It was all but five years ago that Danielle Caruana unfurled her musical wings and launched herself onto the world stage as the ballsy yet vulnerable soul and roots songstress, Mama Kin.
Caruana will be gracing our shores next month at Island Vibe, bringing with her a new band member and new material. ‘Was It Worth It’ is the first single lifted from Mama Kin’s second album, ‘The Magician’s Daughter’, which will be released this week followed by the album in early 2013.
“I’d describe it as lush and almost cinematic at times, underpinned by strong rhythmic qualities. I really love how the drums inform the flow of it all.”
Caruana and her outfit – brother Michael, George Servanis, and Matty Whitney – took the liberty of introducing an array of new instruments to the studio during the production of ‘The Magician’s Daughter’.
“We brought in some other interesting elements like a marimba, vibes, strings and guitar. Cinematic guitar paints a really great soundscape across the songs we’ve done and adds a different depth and flavour.”
Working with the producer who’s shaped the sounds of Owl Eyes and The Cat Empire, Mama Kin turned to the garden shed for inspiration, banging out one tune using a ladder and tom drum.
“We’re not scared of leaving our instruments and playing around with other textures to get where we want to get to.”
With band members scattered across the country, Mama Kin wrote the album during intensive creative periods; the band then immersed themselves in the music for a month during the recording process. They were also joined by Western Australian percussionist Paul Tanner, who contributed on the marimba, a wooden percussion instrument.
“You would just stand there with your mouth agape going ‘how are you doing that with four sticks?’ He creates this world on this massive wooden instrument.”
Caruana’s bold, sultry sounds hide a woman who for years sidelined her musical aspirations for motherhood and a self-doubt about her songwriting. These suppressed desires were reflected in her EP, ‘Beat And Holler’.
“It became a really loaded, toxic thing for myself personally and my family. The new album is me in a much more confident space as a songwriter and therefore having the freedom to explore different places and different songwriting cues, which has been great.”
A newly-found love for the ukulele has meant Caruana can be found wandering Fremantle, searching for lyrical inspiration.
“When I run dry I go looking. Last year I did a songwriting course which was absolutely awesome and gave me a total swag of new tools and new songs.”
Being married to the frontman of one the country’s best roots bands, John Butler Trio, can also have its perks.
“Our music is very different but we definitely influence each other. We don’t bring each other a song until it’s quite developed because as with all songwriting situations, it’s very personal in the early stages of writing and it’s really easy to take opinions the wrong way.”
The two musos met on the street when Caruana asked Butler for directions; and with the help of friends and family, they manage to strike a delicate family-work balance while on tour.
For Mama Kin her plans for the band are to continue playing festivals, evolving and broadening their horizons and fanbase both in Australia and overseas.
“It’s exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time.”
Mama Kin Plays Island Vibe Festival, North Stradbroke Island, Oct 26-28.