From the ashes of Sydney’s sadly displaced Black Wire Records comes an album that continues the legacy of the raw, wild adventure that the venue experienced. Mere Women not only called that place their second home, but they jammed and wrote the majority of their new album, Big Skies, there before its devastating closure earlier this year.
This album represents everything that a DIY cultural and arts hub should. It pushes the boundaries of sound, concept and art with its sometimes acerbic, sometimes delicate, but always emotive tracks.
Amy Wilson, vocalist and keyboardist, recollects: “It was like home. Very comfortable and we loved it.” Not wanting to bring the tone of the interview down, we move on to the subject of their newest member and old friend, ex-No Art bassist, Trisch Roberts. “It made it really easy for us to write this time,” explains Wilson. “We’d never had bass before, so it was an exciting new thing. She’s even gone back through some of the older songs and found this space for the bass. It’s been an incredibly positive change and I think it’s really made our music a bit less confusing for people, which is kind of good and bad!”
Wilson is careful not to dismiss their older ‘bass-less’ sound. “I think it’s always good to be experimental and do things that aren’t the norm, but then when you finally have a bass player you’re like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s why people have bass players!’”
The album is described as an “exploration of women’s experiences over generations” and the topic of Wilson’s grandmother’s generation comes up. “One of my grandmothers grew up on a farm and I always had a really strong connection with her.” Wilson continues, “Both of my grandmothers had a really tough life, in many many ways, and I wanted to explore those ideas of being in a remote place, feeling isolated and then looking at how that physical isolation has been amplified by the way women have been treated and been allowed to operate in society over time.”
We further discuss Wilson’s relationship with her grandmothers, and that whilst societal pressures have changed dramatically over generations, there are still expectations on women that are unreasonable. “There’s societal expectations that are still the fucking same as they were 50 years ago and it’s so frustrating. For example, a woman’s worth is her physical beauty. That is still an idea that is mainstream. It’s horrible.”
Our chat moves on to the discussion of the vocals on the album. With the live recording of the album (at One Flight Up in St. Peters), there can be times where the vocal line is lost amongst the flailing fog of the instruments. “We’re not into the vocals being the loudest thing. Sometimes we get mixed like that live and it’s not how we want to sound. Things need to be a little more hidden, mingling with each other.”
Mere Women’s mingling sound can be experienced live when they take their new album to The Red Rattler in Marrickville, another volunteer run venue, on the 23rd of June. “The Rattler is an awesome space. It’s community run. It’s probably one of our favourite places in Sydney and has been for ages.” It’s bands like Mere Women that help the Sydney music scene cultivate, nurture and inspire future experimental musicians and it’s fantastic to experience a rare sound with so much to say.
23 June, Red Rattler, Sydney
25 June, Urge Records, Thirroul
30 June, John Curtin, Melbourne
8 July, Bloodhound Bar, Brisbane