Sunshine Coast band Dear Willow have transformed from a solo status to full engaging four piece band mode. They’ve just released their new single Happy, a song about the fragility of relationships. Lead singer Em-J chatted to the Hi-Fi Way about the new song and how bringing in new band members has changed the vibe of Dear Willow.
Happy is your new single. Can you tell us what that song is about?
Happy is basically me just word vomiting my thoughts on seeing people break up and then being scared of like “Oh gee, am I next?” And bringing to light a fear of commitment in my mind and just thinking about how we do it even though we’re scared.
Wow! That’s a pretty in depth. Do you typically write about such raw subjects in your songs?
I think it depends on the song but a lot of them for me feel raw but when you see the lyrics sometimes, they might not be as targeted as this one. I definitely write songs from personal experience and the experience of observation of people in my life so that makes it a bit more real.
You are now a band whereas previously you were a solo artist. What made you decide to do that?
Well when I started Dear Willow in 2012 I started it as Dear Willow not Em-J because I wanted it to be something that could be more of a vessel than just me. I wanted it to be something that could transition into a band if I found the right people. I played solo and then I played with session musicians for a while and in the last two years I found my current band mates and just finally found the right people to work with.
Is there now a different creative process when you’re writing music or do you now write as ac collective or do you still write on your own?
When were song writing I definitely still write some of our songs on my own but a lot of the time I don’t try to finish them by myself if I start writing them. I leave them open to a bit of interpretation because there’s so many flavours that the other band members bring in that it could elevated it to places that I personally wouldn’t have thought to take it. So, there’s a bit of that. Sometimes I start writing them alone and other times we start it from a jam like there will be a time where our bassist started a really cool bass line and then we would just build on top of that. And when we do that my role with in the songwriting in the band is more of a secondary role because I don’t want to be domineering and I see where they can take the song and then I just add my vocal and guitar parts.
How would you describe your sound? Has it changed much now that you have the band members?
Yeah! Well I guess at the start I was just playing my acoustic guitar and my influences back then were very folksy and my sound was quite folksy but I transitioned to electric guitar and I’ve grown up since I was 18 and when I started the project two years ago. Adding these guys and their influences as well we definitely have more of an alt-rock kind of sound going. Some tuff is a bit more shoe-gazey and some is a bit more grungier then some is more of a dreamy rock so we’re kind of flushy it out as we go and not eliminating any options.
Who are your musical influences? What kinds of music do you listen to?
Some of my all-time influencers are Jeff Buckley, Fleetwood Mac and a bit of Phil Collins and then some folksy stuff as well. Some of the other influences from my band mates like are Powderfinger, The Wallflowers and War Paint so there’s a bit of an array which kind of reflects on how we don’t 100% fit into one genre or another. We’re kind of like a bit all over the place with that!
Do you think being from the Sunshine Coast reflects on the kind of music you make?
Yeah, I guess like it gives us more of a relaxed feel. I’m comparing us to some of the other local bands and there’s a lot of reggae, surfy stuff and I guess Happy is probably a little in that field but the rest of our stuff not so much. I don’t think any of us are particularly the surfiest people in the coast (laughs). But definitely there’s a bit of the relaxed kind of feeling, not very uptight. We’re all pretty chilled out people in general.
What are the future goals for Dear Willow?
Well we’ve got a couple of shows coming up on the Sunshine Coast on the November 23 at WAX BUILDUP and then another in December in Brisbane. We’re also locking n some other dates over the summer and we’re really excited for that. We’ve just had some time song writing recently and going back into the studio just refining where our sounds going which is really fun to do.
Interview by Anastasia Lambis
Follow Dear Willow on Spotify…