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Byron Shire
May 13, 2021

Interview with Gyan

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Byron Theatre | Wednesday 20 Feb | 7pm | $50

For many artists, finding someone simpatico whom they can collaborate with is a gift. For singer/songwriter Gyan her creative coupling with Jane Siberry is just that. This year Gyan celebrates 30 years since her debut release Wait, the song that saw her soar to national and even international attention. It’s the same year that her good friend Jane is knee deep on a world tour so the planets have aligned so that both these exceptional artists and dear friends get to be in the same place, on the same stage, at the same time.

Gyan recalls first hearing Jane’s music back in 1989.

‘When I did my first deal with Warner Brothers the label gave me an album and said you are going to love this girl – they gave me an album of Jane Siberry… and someone else took me to a Tori Amos show. I thought wow, these chicks are good. I have loved Jane from afar especially the When I was a Boy album she did with KD Laing and Brian Eno. Back in the day of Myspace she put up a post saying, ‘I am backpacking into Byron,’ so I jumped on and said that we were doing the Adelaide Cabaret Festival (she was too) and would she like to meet up. I was so nervous going to meet her that I nearly crashed the car. I had just recorded Billy the Rabbit (the album with Leunig that seeded the project he is now doing with Katie Noonan).

‘We just clicked and from that day on she came and lived with us for four months, and made the preparation for two albums in our studio. We became buddies. In all my years I can’t say I have very many close peers and most of the women I try to befriend often end up being like competitors. Jane just wrapped her big generous arms around me and said: ‘I’ll distribute you through my American website’. She was so generous. I appreciated her mind and her heart and her talent. It was a chance meeting; it’s been over a decade now…’

In the show at the Byron Theatre Gyan and Jane called UnTogether Again both artists will be performing together and they’ll be performing solo sets.

‘I love collaborating,’ says Gyan. ‘When we did that last house concert here we had to turn people away. Jane deserves the theatre – she can play the Steinway – so she is doing a lot more theatres on her world tour. I love collaborating and the fact we can do some songs together – any chance to sing with someone is an honour and a gift!’

Thirty years on since Wait Gyan has decided to put together a retrospective, ‘tracing some of the old records to see how I wasn’t to do them and to give a nod to that anniversary. I have completely remodelled Wait – to some people it’s disrespectful and annoying – I got rid of the middle eight – James Cruickshank helped me bring it back. I don’t really sing the same now as I did when I started; I used to belt it out. Now I am a lot more subtle. I am more in the classical genre. Where I used to be loud, now I am quiet.’

Gyan has the kind of voice that binds you to the spot. It’s mesmerising. Interestingly she tells me that she ‘never thought I was much of singer at all. So I put a lot of importance on the word. I like my lyric to be succinct. I love creating a picture!’

And that she does. Close your eyes when you listen to Gyan and you’ll get to imagine your own movie.

And together with Jane Siberry? A double feature.

Wednesday 20 Feb at 7pm Byron Theatre – tix at byroncentre.com.au.


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