With sultry vocals and a captivating style, up-and-coming singer songwriter Greta Stanley has pulled together six premium tracks for her debut EP Bedroom City. It's hard to believe the Far North Queensland-based songstress is only 20-years-old, her songwriting nuance belies her age, instead you could be forgiven for thinking these tracks had been penned by an older soul, someone who has lived far beyond Greta's two decades of life experience. It is this – the stories of love and loss that so aptly describe different states of existence – mixed with her tight sound and stunning vocals, that will stand Greta apart from her contemporaries. Her early tracks have already built this impressive musician a stellar profile on the Queensland music scene and anticipated release of her debut EP will certainly solidify this position.
It's evident from listening to the six-tracks from Bedroom City that music is the one big thing that Greta is meant to do with her life. Her songwriting appears effortless, her sound is sweet, a touch of folk and a sprinkle of pop. She is unique and almost impossible to pigeonhole, there is something breathtakingly original in everything that she offers, yet combined with an unforgettable musicality. It is not surprising to find out then that when it came to finding her sound, that the alluring musician didn't have a specific direction in mind, rather just followed a path that felt natural.
In fact, that is probably one of the best descriptions of Greta Stanley's sound. It is natural, there is no pretense or an attempt at trying to create something that isn't there. What you see and what you hear is what you get, it is 100 per cent Greta and she can be proud of the end result. 'I have never gone out of my way to have my -own' sound," she explains. 'I try to be creative and different, but there is so much music out there that it can be hard to stand out at times. I just sing however I feel comfortable, I've never forced a kind of style and I don't want to be pigeonholed. I'm always growing and learning, there's so much new stuff out there every day that I'm inspired and influenced differently all the time. I suppose it makes sense to sing in a way that suits the content of the lyrics, but in a year's time I could have a whole different sound. I'm always open to change."
Greta's frank honesty is both refreshing and endearing. In her short career so far, she has already impressed some industry heavyweights and made solid friends who are passionate about seeing her succeed. In fact, she attributes the ability to bring her EP to fruition to a friendship with fellow musician Fleur McMenamin [from folk-duo The McMenamins] who took her under her wing and introduced her to the people she needed to meet. After entering a local competition in Cairns, Greta won with one of her original compositions, was given an industry scholarship to attend music industry conference BIGSOUND in Brisbane and made an impression on Fleur, who has turned into a mentor. She introduced Greta to producer Mark Myers [The Middle East, Emma Louise, The Starry Field] who ended up recording the EP. Through this new partnership, she also met independent record label Junkie Uncle who were so impressed with her sound that they signed on to release her EP before it was even recorded.
Growing up in Mena Creek, a small town south of Innisfail in Far North Queensland, Greta says she initially different have big plans to record an EP. However, she had a swag of songs, a collection she had been penning for years and putting online for her ever-growing fanbase. All her songs are honest and a real insight into her personality and thought processes. Penned from life experiences, she says it is always scary to put that out to the world, but she doesn't know how to write any other way. 'I find it hard to make up stories or force stuff that just isn't there," she says. 'My heart has got to be in it." One thing is for sure, as hard as Greta Stanley's sound is to pigeonhole, it is equally difficult to slip her music into a set demographic. There is a maturity in her songs that will no doubt appeal to music lovers of all ages, and a strength in her music that will draw in people from all walks of life. It is rare to find an artist who seamlessly transgresses across the age barrier, but one listen to the tracks from Bedroom City and it is quickly evident that Greta Stanley is going to be one those artists who just stands out.
Greta Stanley's debut EP Bedroom City out now through Junkie Uncle Records. For more information please visit http://onepagelink.com/gretastanleymusic/
Question: What was the main motivation behind Bedroom City?
Greta Stanley: The idea of an EP had been floating around for a while, I had always wanted to have my own CD, something for friends and family or even fans to have and take home after hearing me play, the songs were never written intentionally for an EP it was more a matter of deciding which songs to put on it! (which was hard!) After I was introduced to Mark Meyers (Big Sister Studios) by Fleur Mc'menamin, we initially recorded 3 songs for me to take down to BIGSOUND (after winning a council ran competition) Mark, Fleur & myself all agreed we already had 3, why not record 3 more and make an EP. The only barrier was affordability, it was then I decided to try crowdfunding, and at the end of a 30 day campaign i was really lucky (and incredibly grateful) to of funded $4,000 to go towards the making of the debut EP!
Question: What was it like to tour with British India, Kingswood and Beautiful Girls?
Greta Stanley: It was pretty great, i mean it's a little nerve-racking playing alongside / meeting some of your idols, but once you get there and are face to face with them, they're just regular people and just as easy to talk to as anybody else! British India were a bunch of really cool dudes, I've played with those guys twice now and they're all a good laugh, and incredibly talented too!
I'd always loved the beautiful girls growing up, so it was a pretty surreal feeling to play a show with them, and i definitely had to play it cool around Matt Mchugh (also had a bit of a celeb crush on him). I was definitely stoked to of been given that opportunity.
Question: How did it feel to hear your song played all over the airwaves?
Greta Stanley: It's pretty strange, I kind of tune out when I hear my songs on a station because it just feels so weird! I convince myself it's a dream and I'll wake up or something, but it's real life!
It's definitely a nice feeling, but still a strange one haha!
Question: Did you have any pre-conceived ideas about the music industry?
Greta Stanley: I guess I've always kind of thought sometimes (as with any industry) it can be more about who you know rather than what you know or how good you are, but in saying that it never dramatically deterred me because it was never my dream to be any kind of 'famous' (although when I was little I wanted to be like PINK) my hope and goals have always been to be successful, and to make a living from doing what i love, and well so far so good, so I'm not complaining.
Question: Do you write your own songs? What's your inspiration?
Greta Stanley: Of course! Every song on the EP is my own, and I love to write!
My inspiration can come from anything/everything, all the songs on the EP are definitely from some kind of personal experience, but I'm a big over thinker, and I definitely over-exaggerate in my writing, I take the true elements and add in things I wished or hoped would happen, or imagine the ideal situation and mix it in with the truth. I can't write something I don't feel or believe in, there's gotta be some heart in it!
I've been trying harder lately to write more about other peoples experiences rather than my own, just for something different.
I had one success with that, still a work in progress!
Question: What music/artists do you listen to when you are not playing your own?
Greta Stanley: Everything! I love listening to new music, as well as the classics.
Triple j offers quite the variety when I'm in my car, and it's cool to just hear new and sometimes incredibly out there stuff, i also find myself going on YouTube adventures, starting off somewhere familiar and ending up in a world of the unknown I've definitely found some new favourite music from that method!
I'd say my favourite artists through thick and thin would be Soko, Jamie T, Lisa Mitchell, Kings Of Leon, Joni Mitchell & Daughter.
Question: What's next? Tour/Album/Single?
Greta Stanley: I'm still writing, and i definitely have enough material for an album so it could be on the cards! I'd love to try changing things up a little production wise and maybe getting mark on board (Producer of EP) and doing something a bit more unexpected, just to say like hey, i can do this too, don't pigeon hole me!
I'll be doing a regional tour of the EP and launching it in cairns with the help of my lovely friends (In The Element is their band name) they're going to be my band on the night, so it's been really fun working with a band, I'm used to just me and a guitar! The tour will include Cairns, Innisfail, Atherton, Townsville, Mackay and i have a gig in Brisbane on the 6th at the powerhouse, I'm hoping to work in some other gigs like Byron bay, and I'd really love to see Sydney and Melbourne too if they'll have me!
In between that I've got a few cool gigs up north including the Tablelands folk festival, and Townsville cultural fest, which I'm looking forward too!
Question: Was there a moment you contemplated throwing in the towel?
Greta Stanley: Yeah it has crossed my mind, not lately but definitely when I was younger I was a lot more self-critical, and there were few people who were discouraging and I let it get to me more than I should have, luckily I had good friends and a supportive family who have always been very approving and encouraging!
I used to think you had to go on a show like X Factor to get anywhere, thank God I didn't do that though, although I did regretfully audition for the voice when I was 16, lucky they didn't like me, I was upset at the time but thinking back I'm actually so happy they rejected me because those shows can be talent robbing and I think they are quite silly! I think I thought these shows were the only option back then because growing up and living in a small town I never had much knowledge about how to get my music out there, there isn't a lot of opportunities for playing live nor any opportunities to see any live music or even a network of likeminded musicians in the town I was, at the time, so I thought oh that must be how people from small towns get noticed! But then I discovered the internet and all was ok in the world.
Question: Do you prefer performing live or recording?
Greta Stanley: Both are good for different things, I guess I'm more comfortable performing live because I've done it a lot more, and it's what I'm used to, but the studio really helps give some insight on things I need to work on (timing!) they're too different to really compare. Recording is fun because I get to work with a producer or session musicians, and it adds more depth to the tracks and I can hear/see them in a whole new light, and performing live is fun because i get to meet new people and share my songs to listening ears! yay!
Question: What/who was your inspiration to go into the music industry?
Greta Stanley: I guess a few people are accountable for encouraging me to pursue it as a career, I was definitely inspired a lot by Missy Higgins growing up, and Lisa Mitchell in high school too, the thought was always there when I listened to their music thinking, "oh this would be nice to do for the rest of my life… I wish I could be this good!"
But I never had a moment where I was like, oh this has convinced me to go into music! It's always been a part of my life, and after leaving school and moving to cairns last year, I just started to take it a little more seriously by getting gigs and getting my stuff out there a bit more, online and publicly I'm still very new to it all and there is still SO much to learn about the industry. I think leaving school i wasn't sure on anything I wanted to do, I wasn't ready for University, I didn't want to be working a terrible job 5 days a week, I've always loved to sing and play and I just thought now is the time to give music a real shot - why not!? So far so good!
Question: What is the biggest challenge you have faced along the way to your musical success?
Greta Stanley: There hasn't been anything dramatic or terrible so far, (touch wood) but the little things do still play their part, and I have always unfortunately been pretty self-critical, and sometimes too self-conscious, I think one of the most important things I need to do and am working on is to not compare myself to other musicians, or people in general because it doesn't do me any good, we are all on our own little journeys and we are all unique and different and I need to remember that. I should only compare myself to where I was last year, and in saying that I have come much further than expected, and am incredibly grateful to everyone and everything that has helped me get here.
Question: What's a typical day like?
Greta Stanley: Most days if I'm not working at my day job (Tree Of Life clothing store, woo!) I'll try have a little sleep in, make something tasty for breakfast (I make some killer waffles, (vegan friendly!) covered with berries and good stuff!) catch up with some friends if I can, drink lots of tea, play guitar of course! Attempt some writing, and if it's a weekend I usually have a gig of an evening, so pretty relaxing. I guess a typical day lately has also included a lot of emails and radio interviews in-between!
Question: What has been your favourite part of becoming a music artist?
Greta Stanley: Too many things, the people I've met, the places I have been/seen, the fact that ALLDAY shared his vegan wraps with me at a festival we both played at, most of all the highlight would have to be getting responses from people who have listened to my music and felt something, whether it's made them feel better or made them feel ok about not being ok, the fact that something I have written has influenced another person in a good way is definitely a nice feeling.
Question: If you could collaborate with another artist, who would it be?
Greta Stanley: JAMIE T, JAMIE T, JAMIE T! He has always been one of my favourites, I don't know what it is but his music makes me feel like I'm in a different world, it takes me to another place (does that sound too cheesy?) his voice is so unique and gritty in the best possible way and I love him. Then Thelma Plum because I feel like we write about similar experiences and we could talk about all our asshole ex-romances and how cute our dogs are.
Question: Do you have a website fans can visit?
Greta Stanley: Yes, I do!
Interview by Brooke Hunter