Joe Camilleri, The Black Sorrows

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It’s safe to say that musical virtuoso Joe Camilleri is an Australian icon. Having produced over 48 albums collectively and with another one on the way … Joe has received a multitude of accolades and is a mentor and inspiration to many. Joe caught up with FOCUS and chatted about his band, the Black Sorrows, as they top the bill for this year’s Forster Tuncurry Lakeside Festival …

In terms of music over the last few decades, you’ve lived through a lot of changes throughout the music industry. What have been some of the biggest changes for you personally?

I call it the modern shift. Everything got corroded; everything is available. There was a time you would hear a song on the radio, and you would have your ear to it to hear it again if it was something you found attractive. You would be waiting for music that was coming out, and there was this feeling of anticipation.

That all changed; as soon as you were able to record at home, the recording world crumbed with it. The recordable CD killed music; it all of a sudden meant music was for free. It was one of the first industries where you buy a CD and make a cassette, or you make a mixed tape and give it to your friends. It was always something you heard on the radio; it didn’t cost you anything, and then that accelerated to where we are now.

The interesting thing is they got rid of vinyl, but that has had a comeback, because people still like the tactileness and it sort of feels like an art piece.

Things have changed a lot, especially the way radio and television programme. In the old days, any decent Rock and Roller would not be caught dead on a breakfast show; that was all for cabaret, and the shows they would go on have all disappeared – the midday show, the tonight shows, the album shows. It has almost come back to the 45 inch thing, where you can be famous for one song, for that five minutes of that song.

When it comes to your tour schedules and recording, you really haven’t taken a break from music. How do you balance your work life with family and normal life?

You’ve just got to be what you want to be. Your station in life is really important to YOU, so if you get that balance right … everything else will balance in a good way. We all believe we have a purpose, so you have got to feel happy within yourself – it’s easy to make other people happy if you are happy. That’s not a big stretch for me.

I have five beautiful children, and everybody gets a piece of everybody. Sometimes they don’t get to see me for a little while. I am more than a weekend warrior and if I’m not playing music, I am with my family. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to have both, to be able to say I love my job and as soon as I finish, I can close the door on it; I don’t bring it home. It’s a nice balance.

I have just worked it out in my life. There are times when I am playing music, there are times when I am writing music, and there are times you are with the people you love, and you make sacrifices for each part.

Do you have any words of wisdom you would like to share with our readers? 

From a musical point of view, don’t take the elevator. If you are a musician and you are looking for somewhere to go, try to avoid The Voice and X Factor; walk up the stairs and enjoy every part of what you want to go through. You will have a much better experience. It might take  you longer, but it will be well worth it.

Keep your eyes (and ears) open for The Black Sorrows latest album, due late 2017.

Thanks Joe.


Don’t miss the Black Sorrows headlining the Forster Tuncurry Lakeside Festival – 4th Nov.

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