WOMADelaide is almost upon us and the line up this year is, again, an eclectic mix of some of the world’s most beautiful music.
Joining the bill this festival is all-female band All Our Exes Live In Texas, a four-part folk outfit from Sydney that started out as a side project.
Elana Stone (vocals, accordion), Georgia Mooney (vocals, mandolin), Katie Wighton (vocals, guitar) and Hannah Crofts (vocals, ukulele) make up the ensemble, and we spoke with Georgia about how they came about.
“We all normally play keys and do music that’s fairly different to Exes, and we all wound up living in Sydney at the same time and playing around the place. We were admirers of each other’s work. We fell in with this sort of bluegrass/country scene, which is so strong in Sydney at the moment,” she says.
“A friend from a really great band called The Morrisons was putting on a Country Roads show so he suggested we put together an all-female all-singing group and we thought that sounded pretty fun and we thought, why don’t we add an extra challenge by taking up instruments we don’t know how to play! We learned them in three weeks before the first show and managed five songs. It was the best fun so we thought we had to take it on the road.”
But what began as a side project, may have become their main project – for the moment, at least.
“It did that thing that side projects do, where it gets busier than your main thing; or just as busy. It’s taken off in a way we didn’t expect. We’ve all been enjoying it and are so dedicated to it, because we’re not just relying on ourselves, we’ve got the support of our best buds. And we’re singing together in harmony and that’s the best thing you can ever do. It’s so much fun. While we’re still juggling all the schedule, Exes is definitely here to stay,” Georgia says.
And the group are excited to be playing WOMADelaide and being part of such a diverse festival.
“I’ve never actually even been to WOMADelaide, so we’re very excited to be playing there! It looks like an amazing line-up and we don’t get to Adelaide enough. We’ve only played there twice, which is shocking; it’s not on!” Georgia laughs.
“I think it’s overdue. We feel very lucky to be on the WOMADelaide line up There’s such a mix. I love going to festivals like that, where you go and discover new things. There’s such an eclectic mix at WOMADelaide, so I’m up for seeing things I haven’t ever seen and not going to things I have seen before. That’s my plan.”
Although this is their first WOMAD Festival, the four women are no strangers to big events, and this is evidenced by their recent support of ‘90s heartthrobs, Backstreet Boys.
“It was the best. It sounds crazy, but I think it was one of the best things I’ve ever done in my entire life. It was so fun,” Georgia enthuses. “Back in the ‘90s, we were the biggest, obsessed fans. We were right into them. Except Elana, she was a bit cool for that. I used to kiss the posters every night before I went to sleep. It was really something serious.
“We were all transported straight back to primary school, and we were giddy schoolgirls in the hallways whenever we saw them. They were so friendly! We had dinner with them every night, they were really great. They actually chose us themselves to do the tour with them. It was really nice. The shows were amazing and we danced side of stage every night and they taught us the moves to ‘Backstreet’s Back’. It was all the things you dream about when you’re eleven.”
The group’s collective sense of humour is reflected in Georgia’s tales of the Backstreet Boys tour, which she says also translates to their live shows.
“We have a light-hearted, silly approach to playing live, which isn’t intentional, it’s just because we’re all best mates and we’re all quite chatty. Sometimes it’s a nice contrast to the serious music. Maybe it’s confusing and weird. I don’t know. Most people tend to have a good time,” she laughs.
“We’ll also debut some very new songs. We’re recording things we’ve never played live before, so you’ll here some first time stuff. A world premiere!”
Speaking of recording, All Our Exes Live In Texas are in the final stages of their debut album, which has been crowd funded; a process Georgia was initially dubious about, but she saw the merits by the end.
“It was amazing. We did it though Pledge Funding. When I first heard about crowd funding, I was quite sceptical about asking people for their money. But having done it now, I think if you see it as a pre-ordering platform, for people who are otherwise going to buy the album anyway, and it gives them the chance to get it first and get updates about the recording process, people really like to be involved, then it’s really humbling. We were overwhelmed by the support,” she says.
“Recording is extremely expensive, really hard work and emotionally taxing, so if you feel like there’s a little community there with you, and people interested in the album at all, it makes all much easier and really fun.”
The album is due in April/May, and 5% of any money raised after the goal is complete will go to Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.
“We feel very passionate about welcoming refugees to the country and helping them as much as possible, so it’s great to be able to contribute somehow and I think the audience likes doing that as well. It feels great,” Georgia says.
You can catch All Our Exes Live in Texas (NB, none of their exes live in Texas) at WOMADelaide this weekend, so grab your tickets through the website.
By Libby Parker