When the single ‘Nervous Girls’ was announced the line-up of its singers was immediately noteworthy: Bec Lavelle, who first became known to Australian audiences as the key singer in the television drama McLeod’s Daughters; Kora Naughton, who has been releasing great singles, with ‘Speechless’ being the latest; Jem Cassar-Daley, who is making a name for herself as a singer/songwriter following national touring in 2019; Academy of Country Music graduate Kaitlyn Thomas, who recently released the popular ‘First Kiss’; and the fantastically entertaining Ingrid Mae. Individually they have produced wonderful songs; together they have created an enthralling, thought-provoking single.
‘Nervous Girls’ was recorded remotely, during recent weeks, with artists spread across three countries, including the musicians: Little Big Town’s Hubert Payne on drums and percussion, Greg Carrillo on guitars and bass, and Pier Luigi Salami on piano.
All five singers kindly answered questions via email, to give some background to this extraordinary release and an insight into their creative processes over the past few unusual weeks.
How did the project start?
BEC: In 2017, my manager Karen Waters bought the song to me, and we decided together that it was a strong song, but possibly wasn’t a solo project. It would be more relevant and appropriate with more strong female voices on board with me. So due to Covid-19 and the isolation, it seemed like the perfect time to get these girls together, all of whom would normally be in too many diverse places to complete the project normally … touring, recording, overseas, etc.
INGRID: For me, it was kind of easy. Just a phone call which I couldn’t refuse. As an artist it’s really nice to be asked to do something collaborative especially considering the times we are living in right now. The music was waiting for voices so all I had to do was sing.
How did you decide who sang which part?
BEC: We were all aware that due to our range in ages, there were certainly lines that suited some of us and our stories more than the others. So the natural progression of dividing the song came quite easily.
KAITLYN: At the beginning we were all given the opportunity to choose particular lines that we wanted to sing. From there Kaz [Waters] sent us through our highlighted parts and we went and sang our hearts out.
INGRID: There was a visionary who had an idea of who was going to sing which part but it’s always a good idea to sing the whole song. It gets you in the mood and sometimes one part speaks to you more than another. I mean, I couldn’t have sung the part about being scared to eat, for example. I felt more comfortable giving up my heart and picking up the pieces. I’m lucky that Kaz thought my verse would suit me and I think she got it right.
How did the musicians come to take part?
BEC: Karen has an amazing connections with Nashville-based musicians, and was able to get some of the biggest names in music to come together on this track, so we are incredibly lucky that they were able to be involved.
INGRID: I’d have to ask Bec to answer that as I’m not entirely sure, but I do know that most musicians jump at the chance to work with Bec.
Singing practice can happen alone, but recording usually doesn’t – was it harder to connect with the idea of the audience when you were recording this in isolation?
BEC: Due to my last 8 years of living in Germany, I have only recorded remotely for my last few projects. So it felt very natural to me to fall straight into this project. I do however, look forward to being able to perform this new single live with the girls one day soon.
KAITLYN: Recording this song in isolation was definitely unique and unusual. Recording from home I can honestly say isn’t glamorous at all. Similar to the recording studio, you’re in a booth alone singing your heart out so I didn’t find that to be as challenging as I thought. Although I’m pretty sure my neighbours hate me at the moment because I’m singing all the time!
INGRID: For me it didn’t really feel any different as I only ever record with my partner, who is also my sound engineer. As a creative person I’m always in my heart so I was more trying to remember times when I felt the emotions of the song. As much as it’s a positive song it also made me feel quite sad.
KORA: I didn’t actually find the recording process to be too much different from my usual method – I’ve never really done recording with more than a few key people in the room, and this was just one little step further than that. When I recorded my part, it was only Bec Lavelle’s vocals on the song and it was actually really nice to be able to connect with her and feel the emotion in her voice without her being there at all, and it just shows that emotion can shine through, even without an active audience in front of you.
JEM: This was such a great project for us to feel more connected during such an isolated time. Although it was recorded alone, hearing the final version of all of the girls together was truly magical and makes me excited to collaborate more in the future!
What does it mean to you to have achieved this recording and release at a time when it must have almost seemed impossible to do such a thing?
BEC: I certainly have had a few days of doubt, and dealt with anxiety, having lost my regular work/gigs in this unprecedented time. But it was a beautiful project to pull me out of a rut. No one is alone in this at the moment, so there is safety in numbers, and a few simple positive thoughts daily, all strung together, can make a real difference. So releasing such a strong project, when it isn’t the easiest to do so, makes me very proud.
KAITLYN: It’s extremely rewarding to know that we were capable of recording from home. If you’d asked me 12 months ago that I would be doing my music degree online and using home recording software for a single, I wouldn’t believe you, but after seeing the project come to life I’m lost for words.
INGRID: The fact that Bec has involved so many artists all from different walks of life is phenomenal. Then, they’re all awesome women facing different challenges and milestones in their life. When you think about it that way, a little benign song starts to grow wings. I really didn’t have to do much other than sing my part but knowing we were all part of something bigger got me really excited.
KORA: It’s so incredible to be able to create something like this, at any time. Working with a group of beautiful ladies on a song this special isn’t something you get the opportunity to do every day, but being able to do it in a time where everybody could do with a little lift in spirits, is something else entirely. When things are starting to look a little dull, music is always a nice way to make the world seem that little bit brighter, and I hope this song has done that for someone!
JEM: It is so awesome that we were able to put together this tune while at home in different states across the country! We each recorded our best versions of the song from home, sent it through to Kaz and Bec where all of the voices were combined. Each line tells a story and represents that all women face similar challenges in life.
How have the last few weeks been for you creatively (apart from working on this song) – productive? Or blocked?
BEC: I have completely thrown myself into many projects. I am painting, writing new music, I’ve enrolled in a sign language course. So it’s been a matter of having almost too much to get through. I work best when I am constantly on the go! I appreciate the quiet, but my happy place is always having something to do.
KAITLYN: Surprisingly the last couple of months have been really productive. I’ve been a writing machine, which is really unusual, but I guess having a lot of time on your hands that you can work freely and creatively with no pressure has evoked the writer in me and lit a fire.
INGRID: I had a three-week break from music where I’d lost my voice and didn’t pick up my guitar. I was able to throw myself into my marketing work and lo and behold, picked up a guitar again! We recorded the songs for my next record a few months back and it’s just waiting for my final vocal, but I’ve been in a writing phase so I want to use my current inspiration before I take myself elsewhere. I’m a bit precious that way!
KORA: Isolation has been so bittersweet! I’ve been weirdly busy, just without the deadlines! I’ve been doing lots of writing and have been in the studio working on some projects of my own.
JEM: A bit of a mix, honestly. Some days I wake up feeling inspired with plenty of ideas. Other days it feels better to lay in bed and not do too much at all. It has been great having extra time on my hands to write and I have been loving that, though sometimes it’s difficult to find inspiration when there’s not much going on.
Have you been doing any Zoom writing sessions?
BEC: No Zoom meetings, but I have completed my next 2 upcoming singles via online sessions and emails. So they will also be coming up soon over the coming months
KAITLYN: I have done a few Zoom co-writing sessions and it’s definitely interesting and comes with its own sets of challenges. Not being in the same space as the other writers where you can bounce off each other’s ideas and really get creative is probably the hardest. However, I’ve written some great new songs!
INGRID: No. I did however do a co-write where I wrote a song to teach kids how to write a song. Now that’s got to be an award winner!
KORA: I tend to write most of my songs on my own, it’s a good release for me, but I would absolutely love to do some more co-writing, definitely the next step for me, I think!
JEM: I have done a Skype session with the lovely Sammy White, which was so much fun. Great to share ideas and even better to just check in.
Did working on the single open you up to the idea of collaborating more with other artists, or were you already doing a bit of that?
BEC: Have been blessed to have collaborated a lot in the recent past. Andrei Vesa (Germany), Ben Ransom, James Blundell, Drew McAlister and now this project with the girls. I LOVE collaborating with people on projects.
KAITLYN: I used to do a lot of YouTube collaborations with people from all over the world back in 2009-2011. However, not something like this or on this level. Working with these girls has been incredible and I’m so happy that I was able to be involved in this project.
INGRID: I am open to the idea of collaborating but it’s not something I actively look for.
KORA: I haven’t done much collaboration, but I was always very open to the idea, hence me jumping at the opportunity when ‘Nervous Girls’ was first shown to me. I’d definitely love to do some more collaborating after working on this project, for sure.
JEM: I haven’t been collaborating a whole lot at the moment, though working on the single has definitely inspired me to play more guitar than usual! As a piano player, it’s so easy to stick to what I’m used to but lately I haven’t been able to put my Takamine down! When isolation is over, I’d definitely love to do more face-to-face collaborating too.
Once gigs are possible again, where is the first place you’d like to play?
BEC: As I am the resident musician on Hamilton Island, in the Whitsundays QLD, I am so excited to eventually get back to my regular gigs and events around the island. So the minute the island is allowed to reopen, that’s where you will find me … Come and visit us sometime soon.
KAITLYN: I miss performing live so much that I even put on a show for my street a couple weekends ago. So for me, the first place I’d like to play is a festival or a local venue where there is a live audience!
INGRID: Well, that’s controversial! It would have to be a pub and it can’t just be one. The Gladstone Hotel at Dulwich Hill, the Royal Mail Hotel in Braidwood and The Tourist, Queanbeyan.
KORA: That’s a hard one! I’d love to name some big festival stages or something, but honestly, I’d do just about anything to do a gig at my local pub, with my family and friends having a few drinks in the sunshine!
JEM: I am so excited for live music to come back again! I would definitely like my first gig back to be at Cedar and Pine Bar at Manly. I played my last gig there before isolation and it was the best fun.
‘Nervous Girls’ is out now through Red Rebel Music.