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Byron Shire
May 18, 2024

Natural Wonders

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[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y7NZiUOtAFA[/youtube]

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Mandy Nolan

Local roots outfit The Lucky Wonders have been heralded by the Sydney Morning Herald as one of the best bands in the genre playing the circuit. On their return from a successful European tour, internationally acclaimed songwriting team Emma Royle and Jessie Vintila, frontwomen for indie/folk four-piece The Lucky Wonders, have released  Lay Down My Arms, a lush collection of warm, superbly crafted songs, co-produced and engineered by ARIA winner Govinda Doyle (Angus and Julia Stone).

Tell me a little about what you set out to achieve when you recorded Lay Down My Arms? We wanted to please ourselves, take some risks, and for the songs to build more dramatically. The other big goal was a lush, warm, more atmospheric sound.

Why did you choose Govinda Doyle to co-produce and engineer? He’d worked on Jetplane with Angus and Julia and we’re huge fans of their production, for the way it kind of envelopes you inits mood, and is simple music with great use of sonic layers to createatmosphere.

What are the songs on the album that you are proudest of?  Valium & Your Arms, Surrender, and Sand & the Sea. Vocally I really had some adventures and there is so much love in all three of them.  Valium is my favourite production. 

Are there any that surprised you? Walk With Me went full circle – we wrote it in about 10 minutes – and it was unique in being a pure collaboration between the two of us. No-one needed moments alone with their muse; the muse was happy to have a three-way conversation all the way through! It sounded like a single when we wrote it but then it kind of got overshadowed by the big dramatic ballads. Then we met a filmmaker in France who picked it out immediately to make a video clip, which we did, and the next day we found out Triple J was playing it.

What do you think it is about Emma and Jessie that makes such a well-oiled songwriting machine? Jessie: It’sa freaky miracle if you ask me; I don’t know! With lyrics I guess it’sa compatible worldview, similar beliefs about navigating life and its challenges. Musically it’s the differences that I love – I have a strong melodic ear and really conventional harmonic habits, and Emma has a much more twisted take on chords and rhythms, so between us we have a lot to draw from.

How do the two of you collaborate on songs? Is it hard to take feedback on something as precious as a newly crafted song? Jessie: Sometimes, but mostly it’s brilliant to havean editor you respect, and who can actually fill in the gaps when you’re stuck. Over time I’ve learned to trust Emma’s input even if I don’t always like it straightaway, because time has shown me the ideas settle in to feeling right. It’s like The Lucky Wonders is a third entity in the process and we both know we’ll only get to hear its ideas if we work together and not fixate on our own. It’s not something we can make separately. It’s pretty magical.

How was the European tour? Emma: It was such a treat. We had some wonderful shows, and audiences there take listening very seriously – even when they can’t understand the lyrics! But really the music was an excuse for the Bratwurst tour of Germany – there’s a different sausage in every town! 

You’ve been called ‘One of the Best roots bands playing the circuit’ – how does a band from Byron Shire gain such national acclaim? Emma: We’ve done a fair few laps of this country now! We’re also focusing more on playing shows that honour songwriting and ‘listening crowds’. We’ve done that because it feeds our souls, and it’s incredibly rewarding to find that our audiences are right there with us. 

What keeps you going creatively? Jessie: Finding a balance between working in the business side of music and just living in this beautiful world, and playing music for its own sake. It’s easy for that to get out of whack, like any career-balancing act. We often get inspired on the plane on the way home from somewhere; there’s something about the journey home. I wrote the lyrics for Sand & the Sea on the plane, and recently we cooked up a video clip and single idea on a flight home. Emma was making origami dinosaurs, and it went from there.

What should we expect for your local show? Emma: You can expect Jessie to be a bit off her rocker with excitement as she tends to get at a good home-crowd gig. We’ve brought together our favourite local musicians as well as our good friend Cat Kohn from Melbourne on strings and accordion. Of course we’re cooking up some surprise collaborations, which are likely to send Jessie even farther out to the nether regions of happy land, so bring an umbrella and get ready to sail away like Mary Poppins.

Lucky Wonders launch their new album at the Courthouse in Mullumbimby with special guests Rebecca Ireland, Starboard Cannons, Garrett Kato Saturday 7pm. $15 at the door.


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