The life of a travelling musician might evoke a restless, romantic solitude like the boxcar hopping troubadours of yore. But as Adelaide-raised but currently itinerant songwriter Kelly Brouhaha explains it’s actually an incredibly communal experience.
Between crowdfunding, skillsharing and a finding a warm shower between shows, it takes a village to raise an independent musician in 2017.
“There’s heaps of community, I’m not really ever alone which is nice,” Brouhaha says from Newcastle, where she is currently camped in the van she calls home. “I live in my van which is called Pamela Vanderson, and I loiter in people’s driveways and play shows,” she laughs. “All my family are in Adelaide so I go home when I can, but mostly I stay with other singer/songwriters around the country — I’ve been to a lot of retreats and workshops where I’ve met lots of people, which has been handy.”
“I’ve stayed on the highway a few times, and when the cars go by it rocks you to sleep,” she says, an image that sounds both daunting and blissful. “But mostly I’m in people’s driveways and backyards.”
The current leg of this open-ended tour coincides with her latest release, an EP dubbed Mama Didn’t Raise A Quitter. It’s been a long road to get there, with challenges that helped push that mantra of resilience to the fore of the project.
“I think the business side is more of the job than people realise, and it’s really hard too because its such a saturated and competitive market. It’s hard to break through all that noise.”
Brouhaha credits the influence of independent musicians like Jen Cloher and Clare Bowditch for this pragmatic approach to the industry. “[Cloher’s] course is a godsend, I’ve been four times. She’s a genius. Her and Clare Bowditch have shaped everything I’ve done from the start. That idea that someone’s just going to discover you, they’ve stamped that out. That real DIY mentality — you’ve just gotta get on with it!”
Such initiatives and insights have been particularly formative for Brouhaha’s current travels, and helped instill a ‘pay it forward’ mentality for what she’s learned. “There’s no point just holding on to that knowledge. I know what I know because people have taught me, so I feel it’s my duty to pass it on.”
Of course, life on the road isn’t all late night acoustic sing-alongs and ‘wanderlust’ hash tags. “Instagram gets the highlight reel, every time I’m relaxing on a beach,” she laughs. “But that’s just 20%. My van actually drives really slow uphill, so some four hour drives turn into seven hour drives. When it’s really windy it’s quite unsafe to drive because I’m up so high I get blown across lanes… then there are the nights where you don’t stop where you planned to and the petrol light’s on at 4’oclock in the morning.
“But you keep on that positive route and keep persevering to the other side. That’s what the EP’s about — unrelenting optimism.”
Kelly Brouhaha’s EP Launch
Sunday, September 24, 4pm
Grace Emily Hotel
Tickets available via stickytickets.com.au