Local beats queen Lana Rothnie debuts an all new live band for the launch of her first official single I Always Wonder Why at The Bird this Saturday, September 22. Known for her work with WOMPP (Women of Music Production Perth) and for playing in bands including Cosy, Didions Bible and The Mark Mcglue Band, I Always Wonder Why is premiering on RTRFM on Saturday ahead of the launch. Dedicated to to her friend Seb (1991-2018), she caught up with CALLISTA GOH to talk about it.
Why did you write I Always Wonder Why?
I think I wrote the song to celebrate the world as it is. And I think specifically it was a response to a thing that happened to me in my early 20s, when I was diagnosed with an illness that looked like it might kill me at a younger age. The despair of this time in my life was so much. I just didnʼt know what to do with myself. It took months to work out what was really going on. In the end a doctor ran some of the right tests and worked out this diagnosis was not accurate. I still live with illness, but itʼs different now. I know what’s up. So I wanted to write about being grateful and paying attention to beauty while you can, because it simply isnʼt always so easy. When I was writing it, I started out with a bit of very introspective music. Working on it over time, I realised the song didnʼt need to stay so sombre. So over the course of the song, it like, it moves to a crescendo, ending with a dreamy jam out and bringing the band together at the end with a punchy guitar lick. Iʼm really proud of it.
What does I Always Wonder Why mean to you?
Itʼs a nostalgic thing, kind of a passage back to my childhood. I grew up, up the coast, in Lancelin. Thereʼs no other real way to describe it, I was just a total dreamer. I would just walk around singing, completely lost in thought. And I remember asking our dad lots of questions about the way things are. I think the mystery of growing up, I think that really inspired me.
I recently lost a friend to cancer. The loss has weighed heavy on my friends and I. I think it also impacted me enough to change the meaning of the song. Itʼs no longer a love song, itʼs a song about continuing on.
How did the whole process go with writing this song?
I just locked myself in my room and stewed over this song. Then my friend Thomas Freeman got interested in what I was doing with it enough to pull a band together. So now we have our own little quartet. It may become a quintet at some point. Itʼs really wonderful, I respect all of them so much and theyʼre just all amazingly talented musicians. I really love playing in a band and I think a part of that is how much easier real human movement is on stage with a band.
Like I saw FKA Twigs at Laneway and the whole thing was so wonderful it made me well up. One of the things I remember was the freedom of her dancing. She really inspired me to move more. With my band I have managed to go beyond what I had imagined at the start. Learning how to musically converse with each other has been a very enjoyable experience.
The song is quite heavy with a kind of jazz sensibility. Have you done much in jazz before?
Yeah I actually studied it for several years, at WAAPA. The course was a big part of my life for quite a few years. It was like 8 hours of practice a day on top of early morning starts every day, and late night rehearsals. That was the bare minimum. I got through most of it, and Iʼm proud of that. You know being there was great in a lot of ways, but it was strenuous. I learnt a lot from the course, and Iʼm grateful for that.
Whatʼs your plans for the next few months?
After the single’s out Iʼm going to take some down time. That said, Iʼm packed out with gigs all through September and October. Thereʼs some raves on the horizon, and more things with the quartet. In February Iʼm heading to Melbourne to play some gigs. Thereʼs an album in all of this thatʼs going to happen. Next year maybe. Itʼs a long life. Also Iʼll be supporting Nylex at the Bird in October, so psyched about that.