Idyllwild is singer/songwriter Aria-awarded artist Mia Dyson’s fifth studio offering.
Named after a town not dissimilar one thinks to the spirit of Ms Dyson. ‘Idyllwild is just outside of LA, in the mountains. Where LA is desert, Idyllwild is very beautiful, it’s a whole other world. Steep mountains and fast-rushing rivers and lots of trees.
It’s a very lush place. My husband and I went there after we got married. It was such a beautiful place to celebrate being together and the song I wrote (the title track of the album) was a celebration of that time and a wish for us that it would last. To me a place like that has a mystery.’
The first single release from the album is When We’re Older, also a homage to lasting love.
‘My grandfather died just this weekend, and while it was obviously after the song was written, it was about the kind of relationship they have. I had seen both my grandparents stay together until the end, and now in my 30s I can see there is a point when you start to get older and life changes and there is so much that opens up at this age. I am certainly not advocating staying in bad relationships, but there is something magical about making a relationship last over that period.’
Dyson’s last album was Aria-nominated The Moment back in 2012. Her offerings thus far have been impressive, with 2005’s Parking Lots winning the Aria for Best Blues and Roots Album. This album offers a new direction, melancholy, sensitive and hard rocking all at the same time. So after 12 years of releasing music, how has Dyson evolved as a recording artist?
‘If anything I have become more willing to take risks. In the first three records I realised I was so scared of making mistakes that it suffocated me. I am so less afraid of that now, I am willing to experiment. That is the definition of creativity – you can’t control it, you can’t force it all you can do is follow it down. It gets more and more exciting as I have the confidence now in my ability, I don’t worry about how I am going to sound. Of course there is still the fear when you enter new territory – when I don’t know where it is leading, if it does feel like that though, I generally know it’s a good thing!
‘In a way you are not controlling it, it’s about the people you are working with, the mood you are in, the guitar you have that day. All those things create something unique that you don’t have to force; it’s unique by the nature that every moment is unique.’
When it comes to songwriting Dyson has a disciplined approach.
‘I may have an idea or a melody here or there or I might record something on a voice memo. The real work for me is to write as a daily process. I do it in the morning. Occasionally I get lucky and a song comes out of the blue pretty well formed, but mostly it’s like taking the seed of an idea and working it into something. The chords and melody come first and lyrics are generally the last thing. It’s always great when the lyrics and melody come at the same time!’
These days Dyson lives in the US with her American husband, travelling back to Australia for upcoming album tours, which will include a performance at the Mullum Music Festival.
Music lovers are in for a treat when Dyson takes to the stage this year.
‘I have an incredible band. Liz Stringer is taking time out of her solo band to join me, and I have top world-class musicians. These new songs have a frenetic energy to them that is new for me and it’s exciting on stage. I am feeling excited, I love Mullum Festival – it’s a dream festival for an artist: not too big, it’s friendly, very laidback and a great community feel.’
Mia Dyson plays Mullum Music Fest 20–23 November. For more artist and program information go to mullummusicfestival.com.