As real fan favourite of the country music industry, Fanny Lumsden is riding an absolute wave of success. Off the back of an incredible awards season, which includes a Golden Guitar win and an ARIA nomination, Fanny will be gracing the stages of one of the biggest country music events in the country – Broadbeach Country Music Festival, in July. In the lead up to playing alongside the likes of Kasey Chambers, and Troy Cassar-Daley, I caught up with Fanny to chat about home town nostalgia, new music, and playing in a bigger back yard.
You’ve had an incredible last few months! You picked up an ARIA nom, a golden guitar, and most recently a CMC award, but where did country music really start for you?
I suppose, I’ve always loved country music, I grew up in the county, and it’s kind of always been around. My Dad writes bush poetry, so does my Mum – although she’s more into classical stuff – but there’s always been music and there’s always been country music. I went away from it from a while, as naturally that happens when you grow up with something. But then, I was kind of playing around with my band, we were on tour. I thought we were more folk, or at least we were kind of categorising ourselves as something else. But it dawned on me at some point, what we’re doing is definitely still country.
I love that your Dad writes bush poetry! So many of your songs have this beautiful, incredible story element to it. Is that really where that came from?
I think having grown up in the bush and having my Dad be really into story telling and bush poetry, that definitely inspired me. I do love telling stories and songs are such a great medium for that, especially country songs. He definitely has inspired me. We’d go camping and horse riding and Dad would always tell stories around the fire, I just thought that was brilliant.
You talk a little bit about it on ‘Bravest of Hearts’, tell me a little bit more about where you grew up?
I grew up on the Farm for most of my life in Western NSW and we spent our extra time helping Dad after school. He would pick us up from the school bus and we would go and move sheep or ride the horses or do whatever we needed to do. Honestly it was a really awesome place to grow up, really down to earth and just a really supportive and strong community.
When you were writing Small Town Big Shot was that something that influenced that writing process?
Yeah definitely, I was living in Surry Hills at the time that I wrote most of the songs for Small Town Big Shot; I suppose I was kind of thinking about the nostalgic parts of that community and growing up in a regional area and all of the benefits of that. I wasn’t back home at the time of writing it, so I think my childhood definitely came through in that respect.
Did your writing process change, being immersed in a really different environment? Or were you really just drawing on that feeling of nostalgia?
I think I was really just going through a change, at the time when I was writing, particularly with what I was writing about, so I can’t really measure how it changed my writing style, I was really just growing with my writing at the time. Sure, you know, I wasn’t looking out over an awesome view, I was in my bedroom, on the floor. I suppose you become a bit more focused, on how to access your stories. I think maybe by living in the city, I saw my childhood in a different light. When you’re removed from it, you look at it from a completely different light.
There’s this beautiful authenticity to your songwriting, that it makes it easy for any audience to relate to you from any demographic, have you found that when you’re interacting with people who are familiar with your work?
I think one of my favourite things about this job is people coming up to me, or writing to me, and saying how much they related to a particular line or story… I love that part of it! I think they whole point of writing and sharing stories is to have people connect with it, and to have that feedback is wonderful. I hope that my style really relates to any demographic.
Was it always your intention to sit down and write an album?
I’m always writing songs, I’ve never really sat down and thought about writing an album. I mean, we’re about to go into the studio to do another one, and all of those songs I’ve been writing have been working towards an album but the first one definitely not. I was just writing songs, and I was just responding to my surroundings. I was just responding to the things I wanted to say and we didn’t really decide to do a full album until late in the piece. We were just going to do another EP, it just happened that all the songs just worked which was good!
Now that you’re amazing first album is under your belt, and you’re heading in to record your second, what’s inspiring your writing for this particular record?
I really love the writing process of this second record. We did a big trip last year, like over 60,000 kms all over the country in our caravan, playing shows in people’s back yards, and pubs and anything pretty much, we actually played in a cave! (Laughs). I wrote a lot on that trip. I loved writing this album, and I think it has a lot more intent than the last album. The last one, I was kind of like “oh I have all these songs”, I think with this record I was a bit more considered about what I wanted to say.
It’s definitely the real power of music as well!
That’s it! There’s only been one or two times that I’ve been able to write a song about something that I’ve really wanted to say. Usually the songs comes out, and then I work out later what it was that I wanted to say. But now, I’m always reflecting what I need to say.
Track wise, I really love “Bastards”, I love how undercover gritty it is! Can you tell me the story behind that track?
I remember the exact moment I wrote that song, I wrote it all pretty much in one go, and I was standing at my desk in Surry Hills, I was working four jobs, trying to pay my rent and trying to put a record out. We do everything ourselves, DIY really. I just kept coming up against these walls and it was definitely industry related.
I kept coming up against these walls because I’m self managed. I guess it’s a little comment as well on the male dominance within the industry, I was just a bit pissed off about it all. I knew what I was doing, and we fully believed in what we were doing too, and I knew we were just going to have to keep pushing on and find our own way to do it. I was just so frustrated one day and that’s what came out.
And look at what’s come from all that hard work!
It was definitely kind of sweet! (Laughs).
The sense of authenticity you carry, makes you so much more relatable than a lot of other artists and it’s so much about the way you put your music out into the world as well.
It is all me. There’s no line between who is Fanny Lumsden in the public and who is Fanny Lumsden not in the public. We didn’t get a cute caravan because it matched our brand for example, we were always going to get a cute caravan and go on that trip. When you’re not lying about something, it hopefully comes across a little clearer.
Speaking of shows, you’re playing Broadbeach Country Music Festival in July!
We’re so thrilled to be on the line up for that festival, it’s such a big deal to be playing alongside the phenomenal artists we were announced with. These are artists we look up to, it was just so brilliant, I’m just so excited to come to Broadbeach. We’re going to be preparing a big full band set, and we’re going to have all the show trimmings. We’re going to be bringing a new show, really different then we’ve had on the road for the past little while, it’s going to be fun!
Like you said, you’ve played so many different types of shows, from people’s backyards, (to caves even), to these big festival shows like Broadbeach, how to you translate that intimate feeling to a much larger crowd?
I don’t really change the way I talk to the audience, its pretty much the same show. What I try and do, is make the audience feel like they’re in someone’s back yard. Essentially there’s just more people, in a bigger backyard. There is a full band, but ultimately, it’s the same show, same stories, same songs, just on a bigger scale.