Q: Hi! “Farmtime” weaves a diverse musical narrative. How did your varied influences shape the EP’s eclectic sound and thematic cohesion?

A: When I began writing songs I was obsessed with originality. The skills I have learned in my journey, writing many songs, playing different genres, learning and performing all types of music, have no doubt influenced me.  I tried not to allow my influences to creep into my music, because I wanted my own sound to be new and different. Now however it’s not such a concern. 

I allow songs to write themselves, and whatever genre they are doesn’t concern me one way or another. Songs come to me like small miracles and often. I liken them to children with different fathers, and I feel like I’m a conduit, giving them life. Sometimes I wonder if I have any influence at all, especially when songs seem to come instantly, like aliens from another world. They come so easy at times, you might think they write themselves. I let them breathe. I give them freedom to be whatever they are. Out they come and I’m not really conscious or judgemental of their genre.

Placing songs together to make a release is a really exciting step, especially when you have a lot of material to chose from. My aim with Farmtime was to take the listener on a journey and bring it together at the end, to reveal my own story in its complexity. 

Q: Each track on “Farmtime” offers a unique story. Can you share the inspiration behind the track “Aphrodisia” and its thematic significance?

Aphrodisia is a song on a few different levels, and it has inspired the overall concept of the EP. Whereas it’s hard to define what some of the songs on the EP are about exactly (even for me)  this song tells a story and is the least metaphoric. It has evolved significantly since it was written and first recorded in 2021, and sat idle for some time. I re-recorded it in August of 2023 with a completely different feel. 

It has four lyrical themes.

1. Wild Deer. 

These animals frequent our property late Summer, early Autumn and especially right now. They are hard to ignore. The females and young deer all hang out together and sleep in the long grasses near the creek. We see them early in the morning and they are just beautiful. The Stags roar during the night calling for females and it is quite the competition. Often there’s up to five Stags and we hear them in full surround sound, especially on a full moon. It’s quite something and at times they come very close.

These majestic animals have become quite the sport around these parts for hunters. Often gunshots are also heard which is distressing. (We don’t allow deer shooters on our property.)  The Antlers fetch a good dollar along with the meat, but whole neck and head with antlers of a big Stag is quite the shooters trophy, and can be found on the walls of many homes and also in licensed establishments. (Hotels/Pubs) In fact the glorious creature on the cover is one such animal, looking on forever over the drunks in a town in a place called Toogoolawah where I performed recently.

2. Aphrodisia. 

Apparently part of the mating sequence of the animals is that the stags fight for supremacy to mate with the females. They lock horns until one gives up, or dies, and afterwards the scent of the felt on the horns apparently encourages the Doe to mate with the Stag. I believe that humans have for centuries collected this felt from the Antlers of the Stag to take as an aphrodisiac, proving Humans are truly the most bizarre creatures of all. 

3. The Hound Dog. 

At  the same time this was happening (when the song was being written, in April) a feral wild dog attacked our chickens, and the Rooster took off and a chase was on. The dog caught the Rooster but my partner was also part of this chase and got to it just in time to save its life. Poor thing was pretty badly hurt, but survived to become a complete bastard, but that’s another farm story.  Anyhow the dog continued to lurk around the area and cause mayhem for days and was eventually tracked and hunted down.  

Dog Gone!

4. Farmtime. 

The lyrics give a glimpse of the gardening cycle during this season of true abundance. Right now citrus is coming on, and we’ve just finished figs and mangoes. Okra and cucumbers need picking daily, and the leafy greens are growing, there’s about 1000 bees in the flowering basil. Whist wondrous, this season is usually when the bizarre unexpected stuff happens, as explained by the Lyric “you gotta take it as it comes… Farm time is never wrong”. It just is. You do what you have to do to protect what is yours.

This was one of the last tunes to be recorded as part of this release. Musically I have been striving to master fingerpicking which features on this track, but it must be noted that my producer Andy (who is the best musician I have ever met) made this good song great with his piano and nylon string lead break. performing other people’s songs have all influenced me in different ways to varying degrees. I have a rich set of skills, and turned a full circle of analysis. Once I removed stress and pressure from my life I grew tired trying to be original.

Q: With “Farmtime,” you’ve explored a range of genres. Which song was the most challenging to produce, and why? 

A: “Waterfall” the leading track was by far the hardest child to discipline. It was recorded in 2020 and didn’t make the album (The Last Miracle) because it lacked focus, it was too long, and it was hard to define the parts. It doesn’t have verses or choruses, you see, it’s more a subconscious musical rant with a couple of hooks, which is a style I love to explore because it is challenging to both write and listen to. I had to live with the song for some time to understand it musically. I knew it was a great song, but it needed refining. Now it’s such an exhilarating song to listen to and performing it live is always a powerful adrenalin shot, which I love!

Q: The EP title “Farmtime” evokes a specific imagery. How does the rural lifestyle influence your songwriting process and themes?

A: Oh, if you could only see me then, compared to now! My life here is mostly peaceful. You could say I’ve settled. My life was dramatic, and I didn’t realise how stressful it really was until recently. I am very thankful for the opportunity to find a home here and I don’t expect I will ever leave.  This has brought about great change, from being a raging rock chick to chilled folk singer-songwriter.  The content and structure of my songwriting and artistic philosophy reflects the space, and the gratitude I have. I’m writing when I feel like it, not because I have something to prove or get out of my system.  I lose time in my garden, I’m part of my local community and when I pick up the guitar I just let the songs find me. It’s easier than it’s ever been.

Q: You mentioned an underlying menace in some tracks. How do you balance such contrasts within your music? 

A: The mystery of the mind and the harsh reality of the world is one that fascinates and terrifies me. None of us have to look far to see menace lurking.  I thrive here in my safe creative space but I am all too aware of the potential for threat knowing what I have learnt from the negative aspects of my past as well as looking at the world’s problems, which are vast.  There are good and bad aspects to everything. This balance is key to the rules of nature and I totally respect the inevitability of chaos as one of life’s greatest gifts and challenges. This philosophy fits in to my songwriting, hopefully challenging the observing listener to delve further into my lyrics and music.

Q: Your career spans over 20 years with various band names. How has your identity shift to Amanda Emblem influenced your music?  

A: The Amanda Emblem Experiment isn’t a democracy. It’s mine. I own it. I make the decisions, I am responsible. I’m not waiting for others to catch up, I’m not answerable to anyone. This freedom is confidence. Confidence to set my own metronome, confidence to succeed and to fail. But that’s not the whole story. I’m learning more about myself than ever before. Amanda is free. 

Q: Transitioning from bass to lead vocals and guitar, how has your role evolution impacted the creative direction of your EPs? 

A: I’ve always been the lead vocalist and songwriter, always the band leader, so it hasn’t impacted me so much as it has given me a greater challenge to play better guitar. I think the hardest part is letting others play bass guitar because I consider myself a pretty good bass player!!!  One way it has impacted is the addition of other instruments to replace the need for lead guitar to fulfill melodic hooks within the songs.

Q: “Farmtime” features instruments like piano and flute. What led to these choices, and how do they enhance the EP’s storytelling?    

A: I just love vocal harmonies, so getting my friend Kelly to accompany me by singing harmonies, and embracing her woodwind skills on flute and harmonica was a natural evolution.  As I mentioned, I have utilized flute to emphasize the melodic hooks, and over the last three releases this has become one of the things that people comment on and really enjoy about the tunes. Piano/Keyboards is another layer and level altogether.  My producer Andy is responsible for this and rather than denying the delights that his skills have to offer in the recording environment I have welcomed the evolution. Keys do amazing things to the dynamics of the songs.

Q: Reflecting on your vast career, how do you see “Farmtime” in the context of your musical evolution and experimentation?  

A: I’m at a comfortable place here and I feel it’s deserved as I have dedicated my whole life to music, to writing and lots and lots of performing. Aspects of my personal life have suffered in the pursuit and finally the sacrifice is paying off in that I’m now in a good place, creating effortlessly in a rich supportive environment.  The experiment is that there is no real plan or desire for world domination, and without this burning ambition comes freedom to be what I am, regardless of how the world sees me, or indeed if the world sees me at all. 

Q: Considering your background in mentoring and community projects, how does “Farmtime” reflect your values or messages you wish to convey? 

A: Being a part of a community is a give and take relationship. I’m very proud of my ongoing contribution both as a musician and a market gardener. Farmtime is a thumbs up to my lifestyle in this community and a catalyst to continue my role as both things, amongst like minded and appreciative people. Combining the two is both challenging and rewarding. I never stop learning from teaching others, and as I prepare for my next songwriting workshop (Songwriting Soup with Amanda Emblem as part of our Local Mary Valley GourMay Festival) I am predicting that some amazing creative tune will result!