Gone Fishin’ With Colie

After a big year of shows and new releases, Townsville-based singer-songwriter Colie is heading out for a final run of spots along the East coast to mark the release of her new single, “Half of What You Are”. The tour takes in Cairns this Friday with a show at Elixir, co-headlined with Dan Baker and with support from local Tahni James.

With musical influences ranging from Julia Jacklin and Gretta Ray to Johnny Cash and The Police, Colie’s songs explore subject matter that is both personal and universal. In her latest single, she opens up about growing up as a fraternal twin in a regional town.

“From the moment a child is born, they face a “blue” or “pink” reality. I had a unique experience with this growing up being a twin, yet we were treated differently based on our gender. ‘Half of What You Are’ explores the idea that gender is socially constructed by the way members of society evaluate the role of females and males,” Colie explains.

Colie makes this point with moments such as her twin brother going fishing with their dad, and herself not being invited. Thes moments serve as stand-ins for the inclination of her family, and society at large, towards entrenched gender roles. Instead of bitterness, Colie takes an elevated view as she accepts that we’re all to some degree a product of our time – she’s not angry, just sorry it was that way.

It seems like we’re in a funny time, now, where gender dichotomy and labels are being stripped and reinforced in equal measure.  Colie doesn’t dwell or overthink however, simply bringing home the point that everyone deserves to pursue their own thing, and to hell with lazy stereotypes. It’s this same healthy, reasoned ethos that she brings to all of her writing, whether she’s singing about body image, family or fresh love.

NQ Music Press swapped some words with Coley this week:

NQMP: Your song ‘Half of What You Are’ speaks of your experience as a fraternal twin, tackling gender and stereotypes and parenting and everything that goes along with that. It’s pretty hard on the father figure. Have you told your dad about the song?

COLIE: I haven’t spoken to dad specifically about the song. I’ve had a chat to mum about it. The song is based around my observation of the way gender stereotypes can impact a relationship between parents and children & people’s identities, I’m not blaming anyone specifically in the song. I know that it’s a universal issue where boys and girls may miss out on certain opportunities due to their gender and that often this is not intentional.

NQMP: I’d be curious about how you feel about the whole ‘gender reveal’ thing?

COLIE: I think it’s a personal preference. I think if people want to celebrate the gender of their children that is absolutely okay. It’s not something I am planning on doing however I don’t plan to dress all my children in yellow either. I think when I do have kids one day I’ll just try to be as open-minded as possible and be aware of the roles that society can place upon children, and try to instill in my kids that they can do & be whatever & whoever the heck they want. Oh and if I have a baby girl I’ll be taking her fishing for sure!

NQMP: Fun fact about you: you were a pharmacist in a past life. Have those skills ever, ever, helped you as a musician?

COLIE: I definitely think studying to be a pharmacist has helped my music career, more in the business side of music. It allowed me hone my people skills early on and taught me how to be a professional, which is a skill that I really value! I also know all the tricks in the book to treat a sore throat which has been very handy at times.

NQMP: You’re set up in Townsville these days. You (and your partner Sam) are known to be huge supporters of the scene and it’s fair to say you play a pivotal role in it with production, industry involvement and your music festival Neck of the Woods. How has it been, operating on both sides of the fence so to speak? 

COLIE: It has been extremely rewarding and valuable. I have learnt a lot about the music industry from running Neighbourhood Sessions and Neck of the Woods – which is definitely handy now that I’m able to channel some of those skills into Colie. But I would say that most of all, it’s taught me to be supportive of all other musicians in my community. I think as an artist it’s easy to sit on the sideline, watch other artists succeed & feel a little envious. For me, every artist who succeeds is a huge win for our music community and the whole scene in our region. I feel so incredibly proud of everyone writing and producing music in NQ and I think being on the other side has taught me to not have tunnel vision for my own musical ventures but to see the full picture.

NQMP: You’re in Cairns this week recording a few tracks at Big Sister Studios for your EP (due for release next year) and you’ve actually been staying at my place. You’ve been a great guest. Just quietly though, have you snooped through anything, or like, used our nice face wash?

COLIE: I will admit nothing. However I think being in the studio during the day and playing boardgames at night has kept us far too busy to have any spare time to snoop. It’s on my to-do list while staying in Cairns though – you have an impressive range of face wash!

NQMP: Well, this face is no accident. I’ve been fortunate to see you play a few times over the years and you’re one of the few artists to make me cry at a show. Half the crowd was crying that time actually. I think you may have been crying. Your songs are very honest and vulnerable; how important is it for you to go there?

COLIE: I don’t think it would be very easy for me to write about something that I hadn’t experienced personally or feel strongly about. I kinda get ‘the urge’ to write & generally this happens when I’m working through an issue or I am trying to figure something out. Sometimes it’s sad & sometimes it’s happy, but, it’s always real. Which is why I think my music allows me to connect with an audience on a deeper level. Sorry for making you cry!

NQMP: Nothing wrong with a cry. So, you’re touring this month. What are the ingredients of a good show for you? Can you describe your ideal set?

COLIE: My ideal set would be one where I don’t ramble too much! I sometimes get carried away with my storytelling pre-song, but the songs speak for themselves a lot of the time. I just love a good old listening audience.

NQMP: What can Cairns expect at the show this Friday?

COLIE: I’m playing a solo set, so it will be an intimate one. I feel I can really connect with the audience. Anyone who has seen me play before will know me best in this context. A big friendly conversation, lots of storytelling & maybe a red wine or two!  While on tour next week with Alex Lahey, we have the full band lineup, which I am super excited about. It’s a little less lonely up there with the band, and more dancey.

NQMP: We’re really looking forward to it. Lastly, do you want to go fishing sometime this week?

COLIE: Yes! You do not have to ask me twice. I can’t remember if I’ve already told you about this but we have a “fishing club” in Townsville (which we created). We go fishing every Tuesday night (with Dan Baker). This week we missed FC, so I’d be very keen to get my fix – we can pop down to the servo on our way home and pick up some hand reels and squid haha.

NQMP: It’s a deal. Thanks Colie for your time.

COLIE: No worries, this was fun!

Jake Gries

Colie and friends play 8:30pm Friday 14th November in Cairns City. Tickets ($10 + bf) on event page or at the door if available.