Hailing from a farm in western NSW, Fanny Lumsden is ‘a breath of fresh country air’ according to Rolling Stone Magazine and was just named QANTAS New Talent Of The Year at the recent CMAA Golden Guitar Awards in Tamworth and Country Music Channel New Artist of the Year at the CMC Awards on the Gold Coast. Her debut, crowd funded record ‘Small Town Big Shot‘, produced by multi-instrumentalist Matt Fell (Shane Nicholson, Morgan Evans and Amber Lawrence) debuted at #6 on the ARIA Chart and went on to be nominated for Best Country Album at the 2016 ARIA Awards. With three Golden Guitar nominations and three CMC Award nominations, it’s a no brainer that we would ask for the opportunity to pick her brains.
1) Who was your first musical inspiration? Why?
There were many. When I was young, as my whole family plays music, everyone around me inspired me in that way. However, the inspiration for me to really start songwriting was when Kasey Chambers record The Captain came out. That more conversational and gritty form of songwriting really opened up my mind… also around the same time was the Dixie Chicks…and I know that might not sound ‘cool’ but they are three hugely talented and hard working women that are fierce in their opinion and can play their instruments like it’s nobody’s business.
2) What advice do you have for someone who is planning and setting off on their first tour?
Work out who’s in the communities you are playing in, or who may connect with what you are doing and reach out to them. Get them involved. Word of mouth spreads faster and more effectively than most other kinds of marketing. Treat every audience like it’s the best gig of your life even if there’s only 4 people at the bar. Look at your first tour as an investment towards future tours. You are planting little seeds and if you nurture them, they will grow. Also never just expect people to turn up… you have to do the hard yards. Oh, and know how your gear works and always hail your sound person.
3) What has been one of your most defining moments in your career?
I think last year’s Country Halls Tour. There is a moment before each show where I go outside, stand back and just look at all those cars lined up in the paddock…and all those people that have come from hundreds of kilometres away, to a hall in the middle of a paddock. This last tour we sold out nearly all those halls in the middle of rural NSW and even one right in the middle of Newtown! What’s more, we did it ourselves (my husband Dan and I, that is). It was just so exciting/relieving to stand back and realise that even though it might have taken 5 years of country hall shows, tens of thousands of kilometres and a few too many BBQ’s, we have made it work… and man they are the funnest shows. I am so proud of the country halls tour.
4) How has your music practice changed over time?
In terms of the band and our songs, we actually do a lot less these days (which is terrible) as we are so busy and always on the road. We used to rehearse about once a week as a full band and multiple times a week as a two or three piece. Although nowadays I take the song preparation and set prep a lot more seriously and put more thought into the structure and presentation of our shows.
5) My top business tip for new artists is…
Learn it. Learn all about the business, how all elements work and figure out what you want out of it. It’s fine if you are not excellent at writing press releases or figuring out tour logistics, but just know what goes on, because at the end of the day, no one cares about it as much as you do. Also be prepared to work hard.
6) My biggest career mistake has been…
I have made so many mistakes, however, each one has taught me something valuable that I have tried to use next time around. I always try and take the positive out of the decisions I make and generally try not to have regrets, as each bad decision often leads you in a direction that you might not have considered or makes you work harder to get it right next time.
7) In my opinion, the most important issue facing the music industry is…
For me, personally, it comes down to an issue of value. We as artists and the music industry invest so much money, time and energy into something that is only somewhat culturally valued and not reflected in the money we make. With everything moving online, live music being increasingly hard to justify, lack of government funding and a culture where people assume that exposure is a good payment option…it’s genuinely hard to make a living.
Photo credit: Lisa Williams.