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Exclusive Interview with McKisko

Before she heads out on tour promoting the release of Good Grief! We got the chance to sit down with Brisbane's very own McKisko (Helen Franzmann) and talk about the upcoming release and tour.


Good Grief is the first of five seven inches to be released over eighteen months, what was the motivation behind choosing to release it this way?

I was feeling a bit uncertain as to how to approach releasing music after Glorio. I had all of these songs and wasn’t sure if they worked as an album. I like vinyl; the process of putting it on, listening more actively, the way it feels, looks and sounds. Through releasing vinyl and digital music I can cover all bases. If people really want a CD I can burn it for them. Most people are downloading it all for free now anyway huh.

You have added long time friend and drummer Kurt Read to your line up. What’s it been like working with Kurt? And what has he brought to the project and the new songs?

Working with Kurt is like having a manager in some ways. He’s good at helping me to find some focus; I can be pretty dreamy. We know each other well now and we’re able to almost predict what the other is going to say or feel about a recording. We both have strong musical ideas and are flexible enough to make them come together. I trust him with capturing the sound. He’s been great to work with. He makes good Mexican feasts too.

Where did you record and who have you worked with on Good Grief and the new material?

I recorded in one little room in one little house in Wooloongabba, Brisbane. Kurt recorded the songs and is the key person with whom I’m working on all the releases.

How has your approach to song writing progressed or changed since the release of Glorio?

I have less time now so song writing comes in short bursts of allocated time. This is really difficult so I write very slowly.

In 2009 you were the recipient of the Grant McLennan Memorial Fellowship and travelled to Berlin as part of your prize. How did the experience of winning the Grant McLennan Memorial Fellowship and living in Berlin help you as an artist?

It was a total gift. I generally have low expectations with awards and grants. This was the first time I'd applied for one. I received the fellowship in August 2009 a few weeks before I had my son, Reuben. I left for Berlin in April 2010. It was $20,000 that they gave at the time - I think it's up to $25,000 now. That kind of money in Berlin allowed us to rent a small apartment to live in and then another small studio space for me to write and record in.

I tried to treat it like work and headed to the studio for most mornings and then explored the city in the afternoons/ nights. I played a couple of shows there and one in Paris. There's a strong DIY attitude in Berlin - People just set up events and shows in tiny spaces and make them work. There was always something going on. It was cheap living, which is part of the attraction for musicians and artists. It inspired me to keep writing and playing, for a little while there I thought I was done.

What inspires you to write and perform music?

Everything I read, hear, see, do and feel. It’s my only outlet.

You will be kicking off your tour in Sydney at FBi Social on October 9. What can audiences expect from the upcoming shows? Any surprises?

No surprises. A woman. A man. Drums. Guitars. Keys. A voice. No bass.

If Mckisko were an animal, what would it be?

A cat. It will quietly sneak up on you to nuzzle if you let it.

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