Big Smoke Fauna

One show artist that intrigued me from last year’s Adelaide Fringe is Frankly. A local Adelaide girl that has a new show called Big Smoke Fauna. What’s that all about you say? She gets a little bit intimate, a little bit chatty and throws in a few catchy little songs then you have a Frankly show! It’s basically a year in review in her own unique quirky style and one show not to be missed.

Frankly took some time out to answer a few questions for HiFi Way: The Pop Chronicles to explain her show and how she created it.

You’re a local Adelaide girl, what does it mean for you to perform at the Adelaide Fringe?
I’ve always loved the magic of The Fringe. I remember being a younger me and going to Fringe shows or sitting in the Garden and watching these artists go about their days during the festival. I hyper romanticised it, like: these are real artists. Even now I have that sense. Fringe season rolls around, and I watch all the performers flood in, and I’m fascinated by all these new and interesting people for me to observe. I still romanticise them, except now I have that moment of remembering: yeah hey, I’m apart of this community too! It’s a great feeling. It gives me this immense sense of pride; angsty teen me never thought I would be bold enough to start putting on my own Fringe shows.

Last year I only managed to see you perform at Bad Luck Cabaret but that short performance had a lasting impact and I can’t wait to see you this year. To those you haven’t heard of Frankly how would you describe what kind of an artist you are?
I’m a performance artist. And I say that because as much as I’m a musician and a songwriter, the soul of what I do is about the delivery and the expression of each song. As a singer I’m quite animated. I love playing with the different textures and personalities that I can find in my voice. In terms of my take on cabaret, it’s definitely not the glamorous archetype, sometimes it’s bumbling and awkward. But really, I think that’s why people like me. Everyone’s bumbling and awkward and has no fucking clue what’s going on underneath their cool exteriors.

This year you have a new show called Big Smoke Fauna. Can you tell us a bit about it?
It’s a show about really normal shit. My house. My life. Truly. I keep calling it a ‘journal’ piece. People that keep journals, like myself, might feel me. As much as we might fantasise that – if we were to ever mysteriously disappear – our decadent, drama-laden journals would become relics of historical importance, we all know, in reality, they’d get filed under ‘long-winded and whingey books about a whole lot of not much’. But everyone’s way of expressing a whole lot of not much is unique, which makes reading someone’s diary so tempting.

What inspired you to create your show?
Pressure. Crippling anxiety. And stress. This show didn’t have a magical genesis – which is very different for me. I’ve always been a wait-for-inspiration writer, except this year I wasn’t visited by many light bulbs. To make this show I’ve had to go out hunting, tackle inspiration to the floor and beat it into submission. In the end I found inspiration in motif and the observation of the mundane.

How do you go about the writing process when you create a new show?
My housemate and I refer to creative frenzy me as ‘The Bedroom Gremlin’ or ‘Benzo Mum’ as it’s characterised by long periods of obsessive solitude, poor hygiene, toast for dinner and an inability to focus on anything that isn’t piano. Usually my first step is brainstorming. I’ll sit down for a couple hours with the intention to generate as many ideas as I can, with no care if they’re good or bad. These little starting points are usually very small, maybe one lyric that came to me, or a few bars of a melody, or a chord progression. I tape them all and listen back to each of them. I usually do this the day after, so I’ve half forgotten all of the little ideas. This way I know which ones to pursue: the ones that make me excited, or give me an ego boost. After that, it’s a bit of a steaming mess. I go through it purely on feel. Sometimes its lyrics first, sometimes it’s music first. Though I always keep a show journal. If I get stuck, i find free writing in it gets my brain flowing again. I also need to keep track of drafts and anecdote ideas as I have a tendency to over complicate things and I often find myself reverting back to the first or second draft.

Your shows are very personal which portray a very vulnerable and quirky side to you. How do you find baring such intimate life experiences in your show with such humour?
I never really planned to become a self-deprecating confessional type of show writer. It seems completely counter-intuitive. In real life, I’m such a Scorpio: highly secretive, distrusting and painstakingly selective of who I share my private world with. But I don’t know, some wires just got crossed. Give me a microphone and I will be more candid with a room of strangers than with my family. But really, if we’re going to celebrate shortcomings and fuck-ups, the only way is through humour. Otherwise it’s just a strange and depressing documentary about how none of us are a good as we think we are. Though once I did fake an orgasm on stage in from of my Grandma – can’t lie, that was pretty fucking uncomfortable.

You’re performing at La Bohme which is a very intimate and broody venue and one that you have performed in before. Does the venue make a difference to the vibe of your shows and does that vibe help enhance your performance?
I think shows are living things. There are so many variables in a live show and the biggest one is the audience. Some audiences are so easy and others make you want to stab yourself in the eye. But the venue does a lot. It’s kind of like the frame on an artwork. One type of frame will make the painting pop, but a different frame will completely distract from the work. I love La Boheme because it’s small and dark which puts all the focus on the stage. Since I am the only person on stage, it’s really important that the space doesn’t detract from the show.

If you could describe your show in one word what would it be?
Intimate.

Interview By Anastasia Lambis

Big Smoke Fauna is on at La Boheme and all dates, times and tickets are available at Fringe Tix.

 

Photo Credit: cdrimagery

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