Ready to start the day with a fresh cup of coffee in hand and a couple of butter menthols, Hannah Shepherd, lead singer of Brisbane darlings Charlie Mayfair, is prepared for her husky, over-exerted voice. The band is gearing up for their short and sweet, five-date Spring Tour, which will take them from Melbourne to Byron Bay.
Accompanying them throughout the month will be a duo from Sydney who is fast gaining recognition on Triple J for their single ‘Home’, The Falls. Shepherd is quick to pour excited enthusiasm over the pair who are supporting them.
“I haven’t met them in person, but I’ve been speaking to Melinda for a while now and you know when you can already tell how a person is? I can just tell they’re really nice, that it’s gonna be sweet.”
Shepherd’s keenness is also apparent for the group’s other Melbourne support act, local lads Dirt Farmer, who she says they handpicked. “When we heard their recordings we were just like, ‘Yes! Get them!’ So I’m really looking forward to seeing them live.”
Charlie Mayfair themselves have been gigging around since 2010 and the four-piece are continually evolving. “I don’t even remember what we used to do, no clue how we were as a band [in 2010] but we’ve certainly changed a lot in that time,” Shepherd says with a laugh.
Change comes in many forms and for a young band the line-up of musicians can often rotate before settling down. For Charlie Mayfair, they indeed said goodbye to a former fifth member who was grazing after greener pastures.
“It was the nicest sort of break-up imaginable, in a weird way,” the young songstress states thoughtfully. “He really wanted to pursue his solo career. It wasn’t because of fighting or whether or not we hated each other, it was totally amicable. We’re all happy knowing we are where we all want to be and he’s happiest making his own music.”
Which left lead guitarist Dave Christensen, backing vocalist and synth player Irena Lysiuk and drummer Will Weightman, along with lead singer Shepherd – to continue onwards on their harmony-driven musical journey.
“We’re all writers; we can all play a few instruments. It’s evenly balanced,” Shepherd says of the writing and recording process for the quartet. “Someone will come with an idea – either a whole song or a chorus or a sweet riff – and we end up putting a bit of ourselves into it and it becomes really collaborative.”
Lysiuk and Weightman both study music in some form at university in Brisbane but Christensen and Shepherd are, as she calls the two of them, “untrained little crumpets.”
“I can’t even use a computer, let alone a Mac thing,” she stumbles, “but the guys are really good at home recording so we do our own pre-production before it’s studio time,” Hannah chuckles at herself before spurring down what’s on in the future for the young musicians.
“We’re not sure yet if we’re ready for an album or an EP. We don’t know how it will turn out, we’ll head into the studio again very soon though and just record.”
Between the four of them, they listen to so much music that influences become melded together and they are instead inspired by a certain sound. Shepherd rattles off some names that have directed them down a “dirtier, darker, more intense than usual” path including the harmonies of The National, Bon Iver, Active Child and Imogen Heap.
“We just keep widening our inspirations and we keep our minds open to so much stuff. Something will come out and we might say, ‘Whoa, that reminds me of a mix between John Lennon and Daniel Johns’ but it’s still ours, you know?” the gravelly vocalist queries hypothetically.
“But we were just talking about it at rehearsal yesterday, how everything has been done before with music. It seems odd that a band or a song can be called unique when everything is a variant of something else.”
Shepherd adds cheekily, “But I reckon we’ve got some individual thing going on so we might keep at it!” Here’s hoping the young Brisbane quartet do for our musical sakes.