BIGSOUND Interview: Carla Geneve (Perth) talks about developing in a regional music community

It’s the final day of BIGSOUND 2018 and a Bloody Mary has arrived for Carla Geneve. “Oh my god, I need this,” she laughs.

The Perth-based singer-songwriter played a spirited set the night before with her band at Brisbane’s Hey Ya! Bar. That room was crammed with people, so much so it was difficult to push the door open and squeeze in. “It was so overwhelmingly lovely that there were people there,” she says. “I was like, ‘Whoa, what’s going on? This is sick!’” But the lack of personal space proved worth witnessing this new Australian rock n’ roll sensation – one who is only 19 years old and already so accomplished.

Geneve was raised in Albany – a five-hour drive south of Perth, WA. So, from the most isolated city in Australia she grew up in a place even more isolated. But Geneve has nothing but positive memories of living there and immersing herself in its open mic scene.

“It’s like, 40,000 people there. So it’s not tiny; it’s a city, but it’s not big either,” she says. There’s actually a nice scene in Albany. It’s not the city scene, there’s not many venues. There’s, like, two pubs that did music. I did heaps of open mics, playing [Vance Joy’s] “Riptide” on the mandolin.”

Even while living in Albany, Geneve was receiving notice, including winning the Western Australian Music Indusrty (WAMI) Award for Best Regional Act of 2017. Since moving to Perth straight after graduating high school, she has found nothing but support.

“Perth’s a really great place to be a musician right now. It’s a really supportive scene, so much going on, and there’s great stuff coming out.”

“Greg’s Discount Chemist” is Geneve’s debut single, which was recorded in her bedroom and released to acclaim back in March. The track is full of fantastic lyrical details about getting her Doc Martens wet in the rain, catching a cold from sharing cigarettes, and being one of the few songs featuring the word pseudoephedrine – “I do know another one. Peter Bibby has a song called “Medicine”.”

“I had writer’s block,” she explains of the song’s origin. “I was like, ‘I need to write a song about what I do today’, and I went to the chemist. I had a gig that night and I was really sick and had to buy some pseudoephedrine. It’s pretty self-explanatory.”

She also made clear that the title business is real and located in Northern Perth. “Apparently it’s an actual local guy named Greg who owns the business. We did have to make sure we weren’t going to get sued or something. I guess I should get sponsored, get some free hay fever tablets,” she jokes.

Geneve has since released her second single “Listening”, opened for Jen Cloher and Alex Lahey, and headlined her own tour. Upcoming plans include a new single and her debut EP, which will excite those who caught her debut BIGSOUND performances. Coming from Perth, BIGSOUND has been important for her as most of the Australian music industry operates on the opposite side of the country.

“For Perth acts it’s just really cool for people in the industry to watch us play and get an idea of what we do. That’s big for us. Then we’ll do the showcases and do the schmoozing and talk to people.”

However, Geneve does state that there a lot of great opportunities for Western Australian acts thanks to organisations like WAMI. “They have a lot of stuff covered like helping us get grants, sorting out music lawyers and accountants and stuff like that – the fun stuff,” she drily jokes. “And they put on great festivals like WAM Fest.”

Based on the buzz at BIGSOUND, Carla Geneve will be one-to-watch, and will be making a lot of trips across Australia soon. Maybe then she’ll get used to the roads in Brisbane.

“Oh my god, I’ve almost been killed like three times. The intersections make no sense here. Like, where are the cars coming from?”

“Greg’s Discount Chemis” and “Listening” are available now. For more on Carla Geneve follow her on Facebook here.

Upcoming Tour Dates:

September 21: Wave Rock Weekender 2018, Hyden, WA

September 21: Rock Rover, Freemantle, WA (with CW Stoneking and Abbe May)

November 23: Queenscliff Music Festival, Queenscliff, VIC

November 30: Fairgrounds Festival, Berry, NSW

Photo by Jasmin Osman

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