Brisbane songstress, Mardi Lumsden has been likened to the stray kitten that shows up on your doorstep:
Too cute to ignore, you usher it into your life with the briefest intentions: a saucer of milk … a cursory, inquisitive listen. Slowly but surely with repeated exposure, it becomes so familiar it’s hard to remember a time before your paths crossed.
Matt Connors, The Courier Mail
And so it is with great joy, I can announce that Mardi will be bringing her sweet alt-folk to SpeedPoets on Sunday June 5 as we roll back in to Brew (Lower Burnett Lane). We chatted recently about poetry, lyrics and the creative process. This is what tumbled out…
Ezra Pound famously quoted that ‘Poetry atrophies when it gets too far from music.’ What relationship do your lyrics have with poetry?
My lyrics happen quite organically when I’m writing music. I’m not sure that I would call them poetry because I have only ever hear them sung. Saying that, it is really important that lyrics can stand on their own. I’m certainly inspired by great writers, poets and lyricists and try to use techniques I’ve learnt over the years to capture meaning in a poetic way while fitting it into a song’s structure.
What do you look for in a lyric?
Something with meaning. Something that is not predictable, yet makes sense. Something that naturally tells a story that people can relate to. A way of saying something that everyone connects with, but hasn’t been said yet. Something that can be interpreted in different ways depending on the listener.
Who are the songwriters that have influenced your work?
I have really been inspired by songwriters who try something different and can tell a great story in 3 and a half minutes. People like Sufjan Stevens who can completely capture you and transport you to the world inside his head, only to deliver you back to earth 4 minutes later with an altered sense of understanding. Paul Kelly’s writing does the same thing but perhaps in a more earthy way. I was really inspired by all the protest music (from the 60s to the 90s) because it proved that music can change the way people think. I love Australian songwriters like Grand Salvo, Clare Bowditch, Holly Throsby and Darren Hanlon for their storytelling ability. I love musicians like Glen Hansard (The Frames / The Swell Season), Bon Iver, and (brisbaneite) Alan Boyle for the passion and energy that comes through their music. I love Iron and Wine for the calmness in Sam’s songs – they take you to somewhere else. There is nothing that can be faked here. It is all very real and human. Sometimes it hurts, sometimes it makes you laugh, but it always makes you feel.
Tell us about your creative process…
I write music first and lyrics tend to come with that. Usually if something is hard, for me, it is probably not the direction it should be going. I am not a prolific writer but when I write it usually happens very quickly. Then I go back and look over the lyrics and work out if that is the best word or phrase. Sometimes I will change large sections, cut whole verses out, but usually what came out first is what I keep. There is something subconscious about that.
What do you love most about the Brisbane music scene?
I love the variety in the music in Brisbane at the moment. It seems like most people I meet seem to make music. Encouraging that at every level will continue to form a rich and appreciated arts culture in Brisbane.
Mardi Lumsden is an alt-folk singer–songwriter from Brisbane, Australia . In 2010, Mardi Lumsden & the Rising Seas recorded their long-awaited second EP with producer Magoo (Operator Please, The Gin Club, Regurgitataor, Kate Miller- Heidke) at his Applewood studio, a converted church.
The Brisbane 5-piece, comprising Andrew Pennay (banjo, banjo-mandolin, piano, melodica, and backing vocals), David Callanan (lead and slide guitar, glockenspiel, and mandolin), Jane McEniery (double bass and bass), and Joachim Alfheim (drums), released a cassingle at the Brisbane Powerhouse in April 2010 then the EP, called Wherever you go, there you are, at Queensland’s Old Museum on 29 May, alongside the group’s new video clip, filmed by India-based cinematographer Mark Lapwood (Evermore).
The EP’s closing track, Classified (WVTM), won the 2010 Q Song award in the Folk/Ballad section and was a finalist for the 2010 Song of the Year.
Live, Lumsden has been described as “a sanguine and superb songbird. Her voice has a delightful, whimsical lilt, as do her lyrics, which are about intimate, urbane experiences of late twenty-somethings. Her songs would complement, as a soundtrack, any Nick Earls or Rebecca Sparrow books.” (lifemusicmedia.com 12 July 2009).
SpeedPoets, Sunday June 5 from 2pm – 5pm at Brew, Lower Burnett Lane, Brisbane City. Entry is a Gold Coin Donation.
The venue has a strict capacity of 60 people, so make sure you are there early to get your seat in the room!