Carla Geneve and Siobhan Cotchin interview each other, ahead of their WA shows

Carla Geneve and Siobhan Cotchin interview each other, ahead of their WA shows

The two forces of West Australia's charming indie-pop scene come together for a state tour this month.

Header image: Carla Geneve by Duncan Wright (L), Siobhan Cotchin by Annie Harvey (R).

When plucking out the West Australian acts bound to dominate in the year ahead, it's hard to look beyond Siobhan Cotchin and Carla Geneve. The former has blossomed into a recently-unearthed favourite this year, with her subtle country/indie/folk-pop winning us over with every single track she's released throughout the course of 2020 - all four of them. The latter, meanwhile, is an act that needs no introduction but is someone that's set to further herself forwards in the next twelve months, with a debut album expected in sometime 2021 sure to showcase how the Fremantle favourite has evolved over the last few years.

This month, both Carla Geneve and Siobhan Cotchin will come together for a short West Australian tour, that kicks off this weekend with dates in Perth and Bunbury ahead of shows in Fremantle and Mandurah in the next two weeks (you can find the full dates below). Amongst a year lacking live music, the tour is sure to be one of the few shining lights of the West Australian musical calendar, leaving the last of 2020 behind with a touch of live music that hopefully, we'll be able to see more of in the year ahead - especially as both Carla and Siobhan tour their respective releases.

Before that goes down, however, we got Carla and Siobhan to have a bit of a chat to one another; the two friends having a chance to reconnect before the tour, and chat about success, performing, songwriting and more.

It's a must-read coming from two brilliant songwriters amongst the country's best storytellers, something that's most definitely shown throughout their recent work. Take Carla Geneve's October-released single The Right Reasons, for example, an intimate burst of indie that "shines a bright light" on some of her "darkest experiences," in a potent spotlighting of mental health. "It makes sense to me that radical vulnerability could be the first step to radical self-acceptance. And without self-acceptance, I feel it’s very difficult to build profound and meaningful connections with those around you."

Siobhan Cotchin's work has similarly become known for its intimate vulnerability; Do You Know What I Mean? tackling "feelings of existential dread" as she pondered about what direction to take her life down, while Just The Way It Is earlier in the year breaking down relationships with those around you, in a moment of reflection following the turbulence of the last year. "No matter how hard you both try, sometimes there’s a breaking point and two people go from hanging out all the time to becoming strangers. It’s about finding the people that will stay," she says.

Take a dive into the interview below, find the tour dates underneath and brace yourself for the heralding of Carla Geneve and Siobhan Cotchin in 2021:

Siobhan: What makes you want to write and perform music?

Carla: I don’t know; i’ve just always done it and i couldn’t stop doing it if i tried so it doesn’t make much sense to me but it’s just what I do.

Carla: What scares you the most about performing? Because I know you get nervous.

Siobhan: Oh gosh. I have the same thing where I need the validation, I need to be perfect. I just want to impress people, and I’m scared that I’m going to let people down if I suck or make a mistake. So I think the scariest thing about it is that possibility of something going wrong. It’s just terrifying.

Carla: When something goes wrong, what happens?

Siobhan: I just try to stay calm. Usually I can cover it up pretty well or, you know, I have the band on stage with me so it’s like pretty chill. I can just laugh about it with them.

Carla: You deal with mistakes really well.

Siobhan: Do I?

Carla: When I get up there and I f**k everything up for you, you deal with it really well!

Siobhan: I just try to smile, and I laughing about it is kind of good because it makes you seem a little bit more human.

Carla: So true

Siobhan: And then people are like, “oh, she’s just having a good time it’s fine”.

Carla: I like watching people make mistakes on stage.

Siobhan: Me too!

Siobhan: I’m really fascinated by how you create and how it’s more of an organised approach to creativity because it’s a part of your daily routine rather than just writing when you feel like it. Can you explain your writing process and why it’s important for songwriters to to incorporate writing practice in to their routine?

Carla: I don’t think it’s important for all songwriters, it’s just what I’ve figured out for myself. I very much used to just be like “I can’t sit down and write songs! It doesn’t work like that”. But I think as I’ve gone on, and written more, the youthful magic of songwriting hasn’t worn off for me but it’s become something that’s much more incorporated into my life routine as you say, like playing shows writing songs, getting the songs ready and recording the songs. It was after we finished recording our first record which hasn’t come out yet, I was like “ah, I think I get it; what I have to do here” and I understand what I need to have to go into the studio to make the song.

I felt quite disorganised doing the first record so I really was like “okay, this is what I want to do so I’m going to do it properly. I’m going to have everything I need ready”. So now it’s something that I try and spend time on, just writing anything or something to keep that part of my brain active. Because I find that when I’m writing, I’ll just write more and more and more because I’m using that portion of my creativity. But if I stop using it, then I stop writing for a while and it’s like writer’s block. If I’m sitting down with my guitar or whatever, more often i’ll write more songs so I try and build on it like that.

Siobhan: I really struggle because I haven’t been writing as much as I am one of those people that have to wait for some divine inspiration to come down and be like “okay you can go now”. But I’m really trying to sort of follow your lead a little bit and try to make it into a routine and just write a little bit everyday.

Carla: I mean it’s worth a go: It might not work, it might work. Of course there will always be inspiration times where you’re like “i need to sit down and write”. I think it also gives me satisfaction to be like “I worked today”, you know? It’s hard with this job because you're just like “oh I kinda just did that” or “I’m just going to just strum my guitar for a while”. If I sit down and do something it like “okay i’m f***king getting somewhere” and that almost inspires me to do it more.

Siobhan: And it’s your job as well. You have tasks that you need to accomplish at your job everyday.

Carla: That’s it.

Carla: What does success mean to you?

Siobhan: It’s definitely changed for me. I think the biggest thing is being content in what you’re doing and feeling like you’re just really settled in what you're doing. But also, for me as well, since i’m a really high achiever and and i want to over-achieve and be the best, the superficial things like winning awards, receiving nice reviews and stuff feels kind of good. It’s obviously not a long-term feeling of success but a short-term feeling. The short term things reassure you that you’re doing good and people are seeing that. It’s that whole need of constant validation again that I think a lot of musicians have and I personally feel really successful when people say good things about my music or I get played on a radio station. I definitely think that’s part of success. But overall, if you’re happy wherever you are, doing whatever, then that’s the biggest thing.

Siobhan: If you had to listen to one album for the rest of your life, which one would it be?

Carla: {The longest pause ever}…. probably Harvest Moon by Neil Young

Siobhan: I knew it was going to be Neil Young. I had a feeling.

Carla: Yeah well, big surprise there!

Siobhan: When you’re performing live, how do you stay in the moment? I know you don’t get nervous but how do you ground yourself?

Carla: I don’t really get nervous that much. I don’t know why; it’s probably because, like i said at the start, i have that constant need for validation but also I kind of think that’s not there for me anymore. For me, I just really want to do a good job when I get up on stage, similar to you. But I have found that not caring as much helps me to do that, so it’s kind of built on itself like that. I like to just pay attention to the music. I don’t want to forget that people are there, I love looking at people and be like “this is so sick that you’re here”. Just trying to bring it in, you know? Not close my eyes but actually really focus on the beat or focus on what i’m playing and playing with other people.

Siobhan: Yeah I think having a band on stage with you really helps you.

Carla: Why do you write songs?

Siobhan: It’s free therapy. It’s so therapeutic for me and I just love being able to verbalise my thoughts and get them out so I can understand them. But also, I love telling stories and other people’s stories. I just want to be the main character in every single situation. So when I’m watching a movie, I’m in it and I put myself in that situation to write from that character’s perspective. I love that in songwriting, you can be whoever you want to be.

Carla: It makes sense because you’re a really empathetic person and that’s kind of the meaning of empathy; putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. That’s really cool.

Siobhan: I feel everything a lot. A bit too much. But it’s good because I get to write songs that I’m proud of and it helps me understand the world a little bit better.

Carla: What have you learnt since you’ve started putting music out? For me it was learning about the studio and how that goes. But what you think is the main thing that you’ve learnt or come to terms with?

Siobhan: Oh that’s a really good question. It’s stressful. When putting things out on the internet or on Spotify, it’s really hard not to care about how it’s going to be received or how many streams the song is going to get.

Carla: It’s pretty visual. You can just log on at any point and look at it.

Siobhan: That’s exactly right. The studio is also a big thing I learnt about. I feel a lot more secure now in how it all works and because I work with really good people and I’m comfortable.
I’ve also learnt that it’s really important to have the song fully prepared before you go in. I really like just practicing with my band and just making sure that the song is really solid in that unit so that when we take it to the studio, they know it’s a fully realised song and we can just record it. I prefer to go into the studio and record, rather than muck around with the arrangements so I can just go in and lay it down.

Carla: Let the record show that I was nodding my head a lot as you were saying that {Laughing} because that’s the thing I learnt; get you’re sh*t together!

Siobhan: I know!

Carla: I didn’t have it together. It’s good to know

Siobhan: What did you learn about making an album? Because it’s different to a single obviously.

Carla: First of all, that i should have been more organised. But you know, we’ve been on the road for 2 years. I had all these songs and I’d only recorded a few in the studio. i sort of was like “oh, we’ll just go in there and give it a shot” and “i think want to do that one” or “I haven’t written the rest of yet” because I didn’t have time. The songs need to be finished. But also, I’m a bit of a perfectionist and control freak. I’d get really caught up in the takes and Dan Carrol, who we did the record with, was like “just play it. You’re not playing, you’re doing something else. That’s not how you do it live”. I just needed to play the whole take and not stop, and not look at the sound going into the computer, but just think about what I’m playing. Because if you’re not present, it’s going to sound like it.

Siobhan: Amen

Siobhan: I am so excited to be going on tour with you in December.

Carla: Me too!

Siobhan: I must ask you; what are your must haves when you’re on the road?

Carla: this is my favourite question

Siobhan: I love that.

Carla: I’m very organised generally these days after I had my revelation. It depends because we’re flying to some of these places and driving to other places. When we were doing a lot of over-East stuff, I just had my suitcase packed so tight. I had obviously shampoos and stuff, my travel pillow, an eye mask and noise cancelling headphones. I had this one jacket, you know the leopard print one?

Siobhan: Yes, iconic.

Carla: I had that because you go on the plane and it’s like a blanket. I have one of these things that you put over the tray table. It’s like a foot hammock, because you get sore on the plane when you keep your feet down sometimes. and then I got baby wipes, I got snacks. Always have snacks!

Siobhan: I get so hangry.

Carla: On the plane I always have to take some hummus and Mission Corn Chips because they never give you enough food. Also, a keep cup, my own cutlery so i don’t have to use the plastic ones and you can buy little sets.

Siobhan: Yes! Save the planet!

Carla: Yeah! And because we get takeout all the time it’s good to have.

Carla: What are you going to bring Siobhan?

Siobhan: Well literally everything you said

Carla: Oh also Berocca! We’re going to be partying pretty hard

Siobhan: Oh god. I’m scared. I don’t have these Vitamin C drinks that I use almost everyday.

Carla: Nice! Good one.

Siobhan: Panadol. Clothes, hand sainitizer

Carla: I feel like I don’t need to buy that anymore because it’s everywhere.

Siobhan: Yes! Also think just being super organised and packing appropriately.

Carla: Also big sunnies. You want the bigger the better, because by the end of this, you’re not going to want anyone to see your face. it’s going to be broken.

Siobhan: Oh god, what are you going to do to me?

Carla: {laughs} Nothing! You’re just going to be tired and want a buffer between you and the world.

Tour Dates: 

Sun Dec 6 - Indian Ocean Hotel, Scarborough WA
Thurs Dec 17 - Prince of Wales, Bunbury WA
Fri Dec 18 - Freo Social, Fremantle WA
Sat Dec 19 - Top Floor, Mandurah WA

Follow Carla Geneve: FACEBOOK

Follow Siobhan Cotchin: FACEBOOK

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