Interview: Saying Farewell to One of Byron’s Brightest

Cecilia Brandolini plays her farewell gig at the Treehouse in Belongil on 17 May.

Over the years there’s been one family name that has left others astounded with the seemingly endless amount of talent. Brandolini. Like a modern-day Aussie Von Trapp family it seems the musical fairytale takes another twist with Cec, who many would know from making the top 10 on The Voice with her brother Gabe back in 2014, but now Cecilia is taking a new path as a solo artist. She will be playing one more show in Byron before she leaves! (Brandolinis were meant for bigger things, but it’s good to know we still have a few more stashed away!)

So Cecilia, tell me about what is in store for you. 

Coming up I have my Australian tour for the launch of my debut EP Naive Trust. 

I’ll be performing in Grafton, Sydney, Melbourne, Byron, and Brisbane and collaborating with artists such as Tullara, Domini Forster, Joe Terror (Vic), and also a couple of special songs with my older brother Gabe and some school friends for a few select shows. This tour is unlike any others as I now have a fantastic drummer playing with me, for the Byron show, my younger sister Monica, winner of the Lismore Songwriters Competition 2018. 

After this, I’m moving to Perth and working on my music over there. Next release I’m planning will be a brand-new single! 

Why are you moving to Perth?

Perth’s music scene is so amazing! The last tour I feel like I discovered gold. There were an amazing amount of songwriters’ nights, and something about the less-saturated music scene has really drawn me in. I also have all my mum’s side of the family over there and am completely in love with someone very special over there. Hehe!

How has growing up in Byron helped to nurture you as a musician?

Byron Bay and its accepting nature has exposed me to so many amazing, quirky people and eclectic music, which has shaped so much of who I am. It’s with my new EP Naive Trust that I hope to thank you all for that. 

The opportunities to play at so many local events and festivals have really given me a head start in the music industry and I feel more ready then ever to give it my all. 

Our little Byron bubble became really apparent when I moved to Sydney for two years, and this EP is a reflection of my experiences during that change, leaving school, moving in and out of relationships, and basically just learning about real life! 

What musical direction are you taking now?

I aim to stay contemporary while incorporating my jazz/classical influences. A fusion of Hiatus Kaiyote rhythmic elements over Joni Mitchell-esque piano playing and lyrical songwriting. 

What are the challenges that face a singer/songwriter trying to make a name in the industry? You have won lots of competitions, such as winner of 2017 Tweed Battle of the Bands and finalist in Bluesfest Busking this year…

One challenge for me is finding venues that are happy to pay for original music. These days there are a lot of pubs that will pay, but they usually host covers bands. Managing, booking and financing everything myself is extremely stressful at times, and takes up a lot of the time I need to write. (Oh another musician crying poor! Typical.) But it’s very true, unless you’re signed with a big label or have people helping you, it’s very difficult to break even. I’m very lucky I have family and friends far and wide who help me out so much on tour. 

Tell me about Naive Trust. How did you record it, where, what is the feel, what are the songs about?

I recorded this EP entirely myself in a very generous friend’s home studio in Sydney. Big thankyou to the Dunn family for believing in me and lending me their space! 

This didn’t only make this cheaper. Being in the studio all by myself allowed me to stay up till 3am at times, where my brain would most easily feel the emotion of the songs. It allowed me to revisit the headspace I was in when I originally wrote every single song, without feeling self-conscious or under a time limit or anything like that. 

I then brought the recordings up to Mullumbimby to one of my favourite mix/masterers in the area, Kamal Engels at Art of Audio, to finalise. 

The songs involve themes of leaving school, that fear of having to start from scratch. The excitement in independence but the shock of the harsh realities that become so apparent in the city. Homelessness, sexism, racism, so much more. Feeling a bit like an ant and trying to stand out.  

What should we expect for your last show here?

Lots of the new contemporary, pop-soul material. Played by me with live vocal looping, hand percussion, singing and piano as well as delightful harmonies and drumming by the wonderful Monica Frances.

For this show only I’ll  be featuring collaborations from a few secret local artists! 

Cecilia Brandolini plays her farewell gig at the Treehouse in Belongil on 17 May. 

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