Shelley Quartermaine (aka Shelley Q) is an up and coming solo artist from Perth. Mixing electronic, roots, indie, and pop she has created her own style and has recently released her first two singles! Tomatrax caught up with Shelley to talk about her music!
What inspired you to become a musician?
I grew up around music, and drew great inspiration from my elder sister, Hayley, who is extremely talented herself and has taught me practically everything I know when it comes to music. My earliest singing memories are of me as a 3 year old being encouraged to harmonize with her, at 15, while she hummed a tune.
When did you write your first song?
When I was 10, I would often write songs about silly little things like ‘being lonely at a table and drinking tea,’ or anything that I thought could be song worthy! At 12 years of age, I wrote two songs, called ‘Fly’ and ‘Fadeaway,’ which I then went on to record in Toowoomba, just for a keepsake and to share with family and friends! It was then that I realised making my own music was something I felt strongly about!
You’ve put out two singles so far; are there any plans for an EP or LP?
I actually have a collection of originals (both finished and unfinished) that I plan to record as soon as I can – some of which are already partly recorded! The only thing stopping me is money and time! I find it quite time challenging being a full-time university student and simultaneously wanting to be at the recording studio; however, I hope to (very soon) start producing my own music on my computer, saving both time and money.
What made you decide to write a song about Australia?
Despite only just releasing the song, I actually wrote ‘Australia’ on the farm (in my home town) when I was 12 years old! I wrote it one night after hearing from some friends about how good a ‘White Christmas’ is! And, even though I had never been overseas before, my 12-year-old self couldn’t comprehend how a snowy Christmas could even compare to a true blue Aussie Christmas in the heat by the barbie! However, I could never seem to write the bridge of the song. So I never finished it…until at the end of 2017 when I graduated from High School! At 12 years old I set my mind on finishing the song, and who would have predicted that I would go on to finish it 6 years later!
What was the inspiration behind the video for ‘Life goes on‘?
One of my talented friends from High School, Hannah Howard (who had studied media in Yr 11 & 12), told me she’d love to direct the music video for ‘Life Goes On’ when I approached her with the idea! So I contacted some close friends who said they’d love to be in the music video. We decided together to film it around Fremantle since the suburb is known for being an iconic and aesthetically attractive area.
You‘ve covered various musical styles in your music; is there any style you‘ve wanted to take on but are yet to do so?
There are still many styles I’m yet to explore (and discover), so am glad I have time ahead of me to explore and submerge myself in all the different musical tastes of the world!
Is there any music genre you would never touch?
No way! In fact, that’s what makes it so hard for me to narrow down my artist ‘genre.’ I’m always experimenting with different styles – whether it’s country, jazz, classical, pop – I love putting my own authentic spin on every genre I come across.
You are also planning on becoming an engineer; how does studying engineering compare with writing music?
Although studying engineering expands my knowledge and is greatly rewarding, I find it’s a whole other world to writing music. In music, there are no right or wrong answers!
Is it hard to balance study and music?
Currently I’m finding it difficult to balance the two, as I’ve only just started university: everything is quite content heavy and the work load is huge! It’s also hard to remain focussed on studying when I’m always thinking about making music. However, I find I compose best when I’m under the pump and stressed! I also thrive on being busy … I can’t stand the thought of ever being bored! So studying on the side line actually has its advantages.
Have you considered writing songs about mathematics and/or science?
No, I actually haven’t! However, it’s funny you say that, as last week in one of my physics lectures, I was trying my best to remain focussed, yet couldn’t control my mind …. and I kept writing a song in my head! I couldn’t help myself – so I gave in, pulled my phone out and wrote all the musical ideas I had in my head so I wouldn’t forget about them!
When writing, what comes first – the words or the music?
The music for sure! Whenever I’m sad or stressed, often I try to take my mind away from what’s worrying me by humming or thinking about different chords. I then go straight to my guitar, and play whatever I feel – letting my emotions guide the chord progression. Then I find the words and melody flow effortlessly from my mouth after the chords are down pat.
Do you ever listen to your own music?
Of course! Listening to my own music – particularly to draft songs I’ve written (stored as recordings on my phone) – helps me to critically analyse and improve them. I oppose following the un-written rule that artists must conform to specific styles (of the time) in order to be successful …I’m always trying to find ways to make my songs authentic. By re-listening to my voice recordings, I find I can easily separate the catchy songs from the rest…as they’re the ones I can’t get out of my head all day!
What other music do you listen to?
My three favourite artists (of all time) would have to be Michael Jackson, Johnny Cash and The Seekers! I fell in love with MJ when I was a little girl – constantly prancing around the house listening to ‘Billie Jean’ and trying to nail the moonwalk! When I first taught myself the guitar, all the first songs I learnt were Johnny Cash’s … I felt an immediate attraction to the raw emotion in his voice in every country song of his! At the start of Yr 12, I discovered The Seekers on YouTube while procrastinating with study … and, as of then, I’d say I’d be their biggest fan. Yes…I know every word in their Golden Jubilee Album haha!
Check out Shelley Q’s website to find out more!