Sixteen years ago, the DoneUndone team were dancing to Magic Dirt’s ‘Dirty Jeans’ on a Thursday night at Goo – Metro’s alternative night. By then, Magic Dirt had already been around for almost ten years. These days, Goo, and even Metro itself, have fallen by the wayside, but Adalita Srsen, Magic Dirt’s awesomely talented and completely unique lead singer, is still going strong.
With two solo albums already under her belt, she’s currently working on a third, but took a little time away from recording to answer a few questions for us.
DU: If we lived in a world where information was not so easily accessible, what is the one thing that you would actually want people to know about you?
AS: I’m a pretty private person but one thing I would definitely want aspiring musicians to know about me is that I taught myself how to play guitar, how to write a song and how to sing. I have never taken a single lesson. And I write all of my own songs and wrote 99% of Magic Dirt’s songs.
You’ve been on the music scene since the early nineties – in this time, when careers seem to be short, what do you credit for your longevity?
I think just the sheer joy of writing music has kept me going. Magic Dirt was a not just a band but a close knit group of friends who loved what we did and loved each other so that absolutely was pivotal to our longevity. And I guess I still have songs in me and people want to hear them – my fans are pretty amazing and have been deeply loyal for many years. Also I think somehow I’ve been able to work in various other projects just because I guess I’m who I am and unique in my own way so I can bring my special brand of creativity to a lot of different projects. And I say yes a lot!
There’s a lot of talk about the music industry in general being a difficult place for women – have you experienced this yourself?
I haven’t personally no. I’ve had my fair share of dickheads yelling stupid stuff out at shows but I always take care of that very quickly. In regards to gender, I don’t feel particularly attached to mine. I feel quite androgynous. And ultimately I just view myself as a creature, a being, in this case, a human so I don’t really think about my gender until I’m reminded. But I have zero tolerance for discrimination, aggression, hostility or disrespect towards anyone at any time, regardless of why. Using gender as an excuse for bad behaviour is just that. An excuse.
I heard Courtney Barnett say the other day that you and Magic Dirt are an inspiration to her. How do you feel about being a role model for the next generation of women in the music industry?
I love it! I love Courtney and what I love most about her is that she’s just done it her way and been herself the whole time. She hasn’t changed for anyone and that’s great. I feel like I’ve been myself too and that makes me happy. I love if I can inspire men and women alike. If I can do it, anyone can!
Following on from that, what advice do you have for women starting out in the industry?
Stand up for your art. Follow your instinct. Surround yourself with supportive people. Follow your heart but keep an eye on your money. Say what you want to say. Life is too short to not do what you really want to do. And if you ruffle feathers along the way then it means you’re not pleasing everyone but it’s not about pleasing everyone. It’s about making YOUR art YOUR way. Stay focused on that. And most importantly, fuck the rules.
Are there any up and coming artists, women or otherwise, that you think our readers should really check out?
Dark Fair, a two piece band from Melbourne. Absolutely amazing band, I can’t believe they’re not huge yet but I reckon they will be. They are working on their debut album as we speak. Don’t forget their name!
Part of our focus at DoneUndone is on Melbourne’s live music scene. What’s your favourite Melbourne venue to play at?
I love so many. The Tote Hotel is a perennial favourite and a spiritual home of mine. The Prince Of Wales in St Kilda – it’s such a great rock n roll room. The Corner Hotel is a great room for sweaty, sold out rock shows. The Northcote Social Club has a great stage and P.A. and for really big shows The Palais is always lovely. Outside of Melbourne really love playing The Bridge in Castlemaine, Karova Lounge in Ballarat and The Barwon Club in Geelong.
Do you have a favourite pub in Melbourne, not necessarily to play at, but just that you think has a great atmosphere and is a great place to hang out?
Ah so many. The Tote, The Old Bar, Labour In Vain, The Retreat Hotel are all cool. The Gem is great with it’s cool Americana vibe. The Cornish Arms has an awesome vegan menu. The Gasometer has the roof that opens up. So many to choose from!
You’re working on a new album at the moment – is there anything you’d like to tell us about it?
Yes! I’m recording at the moment. It’s going to be a big project, the songs are pretty epic and intense in feel. There are lots of layers, arrangements, ideas and parts to get down so I think it will take a little longer than I expected. But I’m really excited, it’s going to be a good one. I’m hoping to have it out this year.
Despite being incredibly busy, Adalita actually apologised to us for the time it took to get back to us – which really wasn’t long at all. Fair to say, we here at DoneUndone are even more in love than we were before.
words and interview: Claire Watt
lead image: Warwick Baker
live images: Stephen Boxshall