Adalita Srsen is an icon in the world of rock. The lead singer of Magic Dirt, Jimmy from American Idiot and someone who barely needs an introduction. She’s someone that many a girl (and guy) has looked up to for her strength and the way she owns whatever stage she is on. KAREN LOWE spoke to her about the Hotter Than Hell mini-fest this Saturday in Dunsborough alongside Spiderbait, Jebediah and more, plus 25 year old EP Signs of Satanic Youth and the 90s.
You guys are currently on tour for the Hotter Than Hell tour. How have the shows been going so far? And does it feel like you’ve been transported back to the 90s?
It’s going great. Totally. We’re hanging out with mates that used to play with us back in the day. Definitely feel like we’re a heritage band that’s for sure, which is great. Being able to play in 2018 which is like nearly 30 years after we started all of this is pretty amazing and it’s been unreal. The crowds are fantastic, the festival itself is awesome and the organisers are great people. It’s a really good feel.
You guys are celebrating 25 years of Signs of Satanic Youth. Are you just as proud of that EP now as you were back then?
Probably more so because when you get a bit older as you can appreciate what you did when you were young. You can appreciate it from a different vantage point. Just hearing it, I can feel us when we were young. I can feel our enthusiasm. I can feel our love for the music and our innocence just starting out. So that was our first EP – Signs of Satanic Youth. Everything down to the artwork we were just so excited about. We spent hours on the details of everything and loved it.
It brings back a lot of awesome memories of us being young, hanging out together down in Geelong putting together this record. It was fun to remaster. Hearing it back it was like “wow!” Listening to the production, it’s quite different to the later records but very proud. The re-issue was quite a long process. We were very happy to acquire the rights to the masters last year which allowed us to release it on our label together with Remote Control.
It’s great to have it out there and Dean really wanted that to happen so we’re really happy and proud we made it happen for that reason. That was one of the main reasons and that was one of the things that inspired us to go back out on the road. We thought we should do some shows. It’s a huge deal for us; massive.
Throughout the years, you guys would have seen so many changes within the industry. What are the most positive changes that you have seen? And what are the most negative?
The internet changed everything. Downloading music changed everything and for a while that was really negative, it really impacted us. It was a real shock and I guess it still is to some degree where music is, I guess; people aren’t really paying the same price for music and in some cases don’t pay for music at all. It makes it hard to generate a living from that; to survive just on music alone. It was always hard so that hasn’t changed but it has made it harder.
The internet comes with its pros. Access to music worldwide at a much quicker and grander scale. Anyone can hear your music now so that’s great. It can lead to income and opportunities. I think it’s more positive than negative. We’re a band to look at it in a way that if there’s a problem, we’ll just find a way to get around it, over it or make up our own rules. We just look to find a positive or make up something else. I worry sometimes about the live scene and people going out and paying to see bands. I hope people still want to do that in the future and they want to go and see bands.
We’re slaves to our computers so much that we’re living in a virtual world at times. I think that the live music scene is still pretty strong. Everyone’s really proactive here and people do love going out so it’s probably just a worry that I don’t need to worry about. I think technology has changed a lot of stuff for the better, sometimes it can be a negative but it depends on each artist I guess, and how you deal with it. I tend to roll with the punches and Magic Dirt tends to do that. We try not to get in a place where we resist too much; where we resist the change. Sure there’s struggles but we just try not to let it get the better of us. We tend not to dwell on the negative. We just keep moving forward. It’s just what we do.
While there are definitely a lot more girls in the scene now finding their voice and getting up on stage, what advice would you give to the ladies out there that are either considering starting a band or are new to the scene? And what advice do you wish that you had been given when you first started?
I would say just do it. Go out there and do it. Write music; play music with other people. Surround yourself with people that you like and that like you and who get you. I think it’s really important. It can really make or break an artist when there’s someone there that just gets you and is your little cheerleader and championing you. Go with your gut. If something feels right go with it. Don’t overthink things.
For me, it’s never been about gender. My perspective of being an artist, a musician, going along with music has never been from a gender view point. Sometimes that’s been a focus in a moment or along the way because I’m talking about it for a reason or focusing on it for a reason. In general though, I’ve always felt very felt quite gender neutral. I’m a woman and I’m not a man but it’s just not been a real huge focus. I just do what I do. I feel like I’m just a person. I’m a human and I’m a person and I’m making music.
Even back in my day there was quite a few women in my scene and in bands but it was definitely outnumbered. There were way more guys than girls. My band is super cool. It’s never been an issue that I’m a chick. Even when I was growing up, it was usually the guys that were a bit dubious, were a bit confronted that I was a chick fronting a band or even in the band. They slowly came around but it wasn’t really an issue. So many musicians and bands that I used to hang out with and it was never an issue. In fact it was a cool thing to be championed. I feel like I was pretty well advised but by myself the whole time because I always had a very strong impulse to be creative, to express myself and if there was anything in the way, I’d move it out of the way. Whatever roadblock that was whether it be mental, physical, or anything external, but I didn’t cop a lot of flack.
I copped some heckling at shows; the odd journalist with a weird question and now with social media – the odd troll who gets their back up because I am a woman. Now they don’t say that right to you. They go a round about way. In particular I’m also quite a intense person and my music is quite intense. It can be at times, really forceful. That might be quite different for some people and they might not get it or might not like it and that’s fine.
My advice is don’t take any shit but at the same time, it’s really important to do your own thing and don’t worry too much. I reckon for anyone, if you want to do music just do it. There’s no rules. Just make them up as you go along. If there’s any shit, just shut it down. That’s what I used to do.
Getting heckled? Just give it back even more. If you’re at a gig, the audience is really supportive. They love it. They rouse up and they get like “Yeah! Fuck yeah! Get that fucker out of here if you’re gonna talk shit!” It’s the same in life. It’s the same anywhere. Most people would be there in a supportive way. There’s only a few that… I don’t know they’re either ignorant or they don’t get it or they just like to shit-stir.