Adelaide rising star Dusty Lee Stephensen has a huge festival season ahead of him with gigs at Fringe Festival, Clipsal 500 and WOMADelaide.
If that’s not enough, Dusty says he is also releasing a single to coincide with the appearances he has booked around Mad March.
A hardworking musician who is often seen playing around the traps in one of his guises (SKIES, Wasted Wanderers and his solo act), Dusty says being asked to perform at WOMADelaide and Clipsal was a real achievement.
“You get so used to applying for things and putting it out there and never hearing anything back that you don’t expect it. So then it’s like wow cool, we must being doing something right; we must be on the radar, because they don’t give those opportunities to bands who are doing nothing,” he says.
“That also makes us want to take advantage of it, so we’re recorded the next single, and we’re going to release that around that time. We’re going to tour that, so we’re going to really take advantage of these shows and get out there as much as we can.”
Dusty says the new single is something to look forward to, and features the band’s backing vocalists Sophie and Brittany McKay.
“It’s called ‘In Your Fire’. It’s a real energetic and dangerously catchy song. It’s Curtis Mayfield-esque, seventies Motown style, it really features the girls and we recorded it pretty much live to tape. Then we mixed it the next day and it was done,” he says.
“It’s different to how we’ve recorded things in the past, we really caught the energy of the live band, which is what I want to do from now on. I’m excited about that next single because it’s a perfect example of where we’re going.”
And with Festival dates like WOMADelaide and Clipsal under his belt, there’s no question that where he’s going is straight to the top.
Wasted Wanderers have evolved in the time they formed from their humble beginnings as the Grace Emily house band, and Dusty says he enjoys the band’s flexibility.
“At the core we’re a three piece and we’ve been singing with singers for a while. They’re a massive part of the band now. At our EP launch, we added keys and a second guitar. We went back to doing trio gigs with just the girls afterwards and it was kind of empty; when there’s keys and a second guitar it’s just so full, and I can perform a bit more; I don’t have to worry about filling in every single guitar part, we can layer the song and be more dynamic,” he says.
“I’ve always loved those bigger bands, I love Tadeshi Trucks Band, who play with two drummers, Little Feat, The Band, and all this old school stuff where they would tour with less people and sometimes they’d make it massive. So I like the idea of being able to expand, or tour light and still have the same band name.”
Wasted Wanderers are playing on the Saturday of the WOMADelaide long weekend festival, and Dusty says he’s keen to take his seven piece band to the stage.
“There’s such a good vibe there, it’s different to every other festival that I’ve ever been to; everybody’s got such an open mind. So I’m excited to play to new people that might not have heard of us, or people who might have but haven’t seen us,” he says.
“And also to be able to play a big stage; when you write the songs you imagine them being played on a big outdoor stage. That’s the sound that I’ve gone for on some of the songs, so with a seven piece band, on that stage, it will come to life with the energy and the volume and the mix and everything that I’ve envisioned for it for the show, so that’s kind of cool.”
And Dusty promises a set that will get the WOMADelaide weekenders up on their feet.
“It’ll be real high energy. It’s gone in a more soul direction, so we’re trying to create this environment where people can dance and have fun. I want people to really get into it. I want them to really connect with what we’re doing,” he says.
“A lot of the songs are reasonably catchy, so they can sing along or clap in time. People might be seeing us for the first time, but by the end of the song they know the chorus or they’ve got into it. At somewhere like the Grace Emily you do that as well, you can try songs and get them out there, but it’s cool if you can do that on another stage and get those songs out there to give them a whole new meaning; a whole new life.”
As well as WOMADelaide, Dusty is thrilled to have been selected to support Matchbox 20 at the Clipsal 500 concerts and is looking forward to being on the stage with some of music’s best.
“I never got heavily into Matchbox 20, but I’m excited about The Black Sorrows with Vicka and Linda Bull, because we’ve got the backing singers and we’ll be on just before them. And that will be cool because the girls can watch them do their thing and they’re as good as it gets, Vicka and Linda Bull. And I’m just excited about it being a massive set up, everything from the speakers to the stage sound, it’s going to be quite a legit, good show.”
Catch Wasted Wanderers at Clipsal on Sunday March 6, or at WOMADelaide on Saturday March 12; as well as those gigs, Dusty is playing around Adelaide so keep your eye out for him around town.
By Libby Parker