While many of Bendigo’s musical identities attended high school in the days when bands like Guns N’ Roses and Metallica were in their prime, Stacy Varner’s both a current student and a fan of music by older hard rock and metal bands. “People will disagree with me here, but I just like the whole vibe of the old stuff,” she says.
With a father who used to turn the family home into a heavy music haven on Saturday mornings while his wife was at work, the fourteen-year-old singer/acoustic guitarist developed musical tastes that aren’t necessarily shared by her peers. Although she’s a member of a generation that’s force-fed overnight social media celebrities and talent show contestants with tales of misery, Varner’s more impressed by the work ethic of groups like those mentioned before.
“The thing that really interests me,” she says, “is how they got there and how much hard work they had to do ’cause all the stuff these days (it’s) like put something on YouTube and [you’ll be] famous.”
Even if she’s not totally averse to television programs such as The Voice, Varner’s aware the main emphasis of such ventures isn’t always the music. “All these shows … sometimes you get people that aren’t very good but they have their sob stories,” she says.
At this very early stage of her career, Varner’s focused on getting as much experience as she can, including by participating in school-related occasions and awareness raisers like the Bendigo Suicide Prevention and Awareness Walk, an event she’s eager to be involved with because of the importance of the cause. She’s also been on line-ups at venues like The Music Man Megastore and the Golden Vine.
She performs as a solo acoustic artist and a member of a duo with a friend – at times taking songs by those artists she cites as important to her and giving them a gentler feel – and she was also part of a group that came up trumps at Catholic College Bendigo’s Battle of the Bands with a version of ‘Civil War’. One of the other members of that band was Varner’s (slightly) older brother, Jayden, who plays drums for local hard rock/metal outfit Path of Destruction.
Along with Varner’s contemporaries not liking the same music she does, they also seem to think that being friends with one’s sibling’s a bit weird. “Music makes us really close and pretty good friends,” she says, “but everyone (is) like, ‘You’re friends with your brother’?” Regardless of the attitudes of other teenagers, she cites her brother as a musical influence.
A part of Varner’s pragmatic attitude about the music business and what she has to do to succeed in it is her understanding that she’s got time to hone her songwriting skills. “I do write,” she says “(but) you’re always very self-conscious of your own songs so I’m progressively getting more into it more and more. But just for now I’m doing a lot of covers just to get out and get the experience.”
At the time of interview, Varner was looking forward to playing her first gig in Melbourne in support of glam rockers, Sisters Doll. Meanwhile, she’s also working with YO Bendigo, an undertaking that organises gigs for young performers.
Written by Darlene Taylor