Gretta Ziller’s critically-lauded debut album Queen of Boomtown (2017) was long-listed for the Australian Music Prize, and was nominated for The Age Music Victoria Awards. Ziller has been an APRA Professional Development finalist, garnered two Golden Guitar nominations, and has performed at Australian Music Week. Judas Tree finds Ziller ranging far and wide over the sonic landscape, pushing her uniquely expressive voice, kaleidoscopic sound, and deft song writing skills to dizzying new heights. An exhilarating departure from the softer Americana poise of Queen of Boomtown, Judas Tree deploys richly layered guitar-driven sounds, building on Ziller’s roots in blues, rock, jazz, and pop. The result is an album that draws from many wellsprings: desert rock, psych, power pop, and more, capturing the sounds of inspirations from Rag’n’Bone Man to Bishop Briggs. The result is an eleven-track songbook that frequently defies categorisation. Gretta tells Hi Fi Way more about the album.
After a very challenging eighteen months was there a feeling of relief that your awesome new album Judas Tree is finally out?
Oh gosh yes! We recorded Judas Tree, October 2019 so I’ve been impatiently sitting on these songs for two years now, without playing them live or sharing them with anyone … I can’t tell you how hard that is haha! I’ve been like a kid waiting for Christmas Day for two years!!!
How much did COVID disrupt best laid plans?
Ha! Any plan that involved me leaving my house in the past eighteen8 months went the way of the Dodo! I managed to do most of a tour in June this year, but even that had shows that were cancelled because of outbreaks and lockdowns! It’s been a wild time!
Did it force you to work differently to how you have done before when it comes to making an album?
I was so lucky to have finished the recording process before everything stopped so it’s really only affected the releasing of an album.
Did everything go to plan?
Hahah! No! We had originally wanted to release the album last year but held off because I couldn’t tour. This year I had a massive tour scheduled around the album release, but I didn’t even end up announcing those shows. I held off because it looked like we were going to go into another lockdown here in Melbourne in August .. It’s now October. In saying that I do think this eighteen months has allowed us to throw the rule books out, we’ve been able to think outside the box with this release plan because there isn’t a box anymore. I think for independent artists this has been amazing! Personally I’ve been really focused on creating a really lovely community of people that just happen to listen to my music. I want to know everyone, I really want for us to share our lives with each other, I think that is so important for us as humans, community and acceptance, and if we can do that through music it makes it all the better!
Sonically, do you think your sound has changed much on this album?
Most definitely! I went into making this album wanting it to be bigger, and fuller and oomphier! I think Paul (Ruske – my producer) and I have achieved that. I think if folks listen to ‘Queen of Boomtown’ then ‘Judas Tree’ they will hear the evolution of the sound.
Were there any significant influences this time round?
Yeah definitely, I actually make playlists of influences for each recording I do, so while I was writing & recording ’Judas Tree’ I was listening to a lot of Rag n Bone Man, Sturgill Simpson, The Preatures, Hozier, Bishop Briggs, Lucinda Williams … just to name a few!
Stockholm is a powerful single, what is the story behind this one?
Stockholm is one of a few songs I wrote on this album about breaking away from a toxic relationship. It’s freaking hard, I knew I was in it, I knew what they were doing to me, I knew what I was doing to me, I knew I wanted out but we had this corrosive co-dependency that kept us both in it.
What was your reaction when you played the final mix back for the first time?
Listening to final mixes is still really new to me so I get so excited and a little emotional! I called Paul (Ruske) and got a little weepy!
How did you celebrate release day?
Haha! I think I’m about to burst any illusions of glamour of release day here!! I worked … I did admin all day and caught up on all the things I hadn’t been able to do in the weeks leading up to release day!! My partner and I did have a lovely celebratory dinner that night, my local cafe (shout out to Stanley Mount Waverley) puts on nights where other restaurants come in and do fancy take away meals … so we splurged and supported local businesses!
Are you hopeful you might be able to tour soon?
I am currently making plans for touring in 2022 and I can’t wait!
What’s next for Gretta Ziller?
I am making plans to record again as soon as I can, I don’t want it to be four years between releases again and of course touring when we can!
Interview By Rob Lyon