I unashamedly think that Lady Denman is one of the most important bands we have in Canberra. And finally, after a three year wait, we finally have some new music to listen to on repeat.
The first single, from what we hope will be a multi-song release, is Galaxy and shows the band at full power. Layers of lush chords, a drum and bass groove that infects the mind and the hips and some beautiful violin parts, switching between subtle pitz parts and lavish bowed melodies. The song features Jane Hoschke as primary vocalist whose voice is warm and sultry and fun, just like the song itself and the harmonies in the chorus, while subtle are a beautiful touch to the track.
One of the reasons I think Lady Denman are so important is who they are and what they represent to the Canberra scene. One of very few all female bands that we have seen lately and beyond that, they tell real stories that matter. This song is no exception, set as a song written during a real camping-trip with a lover it is more than a love song, it is a song about feeling small and being comfortable with that, the peace that is found looking out into the universe, being held by someone you love and who loves you.
“The moon glistens, do you listen? The moon glistens, do you listen?
The only time I feel alright is when I know I’m a piece of stardust”
Galaxy sounds pretty different from previous releases from Lady Denman. Not only does it feel like the group have grown together as writers and performers, but the song was also recorded and mixed by Joel Cabban (CBR Noise Floor) and mastered by Daniel Antix (Def Wolf Studios), resulting in what feels like a significant shift to a more polished sound for future releases, and it sounds great! The production makes the track feel very full while maintaining an intimacy around the vocal part, something that makes this song stand out to my ears.
Ahead of the single dropping on Friday we caught up with the Jayne and Ella from the band to talk a bit about their new release.
First of all, congratulations on the new song! It sounds great, how are you feeling now that it’s all done and ready to launch?
Jayne: Thanks so much! Honestly it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster - releasing music independently kind of means in the months/weeks leading up to the single launch you’re scrambling to get everything done - it’s easy to forget you’re actually releasing a banging new tune! We’re so excited - we’ve been playing “Galaxy” for a couple years live and it feels great to have made a recorded version that feels honest and true to the song. I’m nervous and excited! Can’t wait for you all to hear it!
Ella: Ah I second this excitement - it always feels like such a vulnerable moment putting something you have created out there into the world, but it feels like it’s time.
This is the first new music we have heard from y’all as a group in three years, where have you been?
Ella: Oh you know, playing gigs, getting degrees, travelling overseas (collective sigh), falling in love, breaking up, becoming lawyers, playing frisbee, getting chickens, cooking delicious dahls… But no, in all seriousness the past few years have really been when the sound of Lady Denman has evolved into what it is today. Our first few years as a baby band saw numerous rotating Lady Denman family musicians play with us over different gigs and record our first 3 singles back in 2018. We are forever grateful for the opportunity to play with musicians from such different musical styles and backgrounds.
Jayne: Haha! Yeah I feel the past few years have been about finding our live sound and learning how to be in a band and write songs together. It’s opened up space to get to know how to best support each other on stage and in practice, and how each of us likes to write music collaboratively. I think the four of us are all pretty considered people, so we put that effort into taking time to listen to one another and write great stuff that makes us all feel good.
The story of this song is a beautiful one, written about a week away with a lover, how does it feel putting such an intimate story like that out into the world?
Jayne: Yeah it’s pretty weird! This song is so personal now. I wrote it a few years ago, and the lyrics were kind of just me describing small moments on the camping trip. Like when a possum tore up our cleaning sponge overnight or when we were eating $2.50 Coles camembert at the campsite. At the same time I was describing that feeling when we were looking up at the stars, and feeling like a tiny insignificant piece of flesh hurling through the galaxy, and it felt okay because I had this person there next to me.
At the time I didn’t realise that I’d be with them for another four years, and counting, and that they’d become my best friend and big love. So now, “Galaxy” is such a powerful love song for me. But I like that this profound love is kind of masked behind the lyrics, just sitting there in the background, underlying all these other feelings.
As a group how do you go from this beautiful weekend, maybe some lyrics to what we hear in the single?
Jayne: I actually played this song solo for a while before bringing it to the band. I wrote the lyrics and melody first, then added some chords to it. It was initially a very gentle, pull-back song - just me and the electric guitar. I wrote the guitar riff early on too - I realised I’d never written a riff before and I listen to so much music with sick riffs like The Cure and Bjork, I just wanted to try it. It’s still my favourite riff that I’ve written.
I brought it to the band after a while and I think the drums really changed it - made it feel more big and powerful. So we leaned into that a bit - we added some chorus and distortion to the guitars and also Ella’s violin melodies and Flo’s low bass notes that sat underneath everything.
I think the song changed again in the studio - Joel was amazing. He’s so committed to making sure we record the song in a way that feels honest and comfortable with all of us - and it was so valuable having fresh ears in the recording process. We spent some time finding guitar and bass tones that felt good, trying different amps and microphones, turning all the knobs on our pedals, and singing up higher with different harmonies. My favourite sentence is when Joel says, “I have an idea,” and it’s usually the best idea ever.
I think the final recorded version of this single is a combination of the original idea and feeling - gentle and loving - and a collaboration between all members of the band and Joel to create something that feels like the best version of the song.
This track sounds different from your other recorded music, what drove this change in sound?
Jayne: I honestly think just time. My songwriting has changed over the years, and we’ve all grown in our instruments and in how we collaborate on each song. I think a lot of our songs sound different from one another, I don’t know what a “classic Lady Denman song” sounds like haha! We’ve grown as people and so has our approach to music.
Our first three singles were recorded after we’d been a band for a few months, but now it’s been nearly 4 years. We were so ready to record this track. We knew what we wanted and we were keen to switch things up, listen to one another and take it as far as we felt it could.
Ella: Yeah, I think it has a lot to do with time and having worked as a band with consistent musicians now for a few years. When you spend so much time with each other playing and brainstorming new musical ideas, your sound grows together. It’s always so lovely to listen back to voice memos recorded years ago when we first started playing Galaxy to where it is today and notice the parts each of us have contributed to the sound and its collective meaning.
You recorded with Joel Cabban at Infidel Studios for the first time, how was that experience?
Jayne: So good omg! We love Joel! He’s become a dear friend of ours throughout the year and I’m so grateful for his generosity, patience and silliness. One the first day of recording Joel was really nice to us, then gradually throughout the second day he got more silly and blunt and brutal and we loved it. He’s good at feeling out the space and listening to what we want and need. And Infidel is awesome, I love it - it’s like a little cave system with 20-year-old keyboards and manikins and various hideouts if you need to escape for a moment.
Ella: Joel is simply a gift to this world. (And I hope he rolled his eyes reading that. But seriously, he is a gem and we lucked out being able to work with him).
We know that y’all were pretty disappointed because you had to cancel the launch shows for this due to COVID, can you talk about other ways that you as a band have been affected in the past 18 months or so?
Ella: I think like most in any arts industry, these past 18 months have been tough. The struggles brought about by COVID restrictions and the seemingly endless problems with a system which continues to undervalue the importance of the arts in our community is difficult to sit with when it seems time and time again that the arts are the lifeline for so many when times are hard. For me, music has always been a way of connecting and getting to know both myself and others more - it has this beautiful way of simultaneously offering an escape from the world and bringing you back into your world. Whilst it is of course disappointing to cancel our Galaxy launch, I am really proud that this particular song will get to be heard by a wider audience during what is a particularly difficult time for most Australians. I hope it brings listeners back to a world with hope, love and a sense of peace looking up into the vast night sky.
What can fans look forward to from Lady Denman in the future (COVID permitting)?
Ella: This past year has been a quietly productive one for us as a band. From writing songs together, to collaborating on music to expressing lyrics we individually bring to the table, Lady Denman in the COVID-era has been a reflective and musically rich time. Not only were we able to record three original tracks in March with Joel (keep your eyes peeled for two new releases these coming months), but we also were lucky enough to later spend a week in an idyllic country town, Millthorpe, recording the rest of our upcoming album. This project has been a dream of ours for a while and wound up being a gorgeous creative escape. We are so proud of the music we recorded over this time and we are so excited for when the time comes to finally share our debut album with the world. Oh and COVID permitting, a national tour would be pretty excellent wouldn’t it?
And finally, the Homegrown classic, where do you keep your tomato sauce?
Ella: Fast and loose, keep it in the cupboard. Also does anybody really have enough space in their fridge for tomato sauce?
Jayne: Yes absolutely the cupboard. I live with Flo and we have an ongoing battle of moving the tomato sauce between the cupboard and the fridge. The cupboard is currently winning, probably because it’s the correct choice.