With an amazing line up of local musical talent and a vibrant atmosphere, Bobby Jack’s Festival at Walcha is set to rock the town on April 13. GOLDHEIST (aka Hester Fraser) is just one of the acts we’ll be able to see on the day …
Hi Hester. We last spoke back in 2017, and at the time you were just about to launch your album, REALM, at the Sydney Opera House. How’s life been treating you since?
Life is great! Being a musician is a constant adventure – writing and performing, travelling to new places, meeting new people.
You’ve had a few interesting collaborations recently. What was the experience like working with AUSLAN sign language interpreters at Sydney’s VIVID Festival last year?
I didn’t know what it would be like, working with the AUSLAN Interpreters – some of the lyrics they had to translate were quite poetic and a little abstract, and I wasn’t sure how each song would be realised in AUSLAN. I was completely blown away by the results! I saw the stories, emotions and messages of my music come alive in the hands of Amanda Galea and Jennifer Maclaughlan, not only making those songs accessible for the deaf community, but showing a whole new dimension of communication and expression for those who could hear. It was poignant and moving – truly an amazing experience.
How did the collaboration with artist James Needham come about? You toured regional Australia together, presenting live art and music shows – which is an interesting concept!
The concept James and I developed came about from a desire to connect our artistic practices to the local communities in which we performed, making each concert individual and tangible to the audience. It was an incredible journey (over 7,000 km around NSW!) and we really enjoyed being able to focus our creativity on exploring new places and people.
James’ artworks reflected the diversity of the landscapes we travelled through, which was quite profound, considering we only really covered NSW!
Artistically, how do you repeat, or even top, the success of an album like REALM? Where do you go from there musically?
This is an interesting question, and in answering it, I think I have to consider why I make music in the first place.
For me, it’s not about a groundbreaking new musical technique or a song unlike anything every heard before. For me, it’s about a message or a story, using music to speak to and connect with my audience in some capacity.
In this respect, there is always somewhere to go! There’s always another story, another issue we need to talk about, another experience to relate.
I also love working with other musicians and instrumentalists – some of the music I am currently working on features some beautiful work from some amazing artists. Working with other people opens up your music and takes you down artistic paths you never dreamed of before, so you’re constantly creating new and magical things.
We’ll be welcoming you back to New England for Bobby Jack’s Festival in April. How much are you looking forward to playing to this crowd?
Home crowds are the best crowds! I am so grateful for the sustained support I have received across my career from the New England, where I grew up.
Life as a musician is tough – there’s a lot more to it than just the glossy, glorious time on the stage! You face rejection every day, you are running a small business with all the management quirks and complications that includes, you’re often on the road (trying not to live on Maccas!), you never have any money (and when you do, it goes straight into the studio for the next project!), and every Saturday night is a work day.
Home crowds remind you where you’ve come from, where you’re going, and why you love what you do, despite the less glamourous aspects of the lifestyle.
What are some of the songs you’ve chosen to perform especially for this festival?
I will be performing some old favourites – Dust, to remind our farmers and regional communities that we understand how difficult their jobs are during drought, and that we value everything they do. You Were There – a call to break down taboos surrounding mental health issues, and to reach out to loved ones in support, that it’s OK to not be OK, and seeking help is always a good idea!
Also, some new pieces – Wayfarer, a song I wrote about the journey with James – I’d always felt like such a country girl until I visited the outback and felt like a complete tourist! I realised there is so much more of this ancient country to explore – perhaps I am a Grey Nomad at heart!
Will you get any downtime while you’re in our area – a chance to explore/be a tourist?
I will have a little downtime before the festival, but unfortunately will have to go straight back to Sydney afterwards, as I am performing at the Sydney Royal Easter Show from Monday 15th – Tuesday 23rd April!
What’s on your agenda for the rest of 2019 … any exciting projects in the pipeline?
I’m currently working in the studio on some new music, which I am very excited about. I’m also exploring some new musical collaborations for later on in the year – more on that soon!
Where can we find out more about you/follow your music?
You can find me on the wonderful world wide web! Search GOLDHEIST to find my website, Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube, or find my music on Spotify, iTunes, GooglePlay, Soundcloud, Bandcamp … I’m everywhere!
Interview: Jo Robinson.
Bobby Jack’s Festival – 13th April at Walcha Showgrounds. bobbyjacks.com.au for tickets and details.