Last week, we headed out of town for another Shaky Hands road trip. We drove an hour or so out to South Gippsland to the home of legendary producer Greg J Walker, where Jen Cloher was in the middle of recording her latest album.
It was a lazy Sunday morning and the long drive from Northcote to South Gippsland demanded that we make numerous stops at the servo to top-up our $1 coffee cups and indulge in several mystery meat pies. It’s not the most exciting of roads in Victoria to drive along to be honest- Bones, who plays bass in both Jen and Courtney Barnett’s respective bands, did in fact describe the drive as “fucking boring as shit”. Though to be fair, the drive does allow you to go past a surprisingly high amount of cafes and takeaway shops that have different cartoon animals in chef’s hats as their shop mascot (a shark wearing speed-dealers and a chef’s hat cooking pizza in front of a tiki-hut was my personal favourite).
As we approached the destination I popped on Jen’s last album, the beautiful In Blood Memory, which was actually released four years ago now in 2013 through her self-run record label Milk Records. Having followed Jen and her musical evolution throughout each album since her debut in 2006, I was more than excited to check-in on the studio session to grab a sneak peek at what the new record had in store.
We rolled up at the house around midday and after 5 minutes of knocking on several windows and doors; we followed a random cat around the back of the house to find a huge granny-flat where inside was Jen and a mini choir in the middle of tracking some vocals. The property is home to renowned Australian music producer and musician Greg J Walker and the granny flat out the back acts as the studio. The space is split into several tracking rooms, which saw Courtney Barnett sitting up in the attic of the studio tracking her guitar crouched over old eskies and cardboard boxes while Jen tracked in a room which seemed like it ordinarily operated as a massage studio.
The studio sometimes seemed enormous but at times incredibly small. With knick-knacks sprawled across the room, the obscurity of the space seemed to inspire a feeling of slight chaos with a touch of unusual. Either way, Jen and her band appeared to be comfortably at ease and there was always a sense of cool as they showed us around the place that they’ve called home for the last few weeks.
Thanks again to Jen for having us.