Queensland singer-songwriter Greta Stanley is on the road, touring her delightful sound to a handful of lucky venues. I caught up with her while she was in Brisbane for a chat.
How long did it take to plan this tour? I imagine you had to first of all find venues to play at.
It took a fair bit of planning, actually – just contacting so many venues. This is always a busy time of the year, Christmas and all of that, so a lot of places are busy from mid-year because they’ve organised it. So it’s a lot of planning, a lot of contacting and waiting, but it’s good – now I know how to do it.
So you’ve done all of that yourself?
I had some help from a friend of mine, Courtney, and a lady who co-manages me, Fleur McMenamin. I have a bit of a team behind me, so that’s good.
Now you started playing near home in Far North Queensland and you’ll be heading home for Christmas. What do you have planned for your Christmas Eve gig in Cairns?
I’m playing at the Woolshed – it’s the first venue I ever played at when I moved to Cairns. I was busking on the straight and they said, ‘We need you to play here’. So it should be a nice vibe. Christmas Eve is always very family orientated, which I think is good, because the Woolshed has a nice outdoor setting and kids are always welcome to sit in the outdoor area. There’s a playground across the road. I think it’ll be a good one.
I know you’ve already played your gig in Atherton but I’m curious about the venue: Petals and Pinecones. What sort of place is that?
That place is like a really cool café. It’s kind of unexpected. You go into this little complex and there’s a Super Cheap Auto and then around the corner you walk into this shed and it’s full of fairy lights and flowers and all these old vintage couches, and it’s really nice. It’s an awesome little gig. It was really nice to play there, it was a good turnout. Atherton’s got beautiful weather and I love the tablelands as well.
That sounds like an amazing venue.
It’s really sweet. And they’re known for their crazy shakes – like milkshake to the extreme. I didn’t try one because I’d probably be really sick but I got a banana smoothie and it was awesome. But they’re known for these crazy ‘creation jars’ which have Mars Bars, chocolate – everything. If you look them up on Facebook you’ll see what I mean.
Is it a slightly different crowd closer to home? And I guess in a place like Atherton where there’s not necessarily a lot of gigs going on, does a bigger range of people come to a gig in a small town than might come to a gig in a city?
I think in a small town it can be easier because it’s easier for people to know you and know who you are just through word of mouth. Atherton, Innisfail, Cairns, they’re all pretty close to each other, so I always have a people I recognise or familiar faces at gigs. Which is good, and I think it’s good in a place like Atherton. They’ve actually got a pretty good music scene. I just think it’s good for young kids to have something to do all weekend. When I was living in Innisfail I thought, I wish I could go listen to some music or listen to someone I really like play. There was never really a lot of opportunities for it, so I love doing it because I would have loved it when I was a kid. Now I get to give that to other people. In Brisbane it’s been really good. A lot of my friends from Innisfail and Cairns live in Brisbane now. I’ve had friends come along to gigs. But it’s always awesome to meet new people and make new friends.
So you’re happy to do that side of things – happy for people to come up and chat to you? You don’t want to run off at the end of the show?
No – unless I’m having a really bad day or something! Usually I’m fine to talk and I love talking, and I think that’s so important. If I really like an artist and I want to go up and say thank you or express how much I like them, I don’t want them to run off [laughs]. So I definitely won’t be doing it to people.
I guess some artists’ personality types mean they want to get up and leave …
Well, I would just give people the warning that I am quite bad at socialising [laughs]. So if it seems like I don’t want to talk or something, it’s probably just because I’m nervous.
Do you get more nervous talking to people than getting on stage?
Yes! Definitely. I know how to play my songs but I don’t know how to talk to people.
Because for most people, the idea of getting on stage would probably make them feel sick.
It’s so strange – in high school, doing public speaking, I would cry and just be a mess, and it would come to music class and I’d say, ‘Yep, sweet, I can get up and play in front of lots of people.’ I’m not sure how that works.
I also noticed – again, a gig in the past – you played at the Powerhouse in Brisbane, which is a great venue. Did you enjoy playing there?
Yes, I did, I loved it. Awesome venue. I’d never been there before, so it was good to check it out. Really nice crowd for the Brightspark event. There was another band on that were pretty cool. My dad’s old friends who live in Brisbane came – it was nice to see some people I hadn’t seen in a while.
After Christmas you’ll be doing a bit of travel around Queensland, at a very hot, humid time of year – will it be hard to keep your guitar in tune?
It is. I’ve even noticed that coming from Cairns to Brisbane, just because it’s a lot cooler here than it is in Cairns. There’s no humidity here [in Brisbane]. It’s already been a bit funky with me. But I carry strings on me so if they snap or whatever, I’ll be fine. And I just bought a new tuner to make sure everything’s in schmick condition. So I’ll be fine, I think.
It’s an occupational hazard that a lot of other people may not realise – that the instruments can take on a life of their own depending on the weather.
[Laughs] It’s so true. Sometimes I’ll get up and my guitar will do the weirdest things and I’ll be, like, ‘Come on! Just be okay for tonight!’ It’s probably just getting me back for not playing it for a little while. It does have a mind of its own.
So you’re driving yourself around to these gigs?
The ones up near home I’ll be driving but the others I’m flying and bussing and training and Ubering. First time using Uber.
And apart from all these touring plans, I’m sure you have something in the works in terms of a second release. Are you writing songs?
Yes, yes, I’ve got lots of songs – but I’m still writing. I’m always writing. It’s just a matter of what makes it onto the second release. The first one was hard to pull down to six songs. But I’m working on that. That’s the plan for next year – to work towards putting something out. I have an electric guitar now, so that’ll be fun. Still have the acoustic but I do have the electric to mess around with, so that might make it onto some of the new stuff.
Is your heart still with the acoustic or you like them both for different things?
I like them both for different things. I think my heart will always be with the acoustic but it is fun to play an electric.
Byron gig on 16th at Ginger Pig in Byron Bay
Wednesday16th December 2015 | 7pm
Ginger Pig, BYRON BAY NSW
Friday 18th December 2015 | 7pm
Queens Hotel, INNISFAIL QLD
Thursday 24th December 2015 | 5pm
The Woolshed, CAIRNS QLD
Thursday 31st December 2015 | 7pm
Bramston Beach Motel, BRAMSTON BEACH QLD
Saturday 2nd January 2016 | 6pm
Herbert Hotel, TOWNSVILLE QLD
$5 at the door
Friday 8th January 2016 | 8pm
7 On Wood, MACKAY QLD