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meadowhip delves into the inspiration behind her ’90s RnB

Following the release of her debut solo single, Unexceptional, meadowhip chats with Happy about all things music, nostalgia and the future.

Wollongong artist meadowhip (aka Cara) delves into the events that sparked her solo venture, and the release of her new tune — that just oozes ’90s vibes — Unexceptional.

The singer-songwriter is overflowing with passion for the future of the project. Based on the magnetic melody of Unexceptional, we can only expect more colourful soundscapes to follow.

Meadowhip

HAPPY: Hello there meadowhip! Where do you find yourself today?

MEADOWHIP: Hello! I find myself on my bed in my house in Wollongong. It’s evening and it’s raining, and I am heavily committed to soft, warm lighting. SBS Food is on in the background and I am the human filling in a schnauzer sandwich. I am horribly thirsty, and I continue to do exactly nothing about it. I am reaching my full power.

HAPPY: How did this solo project come about?

MEADOWHIP: I’ve always written and performed with and for groups, and the idea of going it alone had never really come to mind until I had started to properly recover from a near-fatal hemorrhagic stroke at the start of last year. There’s nothing quite like a near-death experience to give you some clarity!

All I wanted to do was write and sing, and amongst the flood of material, there were a lot of songs and poems that weren’t quite right for my band, Territories, but had too much ‘me’ in them to consider pitching to another artist. And the thought of them not being heard made me want to yell. So, I just jumped in, and meadowhip started to take shape.

HAPPY: Congratulations on the release of your single, Unexceptional! Tell us a bit about the track.

MEADOWHIP: Thank you! Unexceptional is potentially the merriest song I have ever written. It’s essentially a big old eye-roll at average, straight, white dudes — seeing them lauded in their mediocrity frustrates me, but also makes me giggle mirthlessly. It’s all pop hooks and ’90s RnB textures, mixed in with the Aussie-indie attitude that I cannot escape, and all the dreaminess, wonkiness, and ’70s drum breaks I thought I could get away with.

HAPPY: Who were your influences for the tune?

MEADOWHIP: Oh mate, trying to distil my musical influences has got to be the hardest task, especially in relation to a particular track. So much of it is totally unconscious. If I listen back now, I can see elements that are inspired by the sounds of artists like Mac Demarco and Tame Impala. But really, I think that the most prominent influences of this track are from the ’90s pop-RnB universe. I mean, it’s probably reasonably clear that I had artists like Monica, Groove Theory, Erykah Badu and Floetry on repeat during the formative years of my songwriting journey.

HAPPY: What does your creative process typically look like?

MEADOWHIP: My creative processes differ depending on my mood, who I’m working with, and what my focus is. (I like to keep things interesting, unpredictable and difficult for everyone involved).

In the case of Unexceptional, it started in my first writing session with the track’s producer and co-writer, Chelsea Warner at The Artist Studio. From memory, I babbled incoherently about how I have strong and complicated feelings about ’90s RnB, the patriarchy, and chunky baselines.

Without a hint of judgment, and with total grace, Chelsea started messing around with a chord progression and baseline, which is essentially what you hear in the track now! And from that, the hook sort of just landed in my head, and then the rest of the melody wrote itself pretty quickly. Then I spent about 6 months agonising over the lyrics, because, clearly, a song is not really written until it’s given rise to a complete existential crisis, right?

HAPPY: Absolutely! What can we expect in the future for meadowhip?

MEADOWHIP: I’m consistently overwhelmed by the extent of the plans that I have made for meadowhip. My second track is in production right now, and I’m hoping to release it in the next couple of months. In the background, I have the first meadowhip EP sizzling, and that should be out by the end of the year if I can hold the facade of my adulthood together for just a little longer. You can expect more slinky tunes about the things that annoy me (hint: that includes myself).

I’m also putting together a live set, so you can expect to see me out and about in the coming months. Oh — and super fun and exciting — I’m working on some collaborations with some other Wollongong artists in the next few months! Other than that, I am working on the upcoming Territories EP and my poetry collection!

HAPPY: How exciting! If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

MEADOWHIP: [laughs] Okay I mean, I could write a thesis on this and it would exclusively cite the very reliable and independent sources of (a) my own opinions, and (b) anecdotes from others. The music industry is just a really mysterious and expensive place for independent artists. But I guess the way that musicians are paid seems something that’s probably pretty problematic across the industry. I know so many musicians — myself included — working full time in non-industry jobs to fund their art.

Sometimes it feels like working two jobs and getting paid for half of one. Yet, there is loads of money in the industry and someone is taking it home? Clearly, there is an issue with the distribution of money in the industry. So I guess I would change that. Note that I have no idea what that change would look like!

HAPPY: Gives us a heads up if you find the answer [laughs]. Cheers meadowhip!

MEADOWHIP: Cheerio, mates! Thanks for having me.