You need to meet ARIA nominated and rising Country Music star Fanny Lumsden
"I was born in a long line of farming families, who worked the land in order to set their children free..." These are the opening refrains sung by one of regional Australia's most honest songwriters, Fanny Lumsden in a song that pays homage to the singer's lineage of Aussie farmers. The compelling number is entitled Bravest of Hearts, and is the first cut from her album Small Town Big Shot which was crowd funded, and has been nominated for a 2016 ARIA award for Best Country Album.
Fanny was born and raised in the tiny town of Tallimba, where the 2011 census counted a total population of 335 people, in western NSW, about an hour and half from Wagga Wagga.
While Fanny Lumsden may not be a household name (yet), the country artist has certainly made an impact on many households throughout our country, sleeping in strangers' homes usually after performing in one of the many loungerooms or halls she has been invited into to share her songs. Independent, self-managed and self-funded, Fanny Lumsden works tirelessly traversing thousands of kilometres with her band to reach thousands of people deprived of live music. The singer is one of the hardest working musicians in the country and is incredibly passionate about performing throughout small towns of Australia, and has been touring using an original idea called the Country Halls Tour. The tours began in 2011 during a time of bad flooding, in partnership with natural disaster relief agency BlazeAid, in order to raise money to repair damage to the halls. The shows became so adored that they became an annual affair, spreading to more and more places.
These popular and often sold out events are staged in halls that sit in the middle of paddocks in small towns often forgotten by touring artists. The tour is entirely produced by Fanny and her band The Thrillseekers which includes her fiancé and music business partner Dan Freeman. People of all ages from kids to grandparents stream in from their homesteads on surrounding properties and houses peppering Australia's vast landscape to enjoy Fanny's upbeat and inspirational tunes, a rare treat for towns like Walla Walla, NSW and Willaura, Victoria, both with populations of barely 600.
In a recent interview with the AU Review, Fanny called the music industry out for forgetting regional areas, saying, "The claim on the market being ‘too small’, I think, is crap; they are just geographically more spread out."
Fanny has performed alongside names like Sara Storer, Henry Wagons, The McClymonts, Marlon Williams, All Our Exes Live in Texas, and Adam Harvey. The credentials don't stop there. Rolling Stone Magazine said, ’Fanny Lumsden differentiates herself from Australian country peers with her clear-eyed, unvarnished articulation of life in the bush as it is, rather than as it was... A breath of fresh country air."
Indeed. Enjoy our interview with Fanny Lumsden, and look out for our upcoming conversation with Fanny which will be recored during ARIA week in a brand new Music Love podcast.
Open us up to the world of country music.
Country Music is storytelling music. However it's a big ol' church with so many variations under that title. It's a lot more than that old saying of, 'Three chords and the truth' these days.
Tell us about the song Bravest of Hearts.
Bravest of Hearts is about all the branches of my family who are farmers, and off the land. I thought that was something pretty special and ought to be celebrated.
Your album was crowd-funded. What tips would you give to people who want to crowd source a project?
I would say figure out WHY you are creating something and then WHY people would want to support it. We put in a lot of work into the campaign around our crowd funding campaign, doing everything we could to connect with people and get the word out. Don't just assume people will support it. It was a lot of work overall. It's definitely not the easy way to go.
Where were you when you found out about the ARIA nomination?
I was at the nomination event, actually, it was very surreal.
Who did you tell first?
Dan Stanley Freeman - he is the other half of Fanny Lumsden in a musical and business sense. And also soon to be my husband.
What has been the shiniest highlight reel moment for you in your music career?
Probably the last few Country Halls tours. They are the most wonderful events, where people drive hundreds of kilometres, sell out halls in the middle of paddocks and really get involved with the show. They are exactly why I do what I do.
What has been the dustiest behind-the-scenes moment for you in your music career?
Haha, pretty much all of it. Not that the dust makes it any less exciting or fulfilling. It's just that we are self-managed and booked, so its 90 percent dust and ten percent shiny. We are the ones that sweep the floor after the show, make sure there are enough drinks, make sure the PA is working, book the shows, drive the kilometres and stay up until all hours on email.
Who couldn’t you live your life musical life without?
Oh, definitely Dan. He is the one that makes sure I get anywhere on time. "Fanny Time" is a real thing, and about thirty minutes to two hours behind everyone else. [He makes sure] I've got a working instrument, that the car's packed, and the graphics are done. He is also a champion at cooking, so I would probably be having meat-and-three-veg without him.
Who are your favourite Australian women in music?
Oh there are so many. Here are a couple of the top of my head. Gabby Huber of Maples. Anna Philips, film clip director. The women of All our Exes Live in Texas - Katie, Elana, Hannah and Geogia. Bex Chilcott of Ruby Boots. Clara Iaccarino from Makebelieve Productions. Nardia Drayton from [record label] Social Family Records - obviously.
Oh, and don't get me started on more artists. This list will go forever. So many wonderful women in this music community!
Say anything you want when you hear words like, alt-country, Australiana, Americana, Nashville, Tamworth
A damn good time.
“Self-produced Country Halls tour” – what does this mean and entail?
It means that we put on a tour every year in halls in regional Australia and we make it happen from the bookings, to the sound, to the stage set, to ticketing, to the merch. It's now in its fifth year and we are two shows from the end of this run which has been the most successful one yet with eight out of ten shows so far sold out! It's by far my favourite show every year.
What was the smallest town you have played in and what is the largest?
Well five of the halls we had on this tour where in the middle of paddocks often up to hundreds of kilometres from the closest little town.
Does a Country Hall tour ever come to the City?
Yes, we bring the Country Halls Tour to Sydney. [We] actually [have one booked] this Saturday [19 November] at St Stephens Hall in Newtown.
What other musical genres do you love – listening to, and playing yourself?
I listen to a lot of the many kinds of country from folk, bluegrass, soul, Americana, pop and also classical music and lots of oldies.
A rest. And getting married. And next year we are going to get cracking onto album number two and have a lot of touring planned as well.
What is your favourite place in Australia?
Where we live, in the Upper Murrray, which is on the western side of the Snowy Mountains. Also maybe Cape Leveque in Western Australia
You were born and raised in Tallimba. Do you still have connections there?
Absolutely, my family all farms there, still. Aunties and uncles and cousins. My grandparents are in West Wyalong which is about twenty minutes from Tallimba, plus all our childhood and family friends. Still feels like home.
What was life like growing up in Western NSW?
Fantastic. The communities out there are seriously the best kind. Always got your back no matter your rhyme or reason. It's super free as well, as kids run wild and everyone is pretty damn friendly. You drive a lot, there's a lot of red dust. It's hard work but it wonderful.
Where was the music video for Bravest of Hearts made?
Tallimba, NSW which is the region I grew up in, and also where we have shot other clips for this record.
What is your favourite Australian café/restaurant?
Black Sheep which is a cafe/restaurant in our little town of Corryong. They are legends and bring great food, coffee and community to our little town.
Who is your favourite Australian artist, fashion designer, retailer, film maker or actor?
Sam Brumby and Anna Philips. They make our film clips with us and are no [doubt], very talented wonderful folk.
Favourite non-music thing to do?
Ride the horses and spend time at home on the farm with my fam and friends. Cliché but true.
Fanny Lumsden and The Thrillseekers' Country Halls Tour comes to the city at St Stephens Newtown, NSW this Saturday. Buy tickets here and feel free to bring your kids and your grandma!
Look out for Fanny and Dan at the ARIA Awards, and follow her Australian adventures and find social media links at www.fannylumsden.net