Australian musicians Holly Throsby and Darren Hanlon spoke about their approaches to songwriting at The Green Room Lounge in Enmore on Thursday in an event sponsored by 2SER-FM. The pair was in conversation with music director Andrew Khedoori, from a dimly lit corner of the bar. The luxurious couches of The Green Room Lounge were pushed aside, replaced by rows of tiny stools to accommodate the crowd.
Holly and Darren, who have been friends for years, spoke about the difficulties of writing songs. Darren, well known for his love of being on the move, said his songwriting is a lengthy process. “I just got back from a five-week sabbatical in Broken Hill and I only wrote two songs. I’m a literal songwriter, I need to see things and have crazy experiences to form my songs.”
Holly said that mostly she struggles for lyrics, and that unlike many songwriters, prefers to write new material while she is touring. “I tend to write more when I’m travelling – on tour, in cars and in planes. Also, getting dressed into something better than sleepwear helps.”
Holly described Darren’s music as being character-driven and telling stories but said her own songs are more personal. “People think I should talk about myself; it’s a singer/songwriter connotation. They have this expectation because of the type of musician I am,” she said.
The two musicians were asked to cover a song that inspires them. Holly spoke of growing up listening to Paul Simon, and praised his songwriting skills before picking up her guitar and playing Gumboots, from the legendary Graceland album. Darren performed This Will Be Our Year by The Zombies on his “song machine guitar”, on which he’s written most of his music.
They went on to perform an original song. Holly chose What I Thought Of You from her last album, Team. She said that she has begun work on an upcoming album, but there will be no change in her musical direction. “My new songs are an extension of my previous work; my new album will be an extension of Team.”
Darren played The Ostracism of Vinny Lalor from Fingertips and Mountaintops, after recounting his chilling experience of having “found” the lyrics to this song while trying to summon a ghost at the world’s oldest silent movie theatre in Pomona, Queensland.