Deborah Conway and Willy Zygier to perform complete Bitch Epic on tour

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Deborah Conway and Willy Zygier to perform complete Bitch Epic on tour

Two epic albums, make one epic concert! Set to be the concert event of 2019, EPIC is celebrating the new alongside the much loved; launching Deborah Conway & Willy Zygier’s tenth album, The Words Of Men and pairing it with 1993’s ARIA Award Winning and Gold selling record, Bitch Epic. We chat to the esteemed Deborah ahead of the show.

You’ve been creating albums for a long time now since your first with String of Pearls in 1991. What keeps you going?
String of Pearls was my first solo album but I was in a band before that called Do Re Mi. We put out a couple of EP’s followed by a couple of albums (Domestic Harmony which featured Man Overboard & The Happiest Place in Town), and before that, there was the ABC TV show soundtrack for Sweet & Sour where I was the voice for Tracey Mann’s character. It’s a really long time to have been plugging away at being a musician. Obviously, to have dedicated so much of your life to one pursuit, you have to love it and you have to be lucky. Perhaps most importantly, you have to have a burning need to say something in a way that hasn’t been said before.

How has your style evolved through each album?
Do Re Mi was a collective where we were all contributing to what was being created; String of Pearls was a strong reflection of me finding my authorial voice away from the band collective. It was a naive collection of songs in many ways, I didn’t want to overthink them and all these songs were kind of pouring out of me through that period, a sort of liberation from the shackles of pleasing three other people. I met Willy Zygier who joined me as a guitarist on the String Of Pearls tour and we formed a strong and enduring collaborating partnership. He had a formal Conservatorium training which complemented my self-taught rawness and I think those qualities are very much in evidence on our first album together, Bitch Epic. Since those heady days, we have continued to push ourselves harder and harder as songwriters and I think our last three albums – Stories of Ghosts, Everybody’s Begging, and The Words Of Men – are a testament to what a lot of drafting and redrafting can achieve. We have also had an acoustic revolution where we have turned away from using amplified instruments and synthetic noises, and have chosen instead to explore deep in the world of wood.

What was the biggest inspiration for your new album, The Words of Men?
The great waters of social upheaval we are all swimming in right now. We are living in interesting times, a Chinese curse but a blessing for your common or garden type songwriter. That, and steroids!

How has your husband, Willy Zygier, helped you along your musical journey? Did your relationship enhance your musical partnership?
Willy and I spend a lot of time together, he is an inspiring musician and a stimulating collaborator, but the main thing we do for each other is tear each other’s work apart in order to make it stronger and to force each other to re-examine everything we do until we really can’t make it any better. That is a truly valuable relationship to have with someone and it relies on trust, time and love.

Your new album is one of the most creative bursts in your 27-year collab with Willy Zygier. What themes does it touch on?
Well, the album is definitely the most political thing we have written together but we have tried very hard to avoid bombast or agitprop. I guess most of all what we wanted to convey, is the question and the provocation to rethink things we often take for granted. It’s always been very important to me to write from an honest place, to write to reflect a reality I am familiar with; in that way hopefully the song touches, moves or provokes listeners to investigate for themselves what they think of these things.

For your 25th anniversary since Bitch Epic, and in honour of your latest album launch, you’ll be presenting EPIC, the concert event of 2019. What should fans expect to see?
They’ll see energy, they’ll hear dazzling musicianship and they’ll be transported to a familiar soundscape that will remind them of things they were experiencing 25 or so years ago. Who wouldn’t want that?

Thanks for chatting with us! Is there anything you’d like to add?
This band will be startling and incredible, I would urge music lovers to not miss out, it will be a beautiful night of transporting musical adventures.

When & Where:
The Capital, Bendigo – June 13
Hamer Hall, Melbourne – June 16

Written by Naseem Radmehr