LADIES SING THE BLUES. Part 1 Mia Dyson
August 18, 2005 | Author: Greg Phillips
LADIES SING THE BLUES
Australian Musician spotlights three emerging female singer songwriters with their feet firmly on the ground and their amps churning out honest, organic rhythm & blues. MIA DYSON, ANNE McCUE AND MARI GABRIELLE
MIA DYSON by Greg Phillips
Look deep into the corridors of anyone’s psyche and you’ll find randomly scattered fragments of their upbringing.
It’s no surprise that Mia Dyson is a talented singer songwriter and mighty fine guitarist with a penchant for roots music. Her parents raised Mia in rural Victoria in an organic fashion on a healthy diet of Ry Cooder ad Bonnie Raitt records. Her dad Jim, a respected luthier, made Mia’s first guitar for her 14th birthday. It would seem that Mia’s direction in life was a forgone conclusion.
Dyson’s first independently released album “Cold Water” was nominated for an ARIA Award. The critically acclaimed new album “Parking Lots’ features the instantly likeable first single “Roll Me Out”, which is receiving its fair share of radio airplay on Triple J. Ably assisted by Renee Geyer and Matt Walker and mixed by the legendary Nick Launay, “Parking Lots’ emits the grit, grime and musical maturity of a seasoned blues journeyman.
On the verge of a huge national tour, taking in dates through to the end of July, Mia found time to chat about the album with Australian Musician’s Greg Phillips.
When you completed the album did you think it might be something that would extend beyond a blues audience?
I definitely did. I mean I didn’t have any serious expectations, mainly because I had already done an album which was a smaller thing but I knew there may be some people who would be willing to have a listen to what I was doing.
Your parents played a lot of Ry Cooder and Bonnie Raitt to you when you were young, and you can certainly hear the influence in your music…did you catch Bonnie when she was here last?
I did. I caught her a couple of years back at the Melbourne Music Festival and also when I was about 12 at the Melbourne Concert Hall. That was incredible for me. The Blues Festival was pretty overwhelming for me to see her on stage again. I did have a tear in my eye.
You were lucky enough to have your dad build your first guitar and many since. You’ve played long enough now to know that he builds a pretty good guitar.
It would be pretty tragic if I had a dad who was a dodgy guitar builder who made me play his guitars and said you’re not allowed to play anything else, but yes they are incredible. From the start before I knew what I was doing, a lot of other players come up and tell me how good they were. When I started out I couldn’t tell the difference between two pickups but now I can really hear the subtleties. The other thing is that they are really comfortable. I mean I have got used to them now but I do pick up other guitars and they just don’t feel right for me.
Some players have a really raw slide sound but you get a really warm sound… how much time did you spend recording the guitars?
Look, obviously it was a huge part of it. Luckily because I am happy with my guitars and the amps that I have got, it wasn’t like we had to go searching for either a new amp or guitar. We tried some different combinations of the amps I have. I have a few different size Golden Tones and different wattages. I think the rawest tones were from the lap steel on the song ‘Down’. But yeh, I do love a warm and full tone. You know you can have overdrive and still be punchy but I don’t like that bright Marshall tone.
Did you experiment much with different mikes?
Yes we did. But we basically settled on a classic Neumann mike. With the vocals I did a lot of different takes on different days, different takes depending on where I sat and the different qualities your voice has from day to day. If you’d had a late night you might be sounding good or if you’re singing a lot you might even sound better. Some days I’d hold back a little because you can over sing I think, so there was a bit of balance.
Renee was giving you a bit of advice?
Yes she was. She was very funny. She was coming in every day when we were mixing it She offered to do backing vocals. I’d done the backing vocals already but there was one song where I needed a backing vocal in the chorus, but we ended up putting it in the pre-chorus, which made the chorus more impactful. But I have a very loose way of singing and Renee has a very precise way of singing. So she was saying ‘what are you doing’ you haven’t sung those notes right, so it was pretty funny.
There seems to be an emerging group of female solo artists at the moment or exposure to them, why do you think that is?
I don’t think there are any more female artists playing, but maybe given more air time. Unfortunately trends happen and labels see something working and say well let’s do that too. The other thing is that female artists get bagged together as one genre but clearly you’ve got rock and pop and then there’s female artists which is just wrong, because female artists fall into many different categories shouldn’t necessarily be compared to each other.
You grew up in Daylesford do you think if you had grown up in the city that your music would be different?
Probably. I believe that having spent time in the bush with no real exposure to mainstream media or commercial telly or anything like that. I think at a time when you’re impressionable, it set me up to know that there’s no one right way to do things. I moved to the coast where there really is a lot of commercialism when I was about eight and that definitely had an impact on me especially with performing initially I found it excruciating. You know it was Torquay and looks were everything but that early time prior to that never leaves me. Its et me up well. Yes, I think if I had of been brought up in Melbourne I probably would have been more influenced by mainstream culture. But my parents were always introducing me to interesting art and music. I’ve been lucky.
‘Parking Lots’ is available now through MGM Distribution.
LADIES SING THE BLUES. Part 1 Mia Dyson