Melbourne alt-pop singer Ella Hooper and indie rock songstress Gena Rose Bruce have joined forces.
The tour is in support of their respective new releases, ‘New Magic’ and ‘Mad Love’, in which they’ll be performing together in a series of stripped back shows around the country.
In the midst of their Calamine Sisters tour, we chat to the duo about their new music, equality in the industry and each other.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with Forte, how are you and what are you up to at the moment?
E: It’s a pleasure! We’re in a car stuffed with instruments en route to Newcastle from Sydney, in the thick of the Calamine Sisters tour. It’s going great – amazing shows and response so far.
G: We have just left Sydney on the road to Newcastle – we are blasting NAF (the band).
You’re currently hitting the road through regional areas, what is it you love about getting out of the CBDs and how important is it to also visit the smaller towns?
E: Coming from a small country town, I know how quiet it can get out of the CBDs. I craved entertainment so much. I love touring regionally and extensively as you get a whole different vibe, and often a more intimate and excited atmosphere. We really wanted to mix it up with this tour, we were so ready to get back in touch with the smaller venues and towns. We love ’em!
G: The more places you go, the more you grow as an artist. Each venue, no matter what CBD or country town you are in, they are all different. I think it’s important to step out of our comfort zone and play shows where you don’t know anyone in the audience.
The tour has the title of the ‘Calamine Sisters’, has your bond throughout felt a bit sisterly?
E: Definitely for me. I don’t have any blood sisters, just a brother. But I do feel like Gee is a little sister of sorts!
G: Yes I totally see Ella as my big sister! It’s funny because I do actually have a big sister called Ella! So now I have two!
This tour is on behalf of your respective new releases, how would you describe each others in three words?
E: Moody, broody and Bad Ass
G: Poet, heartbreaking and empowering
And your music is similar in its topic of femininity, how do you think that subject is generally represented in the music industry?
E: I don’t know if I see as much honesty and variety as I would like. There was SUCH a trend for super soft, super feminine, ‘baby girl’ artists for a while, and that just doesn’t resonate with me. I like my heroines to be a little open, broken, vulnerable and yet strong. Women working it out. Not baby girls.
G: I agree, there isn’t a lot of variety of women in the media or on the radio. I think it’s still a lot to do about image with women especially, rather than musical capability. I blame social media for this also.
Do you remember when you first came across each other’s music?
E: I heard Gee through a music competition I was hosting, on-stage entering a regional heat of the comp and she blew me away from the first song. Still, she’s come leaps and bounds since then, it’s insane.
G: I was lucky enough to support Ella a few years ago. It was so inspiring to see her play each night. By the end of the tour, I knew every word to every song.
It seems there are more and more female musicians getting recognised for their craft each year, do you think it’s getting to the point of equality in music?
E: It does seem like some good changes are coming through! I’m seeing a LOT of female acts getting love. Still, I think the industry is often the last to champion and support. The people are voting with their feet and their downloads, now the festival promoters and radio programmers need to get FULLY on board and even that sh*t up!
G : I think it’s better than it’s ever been, but it’s still not equal yet.
When & Where: The Bridge Hotel, Castlemaine – August 13 Tickets available from the venue.