It it all started in a shed.
More specifically, it started in a shed on a family hobby farm in a tiny rural township in Victoria, Australia. The four Findlay sisters, who’d go on to become the earthen psych-rock opal that is Stonefield, had been granted their wish of a drum kit by their parents, whose Zappa, Hendrix and Zeppelin records had long been the shared soundtrack of the household. Amy – the oldest Findlay, though at that time just 15 – took a particular shine to the kit and soon began lessons, her practice sessions echoing out across the family’s acreage. It wasn’t long, however, before her sisters were drawn back into the shelter as, one by one, they found their own instruments to wrangle with. Hannah, then 13, started on guitar. Sarah, 12, took on the keyboard. Holly, just seven years old, listened in on her sisters practising and, perhaps hearing that something was missing, asked her father for a bass.
Now the question is: listen to Stonefield and try to figure out what else the Findlays could possibly be doing. Stonefield’s first song, Foreign Lover, was recorded for a project Amy was working on as part of her tertiary studies. When they arrived home from the studio that day, the siblings’ mother suggested they enter the track in triple j’s Australia-wide unsigned band competition, Unearthed. The deadline for entries was that night. They weren’t convinced they had a chance, but decided to give it a shot.
The rest, as they say, is history. Their debut self-titled album entered the AIR charts at #6 and the ARIA charts at #21 – and who could forget the anthemic Put Your Curse On Me, one of three singles from the album that received high rotation on triple j. Stonefield toured twice off the back of their very first album and deservedly caught the eye of the international market, playing the Dot to Dot Festival and showcases across the UK before recording in a London studio. Back home, the girls supported Dan Sultan on his critically acclaimed Blackbird national tour, played a slew of festivals including Caloundra Music Festival, and scored The Age’s Music Victoria Award for Best Regional Act.
Now, Stonefield are winding up to unleash their sophomore album on the world; starting with a national headline tour in support of raucous first single Golden Dream that begins today at Shadow Electric in Melbourne. Before the show, Amy Findlay delved into the depths of her experiences in the music industry so far for this week’s Savvy Seven…
The best live music venues in my area are…
My sisters and I are from the Macedon Ranges, which is full to the brim with music and art. Growing up we were lucky enough to be involved in a lot of community gigs, as there is a big focus on youth and the arts. Our favourite actual music venue reasonably close to us is a little country pub in Flowerdale. Some of our first gigs were at their monthly open mic/jam sessions. We met a lot of amazing people and grew so much from having the opportunity to play in front of such an encouraging, music loving crowd. We have lots of memories of wintery sundays with a pub meal and watching all the locals have a good old boogie.
The music scene in my hometown is…
Our actual hometown is very small, with a population of around 200 people. Surprisingly, a lot of music comes from our little town. Our next door neighbour taught us how to play our instruments and there are several really talented young musicians who we grew up with. Every year we have a DIY Christmas carols.. super daggy but also a beautiful night where everyone comes together to have a night of music, food and drinks. It’s a tight knit community and music and the arts are highly valued.
My top business tip for new artists is…
Stay true to yourself and the reason you play music. It’s completely transparent when artists are being fuelled by the wrong reasons. Don’t manipulate what you do to make other people happy. Make yourself happy and all the rest will flow. Network with other artists and industry folk and have a great online presence.
In my opinion, the most important issue facing the music industry is…
For Australian music specifically, I think we need another platform similar to triple j that reaches people on a national scale. Triple j are amazing at what they do, but they can’t play everything. There are so many amazing Australian artists and we need something else to help get their music out there. Right now, everyone is relying on the support of one radio station for touring, festivals and to an extent, overseas success. I think it’s crucial that something is done to support the amazing talent we have in Australia and take that pressure off of triple j. What happened to weekend video shows? How about a weekend video show for Australian artists only, on a major network? Another government funded national radio station? It’s obvious, but it would boost the Australian music industry in a huge way.
When on the road, my favourite pit stops are…
I love stopping in small country towns and grabbing a bite to eat at the local cafe or bakery. It sure beats fast food stops along the highway!
My biggest career mistake has been…
I’m a big believer of everything happens for a reason. I don’t have any regrets because I think everything that happens along the way has made us into the band and people we are now, which I think is something to be proud of.
My best general advice for emerging artists is…
Again, be true to yourself. As cliche as it is, it’s cliche for a reason. Play as much as you can, write as much as you can and have some bloody fun.
Catch Stonefield on their Golden Dream tour at the following dates and venues (tickets available here):
June 26 – Shadow Electric, Melbourne
July 2 – The Brightside, Brisbane
July 3 – Goodgod Small Club, Sydney
July 4 – SS & A, Albury (free show)
July 5 – Home Tavern, Wagga Wagga
July 10 – Cats @ Rocket Bar, Adelaide
July 11 – Four5Nine @ Rosemount Hotel, Perth
July 12 – Mojo’s, Fremantle