Alice Night is a talented Brisbane musician who is constantly exploring her art and even moved across the world to immerse herself in the cultural scene of New York, we were able to talk to her about her debut album Culture How Could You? Alice Night is a budding playwright and novelist and student of The National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA).
Hi Alice and welcome to Beauty and Lace, thanks for talking to us.
What inspired you to pursue a career in music?
The first time I performed live I sang acapella, I was 15, the song was Gorecki by Lamb. I felt so confident on stage, more so than I do now even! It just felt really right, resonant, like the right path. From then on I left visual art behind which had been my love and called myself a singer. What inspires my music career is things like filmed footage of Portishead playing in New York with an orchestra, seeing Massive Attack and Radiohead live, witnessing the communal power of music.
Can you tell us about your songwriting inspiration and process?
My inspirations are many, personal, political, cultural experimental… In some ways I haven’t changed much since I was a teenager in my approach to songwriting. I look at the way things are as honestly as I possibly can, I remind myself and hopefully others of the beauty of life, and I shine a light in some dark and often avoided corners to look at how we feel and what people are experiencing.
How would you describe your sound?
My sound is honestly still evolving and will no doubt continue to do so, the element that is consistent is my voice. People describe my tone as warm, resonant, emotive. I am big on lyrics so you will usually always be able to make out what I’m saying. I’m influenced by artists like P.J.Harvey, Jeff Buckley, Laura Marling, Beth Orton, Agnes Obel. One day I hope to be in a band like Portishead with fat sounds and radical concepts. I’m working towards that… I think every step you make on your artistic path leads you to the next space. I am walking that path… probably about to meet a huge mountain range and figure out how to cross it.
Your debut album is Culture How Could You?, can you tell us about it?
Culture How Could You? is a highly collaborative collection of songs. I have to mention composer Robert Davidson and producer Liam Malby. It was a very communal affair and a lot of the material came from a mentorship with Robert Davidson. I wanted to create moments of light and shade, spirit and electronics, nature and industry. I’m not sure what genre you would call it, conscious contemporary is a term I’ve been playing with. I think it sounds beautiful but some of the lyrical content and soundscapes point to dark themes hence the title, looking at the ways in which individuals, families and groups have in many ways been betrayed by a modern culture that uses us, rather than supports us.
How did you come to be working with all the different musicians on the album?
Half of the musicians I was connected to prior to this project, others Robert linked me to. They are some of my ultimate favourite artists, conceptually, sonically, and it was a huge honour to have them make themselves available to explore with us.
You recorded in many different locations, can you tell us about the reasons for this?
Honestly… budget. We had no money really, and so we improvised. It was arduous at times but always an adventure. It took us to some beautiful spaces in nature, in peoples home studios in northern NSW and Tasmania, and meant that we took over a huge hall at the University of Queensland to record the noise and drone and grand piano in the middle of the night. Liam Malby the producer always brought ample fairy lights so we at least had a consistent vibe. If you listen closely you’ll probably hear a Brisbane lawn mower and some Northern Rivers night life…
Can you tell us a little about the video for Curious Child?
This clip is a collaboration with a dear friend Cass Kowitz who worked with her brother Rodney Kowitz to make the vision come to life. It was a beautiful surprise for me when I got sent the final edit. Overall the vibe of the song is to inspire youthful and playful imagination which Cass and little Marley expressed so perfectly. Remembering that we can be grown up and still be happy seems to be an area that needs some attention in our current societal mode. Watching this clip always makes me happy.
You plan to tour the east coast of Australia for the album, where do you hope to play?
The tour is a wonderful mixture of spaces, art warehouses, house concerts, theatre spaces… and galleries. I am interested in the ways stories can translate differently depending on the spaces we perform in. In the future I hope to perform in deserts, temples, prisons, epic theaters, festivals and factories… not joking…
What can audiences expect form a live show?
A live Alice Night show at this point in time will combine costume, design and projections with the live music. I have a big love for performance art, spoken word, theatre and movement and will have a feature artist from one of these disciplines at each of the live shows. Musically we bridge electronic soundscapes with live drums, double bass, piano, guitar and harmony vocals. We are an interesting family.
What has been the strongest impression that has stayed with you from your time in New York?
New York to me was a place I said Yes a lot, every night I engaged in the live music and art scene. No-where was too far to get to, and I was frequently moved, thrilled, and deeply inspired. The strongest impressions though are the kindness of people that I met there and their willingness to share their spaces with me so that I could write music and have time to myself… and the colours of the trees all aflame in the fall.
Can you tell us about the biggest difference in the live art scene between New York and here in Australia in your experience?
Hmmm that’s a tricky one. I’d say the absolute abundance of shows to see every single night in New York. I remember standing on a street corner desperately scrolling through ‘what’s on tonight in NY’ and being frozen not knowing where to go, which thing to choose. That said, Sydney my current hometown can feel similarly artistically monsoonal… I think a place is what you make it, in New York, people are ready to make artistic discoveries, they are there for that… We can though enrich any place where humans live with similarly exciting, fantastical, radical, and life changing artistic experiences… That is my hope.
Thanks for your time Alice, good luck with the tour.