Alanna Eileen is an Melbourne based solo, acoustic singer songwriter. Her debut EP, Absence, is about to be launched. Tomatrax caught up with Alanna to discuss her music!
What inspired you to become a musician?
My father is an Irish musician, so I was encouraged to pursue music from an early age. As a teenager, I started playing in a duo with him, singing traditional Irish, English and Scottish folk songs. I was given a guitar at the age of sixteen and songwriting evolved out of that. Later, I began performing solo.
When did you write your first song?
I wrote a song entitled ‘Little Bird’ when I was eighteen or nineteen, but songwriting didn’t become my main focus until I was slightly older.
You’re about to launch your debut EP, what’s it like to have it finished and ready to go?
It’s gratifying to have brought it to fruition. I’ve tried releasing recordings in the past, but I was never satisfied with them. I am really pleased with Mark Myers’ production and feel the songs successfully represent the period of my life from which they came.
Where did the title “Absence” come from?
It’s taken from the second track on the EP, ‘Absence Tonight’. It’s also a theme that interests me. Absence can be the point from which something arises, the silence before the sound, the empty space waiting to be filled. That’s a fairly abstract explanation, but the concept of absence has meaning for me.
Was it hard to pick what went on the EP?
Yes. At first, it was very difficult, because I write a lot; I had many songs to choose from. In the end, I ended up writing two or three of the tracks the night before traveling to the studio; it seemed right to use them. Only one song, ‘The Mirror and the Mime’, is old. The rest were written within the last five months. They have a cohesive sound; for this EP, I liked the idea of them being alike.
The EP was recorded in Cairns, what inspired you to record the music in North Queensland?
I traveled to Cairns in order to work with Mark Myers; his studio is based there. It was a valuable experience.
There is quite an acoustic / earthy sound to the music, was that the intention?
Yes. Most of the music I listen to is quite minimalist in approach. As a performer, I only use my voice, guitar and piano. On future releases, I think I’d enjoy being more eclectic, but I wanted to keep it simple for ‘Absence’.
What made you choose to perform solo rather than in a band?
I’m very shy, so forming a band seems like quite a feat to me. My songs have come from such an introspective place that it would feel unnatural to perform them with anyone else. That said, it’s a challenge I’d love to undertake in future.
You’re about to tour round Australia, what can be expected from your shows?
I’m a quiet performer; it’s just me and my guitar. Predominantly, I’ll be singing material from my EP, in addition to older original songs, but I also hope to include some traditional ballads, a cover or two and perhaps the occasional Russian folk song!
What inspired you to cover Simon and Gargunkel’s “Kathy’s song”?
‘Kathy’s Song’ was a cover I used to play when I was younger. I love the lyrics; they are beautiful and vivid in their simplicity.
If you could appear on any tribute album which one would it be?
Perhaps a Linda Ronstadt tribute album.
Do you ever listen to your own music?
Occasionally I do, to learn from it.
What other music do you listen to?
I love Nick Drake, Julie Byrne, the pianist Glenn Gould and the work of Arvo Pärt.
What do you have planned after your tour?
After my tour, I plan to go overseas to play a few shows. When I get back to Melbourne, I intend to study, read a lot and get to work on writing my first full-length album.
Alanna will be launching her debut EP on 18 January at the Toff in Melboure followed by a tour round Australia. Check out Alanna’s Facebook page to find out more!