Monique BrumbyWhen your songwriting is strong enough to convince American Pie composer Don McLean, you know you’ve got something special to offer. But for Monique Brumby, the Tasmanian-born singer/songwriter who will take to the stage before McLean in a run of shows starting in Perth on February 9th, the creative process depends on a very standard object - the mobile phone.  

“I record a lot of lyrical and melodic ideas onto my mobile phone,” Brumby says when asked about her creative process. “I’d hate to ever lose it! Often when I’m driving in my car I’ll come up with ideas, so I sing them instantly into my phone. Then I get out my guitar, work out the notes, and put the music behind the lyrics and melody.”  

In the lead-up to her shows with McLean and subsequent solo performances, including a spot at Adelaide’s Garden of Unearthly Delights, Brumby has been hard at work converting her house into a studio to record her fifth album. The DIY process involved rigging up microphones in the kitchen and setting up the band in the lounge room, and the result was “the most enjoyable recording session I’ve ever had.” 

Having released her first album in 1996, the ARIA Award winning artist says she can see huge changes in the way the Australian music industry works today. “Artists can now do everything themselves, from the making of the music to the promotion and marketing. It all comes down to how hard you want to work and how many hours you can stand sitting in front of a computer. Good labels and managers do play a vital role in the success of an artist’s career, but there are also misguided people out there who think they know what’s best for an artist when they actually could be harming them with the wrong approach.”    

Brumby reveals that we can expect a melodic bent to the material on her upcoming album, which is inspired stylistically by artists such as Tegan & Sara, The Divinyls, Patti Smith and The Cure. As for showcasing her material in front of the legendary McLean, Brumby says she will definitely be nervous.  

“I always get nervous, even if it’s playing in front of my family at Christmas,” Brumby concedes, before adding that watching McLean perform over the six-show run will be a valuable learning experience. “Hearing an artist play over several nights gives you a deep insight into their writing style and live presentation, so I’ll be like a sponge and soak it all in.”  
{xtypo_quote_right}Artists can now do everything themselves, from the making of the music to the promotion and marketing. It all comes down to how hard you want to work and how many hours you can stand sitting in front of a computer{/xtypo_quote_right}
While Brumby is clearly focused on her own musical projects, she has also been pouring plenty of energy into mentoring less established artists. For the past five years, Brumby has been working one-on-one with emerging singer/songwriters through Victorian government run program FreeZaCentral, and this year she will take on a similar role with Melbourne-based not-for-profit organisation Aardvark.  

“Aardvark brings together the music industry, music therapists and young musicians who have faced long-term or serious illness,” Brumby explains. “I’ll be working with the kids in small groups, helping them with their songwriting and then producing the songs they write.”   

Brumby admits that emerging Australian artists do face a challenge when it comes to getting their music noticed in the sea of new releases. “It is daunting to know where to start,” she says. “My advice is to create a strong online presence, keep your social sites constantly updated, and get out gigging to build a live fan base and skills.”  

As a final word of advice to emerging artists, Brumby underlines the importance of taking your career into your own hands: “It’s important for artists to help themselves, rather than waiting for a manager or label to come along and miraculously make them a superstar.”

Don McLean Australian Tour with special guest Monique Brumby – February 9-19, 2011. Further information»

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