What Inspires Clare Bowditch?
Thu 15th Sep, 2005 in Features
Clare Bowditch is a pioneer of Australian music. Growing up as part of the Melbourne music scene, she’s been singing and songwriting since she was a child, and is constantly on the road performing awesome live gigs with her band, The Feeding Set. Australians love Australian music. There seems to be a constant support base for it by anyone who calls themselves Australian. But why does it seem there’s more men out there than women? “Gosh I don’t know, it’s really hard for me to say. It’s a pretty interesting situation isn’t it? And I really don’t know. I think the issue should be discussed and debated as to who chooses play lists for Australian radio because there is no shortage of powerful female performers.”
I mean, there’s a lot of female artists starting to emerge and do great things for the Aussie music scene the aren’t dominantly catering for the pop industry; Missy Higgins; Sarah Blasko; Sarah Mcleod, Mia Dyson, just to name some. But it’s the males I’ve found in greater numbers. As both of us try to decipher a reason for this, Clare gives her suggestion, “It’s hard for me to say because I mostly listen to community radio and public broadcasting, so I don’t have a great knowledge of what’s being played on other stations … I think also mainly in order to get played on commercial radio you’ve almost always needed to be with a record company and there’s been some limit to what they accept as marketable… I guess now we’re in an age where that doesn’t really stand in anyone’s way any more, but yeah, I don’t know.”
Well, no matter what the reason, you’d have to be a pretty damn proud Aussie, no matter what your gender, to have toured with the likes of whom Clare Bowditch has, Elvis Costello, Cat Power, Pete Murray, Xavier Rudd, The Waifs and most recently, Paul Kelly.
Her band, The Feeding Set, features an amazing array of talented musicians too though. They include J Walker on guitar, french horn player and fellow vocalist Libby Chow, bassplayer Warren Bloomer and of course, Marty Brown on drums. They’ve come up with such hits as Miss Unavailibilty, Monday Comes, Divorcee by 23 and currently on the radio air waves, the beautiful, On This Side. “I feel very lucky to be doing what I love and I feel lucky as a mother to be doing what I love and to have my partner totally producing my albums and recording what I do… that’s a big thing for me.”
I wondered, from such a big list of talented acts to have worked with, if there were any favourites for her? “I really enjoyed Cat Power’s support and I really enjoyed touring with Paul Kelly. In the next headline tour we’ve got Glen Richards from Augie March supporting us, he’ll be there for the Sydney show… that’s a dream.”
Any Bowditch fan will know of her impressive talent for writing a ballad. It’s an incredible skill to be able to incorporate both narrative and emotion in a song. It was particularly interesting to see where she gets the inspiration for this kind of clever song writing. “Well I have a background in writing, that was pretty much the main area of study at university, writing non-fiction [this is actually the point where I excitedly admit that I’ve ditched one of my writing classes to talk to her, she gives a short laugh, thanks me for wagging and proceeds with her answer]. “I’ve always loved telling stories and I’ve loved hearing stories and reading stories, particularly short stories which is a totally underrated form and a particularly masterful form if someone can do it well and there are people who can do it beautiful, such as Italo Calvino or Alex Munroe.” It’s form I’ve always admired … so I try to apply some of the elements in my story writing”
Another thing that inspires her is her baby girl Asha. Asha is also the daughter of her partner, producer and fellow Feeding Set band member, Marty (also band member of Art of Fighting and Sodastream). At the mere mention of motherhood, I can’t help but hear the excitement in Clare’s voice. ”[Motherhood] It’s wicked! It’s fantastic. She has been touring with us most of the places we go and we take her godmother along… she loves it …she has a bloody ball, but it does have its limits. We kind of set our touring to two or three weeks then come home, and we have our little routines on the road. My god, its such an inspiring thing for an artist. Watching a human being form and get their personality, its pretty amazing.”
Speaking of growing up, I’m particularly interested on Clare’s take on the Melbourne music scene, having grown up there herself. It was an interesting point of view, hearing it from a local. “From the age of about seventeen, I was playing in bands and particularly in the last five years there’s been so much collaboration. Melbourne bands tend to champion each other. They love their music there … It rocks!”
She seems to have been a busy woman for most of her life. She has a creative arts degree, has studied music in Canada, and actually does a lot for her community by organising music events. She also lends a helping hand to other independent musicians, featuring a handy link and great tips on her website.
Since the independent release of their first album in 2001, Autumn Bone, Clare Bowditch and The Feeding Set have completed six national tours and recorded their second album, The Thing About Grief. To hear this woman live with her band is an amazing and haunting audible experience. She’s one of those rare artists who talents are endless on the stage.
I have to say, life sounds sweet, but unavoidably busy for a lady like Clare Bowditch. I ask for her advice on the best way to unwind after a busy day:
“I actually just take off my shoes and get Marty to rub my feet … and I cuddle my baby.” Hmm, sounds nice…
Catch the sweet sounds of Clare Bowditch and The Feeding Set in October at the following venues:
Saturday 15th October, @ Newtown, Sydney with Glenn Richards (Augie March)
Friday 21st October, Hi-Fi Bar, Melbourne with Glenn Richards (Augie March)
Friday 28th October, Karova Lounge
Saturday 29th October, Jive, Adelaide
Saturday 19th November, The Zoo, Brisbane
and at the The Fifteenth Anniversary Meredith Music Festival which starts on Friday the 9th and runs to Sunday 11th of December.