opportunity to play more shows internationally I have a good fan base in Germany and in the states. I haven’t been to South America before, it’s somewhere that I think my music would appeal. I’ll be watching this World Cup with great interest as it’s Brazil this time. I want to continue to release albums of original material and continue learning about sound production as I have a real interest in it. My immediate goal is to Contact Ellen and Portia and see if my song ‘Silent War’ could be a theme song for their forthcoming visit to Australia to renew their wedding vows!

In the coming months 
I will be touring Australia with my band as well as running weekly session for the not-for-profit music therapy program that I run in Melbourne called Aardvark worldwide. Aardvark was established to offer young people with chronic illness the opportunity to connect through the healing powers of music. The program is centred around helping people with chronic illness in the areas of song writing, live performance and recording skills.

Sustained success I believe comes to those who work hard, who have a sense of community and giving to others. Happiness and feeling fulfilled is success.

Career highlight
A highlight for me would be the tours I have done with US band The Bangles on two Australian tours. As a kid growing up in the 80s I was a big fan of theirs so that was a thrill for me. Being nominated for ‘Song of the year’ at the 1998 ARIA awards for my song ‘The Change In Me’ was also a highlight, I was only 20 when I wrote that song so that was pretty cool.

I’m inspired by musicians around me there some great musicians in Melbourne a lot of my contemporaries, Rebecca Barnard, Kerri Simpson Angie Hart, Liz Stringer, Charles Jenkins, Jeff Lang, Chris Wilson to name just a handful. These artists inspire me, I play shows with them and we are like a family in Melbourne. So many great young artists coming through as well, Biddlewood, Angie McMahon and The Divine Fluxus are some of my fave emerging artists.

Description of my music
My music is pop rock with a focus on meaningful melodic lyrics.  This current album is a fusion, I’ve incorporated some electro beats and synthesisers. I’ve also released songs in more of an alternative country style but this album is definitely pop rock at its core.

Latest album
My latest album was recorded mostly in my home studio Silver Dollars. I co-produced and mixed it with my live guitarist Nick Larkins. We used a makeshift vocal booth made from a mattress and blankets with mic stands and gaffer tape. I had lyrics pinned to the mattress and it was a very relaxing session mainly with my two dogs moving around the house while I did takes. Lots of cups of tea, late night glasses of red wine, lots of dinners for the band and other musicians that played on the album. We tracked the drums and a lot of the electric guitars at Thirty Mill Studios in Brunswick with Colin Wynne. The album was made over three years so I really took my time to get the production just the way I wanted it. Sometimes you’d have to stop a vocal take if the dogs were making too much noise or the traffic got loud outside on the street, it was a quirky recording like that.

New projects
I am recording my sixth studio album in January February 2015. I am collaborating again with Nick Larkins and also with Angus Davidson who has done a lot of studio work with artists including Joni Mitchell, Crowded house and Supertramp I’m really excited about this.

In years from now
In a few years from now I like to be combining touring and making albums with a more relaxed lifestyle to counter balance the hectic pace of the music industry.

The music industry
Yes it is true the music industry has changed a lot in the time that I’ve been a professional musician which is 20 years now. The changes that I’ve seen are obviously in the way that independent musicians can promote the music and this is a really good thing but it also means that musicians have to spend a lot more time doing administrative tasks and tweeting, face booking and Instagraming everything they do to try and connect. There is lot to be done always and it’s a fine balance as you don’t want to spend all of your time on the computer when you need to be making music, so artists have more control now but they need to manage the time well and also be across the business side of the music industry which think is important. Most importantly of course is to write really good songs and never underestimate the power of great songwriting and the effect that has on society, it’s very powerful.

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