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Jen Cloher Speaks to SEEN

The fabulous Jen Cloher took time out of her busy schedule to chat to SEEN. She’ll be playing London’s Lexington on 25th September…

Jen, many congratulations on the release of your new album! As it bears your name, may fans expect a more personal creative offering?

Thank you! I’ve always written from my own experience but this is perhaps the most direct. It’s a very honest album, I don’t shrink away from the truth. I address the backwards politics in Australia, particularly in regards to marriage equality, the challenges of being in a relationship with a touring musician and some of the more poisonous aspects of the music industry. Essentially though, this album is a love letter to Australia and to its musicians. It’s not easy being tucked down the end of the world, there’s been a lot of struggle for our great songwriters and bands to be heard but it feels like it’s opening up more these days which is encouraging.

What was it like being part of the Melbourne punk rock scene?

Hmmmm… I’m not sure I’m part of the punk rock scene so much as the Melbourne independent music community. There’s an incredibly supportive scene in Melbourne. People making all sorts of music. I suppose my music is as much folk as it is rock, which is probably a direct result of living in Melbourne where there are so many varied and interesting bands and artists. The small independent label scene, labels like Milk! Records that Courtney and I started 5 years ago, helps to build that grassroots community, which I love being part of. Honestly, some of the best music is being made in Australia at the moment. I encourage anyone who loves live music to come and spend a few weeks in Melbourne. There’s something amazing every night here.

How do you find working with Courtney Barnett and Bones Sloane?

Court and Bones have been in my band alongside my drummer Jen Sholakis for over 6 years now. We’ve made a couple of records together and played a stack of shows. I’m very lucky to have such accomplished players, sympathetic to the music but never frightened of letting loose and taking the songs to the very edge.

Is there a parallel between your Maori heritage and the strength a woman needs to survive in the music industry?

Haha! Perhaps. I think it helps to be focused and direct in the music industry, to be a leader of sorts. I think it takes a lot longer for a woman to be respected in music. You really have to prove your ability as a musician and songwriter, which is why women are making the best music in the world at the moment.

You’re in London, you’ve given your publicist the slip – where do you go?

I’ve got a feeling you’re going to have a much better idea than me. I’m always up for a bowl of dumplings and a trip to the National Gallery. Rock ‘n’ roll!

The Lexington
96-98 Pentonville Road
N1 9JB