Having Australian singer/songwriter Mia Dyson back in Oz is a bit of a treat. These days Dyson lives in Ojai, California, a town not dissimilar to Byron Bay. For Dyson, moving to the US was really only a matter of time.
‘I was drawn to the States because I get up listening to so much American music,’ she says. ‘I became enamoured of the history, and all these places where genres were really born are in the States. Like blues, and southern gospel and jazz. So I’ve just always been drawn here, and I love the fact that I can live here but come and be a citizen of the world and get to experience… a bigger world I guess.’
More recently Dyson got to record her latest album, which will be released shortly at Muscle Shoals Records. It was a ‘pinch myself’ moment for Dyson who went on to say, ‘When I was a kid I mythologised all these American places like Muscle Shoals, and Memphis, and Detroit. And to get to go and make a record there, even though I wasn’t going there to make a Muscle Shoals-sounding record. But just the incredible vibrancy of the place where there are great musicians and songwriters and studios and producers. You know, it was super inspiring just to be part of that history. It was incredible.’
One of the long-term Muscle Shoal groovers, David Hood of the Swampers, played bass on the new album.
‘He played on so many incredible hit records, like Percy Sledge’s When a Man Loves a Woman and Aretha Franklin’s stuff and Etta James’s. And so David Hood was on bass with me on the record, and he was just the most humble, sweet, talented person you could ever hope for. It was an absolute honour and thrill to have him there, and he totally grounded the record. What he does is deceptively simple. I can’t even figure out how he does it, but it’s just beautiful and his tone is just so, so good.’
The new album has a curious title: If I Said Only So Far I Take It Back.
‘It’s from the song Open, and the whole song is really about anywhere that I have set myself a limitation or decided I could go no further, or I had a limit to my courage. I’m trying to call on myself to actually go beyond that and see whether actually there’s more that I can do, or more courage that I can find. Which is a lot of what the album is about, kind of trying to look for and find that… mine inside for more strength, more courage.’
Dyson reflects on her musical journey, appreciating just how far she’s come.
‘I remember not having enough material to play a two set gig or whatever it was, or even a set gig, and I was dreaming about the day that I could have not only enough material but enough material I really wanted to play. It took a long time to get there!’
But now Dyson has totally arrived. Catch Mia Dyson, US-resident Aussie singer/songwriter at Bluesfest | For more info go to www.bluesfest.com.au