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The Dearhunters
an interview with Jodi Phillis by Matt Dornan

You said that the highlight of 2000 was "Every moment of making my new album. There's not much that's more fun than that." Let's work backwards. Sounds like the album is finished, and you seem confident that you've made something special. To someone who has come to your work very late, what separates your solo work (and Tim's presumably) from The Dearhunters?
Well, yes I have just finished making my second solo record. It's called "In Dreams I Live" and I'm in the stages of working out how the hell I'm going to put it out and all that stuff. [Candle Records? "I'm not sure of Chris's release schedule for this year and I like to keep my options open but Candle are definitely a good option"] It's hard for me to say what the difference is as I'm too close to it all but I guess the main thing is that it's one vision as opposed to four, and there is only one main musician (although Raph Whittingham is drumming on my record too and Tim and Greg make appearances also), so it isn't so much a chemistry thing between members, it's more a vision I've had in my head for a long time that I've tried to make real. There isn't the country thing going on for much of my record. It goes off on many tangents which I love to do. As for Tim's solo record, I haven't heard it yet but I think he's playing just about everything on it and I'm sure it will be beautiful.

How does sharing lead vocal duties with Tim affect your state of mind both in the studio and on-stage? How does it compare to your previous experiences and is it as relaxed and mutually beneficial as it sounds?
Anyone whos had the pleasure of singing with Tim will tell you that you actually sing better around him. We have a very peaceful feeling when we sing together. It's like a trust thing. Our voices blend like we're from the same family or something. It's actually spooky sometimes. If you speed his voice up, he sounds like me and if you slow mine down I sound like him.

A quote from an online interview: "In this group I feel free to explore any territory and I'm not afraid to get too introspective or sentimental". Your song 'Ivy' has become a favourite of fans and critics alike. How much of a source of songwriting material has motherhood been to you? How much of an influence has Ivy had on your new record?
The Dearhunters silent pact was to make music as emotionally moving and sentimental as possible. I still haven't read your review so I don't know what your comment was but yes that song came to me when Ivy was very little and I'm thankful. Having Ivy has made me cut a lot of crap out of my life. I went through a very creative stage just after she was born. We actually recorded RW&B at Raph and my house when she was 3 months old. Looking back I can't for the life of me see how we did that. Since then though I've become a single mum and Ivy has become more demanding as kids do and I do find it hard to get the time and the energy to indulge myself in creativity. I'm sure that will change though. As for songwriting material, I think I've only written one other song directly related to motherhood that is any good.

Another quote: "I'm a melancholy kind of girl. The other guys lean in that direction too, especially Tim". Does this empathy form the foundation of the band?
Yeah I guess it does. We sound like a really fun bunch of people don't we! I actually think that's why we can't be Dearhunters all the time. It's too heavy man. No, we're fine really, apart from the odd bout of depression here and there.

Your father lives in New York and you've expressed an interest in visiting Europe. Are you well travelled and does the location of Australia leave you with wanderlust or a sense of community?
My dad lives in California now. My mother is from America and I grew up there til I was 6 and we use to go back there a lot. The band that Raph and I were in before, The Clouds, travelled a lot. We lived in London ["The Clouds were in London for 6 months in 1994 I think. We played places like the Splash Club, The Garage, The Orange and The Borderline. Oh and The Mean Fiddler. We were about to sign with One Little Indian but decided to go with Elektra direct which was US based. We lived in Clapham."] and San Francisco for a while but we never really did the rest of Europe except for Estonia for a day! That's why I want to go to Europe. My ancestry is from there too. Living in Australia is very wonderful. I feel both those things you mention. Sydney is where I live now and it is truly multicultural and exciting. I just wish it wasn't so bloody far away from the rest of the world.

You'd already made solo records prior to The Dearhunters. Do you see The Dearhunters as a side project?
Yeah the Dearhunters is a side project but hopefully we'll be able to make another record before too long. Between all of us we certainly have enough songs.

You sing on Darren Hanlon's record too, is that the Candle Records community spirit or an insatiable desire to perform and record with a variety of people?
Darren is a mate and he actually plays in the Dearhunters too. He plays the hammond and a bit of guitar too and sings harmonies when we play live. I think he does that with every Candle band, being the vagabond that he is.

Has the second Dearhunters album been put on hold until the solo albums are released? Will you tour in support of the solo record and, if so, will you include songs from all periods of your career?
Well yeah, I want to get my record out by April and I guess Tim will get his out soon too. I would love more than anything to tour over there and visit some friends it's just a matter of money really. It all depends on how it's released. I'm not sure if I would play solo or with one other or with a band so we'll just wait and see.

CWAS #7 - Spring 2001