In a career that has spanned a decade, it’s true to say that Mia Dyson has just released her best album to date. Sure it’s been a long time coming, but from the first listen, The Moment delivers. After three years living in the US, Dyson returns with a new band, a new album, and a whole new enthusiasm.
‘I felt I was really enjoying myself making this record. Every record has been pretty tough to make and on this one I had great support, great players, and an awesome studio; it felt like we were doing soothing good, it felt like things aligned, and I did a lot of work. In fact it was more than ever before. When I went into the studio, we were very prepared and in the studio we focused completely on great performances because the songs were “ready”.’
The US was a welcoming place for Dyson, but there were challenges. She separated from her longtime partner, went broke, lost her band, and her management wanted her to change her name and go on reality TV. On the upside, Dyson connected with Erin Sidney, a fellow musician, whom she invited to produce her latest offering.
‘I had been looking for a producer for a long time and nothing felt right. A mutual friend introduced me to Erin and we did touring together (he had a band too) and we got to know each other on the road. I told him that I was looking for a producer – and he said, why don’t I do it. He even plays drums on the album; we formed a bond and connected over music.
‘It was really easy, and when we worked together, there was no producer telling me what to do, but he was still able to push me for my best work.’
The producer/artist relationship is often like finding a partner. You want someone who’ll understand you. Someone who’ll let you off the chain occasionally, but most importantly someone who loves what you do.
Interestingly for Dyson, her ex-partner had been her producer, so The Moment was a fresh start.
‘That’s why I was nervous finding a producer for the record. Having previously worked with my partner – my ex-partner now – it was a really scary thing to say I am going to let someone else in to critique my songs. It was always about finding the right person; it felt like a really mature thing to do to let someone in to critique.’
Mia feels that her time in the US has helped clarify her direction and her sense of self as a musician.
‘Ultimately I feel stronger and enriched by the experience of the States and everything that happened there. How it comes through in the album is in a real honesty and directness – I am not afraid to lay it out. In the past I have hidden behind lyrics a bit; this time around I don’t feel so self-conscious, there is nothing I have to prove and there’s no-one who I have to worry about what they think. I have learned to let go through the tough things that have happened over the past few years. It probably comes through in the sound as well.’
In fact Dyson feels that, being a musician, intense life challenges can be a kind of gift.
‘I feel grateful that I have a medium through which to channel this stuff, and I get to make music and now I have a record and it is a record literally that is a lasting record of this time and this experience.’
Dyson now has a band in the US and a band here in Australia. While out here she’ll be playing festivals, something that is very close to her heart.
‘I love playing the festivals, it’s been the mainstay of my career playing festivals around the country.
‘Community festivals like Mullum are so important. I am not in that world that does Big Day Out and massive festivals, so these smaller and regional festivals are really important and I think for me as a punter they are the festivals I prefer to go to. I find the massive festivals overwhelming!’
Mia Dyson plays the Mullum Music Festival 22–25 November.