7th - 16th Sept
In Toby’s own words:
I wrote these songs in people’s front yards and nature strips in the Sydney suburb of Bankstown, an idea dreamt up by Urban Theatre Projects. I came to Bankstown as a bit of an outsider. My Dad and his family lived there for a few years when they first moved to Australia from Europe in 1948, but I never had. The people who hosted my songwriting residencies were amazing – David Cranston and his old weatherboard house on Northam Avenue and Michael Klammendine and his mixed business and coffee shop on the corner or Chapel rd and Dellwood st. I had a fantastic time, and I kept coming back. I fell in love with the neighbourhood.
The conversations I had with David and Michael, and their families, friends and neighbours, wormed their way into the songs I was writing. We talked a lot about family, about being fathers, about our children. This started to become a theme: parents worrying about their children, their children’s desire for escape. Other things sparked songs – olive trees in front-yards, a van driving past, comments from passers-by…
To play the songs live, and to record them, I asked some local musicians to collaborate with me. Bankstown is a really diverse place – 55% of people speak a language other than English at home, especially Vietnamese and Arabic. I met Alex Hadchiti who played Oud and keyboard, and through him I met Mohammed Lelo who played Qanun, both well-known Arabic/Middle-Eastern instruments. I also met Dang Lan who played Vietnamese music – the Đàn bầu, Đàn tranh and percussion on small tea cups. There were some other special guests along the way, such as Maroun Azar who played Mijwiz, and guest singers Holly Throsby and Sarah Blasko. The record was produced with Bree Van Reyk.
We didn’t want to make a ‘world music’ fusion record, ie a record from everywhere and nowhere. We wanted to make a record that reflected the music, culture and some of the stories of Sydney, and particularly southwest Sydney.
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