Reconciling family with career.
WITH nine ARIAS, 12 Golden Guitars and a stack of other writing and recording awards under her belt, Kasey Chambers is the undisputed queen of Australian country music. The mother of three spent late January at the Tamworth Country Music Festival, 20 years after she first performed there as part of the Dead Ringer Band, with her parents, Bill and Diane, and brother Nash. Married to singer- songwriter Shane Nicholson, Chambers had her first daughter Poet Poppin ( both pictured) last October, a sister to sons Arlo and Talon, and also released her autobiography,
A Little Bird Told Me, which detailed her unconventional upbringing on the Nullarbor Plain and her battle with an eating disorder at the height of her fame.
Q. How has Tamworth been this year? A. It’s been really good. Numbers were down last year because of the Queensland floods but it has really picked up this year. It’s absolutely packed. Q. Is there a real camaraderie in the Australian country music scene? A. I love it. It’s like any industry – there is an element of people who just want to be famous and people who want to drag other people down but that’s not the main part of it. Most people are there to have a good time and a lot of us are really good mates and we love getting together and singing together and going to each other’s gigs. And if you don’t get an award, you usually see it going to one of your mates. Q. You already have a truckload of ARIAS and Golden Guitars. Do you still get a kick out of winning awards? A. People often think, ‘ Well you have tons of them’ but the thing for me is that each ARIA or award represents a different album or song and they are all so special to me. I don’t really compare one album to another. They are kind of like my children – you’re not supposed to have a favourite. Q. Writing seems to be feast or famine for you. How do you know when the muse is striking? A. Sometimes it’s when I am sitting at home cooking dinner. Sometimes I feel, ‘ I have a day off tomorrow, I might do some writing’. Sometimes I think I should do some writing and then never get around to it. I wish I had more control over it and could turn it on and off and make sure it happens when I have enough time. But it has a mind of its own. Q. Who has been your biggest musical inspiration? A. Outside of my father, I would have to say Lucinda Williams. She has been someone I have looked up to for a while. She still makes some of my favourite music and I always loved her career, as well. It was all about the music and her putting her heart on her sleeve and being herself. I have tried to take a leaf out of that book. Not everything in my life I am proud of, but it’s all me. Q. With its honest revelations of your eating disorder and abuse and some dark periods in your life, how has your recent autobiography been received? A. I do put my heart on my sleeve and I put my faults and mistakes and downfalls out there, especially in the book, but at the end of the day, these are all the things that make up who I am. I’d have loved to have written a book that just listed all the awards I had won but I don’t think they would have much of a bearing on who I am as a person. Unfortunately, it has been a lot of the hard times and bad decisions I have made that have created the person who I am. Q. How did you end up reconciling your career and your family? A. My family saw all this happening long before I did and they were with me the whole way. My manager also happens to be my brother and he cares more about his sister than he does about his artist. He is always the first one to say, ‘ You don’t need to say that, go and have a week off’. It’s great to have those people working around me.