Tara Favell released new EP Wild Heart in January, following the success of her last record and feature single ‘Heart-Break’, which garnered over 15,000 views online and received airplay across country radio. Originally from Canberra, the country music singer songwriter performs every week around the Sydney NSW region Tara now lives.
Earlier this year, you performed at the annual ten-day Tamworth Country Music Festival. How was Tamworth experience this year?
Tamworth was good. It was really busy. This is my fourth Tamworth. I was there for 7 days and had gigs on every day. I did my first band show I’d done up at the festival, so that was really cool. At the Longyard Hotel, I got to play full band for a three hour gig, so that was a highlight up there. People were really nice. Because I just released the EP as well, people who hadn’t heard of me were coming up, buying the EP and liking on Facebook. It’s a week of craziness! I needed a week to get over it. It was non stop!
We watched a bunch of our friends, who were playing at different bars and saw the Wolfe Brothers concert, which was cool. Then we went out to the Moonshiners Bar, which is like a honky tonk bar. They have a house band every night that play for tips, like in the bars in Nashville, so we went there a few times as well, which was cool.
Do you have some post-Tamworth blues?
Yes, definitely! Last week I was like, “What do I do with my life now?” I was planning for this for months and months and now it’s over. I gotta plan for next year now (laughs).
You released your new five-track EP, Wild Heart in January. How personal is this EP?
It’s pretty personal. All the songs are events that happened to me over the last 12-to-18 months. Every song on there is like a true story from the themes and lessons that I’ve learnt [and] gone through, which is important to me to put that on there because that means it’s real and it’s all honest.
I’ve always been someone who, I don’t particularly like talking about [my personal life] in detail but writing about it, for me, is different. It’s not like naming specific names, so I’m still a bit mysterious, but at least I know what it’s about and it makes me feel better when I write about it. I can play the song and feel better about a situation. When playing it live, I wonder if people are getting the story or if they’re a bit oblivious to it (laughs).
Have people close to you learnt things about situations in your life that they may not have been aware you were going through through your lyrics?
Yeah, definitely (laughs). My Mum was listening to one of the songs and she was like, “Who’s this about?” She tries and guesses. My friends obviously know things I go through, but they might not know the extent of how I was feeling, then they listen to the song and makes sense now (laugh).
One of the tracks off the EP called ‘Starting Over’, is a duet with fellow country music artist, Josh Setterfield. How did that song come to be a duet?
Josh produced my whole EP. This song wasn’t a duet to start with, and we were mucking around in the studio, like, “Do you want to sing on this one?” He was like, “That could be quite cool!” We wanted that Lady Antebellum vibe where the song is from two different perspectives – the girl’s and from the guy’s. It bred new life into the song. It added something different and something different for the EP too. I was happy with how that one came out.
How did you and Josh meet?
We met years ago when he used to be in a pop-punk band [Call The Shots]. I used to be friends with heaps of people in that scene, and, I’ve never been a pop-punk artist, but I used to open for these bands. I think I met him like five years ago. We stayed in contact and here we are.
Would it sound completely different if Josh hadn’t produced the EP?
It might have been. The producer I worked with the last time, before Josh, had a similar sound, but these songs Josh put his spin on them as well. They came to life in a different way. Every producer would produce them a little bit different, but I always wanted to go that country-pop sound – that would have been leaning that way with everyone.
With Josh, we both compromised a bit on some things, in some of the lyrics in some of the songs. I look back and think I’m glad I changed that. It is easier to go back and forth, rather than with a stranger that you’re a bit intimidated by (laughs).
Where does the title Wild Heart come from?
I was going to name it after a track, but I was just talking to Josh like, “We should name it something a little bit different”. The tracks are all experiences that are a little bit crazy. The first track is called ‘Fast’ and in that, the first line of that song, I say he was wild. I was like, “Wild would be cool and then it all relates to love and break ups too, so why not Wild Heart?”
How does this EP show your change and growth as a singer and songwriter since your first EP?
My first EP [I made when] I was 17 or 18, so like a while ago. When you’re in that age, you’re a little bit naïve. I was a daydreamer back then. Now I’m a little bit more realistic. Probably the older I get and the more I write my songs, my songwriting might change even more – it’s definitely changed to be more realistic lyrics and stories (laughs).
The first EP the sound wasn’t quite right for my voice, and the style was a bit too heavy for me. I went to a producer, who, again, worked with pop-punk bands, because that was the friends I had. This EP is more that country-pop sound – the guitars aren’t too dirty, the drums aren’t too crazy [and] I think my voice is a lot better, stronger and has changed a lot as well. We were mucking around with different notes and pushing a little bit harder. The songwriting, I matured a bit and learnt a few things, so I’m not quite as naive as I was on my first EP but that same idea of the storytelling.
When was your first gig? How did you get started performing music?
My first gig was in high school. We had a really good music teacher who would put on lunch time concerts for all the music students who wanted to perform, so I was probably like 15 when I first performed. I used to live in Canberra so my first paid gig was in Canberra when I was 17 or 18. I moved to Sydney when I was like 20. The gig opportunities in Sydney a lot more them than what they were in Canberra (laughs) and since then I’ve been doing full time paid pub gigs.
It’s definite constant work. I’ll do gigs at tafes and unis, and also places like Optus and corporate stuff like that. Then I do Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays every weekend. I don’t have a manager, so I book all the things myself. I started off by promoting myself on social media and that’s still what I do. When you achieve things you’ve wanted to achieve, it feels really good.
What’s the weirdest gig you’ve ever done?
I played a gig in western Sydney, like west, west Sydney. I got there and there was like three men, on the pool table, drinking beer – no one else in the place. The people who were running it, they told me to park my car out the front of the venue so I could watch it so it didn’t get jumped by people in the street. I didn’t go back there again. That was probably one of the worst gigs (laughs).
[It wasn’t] advertised or anything, it was just show up here and play. Sometimes you get there and you’re like playing to no one (laughs). You feel a little defeated, but then I’ll play new songs, practice them and I’m still getting paid. You think of it as a paid rehearsal.
Do you prefer working in the studio or live?
It depends. Live is definitely more fun and you feed off the energy of the audience. When you’re in the studio creating and got the acoustic demo, like these songs I did with Josh; he worked through them during the week and by the end of it, you have this full production and the song really comes to life. It’s probably just as exciting as performing live, but they’re very different. But you can’t really beat performing live, so probably live.
Have country always been your genre?
My music has always been acoustic storytelling songs, so that’s what I like. Everyone was like, it sounds country. Then I started to get to know people in the country scene and they were like, “You should go to Tamworth.” I always like country. For me it was the songs, song writing and storytelling. You listen to every country song and it tells some sort of story and that’s the kind of music I like to listen to. Whenever I’m in my car or checking out music, 90 percent of the time it’s a country song that I love.
Who are your influences? Who do you admire? Who do you listen to?
The first band that got me into playing guitar was a band from England called McFly. And country artists like Tim McGraw, Faith Hill and Hunter Hayes. Shania Twain, I really like. Taylor Swift, as well, especially her old albums. I listen to those all the time!
McFly have toured Australia a couple of times, have you ever seen them play live?
Yeah, every time they have come to Australia I’ve gone and seen them (laughs). I’ve met them twice as well, which is cool. They came maybe two years ago and did McBusted, that super group – it was Busted and McFly and they did an album and tour. I saw them open for One Direction as well, so I’ve seen them probably four times, maybe. The last time I met them, I walked up and said, “I just want to thank you guys because you really inspired me to play guitar and write songs” and they were like, “No worries.” That made my life (laughs) I would have loved to have given them a demo but I didn’t take a CD with me. I probably should have.
What are you plans for this year?
I want to get more Interstate – Queensland, Victoria and more support or festival spots – more songwriting, recording and video clips. I definitely want to release music. This EP was five tracks, but each track was a single I released last year, so I would like to get keep getting more EPs and more singles out there. More fresh music instead of doing it like once a year kind of thing; I’m want to keep writing and plugging away. It’s going to be a busy year!
Originally posted at the AU Review