Music videos are one of my favourite things. Whenever I read about an artist online, one of the first things I want to see is their video. It’s a chance to see the living breathing personality behind the music, if opportunities to see them live aren’t immediately available. 

Music videos, however, are a tricky thing to get right. How do you look natural and relaxed on a video, when dancing or lip syncing in front of a camera isn’t necessarily natural or relaxing? Alternative pop singer/songwriter, Noralyn, from Brisbane, makes it look easy. Her videos look like she’s having fun and her personality and talent shine through. Yet, when discussing the process with her, it becomes apparent her seemingly chilled vibe, is just very skilful acting.

There was a music video we did a few years back where you see me in three different locations – beach, mountainside and in the woods. In one scene I’m wearing a white dress which we attempted filming multiple times. We spent a lot of time scouting out different locations and ended up driving 4 hours to a rainforest. But when we went through the footage it didn’t have the right feel. Another time we got up super early to drive to another location, but I got attacked by mozzies and we had to call it quits. There was no hiding the huge bites on my face! Then my dress got dirt stains on it, which required multiple attempts to remove. We eventually got the scene done though! 

Your current EP Lucid Dreaming depicts you in a graceful Prima Ballerina  pose. Are you a dancer too? 

“The title Lucid Dreaming is an analogy for being aware of a bigger picture or a greater reality, more than just the physical,” explains Noralyn. “So in the artwork I have my eyes closed and my arms are creating a closed space around my head which is sort of representing me “dreaming” ie. living in my “everyday life”. But there is an image of a starry universe in my head – which represents being conscious of this whole other dimension to life apart from the things we can physically touch and see.” 

So what else can you tell us about this EP?

It’s a 6-track EP which I recorded down in Sydney in late 2017 with a producer named Dylan Nash. I wrote most of the songs the previous year. I write on piano, and the songs all remained piano-based in the recordings as it’s very much part of my ‘musical identity’. Like I touched on in a previous question, the common thread that seems to bring each of the tracks together as an EP is the “bigger picture.” It’s the way I try to look at life. Two of the songs Rebel Heart and New Tricks charted for several weeks in the top 40 of the Australian Christian Radio charts last year – so that was pretty cool!

You’ve sometimes been compared to Kate Bush. Was she a strong influence? 

 I wouldn’t necessarily list her as an original influence of mine. Her music is beautiful and very artistic. I do recall listening to ‘Wuthering Heights’ and ‘Running up that Hill’ etc, as a teenager, but probably listened to her music later in response to those comments. I guess, like Kate Bush, classical music is part of my background and filters into my songwriting too, if to a lesser extent. I was however, influenced by one of her contemporaries – Tori Amos. Regina Spektor and Imogen Heap are other artists I would list as inspirations.

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For many years, Leonie didn’t see herself as a musical person. In fact, She’d never even thought about playing a guitar until one day she was “made to take” a music class in her high school years. Then, having discovered her talent, along came the inspiration that changed Leonie’s life: Missy Higgins Sound of White. Leonie says it was her love for Missy’s work, that inspired her to become a song writer and to try her hand at live performing. 

“The first full song I ever learnt and performed live was Katie by Missy Higgins,” says Leonie. “I always loved how honest she was with her lyrics and how it showed through with her vocals. I remember sitting on my kitchen floor at home and performing it to my parents. This was when they knew releasing music was not going to be a small phase in my life. Her music helped me through many emotional times and encouraged me to do the same for others with my own song writing.”

How did it feel when you won the Hervey Bay Unplugged competition, with its music production prize?

“Winning the Unplugged competition was an incredible opportunity. I had previously entered the competition around 4 times before taking out the winning title in 2017. As a young artist it was always heart breaking going through the competition journey with little success but my determination and passion finally payed off. I started introducing my original material in the competition in 2017 and I think that was the thing I was missing in previous years. Being able to jump into the studio and record my original music was what I needed to take my music to that next step and start being heard as an original artist rather than a cover singer.”

Tell us about Night Terrors. Is there a story behind this song?

“Night Terrors, like most of the songs on my EP was written during a really hard time in my life. Since I was  young, I had always struggled with night terrors, restless nights and bad dreams. I remember being a young girl and suffering sleep paralysis. It was so terrifying. Seeing strange creature’s and figures surrounding my bed and having such vivid dreams full of scent and touch. As I grew older, the night terrors didn’t come as often, and it turned into insomnia.”

“About two years ago, the sleep paralysis returned briefly. It again turned into insomnia as I would refuse to fall asleep until the sun would rise due to fear. This lead to me consistently being tired and emotional which then turned into a deep depression. While trying to stay awake I would sit up and write music which was where I got the idea to write about it all. I actually wrote this song 3 times before I felt happy with it.”

“Though this song is about night terrors it is also about the feeling of being defeated. Feeling like you will never win to your internal demons. I don’t want this song to be a representation of defeat though, more of an awareness. There are other people suffering through these things and it’s ok to speak up and seek help.”

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Spencer is a musician who understands the beauty of viewing life through a quirkier lens. She probably wishes she could have done High school with her Idols Kate Bush and Fiona Apple as classmates, jamming after school and drinking pink lemonade. She says she discovered their brilliance “too late” for her liking. At the same time, she points out the obvious timelessness of these artists, that they can be discovered years later by a new generation and still be relevant to current tastes. 

“ ‘Late’ signifies a certain longevity I adore in music,” says Spencer. “An ability to transcend the expectations of any audience. Despite perhaps my late introduction to Kate Bush and Fiona Apple; the journey of discovering them as a burgeoning singer-songwriter about 4 years ago proved instrumental to the music I strive to create. Bush and Apple are both prominent female singer-songwriters who similarly write with mainly piano accompaniment and attention to innovative orchestration and arrangement. I have been extremely lucky to work with the talented Mitchell Sloan as my producer, whose background in film music parallels to my attraction to Bush, Apple and Bjork. A close attention to the intricacies of arrangement and the transformative nature of a new sound and emotion is at the forefront.

You say you’re a multi-instrumentalist, what other instruments do you play and how did you learn?

It all started with cello! With a natural compulsion to choose a bigger instrument than my brother who at the time was learning the violin, at the ripe age of six! I bought home my first quarter sized cello and a keen enthusiasm to make music. Whilst cello had always been my main focus, over the years I also dabbled with piano, singing, and even guitar – albeit held like a cello – for all the best intents and purposes.

Can you tell us a bit about your classical training and how this contributes to your unique sound?

As mentioned earlier, I learnt cello from a young age. I was very privileged to attend quite a musically orientated primary school where I followed the typical progression of a classical instrumentalist completing all my AMEB exams, and playing and performing in orchestras and chamber ensembles. Keeping true to my passion for the instrument – I like to make it a part of all my songs – whether it is the main melody, free improvisation, supporting basslines, percussion or ethereal harmonics as in the soundscape at the end of ‘A Brave New World’. My classical training as a cellist has given me the foundational background to write music on other instruments and allow me to find my sound as a composer.

So what’s ahead for you? 

Being able to write and record an album has always been a dream of mine, since discovering I had a knack for writing songs. Things have mainly gone to plan but not without mishaps over the years, primarily the length of time it has taken to get everything done! Executing what you say you will do is a challenge for the best of us. It’s not necessarily amusing but I am thankful for the time people, in particular Mitchell Sloan (producer) and Luke Fuller (mix engineer), have dedicated to my project and the fun memories and sushi we have shared together making something special.

When did it become apparent to you that you wanted to follow this path?

I would definitely say my childhood played a role in my decision to pursue music. In fact I am still very much a child at heart now. I have the most encouraging family, friends and mentors that help me to be confident with sharing my songs. I have always enjoyed being able to let out my feelings and emotions in song form and getting to be in control of creating something new. Recording and collaborating with other musicians has been a bunch of fun and I can’t wait to get back in the recording room for album number 2. 

Tell us about this album

As hinted to earlier, I am looking forward releasing my debut album: Physical Culture. With all 12 songs polished and patiently waiting on my hard drive, all that’s left is some planning and action! Keep your eyes out on my social media for upcoming shows and this release. It’s going to be a full and exciting couple of months!


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Growing up in the country, miles away from cinemas and dance venues, music was what Libby looked forward to when study was done. Her mother, obviously sighting a strong music gene in the family, persuaded all her children to learn a musical instrument. Libby recalls many long afternoons spent indulging in the joy that would eventually became a life long passion.

Growing up, my family were quite musical. I have four sisters and my mum really encouraged us. This is definitely where my love for music started. We would play for endless hours, as there wasn’t always much else to do on the farm!

You have a unique songwriting style. Why did you take so long to write and perform your own music?

I used to be a very nervous singer and had a lot of trouble sharing my music with other people. I never really believed in myself and always compared myself to others. I got swept up in life pretty quickly and was encouraged to grow up, go to university and get a job. It wasn’t until I went to uni that I sat myself down and asked myself whether I was going to continue wasting my time trying to please everybody around me, or take a risk and start trusting myself. The next day I went out and began my music career and that was the best decision I have ever made. I have learnt to love all the things that make me unique and have never looked back.

If a renowned singer/songwriter past or present, was able to contact you today by phone or Ouija board and ask you to collaborate on a new song with them, who do you hope it would be?

Without a doubt, Aretha Franklin. I couldn’t count how many hours I have spent with my hairbrush microphone singing Respect! I think she is an amazing musician with a captivating voice.

Do you have any new albums or singles due out?

Absolutely! This year has been all about writing so be prepared for some new singles and an album later in the year.

What have been some of your favourite experiences so far as a musician?

I have had some amazing experiences and met some wonderful people along the way so it’s hard to pinpoint one! I’ve had some really exciting gigs so far, however i think getting to know my band and the team I work with has been one of the most rewarding experience. I have so many great people supporting me which is something I really cherish and am so thankful for.

Is it your dream to one day be signed to a major label or do you want to stay independent?

My dream is to be the best musician I possibly can be, so I therefore set my goals on what I want to achieve with my music, not on being signed. If being signed will help me achieve my goals, then that’s something I need to consider at the time, however if staying independent is going to help me get to where I want to be, then I will stick at it!

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Some of us are lured by a melody and catchy beat, but for others it goes deeper. James Mark has always been moved by the power of music to tell a story. He grew up listening to renowned communicators like Paul Kelly and Johnny cash – and listening to Mark’s own songs, modern day influences like Ed Sheeran, are also very apparent in his style.

“Yes, definitely the story telling!” Says Mark. “With Paul Kelly and Ed Sheeran it’s also the powerful emotions I feel in their vocals”.

You say you wrote your first song at 17 only a couple of weeks after teaching yourself guitar. Is music in your blood?

“I made a small mistake in that bio. I started when I had just turned 18 as I got a guitar for my birthday. My uncle and two cousins are good musicians. I got into music by learning drums at 13 to jam with my best mate.”

How did you feel, the first time you played your music live to an audience?

“I was pretty nervous, but I didn’t reveal at the time that they were my songs. I wanted to see peoples reactions to the songs themselves. I was also scared they’d judge me.”

When writing a song, do you like to start with the lyrics first, rather than music? Or doesn’t it matter?

“It doesn’t generally matter. If it works it works sort of thing; but most of my favourite originals have started with a melody. I would just start singing or humming without any solid lyrics. The lyrics and guitar will then just build around them as the song naturally progresses.”

Any amusing anecdotes of things that haven’t always gone to plan when performing?

“Nothing too major…
In my first year I played the first 45 minutes with the front of house speakers turned off and only the fold back speaker turned on. One of the patrons kept telling me to ‘TURN IT UP!’ – and I was like ‘I HAAAVE!’ After, I found out why, but made up some lame excuse.

The below track is from Mark’s current album, All About You.



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K Mak

K Mak is an interesting name for a Cello player. In fact it may be almost too informal for a Cello player if formality was K Mak’s style. Luckily it isn’t. Fun, bright and breezy is K Mak’s style. Rather than going the typical classical route, K Mak has created a unique classical pop fusion, which conjures up memories of artists like Kate Bush and Toni Basil.

“Toni Basil – I had to look her up!” Says K Mak. “Glad I did – thank you.

As for the fusion, it was born when I went to do some post-grad study in cello, but got distracted by the production and composition subjects. I think some strong feelings I had at the time needed and outlet and I guess they got one!”


“Archie Roach! At the Woodford Closing Ceremony. Also, James Cruickshank from the Cruel Sea. He’s no longer with us but his music blows me away. Check it out.

I also LOVE playing in my string quartet, Angel Strings.”


Sort of. I get that it’s their baby – usually! I know that sometimes I don’t see their perspective until down the track. So I try not to worry too much if I don’t feel on the same page. That’s now. It’s taken me a little while. There are definitely times I feel frustrated and so, I’m sure, do they – but I learn so much from working with other people: musically, professionally and personally, that it’s all super worth while. It’s also surprising how often I actually don’t even end up hearing the final product!


I can. Playing for Kanye West when he supported U2 on their 2007 Australian tour. An all girl string section was to be had. Most of the day was spent on hair and make up with about twenty minutes of rehearsing. I got a bit girlied out so stepped outside for a bit and ended up chatting to one of the roadies. When I returned to the dressing room twenty minutes later the girls were all hyped up. ‘Kathrynnnn!’ they squealed ‘You missed Bono! He was in heeeeere! And he was soooo cool!’ ‘Oh yeah’, I feigned nonchalance. ‘The roadie was cool too!’


Single launch. I’m putting together what I think will be a really interesting show at the Brisbane Powerhouse on Sunday the 5th November. My band: cello, violin, drums, keys, voice and laptop, will be on at 4.30pm, with Julia Rose playing at 3.30pm. We’ll be on the Turbine Platform. And it’s free!

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Little did Delta Goodrem know in 2003 as she stormed the Australian and international charts with her debut album Innocent Eyes, what a life changing impact she was having on a young teen from Auburn in Sydney. Blown away by Goodrem’s music, Frances Castley wanted to emulate her. She credits this early introduction to music for providing the “much needed soul therapy” she needed throughout her teenage years.

“I think Delta epitomised who I wanted to be when I grew up. She was an amazing singer and great pianist and I idolised this. I loved to sing and play piano. I used to imagine myself being like her. I also found her music to be so pure and authentic which is something that to this day I still cherish. I endeavour to deliver music that is pure and authentic to me. Her music makes me feel things and that’s what I want my music to do.”

What do you mean when you say that it provided much needed soul therapy in your teens?

“I had a complicated upbringing. My mum had an abusive boyfriend for many years who was a drug user and in and out of jail a lot. I remember a lot of pain and struggle that I had to watch my mum go through, which was also painful for me. By my teens this man was finally no longer a part of our lives, but my mum owned two Thai restaurants one of which I ran by myself. I found myself dealing with pain from my past manifesting itself through depression, and also running a restaurant full time while also being in high school which comes with a set of its own issues. Music was my only outlet. At first I just kept it to myself, but when YouTube came about I saw it as a good opportunity to see if I was any good.”

Was it hard to make the cross from performing to people on YouTube to your live performances?

“ I don’t remember it being too hard. My first live performances were in high school in music class then at assembly. I think I had gained enough confidence through the feedback that I got from YouTube. It gave me enough courage to get in front of my peers. It was nerve-wracking for sure, but exciting.”

You have a new single out called: Don’t Get It. Can you tell us about this?

“This song has been in the works for a couple of years. It’s about a certain relationship that brought out all my insecurities. I suffered a lot throughout this relationship and didn’t know how or if I could end it. I would use justifications for staying in the relationship like… well, if it’s not you that brings out all this pain in me, then someone else surely will, so what’s the point in leaving? We ended up being in limbo for many years (in fact still are) too scared to leave, but too much in pain to stay and commit and would constantly bring me back to the question… I don’t get it, are we together or not? My next project will be an EP”

Pearls of wisdom from your journey so far?

“When I first started my originals project 2 years ago I started a crowd-funding campaign to help with the production of my first EP and also to go to the States. I asked for $4500 and had 2 months to raise the money. Toward the end of the campaign, on the last day I had only reached about 86% and really wasn’t sure if I’d make it to the end (if I didn’t make it, I wouldn’t get any donations at all). In the very last hour I saw that I had exceeded my asking price by $300. Of course a lot of people had left it to the last minute to donate but also, one person had donated $500. I had to ask him if it was an accident. It wasn’t. He told me a couple of years back I was playing in a dingy bar to just him and the bartender and he was staying in the hotel above the pub and was going through a rough period of his life. My music that night gave him relief even if it was just for the night. I was amazed and shocked because I succinctly remember that gig, and remember feeling so insignificant and hating that I was playing to no one. It just goes to show that the impact that you make in this world is more than you’ll ever know.”




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