Robyn Chalklen and Chris Parkinson are The Yearlings. The music of this husband-and-wife team has been described as having ‘dirt on its feet and blood on its hands’.
Evocative, dark and, at times, seductive, Chris spoke with The Echo about his new album All the Wandering and his upcoming local show.
Can you tell me what your concept for All the Wanderingwas?
We recorded live to our cranky MCI one-inch eight-track tape machine and transferred it digitally to ProTools via a little eight-channel Neve sidecar.
We did a bunch of overdubbing and listening and we quickly discovered that we wanted a little more diesel in the tank.
We started hearing a horn section on some tunes and female vocals on others and what the songs really wanted was a fat groovy rhythm section. These were not just folk songs to be sung as a duo; they demanded more.
In the studio things develop and a lot of the time stuff that you did not even think of before recording become important and all of a sudden you travel down a new path and that’s kind of the magic of recording, following the path that the song is leading you to.
It works best for us to go in a little loose and open to the new ideas that inevitably in that environment open up to you.
Our motto in the studio is to ‘let it unfold’.
What is the essence of good songwriting for you? How do you do it? Is it a two-way process with both of you writing together?
Good songwriting is distilling the music and lyrics down to the essence with no fluff. We aim to allow the music and the lyrics to breathe with space for secrets to lurk in the shadows.
We write separately and come together three-quarters of the way through; that’s the real great part – bringing a new song in the fold to play – and the spontaneous stuff that can happen in the first couple of plays through can be really cool so you have to have the iPod running to catch it, cause if ya don’t, she’s gone.
Often we will add something to the other’s song, such as a bridge or an edit of lyrics or a different chord or harmonies, something that wasn’t there in the first draft, so that’s the way we collaborate and the songs become Yearlinged as a result.
What should we expect for your Mullum show?
We are thrilled to have Sara Tindley opening for us, as she is one of our favourite singer/songwriters and has become a close friend over the years.
We will be performing with BJ Barker on drums. There will be electric guitars, acoustic guitars, harmonies and drums, and we may even get Sara up to sing a couple with us.
Love playing in Mullumbimby and we can’t wait. It’ll be the beginning of our tour and I can’t think of a better way to start.
The Yearlings play the Court House in Mullumbimby with special guest Sara Tindley on Saturday at 7.30pm. Tickets $20 at the door or presale www.trybooking.com/86531.