PAINTING WITH SOUND
This soul sister is a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of gal — and we love what we see! Dallas Frasca has a bullshit-free conversation with Pearl Davies about her passion for independent musicians, being a greenie and giving back to her supporters.
Growing up with her mum’s powerhouse rock (INXS, Midnight Oil and co.), Dallas Frasca fell in love with blues guitar at the age of 12 after watching 80s music flick, Crossroads, inspired by legendary blues musician Robert Johnson, featuring an original score (and climactic guitar duel) by Ry Cooder and Steve Vai. After “wopping” school the next day, Frasca watched the film 13 times and it is these past greats – Johnson, Aretha Franklin, Etta James and Billy Holliday, whose sound infuses Frasca’s raw style of blues and roots. Having had only one vocal lesson in her life, Frasca learnt to sing by listening to her “little, shitty transit radio” and trying to mimic her idols. Silenced for 18 months by throat nodules, she had time to sit back and listen, taking in what she liked from each artist and incorporating it into her own capabilities as a singer. She also learnt guitar during this time.
Joining with guitarist Jeff Curran, whom she describes as “brilliant” (“he actually plays his guitar upside down”) and drummer Pete McDonald (“the missing link”), Frasca and her Gentlemen, got together a catalogue of over 100 songs and rehearsed every night for over four months in preparation for recording. “We knew all of our strengths we wanted to bring to every song and we did it,” says Frasca. The trio jetted off to New York to record her soon-to-be released album, Sound Painter, with Australian producer Andy Baldwin (Bjork, Living End, Cat Empire) at Rola Pola Studio’s in Brooklyn.
After the theft of one of their show’s takings from Melbourne airport, Frasca was still determined to go ahead with their album release next year. They reached out to their supporters for help in raising funds in time for the release and after just five days, over $1,700 worth of pledges came in. A humble Frasca said social media has definitely expanded the support of artists over the years. Life on the road can be quite isolating, she said – performing and mingling for a few hours before getting back in the van again and off to your next gig.
Frasca describes playing with Midnight Oil as a career highlight, despite the jitters inspired by taking the stage after drummer Rob Hirst, who watched from the wings as Frasca’s nodule-breaking vocals tore the house down. From then on the pair became good friends, working on a few songs together and discussing saving the world over dinner. ‘’Music really is a healer and you can learn from it,” says Frasca. Proudly independent, Frasca says she prefers to sacrifice regular income for creative freedom. Although she confesses that it can be challenging at times.One of Australia’s strongest and most inspiring female artists, she has been described as a ‘modern day Janis Joplin’. As humbling and enchanting as she is lovely, and with a string of awards under her belt, Frasca is all set for a cracker of a ride to the top. And her chunky guitar riffs and deep husky vocals are sure to get dancefloors passionately stomping.