Somewhere in between The Pixies, Lou Reed, Chrissie Hynde and The Breeders you can find Aussie singer/songwriter/ guitarist.. Jen Cloher. Yes, I know, she covers a lot of musical territory; and that’s what we love about her! In a previous interview she talked about the making of this album, “Released on Milk! Records – the indie label she runs with Courtney Barnett – it was recorded and co-produced in rural Victoria by Greg Walker of Machine Translations, who also contributed overdubs Cloher describes as “slightly off-tune notes on a guitar, violin and keyboard, fused to sound really wonky”. Ms. Cloher confirms her bewitchingly adept songwriting skills. Effortlessly melodious and tempered by “sugary” compositions with electrifying lyricical twists. Sonically its ear candy to 90’s Indie rock.. Her songs could make grown indie-rockers weep with joy. She illuminates a vast sprawl of a whacked out pop universe with the opening track of her recent self titled fourth album, “Forgot Myself”.
The second track, “Analysis Paralysis” determines that Choler is a sharply tuned powerhouse that is unapologetic and defers any diffidence regarding her guitar playing ability.. It has an instant catchy collage of bouncy bass, rhythmic stops and starts, and singsong vocals that could’ve been a definitive alt-pop single back in the ’90s.
The album hits a walloping gallop with a classic rock 70’s romp, “Shoegazers”… Its this moment when Ms. Cloher maintains a certain megawatt charm while reflecting a kind of jealousy/ admiration with her “wife”/partner Courtney Barnett – Perhaps she would perplex new listeners? It’s the vastness of her pop moments with drone slaked gonzo surf-rock guitar that envelopes her uniqueness.
Courtney Barnett & Jen Cloher
I had the chance to interview Ms. Cloher and ask her about her new album and her American concert tour which brings her to Los Angeles in January….
Rock Bands of L.A.com: You will be touring in America in January; which includes a date in Los Angeles…. Have you ever been to L.A.? So many Aussie artists say L.A. is so much like Australia.
Jen Cloher: I have been to L.A a few times now, it’s the U.S city I’ve spent the most time in. The Eucalyptus in L.A are what I most relate to as being very Australian. It’s our national tree and much of our lives are spent around Eucalyptus, I know it’s a point of nostalgia for Australian’s living in L.A.
Rock Bands of L.A.com: When did you meet Courtney? I’ve read reviews claiming your music is similar… I get that.. and I don’t think it’s totally wrong…. Your lyrics are more “politically” drifting yet there’s a gaggle for alternateens to relate to. When did you start playing the guitar? What were your musical muses? Isn’t this your 4th album??
Jen Cloher: I met Courtney in 2009 but we didn’t become a couple until late 2011. Courtney and Bones (who also plays bass in Courtney’s band) have played in my band since 2011. We’ve made two records together as this line-up now. I guess another big part of our life together is the label we started in 2012 called Milk! Records. We release our music and a lot of our friends music through Milk which we get a big kick out of.
I started playing guitar quite late in life. I was 20 when I bought my first second hand guitar and started teaching myself basic chords. My influences at the time were PJ Harvey, Mazzy Star, Bjork, Yo La Tengo, Sonic Youth – so many more – but there’s a start. This is my fourth album, my first was released in 2006. My style has definitely evolved over the years but I’ve stayed pretty true to my indie folk/rock influences.
Rock Bands of L.A.com: One of my fave songs, “Forgot Myself”. I don’t usually compare one artist to another but I’ll break down and say you remind me lots of Velvet Underground/The Breeders/The Pixies.. with Ghostly hums, looping bass and chugga-chugga guitar-drum breaks…
Jen: That’s a huge compliment to be compared to those artists, all of whom I admire so much. To be honest my understanding of the Velvets outside of the album ‘Loaded’ is minimal. I do love that album though, so maybe it seeped in? As a teen I was listening to The Breeders and The Pixies a LOT. Then I got into NIDA, an acting school in Sydney and got so deep into the world of acting that I kind of forgot about music. I basically missed the whole Nirvana moment, which is pretty funny! It’s strange though, I think the spirit of music just keeps living on through people.
Rock Bands of L.A.com: You tackle many aspects of the human condition throughout the album.It seems in the song, “Analysis Paralysis” (which I think is fuckin’ brilliant!) you reveal all the psycho analysis a human being can come up with.. At times it tis’ almost “comical”…As the song hits its 7th minute there appears an “atonal” sound from the guitar… It ends a pretty trippy jam……
Jen Cloher: Haha! Yeah it’s definitely a tragi-comedy stream of conscious kind of lyric. We’re all faced with some pretty big stuff living in the world today. I’m trying to find a place to put all of those feelings, sort of categorise them whilst realising how powerless it can sometimes feel to be a human on planet earth. That said, I’m 100% behind Patti Smith when she says people have the power, because we do, if we don’t fall asleep behind the wheel. It seems a fair percentage of the American public might have done so in the lead up to your most recent presidential election. What a wake up call that’s been though!
Rock Bands of L.A.com: This is a tough question.. and I’m not sure if it’s appropriate but I’ll ask anyway… Do you get annoyed when reviewers mention that you’re a gay woman when writing about you as an artist? Don’t you want to reviewed by the body of your work? What does that matter? Or does it matter? The music you play is like the life you live….
Jen Cloher: No not all, I love it when people pick up on that. I talk about the recent gay marriage plebiscite on Analysis Paralysis. Thankfully the law for same sex marriage was passed in Australia two days ago! Proof again that people are ahead of their politicians. I don’t think being gay would change the way people listen to my music, I don’t listen to other people’s music based on their sexual preference. I listen to their humanity and the things that we have in common and good reviewers do the same I would imagine.
We at Rock Bands of L.A.com want to thank Ms. Jen Cloher for her time to answer our questions with such great passion and Ms. Grace Jones of Grand Stand publicity…
Again, Jen Cloher will be playing in Los Angeles on January 23rd at the World Famous Echo…