Sister act, the Sunny Cowgirls, will launch their fifth album, What We Do, at Blazes Auditorium on 23rd January, 2013 at the Tamworth Country Music Festival. And it promises to be one helluva show. Tamworth, however, is not exactly foreign territory for older sister, Sophie Clabburn. Sophie lives in Tamworth, on a small farm just out of town. She says that she finds it a good balance to have that grounding of life on the land on one hand and her passion for music on the other. “I think if the music thing was full on all day and every day, we’d all go a bit crazy but having that balance, coming home and doing nothing and not seeing anyone except the cows, is really good and it really brings you back to earth and just sort of relaxes you. It’s great for song writing as well so a lot of my inspiration for writing songs happens while I’m at home.”
The Sunny Cowgirls’ songs are very down-to-earth and natural. The girls don’t try to be anything they are not. As Sophie explains “We write about what we know and what we’re going through at the time. We get a lot of inspiration from being on the road as well, seeing new places and meeting new people and funny stories that happen. But then, coming back home, I guess our market is the country audience and I think they all like to hear songs that are written about the country and that’s what we like to write about. It’s in our blood. We were brought up on a farm and it all kind of started back there and we worked on farms when we left school. We did try living in the city but it didn’t really happen for us and when we started living on farms again, that’s when we actually started writing again and that’s where people can actually relate to our songs and that’s what suits us.”
The sisters started out in music when they were very young. “I was fourteen,” Sophie tells me. “And Celeste would have been ten. It started out as being a bit of fun. I started writing songs and they were terrible! But it was fun. Celeste didn’t really know how to play anything. I’d learned a little bit of guitar from our dad so I could show her what I was doing and she kind of taught herself so, in a way, she was kind of roped into it by her big sister. As we got older, we entered a talent quest. We totally bombed out but it was a bit of fun.”
But it wasn’t until the girls went to Tamworth in 2005 that they met Adam Brandt and their world changed forever. “That was at the Country Music College,” says Sophie. “And we basically gave him some of our stuff that was recorded and he loved it straight away. He went to his record company and they signed us straight away, that week of the festival, because they liked what we were doing because we were actually real country girls singing about real stuff and it hadn’t been done before. We couldn’t believe it. Our plan was actually to keep on going up north after Country Music College, and work on farms up there but that plan was cut short because we didn’t need to so we thought we’d stick around and do the music thing. It was very unexpected.”
Sophie highly recommends the college to those starting out in the business. “It’s a ten day course and we learned a lot from those ten days. But basically, they have country music artists come in and tutor. So you’ll have someone teaching about performing and someone teaching about the business side of things and someone teaching about song writing and you actually learn so much in those short ten days. The amazing part was the contacts that we gained. If we hadn’t met Adam Brandt, I wouldn’t be talking to you right now. You meet important people and it helps you to get a foot in the industry. It was great for us and I think it could be for any young country artist.”
They then rereleased Little Bit Rusty, an album they had recorded independently in Perth. “That was our first album,” she explains. “That was the one we gave to Adam Brandt. Then Adam took us on the road, on his big national tour so we were playing in front of people for the very first time. That was huge for us. All our dreams had just come true. We were really scared of the whole thing. Adam Brandt was a huge star and we were these two girls fresh off the farm. We didn’t know quite what we were doing. But people understood what we were doing. They got it and we started selling more albums which was great and so the following year we kind of went out on our own and tried to do it ourselves after being with Adam the first year. We gradually built up our fan base and it was a really hard slog the first few years because we were broke all the time. We had our mum and dad paying our rent. We had these old utes that would break down all the time. It was very hard. Not many people were showing up at our shows. Nobody knew who we were. But we just worked and kept touring and getting ourselves out there and eventually it paid off a couple of years later when we put our third album out and then our fourth album and now we’re on to our fifth album and still going pretty strong so it’s lucky we hung in there.”
The Sunny Cowgirls have a single out now. It’s called Green and Gold and they are very excited about it. “It’s been about three years since our last album came out so it’s been a while. We’re so excited about Green and Gold. The song is all about Australia, obviously, which is a passion of ours to write about. We love writing about the country and Green and Gold is all about the different colours. We’ve done a lot of travelling and we’ve seen a lot of Australia. One time in particular I was in an aeroplane over W.A. and that was when I actually saw all the different colours all at once and I thought ‘Oh my God, we seriously are living within a rainbow’ and that’s where the idea came from for the song.”
Sophie says she finds inspiration for her songs in many things. “You’re always on the lookout for something,” she says. “And I think the amount of songs you can write is endless. There’s always something happening, something going on and some great story. Fingers crossed, they don’t run out.”
As with all siblings, there are challenges in working together, particularly as they spend so much time together, both on the road and off but Sophie says that they get along extraordinarily well for sisters. “We are very lucky. We’re best friends. Obviously, we do have our moments. That’s why we live separately now. In the past, we’ve always lived together, which is fun but we spend a lot of time on the road together. We’re still touring most of the year and every weekend we’ll see each other and it’s great. I can’t imagine doing it without her. We are lucky to have each other. We’re lucky to get along so well.”
For the first six months of 2013, the girls will be touring and promoting their new album which comes out in January. “It’s officially launched on the 11th January but we will be launching the very first live concert with the new songs on 23rd January at Blazes (at the Tamworth Country Music Festival) and we are so excited. It’s our first time ever playing these new songs. So it will be a big launch; a big party.” And everyone’s invited.
by Sharyn Hamey
Copyright © 2012 Sharyn Hamey All Rights Reserved.
Green and Gold is out now.
The Sunny Cowgirls’ fifth album What We Do is due for release on Friday 11th January 2013.
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