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Brealyn Sheehan – Spotlight Cairns

No stranger to making heads turn for her big bluesy voice, Brealyn Sheehan has been making waves of late with a string of impressive performances across Far North Queensland. With whispers of her debut EP in the works, this much anticipated release will surely feature her own sultry blend of blues, folk and cabaret.

Earlier this year Brealyn was Awarded Best Performer: 2015 Max T. Barnes Cairns To Nashville Song Contest. She received Editors Pick for her Balcony TV performance for her song ‘Wayward Girl’ and has secured a new legion of fans with performances at events such as Resonate & Bosko & Honey’s Uke BBQ.

Taking part in the 43 Others Project for Spotlight Cairns, we caught up with Brea ahead of her gig at The Flying Monkey Café..

The recording process seems to be coming along very nicely with lots of updates on your Facebook page, how far into the process are we?

“I’ve been really fortunate to have Mark Myers produce my EP, and I’ve had an amazing time recording with him at Big Sister Studio.  I’m lucky to count some great musicians as friends, and some of my favorites have performed on the recording, including Mark, Steven Papa Stanley, Tristan Barton, Canberra musician Cameron Smith, Phil Tsilemanis and Julia Fujita.   I don’t want to give all the secrets away so I’ll save a few surprises for the EP.  We recorded a group vocal part late last week with some fabulous musical friends which were the last of the main recording elements and I already miss being in the studio.   I’m now listening to my first mixes which are really exciting, and I’m so pleased with how everything has come together!”

When can we expect a release date?

“There’s still mastering, and all the post recording work to do, like artwork, printing, CD production etc., and I have a fairly full September coming up attending Big Sound and performing at Wallaby Creek Festival as well as working my day job, so I’m hoping to hold the launch in October or November at the latest.  This will be my first release, and I’m so excited to share the EP with everyone, and I’ll be keeping my Facebook page updated with more information about the launch date.”

Very impressive and entertaining set at last week’s Resonate with a heap of different elements and instruments. How do you go trying to fit everything into your performance with so many different aspects to cover?

“Thank you Mitch, it was a great night!  Mainly I play rhythm guitar on stage, but when I write I can often hear other instruments in my head from the beginning of the writing process, e.g. My Body Is Your Orchestra started with a drum rhythm that I was tapping on my hip, and Weight In Gold had a Trumpet melody running through my head from the beginning.  A big part of my musical dream is to regularly be accompanied by a full band. When I’m performing solo or in a duo with Papa I definitely look for ways to incorporate other sounds and so I sometimes play Uke or my music box as part of our set.  I’m quietly and slowly working away learning other instruments at home, and this slips into my writing, so hopefully one day in the not so distant future you might see me bringing that into my act.”

Papa Stanley on the Upright Bass really compliments your style really well, how long have you guys been working together and when did it first come about?

“I met Papa last year when he played a few Cinnamon Sin gigs with us.  When I started to focus on my originals this year, he performed as part of the 6 piece band that accompanied my at my Balcony TV gig and that developed into him accompanying me regularly for duo gigs which is a lot of fun.   His dynamic bass playing really suits my songs, and the sound and aesthetic of the Double Bass is so fabulous.”

You’re going to be venturing down to Brisbane for Big Sound in September, how do you think that will benefit your career?

“This will be my first time at Big Sound and there are some amazing speakers in the conference program. It’s going to be one of my first opportunities to do some networking outside of Cairns with professionals from all areas of the music industry and hopefully this will present the perfect opportunity to pass my music on to some new ears.  To top it all off there are also evening showcases of music from something like 150 acts from around the country, so I’m really looking forward to learning more, and coming back with some new contacts and plenty of inspiration to continue on my musical journey.”

You’ve been involved in many different projects other the last few years (Heartaches & Rollerskates, Cinnamon Cin, Don Johnson/Butlers to name a few!), is performing solo now your main focus?

“Performing my original music has definitely become my focus this year.  My big 2015 musical goal was to record, and now that I have, the next goal is to release of my EP.   I’ve had such an amazing time and learnt so much in the different projects I’ve been part of.  I will continue work on other projects when I can, and I wish I had more free time to say yes to more projects!   At the moment I’m working on something for an exciting collaborative art/music project called 43 Others, started by artist Regular Rick (Rick Beresford), where musicians and artists are creating work inspired by, or in reaction to each other’s work, which will lead to an exhibition later in the year.  I haven’t done anything like that before, so it’s exciting to try something new.”

In the lead up to the 43 Others project Brealyn is performing next for Spotlight Cairns at the Flying Monkey on Saturday 22nd August from 10am-11am.  

Mitch Sullivan

Photo by Phil Tsilemanis

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

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