The Undiscovered Musical Gem You'll Be Telling Your Mates About
Occasionally an artist pops up on your Spotify who's so good, you can't believe she's not a household name. That's the case with Western Australian musician St. South, whose stunning voice and gorgeously chilled alternative/indie/electronic sound on her track Slacks first inspired me to regularly recommend her to mates. I took five with St. South – real name Olivia Gavranich – to ask about her new EP, Inure. By Grace Jennings-Edquist.
Congrats on Inure! How long does it take to put a great EP like that together? And how does it work - do you have to set aside a certain number of hours' work a day, or are there times where you get inspired and just work day and night?
Thank you! The Inure EP was really different to anything else I’ve ever written. It started out as something purely cathartic and the thought of releasing it came months later. I usually spend months on the production side of things, but the majority of the lyrics on Inure were improvised and recorded in single takes over the course of two weeks.
I never usually write that fast but I was going through a lot at the time, and I definitely felt like I was knee deep in something and couldn’t rest until it was finished. [Ed's note: Gavranich has written elsewhere of the album: "Your early twenties are weird and terrifying. I spent mine learning a lot about myself. I developed a pretty debilitating Anxiety Disorder and somehow made it out the other side."]
All of the songs were written and recorded between 11pm and 5am, so my work hours can be pretty erratic and definitely dependent on my mood. I also do all of my recording in my home studio, which isn’t very soundproof, so recording at night is the only way to avoid unwanted lawnmower samples and my neighbour’s dog barking in all of my songs. That said, cold winter days are definitely prime writing time for me. Any writer’s block I have always comes unstuck when it’s raining outside.
I saw people tweeting you saying they found that your new EP soothed them when they were paralysed by anxiety awaiting the marriage equality vote result. What kind of audiences mean the most to you when your music touches them?
The process of the marriage equality vote was such a gruelling few months and I could feel the LGBTQI community growing closer together. I definitely feel as though my queer audience and I have a sort of unspoken affinity. I received a lot of anxiety-related messages after releasing Nervous Energy, and I think those were the most warming to read. When I’m struggling with my own mental health, there are a select few artists that are able to level me out and calm me down, so hearing that I am able to do that for someone else is the greatest feeling in the world.
I saw your Spotify playlist, Female Energy, and you're a great curator. Can you name a couple of Aussie women musicians you'd recommend (apart from yourself, of course?)
There’s so many I’ve been listening to lately! Julia Jacklin, Stella Donnelly, Angie McMahon, Vera Blue, Camp Cope, Alex Lahey, Middle Kids (lead singer Hannah Joy), Vallis Alps (Parissa Tosif), Kllo (Chloe Kaul).
You've been described as "something of an undiscovered gem in Australia". But you have the sound of someone who's going to make it very big, if I can say that. Do you have an ultimate goal in terms of how big you want to get, musically - is there a point at which you'll lay back and think "i've done what I set out for, now I can chill for a bit?"
I already feel so lucky that I get to do this full time. I think being satisfied is hard because most of the time I’m convinced I can do better. But I guess never being fully happy with my work just makes it limitless, which I love. When I think of ‘how big’ I want to get, all I can picture is me sitting in my bedroom getting better at guitar, becoming a better producer, and making my voice stronger and my lyrics truer. I always try to make sure that I’m doing this for me, and the fact that there are people who like it and listen to it is just an added bonus.