For rock ‘n’ roots dynamo Dallas Frasca, it seems you can’t escape your past, or your most loyal fans.
On the tail end of a 30-date national tour the dreadlocked powerhouse says her latest record Sound Painter owes a lot to a few bad relationships, and a really committed supporter from Newcastle.
‘‘The actual words (for the record’s title) came from a fella who took way too much acid who comes to our shows in Newcastle,’’ she says.
‘‘He used to write us these long winded four page essays… he’s name is Brad but he calls himself B-Rad, and the stuff he says just blows my mind (laughs).
‘‘He’s so cooked, but he’s been calling me the Sound Painter for years. We had 50 titles that we were circulating, but that’s what we are as musicians, we’re sound painters.’’
Recorded live in a Brooklyn warehouse, Frasca is satisfied Sound Painter has captured the magic of the band going full throttle, and the angst behind the songs. ‘‘It’s definitely a break up album,’’ Frasca says. ‘‘Everybody deals with their own stuff in their own way, and my way is through music.
‘‘Look at some of the big break up albums like Adele (21), and Alanis Morisette (Jagged Little Pill), it’s a topic that gives you a lot of fuel and emotion… people want to relate to something that’s real and true.
‘‘It was really good therapy, the album really is about overcoming and letting go, after going through sh*t. We’ve all had a sh*t break up, man.’’
Frasca might be the unofficial Queen of Aussie Roots but she’s earned the tag the hard way- on the road and online.
‘‘As an independent artist there’s a lot of time spent behind computer screens, organising,’’ she laughs.
‘‘We’ve looked at building it on a grass roots level and touring and hard work and word of mouth, and it’s really come around, we’ve been filling rooms right around the country for this tour.
‘‘We work along the theory of that if you put in 100 per cent in, you’ll get 100 per cent back. It became our day jobs six years ago and we haven’t looked back.’’ Life seems to be a string of musical moments for the Betty Davis-adoring firebrand, distantly related to opera royalty, Dame Nellie Melba.
The kicker though was being discovered by Byron Bay Blues Festival director Peter Noble at Light Your Fuse in 2006, a national musical conference in Adelaide, back when it was just her and guitarist Jeff Curran.
‘‘It was a big kickstart… it was the first festival we played as a duo,’’ Frasca says.
‘‘We walked out on stage to about 5000 people, it was amazing… it was the first time what we were doing was being shown to a lot of people.
‘‘The energy exchange between an audience and yourself, it’s out of this world. It’s like jumping out an aeroplane, that kind of adrenalin, and I’ve done both (laughs).
‘‘I had the opportunity to sing a song with Xavier Rudd at the Blues Festival, (with) 20,000 people in the audience… it’s hard to describe that feeling.’’
It’s why you believe Frasca when she says making music is not about record sales, but something much less tangible.
‘‘Years ago when it first dawned (on me), I’d been playing music and playing these songs which were pretty much generic blues music,’’ she says.
‘‘I had a break up with a partner at the time and I was so sad and so emotional, it was the first time I really connected with the lyrics, it was like a lightning bolt.
‘‘From that moment I really tapped into it, it was like crying through your music sometimes. Music is such a healing thing.’’
Frasca has since jettionsed much of the baggage through Sound Painter and slowly reattached the heart strings with a new partner: ‘‘You’ve gotta sift through the sh*t to find the gems,’’ she laughs.
Or sometimes you simply find them at the bar.
Frasca’s meeting with highly regarded producer Andy Baldwin (The Living End, Bjork) at a festival was another of those important moments that’s knitted her career so carefully together.
‘‘He was this wonderful guy I ran into, at the bar of all places (laughs) and we hung out all day,’’ she says of the man who would eventually produce Sound Painter.
‘‘He went back to New York and I looked him up on facebook of all places and found out he’s this crazy super producer. I was like ‘Oh my god, we were meant to meet him for a reason’.’’
Frasca was stoked to see Baldwin slip effortlessly within the structure of the tight knit band.
‘‘An artist can get carried away by a producer’s resume,’’ she says.
‘‘(But) at the end of the day it’s about the connection with somebody who has the same vision.
‘‘If somebody wants to jump on that same fire and passion, then that’s the person you gotta work with, so there’s no doubt in my mind it was going to be Andy.’’ Frasca admits the band took a financial risk to fly to the states to record, but the punt has paid off.
‘‘You can hear the confidence (in the recording), that’s the magic between us,’’ she says.
‘‘There was always somebody who had something to offer when the inspiration was drying up, there was always somebody putting an extra spice in the pot to bring it to life.
‘‘It’s hard to find that in a band, it’s like trying to find a great lover or a great friend in your life, and there’s a nice brother and sister thing going on when we work.’’
While Frasca has happily re-partnered, blossoming love won’t come at the expense of the band’s hard edge.
‘‘But there’s still plenty of darkness there, don’t you worry,’’ she laughs.
Dallas Frasca plays the Bendigo Blues & Roots Music Festival November 8-11.
Courtesy of Bendigo Magazine