When Stephen told me that Frances would be creating a new work for the 2015 program, I was excited to get back into the studio –working with Fran, my sister, is something that comes very naturally.
We have a strong relationship that goes back many years, and working together creatively is easy. She is an instinctive, trusting and intelligent choreographer. There is a family trust and mutual respect there. We are both generous with our creativity - sharing our stories, our ideas with each other comes organically and is all part of the process.
Having created many scores for Bangarra over the years, I feel grateful that this is my job and that I get to do something that I love. It keeps me grounded.
The challenge for me is to create something new that still has the underlying Bangarra signature. Fran had a clear structure in mind with the movement for Sheoak, and I think the music really helps to drive the storytelling. But there are many other considerations when I create composition: where are the exits, the entrances, is this a solo, a duet or a quartet? All of the elements have to marry, and be reflected in the arrangement.
I like for my songs to have space and time to be able to hear every sound. My basic rule is to not over - produce the score.
I find inspiration all around me: from reflecting on life experiences, going for a drive in my car, spending time with the dancers and other creative people, to listening to what my friends play me and checking out what new artists are making. This is what gives me this drive to continue to create new material.
With Sheoak I took a new approach and invited a good friend, Justin Harrington Briggs, who makes his own computer sound boards, into the studio. Together we created brand-new electronic tones, pulses and rhythms, stylised to become the sound bed for each movement within the score.
It’s essential that I continue to use language in my music. Discouraging one from speaking their own lingo has scarred us so, for me, it’s very powerful to let the music speak to the audience in language.
I hope that listening to the Sheoak score makes you feel something too.