Conway and Zygier serve a tasty feast
ARIA winner Deborah Conway welcomes the chance to reacquaint herself with the Tanks Arts Centre.
“I love playing in Cairns and Tanks is a really great venue,” she says. “It’s a great northern cultural centre for innovative music and people doing interesting things.”
Her March 4 outing at the recently renovated creative hub sees Conway perform as part of Women in Song; a concert that will bring together many female artists in a single event as part of the venue’s International Women’s Day celebrations.
Conway, known for songs such as Release Me and It’s Only the Beginning, will be joined by artists Fleur McMenamin, Mojo Juju and others.
Women in Song isn’t Conway’s first involvement in a project celebrating female musicians across a diverse array of backgrounds.
Conway and partner Willy Zygier produced a long-running concert series — Broad — that featured female singersongwriters performing on the same bill. The project aimed to showcase the diversity of women singer-songwriters and saw the involvement of such artists as Sara Storer (who will also perform in Women in Song), Katie Noonan and Kate Miller-Heidke.
“It was in response to that idea that women, female singer-songwriters, were being lumped together on radio playlists — ‘Oh, we can’t have that. We’ve already got a female singer-songwriter’ — or in record stores.
“Actually, the idea that this was some kind of monolithic genre is, of course, a nonsense.
“There are so many intricate differences and different aspects to how women would conduct and respond to writing songs,” Conway points out.
Among Conway’s own songwriting achievements is Man Overboard from her time with the band Do Re Mi. It was written with Dorland Bray and is, in simple terms, about being a woman of strength. It is the only song Conway sings from the outfit and it may be heard at her Tanks performance.
“It remains to be seen,” she says. “It seems fairly on topic however.”
Asked just what she sees as the song’s message, Conway reveals something of her own views on music.
“I always think that songs kind of belong to the listener in a way,” she says. “I’ve always found it’s a ‘ don’t mess with me, I’m not yours to be messed with’ kind of a song.”
Conway will perform at Women in Song with Zygier, and the two “very rarely” play apart these days.
“I’m a very meat and potatoes guitar player,” she says. “He’s anything but. He’s the chilli and the garlic and the spice to my meat and potatoes.”
She has recently finished writing another album, but as for what some of the themes in that new material are, Conway admits “it’s pretty angry.”
“But it’s not necessarily angry about gender issues.”
Deborah Conway performs as part of Women in Song at the Tanks Art Centre on March 4. Tickets from ticketlink.com.au
Deborah Conway and Willy Zygier.