Recently performing at The Tanks and on Balcony TV, a lot has been happening in the world of BLCK BIRD aka Joanne Hemming. Growing up in a musical family, Joanne’s passion for music is evident in her performances. With her unique vocal ability and a collection of impressive originals, her musical style has been likened to that of The Waifs and American singer-songwriter Natalie Merchant. Now with an upcoming single release and Bigsound scholarship, we caught up with Joanne ahead of her gig at Flying Monkey Café this Saturday.

Mitch Sullivan: You’ve been taking part in the Spotlight program and recently attended ‘Our Band Biz’ Workshop, what’s the Spotlight program all about and how have you benefited from it?

Joanne Hemming : ‘Our Band Biz’ is a music industry workshop targeted towards emerging Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander musicians and managers, but essentially all were welcome to come along and take part. It featured guest speakers such as Shellie Morris (one Australia’s finest singer song writers/2014 N.T. Australian of the Year & NAIDOC Artist if the Year), Michael Hutchings (APRA/AMCOS Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander National Representative), Stacey Coleman (project officer for QMusic. Backing vocalist and guitarist for Brisbane Band, HITS.), Paul Watson (Dubmarine and Brisbane based management company Depth Charge), Will Kepa (Cairns local musician and producer) and Renee Harris (UMI Arts event manger).

I learnt so much from every single one of these guest speakers. The key things for myself being: stage craft/ performance tips, management vs. self-management (I am self-managed) so finding out the pros and cons has made me realise that I’ll stay self-managed for a whole while longer! It was a really informative and inspirational day.

Mitch Sullivan: You’ve got a new single in the works called ‘We Lie’, can you tell as a bit about the song and when we should expect to see it released?

Joanne Hemming: ‘We Lie’ is a fairly new song that I recorded at Big Sister Studio with the incredible Mark Myers. The song is about relationships that we have with people and all the things we say to each other that are not necessarily nice or true. I’m planning a digital launch of the single once I’m back from Bigsound in Brisbane, so mid-September.

Mitch Sullivan: Any plans for a future EP?

Joanne Hemming: I definitely have plans for a future EP. It’s a costly project – I was fortunate enough that Spotlight Cairns (as part of my Bigsound Scholarship) financed the recording of my single. So for now, I’m focusing on working, gigging & saving up my pennies to make the EP happen.

Mitch Sullivan: What are you looking forward to most about the BIGSOUND conference and how do you think it will benefit your career?

Joanne Hemming: Bigsound is the next step in networking for me. That’s where almost every music industry professional you can think of is going to be. I’ve got copies of my single, ‘We Lie’ ready to hand out and have some meetings already set up for when I get there. I’m really looking forward to attending the conferences, meeting new people, seeing established Australian musicians performing, creating new contacts and generally just having a great time.

Mitch Sullivan: The Tanks Unplugged series recently featured you alongside Eddie Skiba and Kind Pig, how was the experience of playing at The Tanks?

Joanne Hemming: Tanks Unplugged was a dream come true for me. I’ve seen so many of my favourite Australian artists perform at the Tanks and I have always said that one day I will showcase my original music on the same stage. Jeremiah Johnson invited me to perform as the support act for Eddie Skiba and King Pig and so of course I couldn’t refuse.

Mitch Sullivan

BLCK BIRD performs at Flying Monkey Café (154 Sheridan St Cairns)this Saturday 25th July from 10am till 11am for the Open Heart Studios opening, featuring the “43 Others” Exhibition.

The Spotlight project is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland.

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