The inaugural Alex Blake Charlie Sessions kicks off tomorrow at Pasir Panjang Power Station and if you’ve yet to get familiar with them, it’s the first music festival in Singapore to feature an all-women musician line-up. Organised by the same good people behind Laneway Singapore, the line-up leans heavily on well-regarded indie names and among the 14 acts that will be playing, Stella Donnelly, one of Australia’s buzziest singers of the moment, is one we’re really looking forward to.
The pixie-ish 26-year-old (Amelie, anyone?) has caught the imagination of many with her easy, folksy tunes but beneath the breeziness, she addresses many pertinent issues such as abortion laws and white nationalism, most notably with her soaring anthem Boys Will Be Boys, in which she decries the rampant monolith that is rape culture.
“They said, ‘Boys will be boys’ / Deaf to the word no / Your father told you that you’re innocent / Told ya women rape themselves / Would ya blame your little sister / If she cried to you for help,” she sings plaintively, made all the more painful after you find out that she wrote the song based on a close friend who got raped.
Prior to her show tomorrow, we talked to Donnelly on what makes her tick as a musician:
On coming to terms with her burgeoning fame:
It’s been an absolutely crazy few years travelling around and performing, my hometown of Fremantle is definitely a more slow moving place that really helps me unwind and process what has been going on, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it all though!
On how she’d describe her sound:
To me, ‘honest pop’ feels like the right description for my music but a lot of my stuff is influenced by the folk sound.
On her music inspirations growing up:
I grew up listening to Billy Bragg, Paul Kelly, Catatonia and Nina Simone. I was really inspired by the stark lyricism that was carried by the somewhat simple instrumentation.
On what she gets up to in her free time:
I have recently taken up bird watching! We have so many beautiful birds here in Australia and my house is not far from a swampland!
On her favourite book and film:
Does Harry Potter count? No, just kidding, I think the most transformative book for me was My Life On the Road by Gloria Steinem, I still use it as a resource for feminist literature and history. On another note my favourite movie of all time is This is Spinal Tap.
On her ideal musicians to share a stage with:
Patti Smith, Sharon Van Etten, Cate le Bon (who will also be playing at Alex Blake Charlie Sessions, FYI), Julia Jacklin and Courtney Barnett
On her plans for 2020:
I’m planning on getting back into writing songs! It’s been such a crazy year that I haven’t been able to put pen to paper so hopefully this season will bring some new ideas.