There are few music festivals who just get it right. They know exactly who their audience is and as a result have nailed the vibe, got a killer line up and worked out a map that just makes life a breeze. Kennedys Creek Music Festival is one of them, and have quickly become known as being one of the best boutique Aussie festivals.
Heading back to the foothills of the majestic Otway Ranges this year, Kennedys Creek will be celebrating double figures in the only way it knows how – with a damn fine location and a huge crop of local talent.
With performers from across the country gathering beneath the gums for what will is destined to go down as a golden year in the KC record books, punters can expect sets from Saskwatch, Jaala, Mildlife, Christopher Port, Theme Team, Fountaineer, Emma Russack, Jordan Ireland with Purple Orchestra, Baby Blue, Ruby Gill, Tomgirl, Merpire, Feelds, Easy Browns , Jacuzzi, Jackson Mclaren , Splendid , Zoe Fox and the Rocket Clocks, TUG, Big Yawn, Moonside DJs, Earl Grey, Josh Keys, and DJ Slymewave.
One artist heading to the boutique festival is prolific Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Emma Russack, who is thrilled to be making her debut appearance at this year’s edition of Kennedys Creek.
“I love playing festivals! Up until recently I was under the impression that my music wasn’t suited to playing them and then I was asked to play Meredith last year which was a huge honour and it went really well and we all had such a fun time,” she shares jovially. “So getting the chance to play Kennedys Creek is such an exciting prospect. A big stage with a big sound and all that stuff. Although, I’ve never actually been before, so maybe it’ll be a small stage with a small sound. Whatever the case, I’m sure it will be a blast!”
Known for performing plain-spoken indie rock and pop, Russack quickly became a humble internet sensation posting covers she had recorded in a makeshift home studio on YouTube after diving head-first into music when she was just eight years old.
“I was probably around eight when I recorded my first song,” she laughs. “It was called ‘I Don’t Care’ and I recorded it to a funny little tape recorder thing that my grandparents had. My uncle accompanied me on guitar and it was all very sweet and innocent etc etc. I always really loved singing as a kid and mucking around on the piano from a very young age. One day, I think I was around five or six, my parents just very casually asked me if I would like to get piano lessons. Of course I said ‘Oh, yes please!’.”
Russack is now a bona fide, critically acclaimed artist creating music fuelled with hooky melodies, slacker guitar, tongue-in-cheek humour and stream of consciousness narratives. Adopting the habit of releasing albums every two years since 2012, she broke her tradition last year with the release of her fourth album Permanent Vacation, which was coined as a less confessional album than any of her previous works, In a New State (2016), You Changed Me (2014) or Sounds Of Our City (2012).
With a passion and drive for making music that would no longer see her continue releasing music at a biennial pace, Russack recently teamed up with Lachlan Denton, guitarist and vocalist of Melbourne’s The Ocean Party.
With a friendship lasting nearly a decade, Denton and Russack first became known to each other when Russack played a show with The Ocean Party when she first moved to Melbourne. Their friendship strengthened when she was invited to play CMJ in New York City, where The Ocean Party were too. With an entire apartment to herself in NYC, Russack and the band would spend the better part of their time drinking beers and listening to music.
“Fast forward to 2018 and I asked Lachlan to help me move into my current house because he has a van,” she laughs. “He said yes and then he asked me if I wanted to record an album with him. The rest is history. But he won’t be joining me at Kennedys Creek.”
Their new album Keep On Trying, which was released back in July, comes just four months after their debut DIY full length When It Ends.
“Lachlan and I made a pact to write five songs each in a week and record them in a day at this house he was subletting a room in in Abbotsford,” Russack explains of their first album When It Ends. “I wrote my five (actually, one of them was a cover) and he wrote his five and then one Saturday he picked me up from North Fitzroy and drove me to the Abbotsford house.
“We had two mics and a very, very simple setup. We took one break for lunch and then we were done around 5pm. Then Liam Halliwell mixed and mastered the whole thing while he was overseas. That took a day or so. It was the easiest recording experience ever. It was a very similar process for the second album as well.”
“For the second, most recent album, we got Liam Halliwell to play bass and Dylan Young to play drums and piano,” she continues, referring to Keep On Trying. “Lyrically, I think there is more pain on the first album. Lach was going through a break up and my new-ish partner was away touring overseas and I was feeling emotional because I missed them desperately. The new album is more upbeat, both of us are in love (not with each other, but we do love each other as friends) and life feels good – and I think that comes through in the lyrics. Anyway, they’re the biggest differences between the two.”
With a collection of songs now to her name, Russack has also scored herself a spot supporting Bob Evans (aka Kevin Mitchell) for his upcoming tour in October following an interview with the Jebediah singer/guitarist on Double J last year.
“We’d never met before but he asked me the kind of questions only those who play music would ever really know to ask, so we had this wonderful on-air exchange,” she reveals. “Fast forward to about two months ago and his agent got in touch with me about doing the tour! I don’t have a booking agent or anything like that, so it’s always a lovely surprise when I get offered something cool that will take me to different places around the country.”
Taking her music from a makeshift home studio to the stage at Kennedys Creek and a number of dates alongside the acoustic troubadour Bob Evans, Emma Russack is sure to continue what Tone Deaf refers to as her legacy as one of the country’s most underrated indie rock talents.
Kennedys Creek Music Festival goes down from Friday October 26 – Sunday October 28.