Borne of a lightning bolt moment between two long-time friends, Mama Kin Spender is sheer musical electricity. The collision of creativity in this partnership is infectious.
The pairing of the soul-staring, pirate-esque Mama Kin (aka Danielle Caruana), she of the fire and feist; together with her counterpart (Tommy) Spender – an ethereal man of creative fluidity – is destined for a journey of mischief bound by rhythm and melody.
Mama Kin and Spender lived together in a warehouse in Melbourne’s gritty ‘burbs in the early noughties, where they stumbled upon their creative chemistry and wrote their first song together, Take It Slow which appeared on Mama Kin’s AIR award-nominated debut album, Beat And Holler. However, it took them many more years of orbiting each other’s creative projects, before they delved into this collaboration.
Meanwhile, Spender added production assistance and then warmed stages on Mama Kin’s national tour to release her ARIA-nominated sophomore album, The Magician’s Daughter. The duo took the opportunity to sing together every night, walking into the centre of packed rooms and wooing audiences with their unplugged version of Cold Rooftop, a song that has been reimagined here on their debut album, ‘Golden Magnetic’.
Spender then released a glorious EP of buzzing indie-pop songs, blew up BIGSOUND, toured some more, caught the attention of triple j, and stunned audiences with his sax-infused tunes, tech wizardry and heart-cracking vocals.
Then our two heroes seemingly disappeared. It was a hiatus that may never have ended.
As in all classic tales, you can’t keep a good girl – or boy – down. Finding solace in one another as they lamented their creative disenchantment and family juggles, Spender and Mama Kin turned towards their friendship and reignited their creative fire. Together. Over the phone one late evening, they wept as they watched Rufus Wainwright’s community song project in Toronto, cheering as the Canadian songbird led a warehouse of voices in Hallelujah harmonies. They had inadvertently struck something golden, something a little magnetic, a shared spark toward the kind of project they imagined together. The spell had been broken.
Magnetised by the ferocity and purity of these voices united in song, the pair heard their calling. “We’ll write the songs, and we will pick up the voices as we roll. We will reimagine the songs as new every night as we tour, with the voices of the places that we visit. The communities will illuminate them in collective harmony. It is the voices, no longer in our heads, that will energise us.”
After intensive individual writing periods, they brought together their swag of new songs, joining together sketches and ideas in a confluence of creative flow. With Mama Kin on drums and Spender on electric guitar, their new work gained a fresh momentum and intensity, unearthing songs which rattle, roll and tremble, from block party to heart-rending ballad. The writing, pre-production, and recording happened in a flood once they struck water.
Carried on a tide of synergy, a deep well of friendship and a common love and respect for being total dickheads, they soon had the canvas ready for the choral vision.
And the final iron in the fire, Virginia Bott of Brighter Later and First Chorus Band Of Singers, collaborated on the choral arrangements in the recording process, and now leads the national charge of choir mustering.
The harnessing of community voices has begun to breathe new life into each harmony. It’s just the way they love to do it: collective, collaborative, chaotic, traversing the golden magnetic.
And into this steps Margaret River’s Chorale Choir, in what will be a special performance for Blues at Bridgetown.
Perth – Western Australia, Australia
Danielle Caruana (Mama Kin) – vocals, drums
Tommy Spender – vocals, guitar
The Chorale Sea – choir