Mama Kin Spender on their dynamic collaboration and their most honest music yet

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Mama Kin Spender on their dynamic collaboration and their most honest music yet

When former room-mates and long-time friends, ARIA-award nominated Mama Kin and musician/producer Tommy Spender, bonded over their shared love of Rufus Wainwright, neither would have guessed that less than twelve months on they would have a full body of work at their fingertips, and that they would be ready to embark on an exhilarating new chapter of their musical careers.

“I can’t believe it’s all happened so fast – it was only about a year ago,” Spender says when asked how their dynamic collaboration, Mama Kin Spender, first came about.

“Tommy and I have always worked together,” Mama Kin adds. “We used to live together, way too many years ago,” she smiles. “One day we found this organ on the side of the road so we hauled it up to this place that we were living in and we wrote our very first song together. That song [‘One Night Upon a Cold Rooftop’] ended up on my first album Beat and Holler.

“This was long before I ever thought I was going to be brave enough to make music. So Tommy has been stitched into my creative process in some way or another for a really long time. He was also a production assistant on my second album, The Magician’s Daughter,” Mama Kin explains. “He’s always been in my corner, like a brother – and hopefully he feels the same way about me with his music.”

While both musicians have enjoyed success in the past, they make no secret of the fact that they were looking for something more. “It got to the point where we were both between projects and both feeling a little bit disenchanted, and we had kind of forgotten why we were doing it. I think that happens to musicians sometimes when they lose touch of the spark a little bit,” Mama Kin admits.

“So I sent Tommy a video of a Rufus Wainwright video performance of the song ‘Hallelujah’ with a 1000-strong choir, and it took both of us to our knees. In that moment we were both reminded of what we love about music – apart from the writing, it’s the performing and connecting with people. So we had this hair-brained idea to create a body of work that we could deliver to different community choirs all around Australia.”

“I love the idea that each town has its own sound – like each region has its own wine variety or its own flavour,” Spender says.

“We don’t just wanna roll into your town, hop on a big stage and roll out – we want people to hear the voices of the place,” Mama Kin agrees.

To realise their dream of working with choir groups from all over Australia, Mama Kin Spender enlisted the help of another friend. “We’re very lucky to have Virginia Bott – she’s the director of First Chorus Band of Singers. Like the George Martin if we were the Beatles,” Spender jokes. “She’s not on-stage with us but she’s doing a lot of work behind the scenes.”

Mama Kin Spender will appear at the Queenscliff Music Festival and are set to release their debut album Golden Magnets early next year.

“It’s very raw and real – very honest. It’s the most honest music I’ve ever made as a producer, or as a songwriter,” Spender says. “We haven’t over-dubbed it or manufactured anything. It’s the truth and that’s what we’re proud of.”

When & Where: Queenscliff Music Festival, Queenscliff – November 24 – 26

Written by Natalie Rogers