Singer/songwriter Monique Brumby has just released a new single alongside her self-titled fifth studio album. Titled Silent War, the song is a politically pop rock hit that highlights the need for equality for same-sex marriage.
‘I have loving relationships with men and women. I married a woman and Silent War highlights my view that the union of two consenting adults should be supported. In a world that has its fair share of war and conflict, love is a good thing.’
Brumby writes from experience, beaming out loudly, ‘our world is full of colour, don’t let them take it from you… your honour, your integrity, we’re gonna make it through’.
Her charm is unmistakable. Although she has lived in Melbourne for the past two decades there is still something of the small-town girl in Brumby.
‘I was born in Devonport, which was a really small place. My biggest thrill was going to the city of Hobart and we’d go to the Cat and Fiddle Arcade and on the hour every hour they had this clock that had a sculpted scene where the cow would jump over the moon and the dish would run away with the spoon and I used to think, this is the city! I am here with my grandmother! Going to the Cat and Fiddle Arcade was like going to Disneyland!’
As it turned out, Brumby’s talent would ensure she wouldn’t be a small-town girl for long.
‘I used to play soccer for Tasmania. I made the Australian squad a couple of times. I could have been a Matilda. But it was at a time when women’s soccer wasn’t so big – it’s way more recognised now and women can make an income from it. I have always had this dream to coach a kids’ team – to this day there is nothing that makes me feel more comforted than when I take my dog to the park and I see kids playing soccer.’
But life as an elite athlete was not the pathway for Brumby, who started playing in bands at age 17. She credits her career with her having started young.
‘I think a lot of people could be performers or musicians or public speakers, but the longer you go without doing it the more daunting it can be. You have to be thrown in the deep end. I had a music teacher at school who offered me a solo in Jesus Christ Superstar. I thought Me? Really?’
For a woman with such an exceptional voice, Brumby never thought she could really sing.
‘I never thought I had any different singing ability from my friends who would sing along to songs on the radio. My music teacher heard me and obviously thought something else.’
Brumby’s talent was recognised more than a decade ago when Paul Kelly invited her to co-write a song for his lauded album Words and Music. The two composed and sang Melting, a song about summer.
‘I learnt that simplicity is work,’ says Brumby of writing and recording with Kelly. ‘He had a broken finger at the time and couldn’t play anything more than a bar chord. So he worked it that he could play a G and a D. We talked mostly about summer and what happens in summer and which things melt, like which things change. I remembered my dad burning down a field next to my grandmother’s house – so it became the song. We talked about the special memories you have in certain houses. It was my grandmother’s house that was the most evocative for me. The garden and the house itself. There was this little sunny spot; the garden was abundant with fruit and vegetables.’
Brumby speaks fondly of her grandparents, who she credits as being ongoing inspiration for living a full life.
‘I have this memory. My sister and I were driving on a country road with our grandparents and my grandmother said to my grandfather, ‘Hattie, I think that’s a Mintie tree’. He said, ‘You might be right,’ so we pulled over and they went and shook the branch and all these Minties fell out!’
Monique Brumby, a powerful passionate force of nature. She’ll be shaking your Mintie tree.
Friday at the SoundLounge at Currumbin RSL and Saturday at the Treehouse in Byron Bay.