After leaving her mark on the Australian cultural landscape with The Clouds, Jodi Phillis has returned to her default mode of acoustic singer songwriter, mining the deep seem of neo-romantic folk pop. Jodi will be performing songs from her new album Becoming as well as a selection of songs from earlier solo albums and a few favourites from her other musical incarnations. Real, raw, vulnerable and life affirming are a few words to describe what you will experience from Jodi’s performance. Jodi talks about her new album and upcoming with Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles.
Is there that immense sense of satisfaction working on your own solo album?
Yes there is. I love it. It feels raw and exposing and kind of dangerous, even though the songs are all about love and connection and transformation.
Has it been hard coming down off that post-tour buzz with The Clouds (that tour was brilliant by the way)?
Thank you. Yes it is always hard coming down from a Clouds tour. There is always such a buzz around it. Playing loud, mostly fast music to lots of people and staying up late takes you into another zone that is difficult to come down from.
Do the songs you write gravitate to either your own solo projects or The Clouds?Generally I write the songs from separate parts of my brain or psyche. My solo songs are from a very deep, quiet place. Clouds songs are from a more expansive place. Occasion-ally some songs cross over. The song Becoming came to me in one sitting pretty much, while I was on a roll writing songs for my solo album. I thought it would be a good Clouds song and we actually starting working on it. So eventually there may be two totally different versions out there.
Did the songs come easily?
Songs generally come easily although some of them take a long time for the lyrics to fall into place in a way that feels true and eloquent. Sometimes you work on a song and think it’s finished and play it for ages until you realise it’s just not that good. So you either keep working on it, or chuck it out.
How would you describe the album?
Becoming is a neo-romantic chamber folk-pop journey through the emotions of grief and transformation. There are loving tributes to my late mother and father, a song about men-opause and the havoc it wreaks, songs about a couple of my favourite artists, Vali Myers and Mary Leunig, songs about transforming into the person you want to be, a song about parenting teenage girls and of course, a few love songs.
Is it a humbling thought knowing that the album was successfully crowd funded?
It sure is. I was terrified before I launched the Pozible Crowdfunding campaign but once I started, the support I received was overwhelmingly positive. It was amazing! I had to really bare my soul and show people exactly what I wanted to do and how I was going to do it and people responded to that honesty in such a great way. I can’t thank them enough. I’m still working on the rewards. I am doing coloured pencil illustrations for each song for a little book which will also have the lyrics. That is taking much longer than I thought it would! It’s enjoyable work though.
What was it like working with Tim Oxley and what did you think he brought to the table?
Tim and I go back a long way. We have been friends and musical collaborators for 50 million years and then after all that, we fell in love! We have continued to make records together ever since, whether as solo artists backing each other or in groups we have played in like Roger Loves Betty and the Dearhunters. Over the years I have watched Tim’s skills as a producer grow into something remarkable. He is the most talented person I know and I trust his ears completely. Tim’s arrangement ideas are brilliant. He has a real pop sensi-bility for the structure of a song.
There have been times though when we have disagreed about something musical which has been challenging. Somehow we just work through it. Tim has patience and tenacity as well as talent so it was nice being able to trust in that for this album, because we went through the deaths of both of my parents during the making of it ,which was indescribably hard. I lost my mind for a while there.
Do you enjoy getting back and playing more intimate venues?
Yes I really love it. It is such an electric feeling for me. A venue just big enough to hold a bunch of people who are all there to focus on the one thing is a beautiful thing.
What are fans in for on this tour?
I will play all the songs from Becoming plus a few songs from my other solo albums and one or two songs from Roger Loves Betty and the Dearhunters. Maybe even a Clouds song if the atmosphere is right. It will mostly be just me and my guitar. I love the intimacy of that. The songs just have to speak for themselves. In Sydney and Port Kembla I will have my band…Tim on bass, Damien Lane on guitar and Phil Lally on drums.
What’s next for Jodi Phillis?
Well the tour is the next thing for me. I’m looking forward to it. After that I am composing for Form Dance theatre in Parramatta for an hour long show. Amanda Brown and I will compose music for the Western Sydney Youth Orchestra. Then there will be a bit of Clouds action and then I’ll have a holiday!
Interview by Rob Lyon
Catch Jodi Phillis on the following tour dates. For more info and tickets visit https://rogerlovesbetty.com/jodi-phillis