Interview: Fanny Lumsden, fresh from Glastonbury, talks new album Hey Dawn, songwriting and family

  • Anna Blaby
  • August 4, 2023
  • Comments Off on Interview: Fanny Lumsden, fresh from Glastonbury, talks new album Hey Dawn, songwriting and family

Hey Dawn a new album by Fanny Lumsden is out this Friday, 4th of August. Hey Dawn is Fanny’s fourth album, following her award-winning release Fallow (2020).

Fallow debuted at #10 on the all-genre ARIA charts and took out Best Country Album at the 2020 ARIA Awards. The album also secured five CMAA Golden Guitar Awards for Fanny including Album of the Year, Female artist of the year, Single of the year (“Fierce”), Video clip of the year and Alt Country Album of the year. These are only a few adding on to a long list of awards, nominations and achievements for the fierce force that is Fanny Lumsden.

Fanny has appeared on Rockwiz, Play School Showtime, ABC’s The Set with You Am I, and was one of 12 Aussies in Global Music Match. She was also the Country Ambassador for Bigsound Country in 2022 and toured with the likes of Paul Kelly, Kasey Chambers and more. Fanny headlined multiple sold-out theatre tours, played Americana Fest in Nashville, and successfully undertaken 8 Country Halls tours.

Fanny just returned from her UK debut at Glastonbury’s Field of Avalon Stage. I had a chance to chat to her about that and all things Hey Dawn. Check out what she had to say!

The footage from Glastonbury looks epic! And that’s your first time playing in the UK. Please tell me all about it.

It was amazing! Like… it was nuts! I can’t believe they let us play it [laughs]. It was such a surreal experience. We went from touring here in regional Australia putting on shows in these little halls to playing like the biggest festival in the world in a few weeks. Epic transition! The audience was wonderful. We had a pact audience and they all got into the dance moves and sang. It was really joyous. First ever gig and it was in Glastonbury which is just crazy.

So excited for you!

Your last album Fallow done really well and got great recognition so there are big hopes for this one.

Haha! Yeah who knows I think you just got to write out each one in its own world, otherwise I might go crazy.

Tell me a bit about this album coming out and how it came together?

The last few years were really full on. The last album had such a strong presence that I had a lot of trouble kind of finding the new world… I was writing some songs but I just didn’t know what shape they were going to take… it took me quite a while to discover… I ended up accidentally driving all the way around Australia. We were touring and we ended up having to drive all the way to Darwin for a show because of border closures and then all of our gigs got cancelled and we got stuck up there because they closed the border. So we had to drive all the way around through WA… During that process I kind of switched off from the industry and that side of things and just lived for a little bit, I was also pregnant and had a toddler as well it was pretty crazy. That kind of unlocked a lot of that.

We recorded it in Tasmania with my producer that we worked with on my previous records. It was beautiful. There was another big storm when we were there, brought all these trees down and we didn’t have power for a week… so all of these natural disaster drama! So yeah… basically what I wanted to do with this record I just wanted to create something that felt good I didn’t want it to be too heavy or reminisce too deeply on the last few years of hardships I just wanted it to hopefully inspire some joy and thinking and storytelling and some observation in people.

Oh gosh! Fallow being inspired by your personal experiences during the bushfires where you almost lost your home and had to volunteer as a firefighter with your community, now this… Hopefully you don’t need any more close to death experiences to write great songs!

Yeah no more of that thanks!

You’re full of epic stories which is no wonder you took the path of a song writer! Tell me about your process when it comes to writing a song?

My favourite way to write is just to pick up the guitar, not think at all and see what comes out. And it’s in that first instance that something can arrive. Sounds a bit woowoo but I like to write in a much more subconscious way. I never go into it like I want to write about this or that. Never. It’s called going fishing: pick up the guitar and see what flows out. To get to that point in songwriting you have to live, you have to take notice of what’s going around and that’s why I find writing hard when I’m constantly working because I don’t get to just live. I find travelling the most inspiring times for me which I do get to do with my job a lot as well.

Hey Dawn is largely inspired by your childhood experiences. In particular, we see it in “Ugly Flowers” where you featured beautiful family memories in your video clip. Tell me a little bit about choosing to write about your childhood in general and “Ugly Flowers” in particular.

Over the last few years the combination of me growing older, having little kids and my grandparents passing away… It’s that generational shift that happened. I’ve been talking to my parents about stories I was told when I was young… those stories we’re told when we’re young kind of define us as we grow. But then when you are told them again when you are older you realise that you interpreted them totally differently [laughs]. So even though the story may have completely changed there is still some truth that made you who you are, it still exists in these original interpretations. I didn’t do any of this consciously by the way! I worked this out after I wrote it. That’s what I do, I kind of just write songs and then figure out what they are about after, so I can see that this is kind of what happened in this album.

I just love telling stories through little specific details… I feel like the more specific you get often the more universal feelings get sometimes. [For example] the seven different cakes on the table, we will always come together on a Sunday and celebrate whoever’s birthday it has been in the period since we haven’t seen each other. These kind of moments represent the greater feeling I think.

“Ugly Flowers” is a very special song. I got to go to my grandpa’s house and film there. He was very generous with his stories and our family images. With the internet now you have to remember how public stuff are so I had to make sure my cousins and everyone were ok with me sharing those stuff publicly. For us it is very special to celebrate our family and way of life like that.

Now that you are in that stage of life of having small children and touring together with your husband, who you co-own your record label with as well as him playing bass in your band, how do you balance it all out?

We have a very fluid world. Everything is chaotic and kinda bleeds into the other bits. It’s not ordered or full of rules. I don’t think we would function if we had strict rules about stuff because there is so much change all the time and everything is moving.

I love having our kids as part of the ride. We took them to the UK with us, we usually take them on tour. We have a caravan and they have their own little bed and toys and everything so it feels like home and gives them that stability. They know the band very well as well because they both been touring since they were born. They’ve been raised by my band. We often joke that we should be called, Fanny and the daddies!

That’s a great one. Love it!

Anything else your would like to share?

We’re just really grateful that people want to listen to our music and share it. And that’s makes such a big difference. The fact that platforms like the AU review still exist, it’s just the best! I am very proud to have this chat with the AU review because the platforms started around the same time that I started and was always very supportive of me. To see that this is still going and growing is great. It’s a celebration of community and that’s what we really love!

Credit: Fanny Lumsden

I had a great time chatting to Fanny! Such an inspiring artist and a long-term supporter of the AU review. Fanny is back home in Australia and will be touring her new album throughout the year.

Make sure you catch one of her shows and stay up to date with any updates through her website HERE

Grab your copy of Hey Dawn HERE

Anna Blaby

Anna is a Melbourne based mum, writer and storyteller.