FELICITY GROOM The X-Press Interview

Felicity Groom is expanding horizons with her immersive new live experience GALACTAGOGUE, debuting as part of Fremantle Festival’s 10 Nights in Port this Saturday, July 13. Riding the release of new single Backwards Forwards and approaching its single launch this weekend, Felicity spoke to CAITLIN NORRIS and unraveled the process behind the audiovisual creation.

What inspired you to release Backwards Forwards as the first single of this new era?

It was kind of a unanimous vote. I asked my band mates Andrew Ryan and Michael Jelinek – Michael actually mixed the song and helped produce it. The song is kind of a little step into what’s in there, what’s in the album.

Conceptually and sonically do you feel like this coming album explores a new side of your creativity?

Definitely. It really was a new experience in terms of producing it pretty much on my own in my little front room. I worked on it and then called upon my friends and team to help contribute. Andrew Ryan added the drums to the single, as well as some bass parts and Michael helped me tidy up all the sounds. I had written all the midi glockenspiel and he actually ended up doing them live for me which was great, replacing that midi sound with something real.

What kind of influences musically had you been drawing on during the time of writing and recording the single?

The single is actually a really good one to talk about! Recently we opened up our house to musicians to stay when they were doing gigs in town. We had a few musicians come through, some of them were really amazing and I really enjoyed chats with BOYTOY – they were really awesome ladies who were a fantastic group and I really enjoyed our conversations. And then The Courtney’s came to stay as well, and they’re another beautiful bunch of women. It was after having really inspired chats about all sorts of things in the world, I was driving them back to the airport and it was driving back home that the melody for the single came to me. It was definitely inspired by their fun energy.

Is this weekend going to be the first time you’re performing the single live?

Yes, it is! It’s quite nerve wracking but it is exciting as well. We have done one gig previously at Mojo’s where we gave most of the songs a run, but this is the first time we’ll be performing the single. The album is called Magnetic Resonance Centre and it’s the first time we’re performing the whole lot of songs that’ll be coming out on that.

Where did the idea for the album title spring from?

From a place in Subiaco [laughs], it’s actually the place where I went to have an ultrasound for my pregnancy with my youngest and Andrew saw the sign and he said, “Magnetic Resonance Centre, that’s a cool album name.” And I said, “yep, that’s cool.” So we nabbed it. The themes very much throughout this whole record are about motherhood and Mother Earth and motherboards, and the show Galactagogue we’ve got coming up – it’s huge production and our official artist Poppy Van Oorde-Grainger has pulled it all together with artists such as Dom Pearce, Curtis Taylor, Hungry Sky and myself contributing as well. So she has produced this whole show and pulled together all the visual artists to make visuals to kind of highlight the themes of the album.

What sparked the creation of Galactagogue?

I was talking to Paul Sloan and he loves to have big ideas, and one of his big ideas was that the show should be more experiential. We took that advice on board and developed the show. Went for an Australian Council Grant, got the grant!

Has the rehearsal process changed now that you’re introducing all these new elements?

It is massively different. I have to give a real shout out to Michael Jelinek – I wrote the album in Ableton using lots of midi and he really kind of deconstructed that and worked out who could play what and how we could play it and how it could be transformed into a live thing. He spent a lot of time figuring out how the fuck we were going to do it live [laughs] because when I wrote it I purposefully didn’t consider that aspect because you don’t want to be limited by the other end, you just want to make music. So we all had to learn our parts and work out how we were going to play them and then with the visual aspect there’s been a few tech runs. I’m super excited, I wish I could actually watch it.

You’re debuting the show during Fremantle Festival’s 10 Nights in Port which is going to be a super¬†interesting setting for such a live experience…¬†

Yeah! Well, the St John’s Church, they’re awesome. I’ve performed there twice before and it’s a beautiful space to play in and it’s awesome that the Father is open to that being a performance space because it’s very special.