“I think I’m a bit like Dorian Grey in that all the heavy stuff in my life is in my songs, much like the portrait, while at heart I’m a really happy person. I think I do spend a lot of time with my head in the clouds considering poetic nuances around every day events.”
Justine Wahlin is a Sydney-based Singer-songwriter with a distinctive voice and soothing style. This is the perfect music to listen to on those beautiful contemplative rainy days. We chat to Justine about what inspires her writing. Listen while you read:
Q: Who are 3 of your favourite artists and why?
A: There are so many and they aren’t all women but I am going to choose 3 women for this exercise as these 3 inspire me with my own song writing.
Joan as police Woman – She’s a Prolific and original song writer, a brilliant vocalist, a kickarse musician with real sass. I’ve had the good fortune to see her play live twice and she’s a class act…she really brings it live with such energy and humility. I love how she stays with one outfit per tour in a world of throw away fashion she supports local artists and thumbs her nose to throw away culture. I have a photo with her and I think we look great together…she completely inspires me to stay true to my own song writing and not get swayed into the sea of formulaic and popular styles but to keep taking risks.
Kirsten Hersh – I saw Kirstin at the Gum Ball Festival one year. I didn’t really know her music but she stood there alone with a guitar and absolutely nailed the whole audience with her defiant rock and roll awesomeness…so intense and steady…I basically wept…She gave everything in that performance. Afterward I went up to her to thank her and she was so sweet and interested in making a real connection…no airs and graces. Since then I’ve been exploring her back catalogue and I love her style, driving original songs and a completely unique voice.
Patty Griffin – Patty Griffin is the queen to me…her unaffected and timeless vocal tone, Americana/country/folk swagger…she’s the original in my books. I’m forever trying to write a song that I could stand back and say…yes Patty Griffin would be proud…I’m not there yet but she’s my bench mark and I hope soon to be able to see her play live.
Q: What is your most memorable gig and why?
A: Playing with my old band “Justine and the Men” at the Metro. I remember seeing the Beasts of Bourbon at the Metro Theatre in Sydney one night and having a flash that one day I would play on that stage…I completely forgot about that until years later when I was standing up there on stage plugging in my guitar and looking out to a full house…It was the Emergenza band completion final and many of the audience were chanting “Justine…Justine..” It was just a band competition but it was overwhelming and I was shitting myself but the adrenaline was great and I think we played one of our best shows It was quite a moment and I though…wow…here I am right where I said I would be.
Q: Do you have any upcoming shows?
A: As well as playing solo I also play in a trio called CloudBird. CloudBird are playing this year at the Nimbin Blues and Roots Festival in September which we’re really excited about. My next solo show is at the Town Hall Hotel in Newtown on May 28th supporting my good friends, Bill Hunt, Bronwyn Eather and Maxine Kauter.
Q: What inspired you to start creating music?
A: I’ve always been a keen singer even as a child and dabbled in guitar as a teenager but I was 26 when I picked up the bass and never looked back. I had just gotten back from living in Sweden where all my family are musical and my sister had also started playing guitar and writing songs. For about 6 months we were in transit and living in my mum’s spare room. As soon as I had learnt an A, G and D chord I found myself I was onstage at a party…I was pretty much hooked on performing from then on although I did play the whole set with my back to the audience.
In my teens I used to go to the Youth Centre in Katoomba where there were instruments and we used to bash out punk songs that were basically just noise but we thought we had something special going on. Also my father was a child prodigy on the piano accordion and he played piano whereever we went. Back in the 70s every pub had a piano and kids were allowed to run free. There was always a guitar around and even though we were never really encouraged to learn, I think subliminally my love of making music was forming from an early age.
In our 20s my sister and I wrote a lot together in our band LIXIVIUS and I wrote a lot of poetry that she was instrumental in putting music to. As the years have passed song writing has become an imperative for me and I think I’m a bit like Dorian Grey in that all the heavy stuff in my life is in my songs, much like the portrait, while at heart I’m a really happy person. I think I do spend a lot of time with my head in the clouds considering poetic nuances around every day events.
See Justine live by following her facebook page here.