Photo: Rachael Barrett
Formerly known as Childsaint (more of that anon) Perth outfit CALMLY have emerged after a quiet(er) spell with a new single called 30, a song that has been simmering in the background for a little while now.
“30 is the last song we wrote for the album, but it’s still about a year old,” says bass player, Rhian Todhunter. “Chloe (McGrath, vocals/guitar) brought the song to a rehearsal and we built it up a little more as a band over the next little while. We tend to keep changing songs, even after playing them live for a while, and they usually change again when we record. It’s a bit of a reflection on growing up and getting older.”
Reaching the age of 30 can be a turning point for some, and difficult or liberating for others. CALMLY are in quiet contemplation of the event.
“None of us are actually 30 yet, so we’ll have to let you know when it happens,” laughs Todhunter. “Recently I’ve been a little more conscious of ageing in an industry that hasn’t historically made a lot of space for women as they get older. Thankfully that’s not really a thing in Perth, and seems to be less of an issue generally, thanks to the trailblazers and amazing artists that are taking their deserved place on stage, regardless of what side of 30 they’re on.”
Todhunter alluded to CALMLY's debut album earlier, a release that has been three years in the making. They’ve recorded it all under the mindful eye of producer, Mitch McDonald, of Perth rockers, The Love Junkies.
“It’s kind of surreal to have it pretty much done," she says. "We’ve been working with Mitch throughout the entire process to produce, record and mix the record. He’s been so instrumental in helping us take a collection of songs that were written and recorded across several years and create something cohesive. We’re really excited about sharing it soon.”
While the debut album has been bubbling for three years, CALMLY are very much a proactive band. A 2017 visit to the South By South West conference in Austin, Texas, was proof in the punting with much learned from the experience.
“SxSW was wild and exhausting,” Todhunter recalls. “We got to play some great shows, meet and watch some of our favourite bands and have a big fun holiday together. Ashlyn (Koh) - our manager/drummer/superstar - did so much to get us there and then heaps of work on the ground dealing with the music industry.
“Everyone at SxSW was obviously there because they love and want to support great music, but the pace and intensity of the industry was pretty full on at times. Mostly it helped me better appreciate what a great, alternative music community we have here.”
The SxSW experience happened shortly after their soul-soothing track, Hallelujah Heartache, was announced as RTRFM’s most-played song in 2016. To know that so many people wanted to both play and hear it as much as possible meant the world to the band.
“It was played so many times! I guess you never really know when you release new music if anyone is going to actually like it. To have so many people play Hallelujah Heartache on the radio was pretty overwhelming. The presenters at RTRFM are huge advocates for local music, and we would not have had anywhere close to the attention and opportunity that we have without the support of community radio.”
One could ponder if that sort of thing creates pressure for other songs to live up to. CALMLY , however, remain creatively organic…
“We’ve never really written music with the objective of getting on high-rotation or whatever,” Todhunter responds. “It feels pretty special when people enjoy our music, but there’s never been any kind of pressure, from ourselves or otherwise, to write a hit.
“30 is over five minutes long, which is pretty much out of the question for airplay on anything other than community radio. We really just want to make music that we enjoy, it’s a definite bonus if other people do too.”
For bands with a profile that have to change their name midstream, the ‘formerly…’ tag on their social media platforms can be a necessary but annoying reminder that someone told them they had to. Farewell Childsaint, keep CALMLY .
“Yeah,” Todhunter reflects. “We liked Childsaint, it was an identity that we’d built together, and it was pretty sad to have to let that part of it go. When it became clear that we needed to change the name before going to America - hello, cease and desist letter! - we had a hard deadline and an anxious couple of days of coming to terms with the change and finding something new we could all agree on, and someone else hadn’t already thought of…someone has thought of everything. It still feels a little bit weird, but it’s starting to get comfortable now.”
With the 30 single to be launched and a new year on the horizon, there’s much to be calmly considered.
“Our first album will be coming out in early 2019,” Todhunter notes. “We’re not really planning on playing any shows until then, so we’re excited for a big party when that happens. The rest of 2019 remains a mystery at this point, but mostly we’re just planning on writing more music together, and playing shows we really want to play with bands we really love.”
Calmly launch 30 at The Bird on Saturday, October 13, with help from Shit Narnia and Nika Mo. Full details via www.facebook.com/events/244281492947027/