My auntie lives in Wangaratta. She’s a bible bashing Jehovah Witness. I never saw her smile and her hair was kind of stuck to her face. She despised me playing bongo drums at family events. I’ve been to Wangaratta twice in my life, once on the way to Canberra where I bought Dave Graney’s book at an opshop and then drove back home (never made it to Canberra), and another time when I tried to play a jazz gig on the outskirts of town the same weekend the Wangaratta Festival Of Jazz was on. Me and my band were trying to rebel against the jazz geeks. We had one young person come to our show. Some revolution.
Belinda Woods knows about revolutions and people not coming to gigs. She knows about not travelling too far to express your compulsive creativity to whoever might be passing by and she probably well knows how doodles reign the music industry, whatever genre or scene. I’ll use my editorial advantage to suggest Belinda has never really been part of the “jazz scene” yet is deeply respected by those within that jam who know whats best for themselves.
With her outfit LO-RES she is performing at this years festival. Probably the best reason to go…
B E L I N D A W O O D S
LO-RES HAS THAT KIND OF SUSPICIOUS AND FOREBODING ENERGY AS MANY OF YOUR OTHER MUSICAL OUTINGS AND COLLABORATIONS WITH TIM PLEDGER. IT’S SOMETHING YOU TWO HAVE BEEN DOING A LONG TIME, GENERALLY IN A FAIRLY QUIET WAY, JUST HUMMING ALONG NOT MAKING A BIG KABOOM, BUT KEEPING LOW-DOWN, CONSTANT, SUSPICIOUS, BEGUILING, DANGEROUS. DO YOU HAVE LOW AMBITIONS? OR DO YOU JUST LIKE STICKING IN THE GUTTER FREAKING PEOPLE OUT?
Well, I’m not sure about the gutter…between us we have produced and released 15 albums of original music in the space of 17 years – a feat that takes a lot of dedication, hard work and serious creative vision! I’d describe us as grass-roots people as we love playing to and creating a local community, and yes, we’ve been playing locally for a long time, but why not? Melbourne is a place that has and continues to inspire us – its a great city full of great music and I’m very happy to be here and continue to build the scene and my own sound within that scene. These’s no point running off somewhere else hoping to “make it” – better to just make music and make the most of life where you are!
WHAT ATTRACTS YOU TO THESE QUALITIES IN MUSIC? IS IT AN INSTINCT OR UPBRINGING OR MARIJUANANANA OR SOMETHING ELSE?
Well beguiling and foreboding are definitely words I like the sound of, so thanks! I am drawn to dark sounds, dense harmony, heavy grooves but these’s also subtlety and beauty in my music. It’s really the combination of dark and glorious sounds that I’m attracted to – I find these qualities engage me on a base level. They excite me energetically and when I play and listen to live music I want to be engaged energetically! It’s a whole body experience that has no particular narrative attached, but simply a feeling of jumping in and…where the hell did the music just take me?
NO DOUBT AS A VETERAN AUSTRALIAN JAZZ-OUTSIDER YOU WOULD HAVE PLAYED AT WANG IN THE PAST. WHAT IS IT LIKE AT THIS NON-CONFORMIST, YET, FROM THE OUTSIDERS PERSPECTIVE (ME) SEEMINGLY SEDATE AND SNOBBISH FESTIVAL?
Well, this year is only the 2nd time I’ll be performing at Wang – the 1st being last year – so I’m excited and happy to be (finally?) receiving this recognition! I’m definitely not a traditional Jazz artist so this has no doubt kept me on the ‘outside’ in the Jazz world, but Jazz is not about being conformist, its about breaking new ground and finding your own sound so it can be a little frustrating to see how many improvising artists in Australia have been overlooked when Jazz festivals are being programmed. I also think there is a huge audience out there that want to hear contemporary sounds and opening festivals up to the diversity of Jazz and improvised music is a hugely positive step toward celebrating the Australian sound – and I’m confident that the new programming team at Wang is on the way to opening these doors. Having said that, I recognise that there have always been a few ‘fringe of Jazz’ performers on the program at Wang, but not enough in my opinion. We need to see a good representation of the entire range of Jazz and improvising artists in order not to view festivals as being sedate and snobbish!
WHEN YOU WRITE A MELODY, DO YOU HEAR IT AS WORDS?
I reckon everyone’s different here, but I don’t hear words…sorry! As I was saying earlier, I’m ruled by energetic patterns that don’t carry a particular narrative – I hope my music can be read in many different ways, depending on who is listening and how the music is played in different performances. Yes, there are energetic structures built into the compositions themselves, but the specific intensities created in performance really depends on the moment and this moment is actually dictated by the mood and temperament of the band AND the audience. We react to the people in the room just the same as the audience reacts to us and so we can play something sentimentally or tear it to shreds – we don’t want to tell the same story every time, otherwise the energy isn’t there!
WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY AS AN ARTIST?
To be honest. Simply that! I tell like I feel it…
LA SORTIE IS THE MOST RECENT RELEASE FROM LO-RES AND CAN BE LISTENED TO, STOLEN FROM, OR WARM-HEARTEDLY PURCHASED AT THEIR BANDCAMP PAGE HERE.
TICKETS FOR WANGARATTA FESTIVAL OF JAZZ AND BLUES (NOV 3-5) ARE AVAILABLE FROM THE WEBSITE WWW.WANGARATTAJAZZ.COM