EP Walkthrough: Greta Stanley talks her bold new EP, Sun In My Eyes
The Cairns-based artist continues to blossom into one of Australia's most spectacular songwriters on her new EP.
Since her debut EP Bedroom City arrived four years ago, Cairns-based musician Greta Stanley has emerged as one of Australian indie's most beautiful songwriters. In her work - which also includes her debut album, 2017's Full Grown - she explores a unique intersection between stripped-back indie-pop and poetry, often uniting subtle guitar riffs and twinkling keys with moving lyricism on mental health, heartache and others. She's an artist with the prowess needed to capture the beauty and emotions in tender, personal moments with that hint of vulnerability needed to make it moving slices of artful music, something her second EP Sun In My Eyes really doubles down on.
Spanning six tracks including the national favourites Come Undone and Kick, Sun In My Eyes is a deeper exploration of one of Australia's most potential-filled songwriters, mixing gentle and swaying instrumentals with touching lyricism often tackling some of life's bigger problems - depression, anxiety and heartache amongst the most prevalent. "This is a collection of songs from a long list of memories. From Melbourne to Mena Creek to Cairns, to things I’ve dreamt up in my head that never landed anywhere at all. I wanted to share both the outward real things and the inward mess of thoughts - in the hope that others find comfort or connection in that," she says on the release. "It’s a collection of songs about dealing with the lows, about putting your heart on the line but knowing your worth and when to say no, about day to day things that drag, about crying in your room (and probably a lot of other places), about beautiful memories but the sadness that comes from not being able to have the moment again and again - and questioning everything. But despite the brushes on depression and mental health, it’s about maintaining hope, about getting up from the floor and remembering that time heals - friends rule - there are lessons in everything and to never stop loving, even when it gets hard to."
It's something that really shines throughout much of Sun In My Eyes' duration, her soothing voice occasionally cracking with emotion as she soars above swirling instrumentals. On the already-released Come Undone, a guitar backbone eventually opens up into a soundscape of glitching synth melodies and layered percussion, while on TOFU two tracks later, Greta Stanley presents a ballad-esque slow-burner thick with her signature emotion and gently-growing strings. We've called her an "artist to be reckoned with" in the past but now, with a new EP under her belt, this only feels more true. Dive into her EP below, with a track by track walkthrough from Greta Stanley herself. Then, catch her at Darwin Festival and BIGSOUND in months coming, and supporting Emma Louise on the east coast this September.
Pour is about wearing your heart on your sleeve. “Pour myself out, and on to you” means to be vulnerable, to not hold back, to not play games and to just be and feel all that you are. It’s also about knowing your worth, and when to not spend your energy on someone who takes advantage of it. “It’s hard to say no when I don’t want to, but you don’t want me, like I want you to.” I guess that line is about wanting to do something or longing for someone, but not allowing yourself to be walked over and made to feel small when they continue to hurt you.
Come Undone is about the process of knowing something will inevitably be over and it’s out of your control, it’s about wanting to be in the moment but not being able to quiet the thoughts that prevent you from being absolutely there. The post-chorus “Slow won’t you go” is demanding the moment to slow down, to stay a little while longer, go.. but go slow. It’s a song about time and how it moves too quickly. The way the song is shaped in production follows the waves of an anxious thought pattern - quiet, loud, rational, irrational but concluding back at the start, silencing the rest, and knowing what will be will be. It’s better to have a beautiful moment regardless of how long it lasts - than to not experience it at all in fear of the hurt that will follow.
Follow Suit is about the mundane day in, day out work week. It’s about wanting to pull away and wanting to feel something more but not knowing how, or when, or where to go. It’s a song I wrote when I was questioning my reasons for continuing to do things I didn’t want to do, and a lot of my friends were too. Because we were afraid of change and the unknown. It’s about how quickly your mind can change - from being sure and moving forward, to feeling like time is slipping and you’re stuck still - full of uncertainty. I think there’s so much new information coming in, all the time, social media can be overwhelming and you can fall into this pit of self-comparison, it’s easy to feel lost – and maybe not everyone talks about it, but I reckon a lot of us feel it, a lot of the time. The line in the chorus “Strip back those covers, I want it more now” is about pulling back the curtains, letting the light in, trying to grab back reality and keep pushing to find what makes you happy – what keeps you above the water.
TOFU is a daydream song, I wrote this when I was just thinking about what it’s like to love someone, anyone. For me, I think it’s important to not want to change somebody, to take them as they are and for that to be mutual. It’s about wanting all of the good and bad bits, that’s the beauty of love – it’s not always clean and pretty, there are these gritty difficult challenging parts to it, I hear about it in secondhand conversations, I see it in the relationships I’m witness to - I guess it was just this story that was inspired by what I was pining for at the time, and what I had knowledge of through the people I was surrounded by. The outro of TOFU turns to this almost obsessive lyric “Don’t you leave me lonely lover, don’t you find another” I think love makes people crazy, sometimes at least, and we all get obsessive, or jealous, or feel and react to things differently when we’re in and / out of love.
Kick is a song I wrote when I lost my shit and broke down and couldn’t stop crying for days, out of the blue. It’s personal to me - but it’s also something I know a lot of my friends and I imagine a lot of strangers out there face too - the dark rooms in their minds.
You know when you put all your emotions away, because you’re too busy, too tired to think, too scared to share them with anyone, maybe even yourself. Eventually, one tiny thing will create an avalanche and it all comes in at once. Cue breakdown. Waves of depression that hit you so hard you feel like you can’t get up, and sometimes you actually can’t get up, and that’s okay just know that in time you will - the light does come back on.
I think I do this a lot on my songs, but Morning Light is reflecting on this little highlight of memories that I had in Melbourne as well as a recollection of all the times I spent alone and lost. It’s about winter and finding people who keep you warm through it, it’s about being overwhelmed by somewhere new. The first verse is about one of my favourite memories, but the chorus leans in on how I was truly feeling - “She had a heavy weight, broke through those paper walls, every night I slept”.
Winter was brutal in Melbourne, and I didn’t like the big city – it kind of swallowed me up. The bridge line “got half way home before you realised, the radio was off – and your mind was on” is somewhere I’ve found myself countless times when I’m too in my own head. When you’re not even conscious the music’s stopped, or you’ve missed your tram stop, or someone’s talking to you, you’re not totally there. The outro line “It’s so late, it’s early babe” was in reference to not sleeping. I suffered insomnia and sleep paralysis for months when I lived in Melbourne – and I’d just watch the cars outside and wait for the light to come back in. I wanted to make connections, and build relationships and enjoy this brand new space – but I couldn’t change the way I was feeling and I let myself sink.
FRI AUG 23 – DARWIN FESTIVAL – DARWIN
THU AUG 1 – THE OUTPOST OPENING PARTY, BRISBANE
SEPT 3-6 – BIGSOUND, BRISBANE
Supporting Emma Louise:
FRI 13 SEP - CORNER HOTEL, MELBOURNE
SAT 14 SEP - TANKS ARTS CENTRE, CAIRNS
THU 19 SEP - THE TIVOLI, BRISBANE
FRI 20 SEP - THE FACTORY THEATRE, SYDNEY
SAT 21 SEP - BYRON BAY BREWERY, BYRON BAY
Follow Greta Stanley: FACEBOOK