Little Wise talks us through an intensely personal debut record in Silver Birch

At the end of last week, we featured songwriter Little Wise (aka Melbourne’s Sophie Klein) and her new music video for “Don’t Hurry Back”. Today, we find out a bit more about the talented musician as her album tour in support of the impressive debut Silver Birch takes her around the country.

Congratulations on the new record; how does it feel for the process to be completely finished now it’s released and with people to access?

Thank you! It’s a strange feeling holding the CD or the LP physically in my hands, knowing how much work, emotion and thought has gone into it. It’s really exciting to finally be able to share it with people. It also feels quite soul-baring because some of the songs on there are so personal. But people have really bared their souls back to me when they tell me about their experiences listening to the album, which is awesome.

How representative of the rest of the record would you say “Don’t Hurry Back” is/was when you moved to release that ahead of its full release?

“Don’t Hurry Back” is a little different from the main themes of the record which revolve around life-cycle, family and losing my mum to cancer in 2013 and are largely autobiographical. “Don’t Hurry Back” is different in that it is a fictional song, about a man in a depressed rural town writing to his ex lover, telling her ‘don’t hurry back’. But in a way, it is representative of the record because it was written during a period of travelling, like many of the other songs it sits alongside. I chose it for a single ahead of the release because I think the groove of the song just jells so well with the live band tracking and has a druggy, slow, cinematic feel.

Is there any one song/s that still have a special spot with you?

The final track on the album is “Stairs”. It was actually the last song to be written, and in a way could have only been completed then. It’s about the staircase in my family home, where we kicked off the recording process for the album, just weeks before it was being passed onto the new owners. We had a chance to record in the empty house, full of memories, but also notably void of the life and spark it previously had before mum died. The song is about wishing I could climb those stairs all the way up to my mum to talk to her again. We recorded it very sparsely with just me singing and playing and finished it in a couple of takes. I think that raw quality shines through and it is the perfect way to close the record.

I love how much your natural sense of storytelling comes through the music; has this style always been part of your creative development, do you think? Tell us a bit about your musical background and how it’s influenced the artist you’ve become today?

I remember listening to Paul Kelly‘s album Hidden Things on cassette in my mum’s green Mazda wagon when I was growing up. I remember asking my parents about Paul’s song “Special Treatment” and learning for the very first time about the Stolen Generation. These were also some of the very first songs I learned on guitar when I started playing years later at age thirteen. I loved the feeling of being enveloped in another world of a story, so I guess that’s where my interest lies as a songwriter.

Thinking about the beginning of Silver Birch‘s creative process, to the final result it’s taken now – has the initial visions you had for the record matched up?

The vision for the record really only began to take shape when we were at the family home beginning the process. Before that, they were just a bunch of songs. It was then that the producers MEJU (Kalju Tonuma and Megan Bernard) and I began to make decisions about the direction of the album, for example by choosing to cull a number of songs that just didn’t fit in with the overall narrative thread. It’s hard to say about the initial vision, because the vision was to delve in and see where the songs lead us, in a natural and open-hearted way. But yes, I’m proud of the final result.

You’re going to be on the road with the record too, which is exciting for us; what’s exciting you about being on the road with a new swag of material?

I’m excited as this is a band tour, and it will be really fun to play these songs live in a band context, especially with drums which just lift the excitement to another level. I’m also just excited to have this album reach new audiences and connect with people through the songs. I often have people come and chat to me after shows and telling me about their own experiences, prompted by something they felt listening to my music. I hold each one of these interactions so dearly and am constantly reminded of the power of song. 

We’ve spoken with a few artists recently about the importance of touring to the smaller/regional towns as well as touring within the larger metro cities; how crucial do you find these shows, when it comes to not only connecting with music fans out there, but for artists still cutting their teeth as live performers?

I think the regional shows are really important because oftentimes people value having artists come through their town more than people in the big cities who have a plethora of live entertainment available to them. On this tour we have a lot of smaller dates, which as you suggest also help me to hone the show and become tighter and better as a performer.

What have you been looking forward to the most, when it’s come to preparing for these upcoming shows?

I’ve been looking forward to the joy of sharing music and connecting with people. I’ve also been looking forward to being on the road, getting out of the daily routine and being thrown into a more spontaneous, flowing and exciting experience. See you out there!

LITTLE WISE ALBUM LAUNCH DATES

November 17th | Petersham Bowling Club, SYDNEY | 18+ | Duo
7:30pm – Tickets (ft. special guest Alana Bruce)

November 18th | Smith’s Alternative, CANBERRA | Duo
7:00pm – Tickets

November 19th | Commonground Festival, SEYMORE | Full Band
12:00pm – Tickets

November 24th | The Bella Union, MELBOURNE | 18+ | Full Band
12:00pm – Tickets (ft. special guests Gallie & John Flanagan)

November 25th | Martians Cafe, DEANS MARCH | Full Band
7:30pm – Tickets

November 27th | The Wheatsheaf, ADELAIDE | Full Band
4:00pm – Tickets

December 9th | Basement Discs, MELBOURNE | Duo
12:45pm – Free show

December 10th | Brookfield Shed, MARGATE | Full Band
8:00pm – Tickets (ft. special guest Isla Ka)

December 11th | Marakoopa Cafe, MAYBERRY | Full Band
2:00pm – Tickets

Photo: Cait Bryan.