Providing backing vocals to Kesha is a measure of the progress Australian group All Our Exes Live In Texas have even made since their last visit to Ireland, writes Eoghan O’Sullivan
GEORGIA MOONEY is remembering the review of her band All Our Exes Live In Texas’s first show: ‘They’ve got great potential but they’re really not sure what they’re doing on their
instruments yet.’ It seems fair enough considering she, one quarter of the all-female, harmony-driven Sydney folk group, had just picked up the mandolin three weeks beforehand, the foursome playing the show only after a friend suggested it.
They’ve come a long way in the past four years or so since, releasing their debut album, the irresistible When We Fall, in March, and going back and forth from Australia to the US three times already this year, including playing SXSW and supporting the
reformed protest band Midnight Oil.
Oh and they also provided the backing vocals on Kesha’s first single in four years, ‘Praying’.
Admitting that it’s “totally weird”, Mooney explains: “It’s just one of those crazy music industry moments where someone got in contact with us and they said [producer] Ryan Lewis is looking for a choir section and they asked Hannah [Crofts, another part of All Our Exes] if she knew anyone. She was like, ‘Oh my band do heaps of sessions, we can just layer up lots of vocals so yeah we’re up for it.’
“So the next day we were in this session with Ryan Lewis and Ben
Abraham, a songwriter from
Melbourne, and they’d co-written this great power ballad. They were playing it to us and teaching us the bits and we didn’t realise until halfway through the song that it was Kesha’s song. So that felt quite special to be part of that project because
obviously it’s a big moment for her having a bit of a comeback after everything she’s been through.”
Such is the crazy music industry of which Mooney speaks, she says they have never met, spoken to, or had any communication with Kesha, but hope she’ll reach out to the band when she tours Australia.
Mooney, Crofts, Elana Stone, and Katie Wighton had all studied jazz, played piano, and were doing solo shows in the Sydney country/folk scene before they came together as All Our Exes Live In Texas. Despite that cagey first-show review, they kept at it. “Singing in harmony is just such a special thing. There’s something about it that just feels good for the soul,” says Mooney.
They’re also no strangers to
Ireland, having wooed a full room at De Barra’s Folk Club at 2pm during the Clonakilty International Guitar Festival last year. That’s gone down as their favourite show, says Mooney.
“It was such a warm reception. We were all the way over here, thinking no one will come but we’ll just have a great time playing to five or six people, but it was packed.”
Speaking down the phone line from her friend’s farm in Derry, with birds chirping away merrily in the background, Mooney says she has an affinity for Ireland. “This is my third time here and I don’t know, since I was little I’ve just been fascinated by Ireland and Irish traditional music - and I did Irish traditional dancing whenI was a girl, for years, so I just had this fantasy about coming to Ireland, it was my spiritual homeland. And possibly because I am a redhead with the surname Mooney.”
Having given up their part-time jobs for the band, Mooney says it’s been strange travelling around America in the year of Trump. “I think it’s a really great time for folk musicians and bands to be engaging in politics and writing protest songs. It feels like the world needs a bit of that again like the good old days of Dylan and Joan Baez.”
She’s also looking forward to
recording the follow-up album to When We Fall. “As an all-female band we’re all very aware of the feminist movement so it feels like a great time to be writing some feminist anthems, coming from a strong place rather than a vulnerable place is what we want for the next album.”
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