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Otouto: (l-r) Kishore Ryan, Martha Brown and Hazel Brown

Otouto: (l-r) Kishore Ryan, Martha Brown and Hazel Brown

Sorry for the ages that have passed since my last post, I’ve been rather busy with other matters (year 12’ll do that to you), but I’m back! It’s been even longer since I’ve done a theatre review, and those seem to be by far the most popular. It’s mainly a result of not seeing any plays (that’ll do it) but I’m seeing one tonight, The Hamlet Apocalypse, and I’ll try to get a review up by Monday night. Yay! Moving on from myself-

Two Bright Lakes is a Melbourne-based artist-run record label. Tonight they’re having a little do at Ya-Ya’s as part of the Fringe Festival, showcasing the talent of a few of their bands. Namely Otouto, Kid Sam, Psuche and Nick Huggins. Otouto’s frontwoman, Hazel Brown, kindly took the time to answer some questions for us:

How’s things?
Busy!
You supported Sarah Blasko on Thursday, that’s pretty exciting. How did that come about?
We have a new manager for Otouto, Adam Yee. He also happens to be a wonderful booking agent.
How’s the new album going?
It’s pretty much finished, but it won’t be out til March 2010. Our first single will be Sushi which we’ll just sell at shows and maybe through Polyester Records.
Your new stuff is very different from your first album, and along with that you’re now Otouto instead of Hazel Brown. What prompted the shift, musically and nominally?
It was a natural shift. Playing with Martha and great friend Kishore, we wanted to have an all encompassing name that gave us all credit and allowed us to be more collaborative.
Personally, what bands/artists do you listen to the most?
At the moment I am listening to Lake, The Dirty Projectors, (soundtrack) Where the Wild Things Are, No Kids and I’ve been listening to Arthur Russell and his many different styles for the past year or two, can’t get enough.
How did you first get into playing and writing music, and how did Otouto (then Hazel Brown, and with a trumpet in there) get together?
I started playing music at school: recorder, singing, violin then guitar. I started writing songs when I started playing guitar and had lessons with Mark Elliott who was very encouraging and inspiring. I recorded Rivers and Veins when I was 19 with the help of my sister Martha, and when we finished it we needed a band. Dave (trumpet) and Kishore (drums) were friends of friends and we started rehearsing.
What’s the process for you guys of creating a song, do you consciously aim for anything in particular musically?
Most of the time there are a few ideas already formed, and we discuss where we want it to end up. But most of the time during the writing process the song changes and doesn’t end up the way we imagined.
Where did the name ‘Otouto’ come from?
A book called (more…)
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Photo by Alice Boyle

Photo by Alice Boyle

David Peake’s first solo cabaret show, David Peake Has Everything He Needs,  opened last night at The Butterfly Club. In Writing on a Chalkboard’s first interview EVERRRRR, we covered such topics as his show, adjusting to an audience and how to get a job as police officer in the UK. We soon discovered the downside of using Facebook Chat for an interview, when despite the fact that were both online, Facebook decided to hide us from each other. That hurdle over with, we began.

David:  HI!

Jalen:  ahoy!

Jalen: How was opening night?

David: It was good. 3 people came.

Jalen: Hahahahahaha

David: Which was actually fine, it made me not nervous, which was a good way to start the season.

Jalen: Was it fun doing such an intimate show?

David: It was. Particularly because all 3 were supportive friends. However, it did make some moments a little laboured, as they felt it was their job to laugh, as opposed to a natural response. It was quite an extreme shift to what I had planned in my mind, so I even cut some songs and added some songs, because some stuff just wasn’t going to work.

Jalen: It’s good that you are comfortable enough to do that kind of thing, how much cabaret have you done before?

David: None solo, only 10 minute segments in 2 group cabarets with VCA alumni.

Jalen: You went to VCA?

David: Yes, the 2 year music theatre course.

Jalen: how did that affect your performance? Was it a huge learning experience?

David: It really was, not just for performing, but for life. I was quite young, 18, and quite an uninteresting introvert.

Jalen: Goodness me, that’s changed.

David: Lol, yep.

Jalen: What’s it like doing a solo show like this as opposed to acting in a play?

David: Similar and different. You still have to convince a room full (unless it’s Thursday) of people that you have something to say that’s worth listening to…But in cabaret, unlike theatre, you have to listen far more carefully to that voice in your head that tells you what the audience like and don’t like, and you have the freedom to play with that, and comment on that, which is also a main feature of a stand up comics world. Long sentence.

Jalen: We have an award for that. Yeah that aspect really interests me, I think it’s ignored a bit too much in most theatre.

David: It’s fun when you do have that freedom as a performer, but is very rare in theatre.

Jalen: How did you get into doing musical theatre?

David: It was really just an extension of the love I had when I started playing in music concerts at 7 or 8, it’s just with music theatre, I got to do more things. At a basic level, it’s just chasing applause really. Chasing validation.

Jalen: what’s it like when you don’t get that? Or not to the level you hoped?

David: I’d love to say “well as long as we did our best” and “you can’t please everyone” is a knee jerk reaction, it’s not. The immediate is at least some dejection.

Jalen: But the good times overrule the bad times

David: Oh, for sure.

Jalen: The material in the show’s all completely original right?

David: Yes, except for one Michael Jackson ‘tribute’.

Jalen: ahah lovely. What sort of process do you go through writing songs?

David: When it works best, it starts with having a feeling I want to capture, and properly defining that feeling. And I start with a little thing to play with on the piano with some chords, or sometimes, a lyric will be so strong, it will become a melody in my head immediately, and when I jump on the piano, the chords just know where to go. I like what Stephen Sondheim says on it:  “It’s not really the music or the lyrics first, it’s the music of the lyrics.” Or something like that.

Jalen: what sort of topics are your songs on in this show? It’s called “David Peake has Everything He Needs”, are they very focused around a sort of theme or story, or pretty disparate?

David: The first few take on a similar feel to establish the show, they’re all “I think this” kind of songs, although they’re sung cheekishly with almost concealed sarcasm from the opposite point of view…if that makes sense…

Jalen: Yeah it does. 

David: Haha.

Jalen: Is there anything you’ve been really tempted to do a song about but have thought it would be going too far or for some reason haven’t done it?

David: not really, this show does it. Or, as much as is solid enough to be done without offending a considerable portion of the audience. It’s about being clever enough to go as far as you want, while still making the audience feel like you at least take into consideration any opposing opinions. Because you’ve at least thought about it enough to be clever. And that’s all. Cool.

Jalen: Last couple of questions, a bit more…unusual shall we say. I’m going to grab the first question that comes up on the Yahoo Answers home page and you’ve got to somehow answer it and relate your answer back to your show.

David:  Haha! Lol.

Jalen:  “My husband wants to become a police officer in the UK – any tips to get in or general?”

(Yahoo answers users aren’t renowned for their clarity of expression)

David:   Haha. OK, I would suggest that he assist in the charitable cause of bringing sandbag the dog back home with the UK troops from Iraq (see facebook page save sandbag the dog). That would be looked warmly upon on any CV. This relates to my show because I make known my distress on the plight of this poor dog, and put forth the solution to keep our forces in Iraq permanently to continue killing people, so sandbag the dog has a home.

Jalen:  Of course

David: This is one of the sarcastic songs.

Jalen: To end our interview, why should people come to see your show (answer in rhyme of course)?

David:  It’s sure to impress.

I may or may not undress.

Jalen:  I’ll be there. I actually will tomorrow night

David:  Very good. Looking forward to meeting you’re face, to go with your very eloquent words.

Jalen: my face is looking forward to meeting you

David: your! Your! Not you’re! I hate it when people do that, not the least myself! Very good.

Jalen: The rest of me- not so much. No! Bad typing fingers! Don’t be mean to David. Sorry about that. Haha okay well thanks for doing this

David:  thanks yourself! See you tomorrow!

Jalen:  Ditto. Good luck for tonight!

David Peake Has Everything He Needs. Created and Performed by David Peake. The Butterfly Club, 204 Bank St, South Melbourne. Closes September 20. Sat 7.00, Sun 6.00. $22/$17. Tickets through The Butterfly Club. 

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