SHOW ME YOUR RIFFS: Volume Five – Laura Imbruglia


“I have never really felt like I belong to or fit in any scene, which I am more comfortable with as I get older. Scenes are lame anyway.”

Laura Imbruglia makes beautiful yet quirky guitar based pop music. There are hints of alt-country and flirtations with both psyche rock and power pop but one thing that I can guarantee you is that when you listen to Laura’s music you will walk away with a wonderful degree of optimism. The darkness swirls underneath the sunshine of her songs with pain, disconnection and the bummers of relationship breakdowns scattered all throughout her lyrics.

“I tend to have recurring bad relationship patterns that are unfortunately played out in song over the course of my career! I’m not one for hiding skeletons in my closet or singing too many fictional tales. Love and loss, and wondering what will become of me as an adult, and figuring out who I am as a person are all things that bother me on a day-to-day basis and always work their way into my songs.”

Laura Imbruglia released her wonderful self-titled debut album in 2006 and the beautiful swoony follow up “The Lighter Side Of…” in 2010. In 2013 Laura will be releasing her third full length record. After whetting the public’s appetite with first single, 2011’s psych-rock “Why’d You Have To Kiss Me So Hard?”, Laura kept herself busy playing shows with Adalita, Sebadoh & The Gin Club, hosting the “You’re Lookin’ at Country” revue with Courtney Barnett and creating the “Let’s Get Trivical!” music trivia beast. Once suitably inspired, she locked herself indoors and wrote and recorded her brand new album.

On April 5th 2013, Laura released her new single “Awoooh!” – The infectious “Awoooh!” is the first taste of Laura’s new album. On the surface the song does indeed channel Cheap Trick, T-Rex & Warren Zevon whilst combining that unique sound that Laura has been creating since 2003. Laura continues her decade-long trend of sounding unlike any other artist around and her pain is once again framed with a wonderful sunshine pop song. Backed by band (featuring members of Smallgoods, Ground Components & Midnight Woolf), and featuring special guest Seja Vogel (Regurgitator) on keys.

The accompanying music video is also a sight to behold. Shot on location in Prahran’s iconic onesixone nightclub, it documents unusual love via a Saturday Night Fever/Teen Wolf/Thriller concept. Directed by Karl Siemon (The Pictures, Even) and renowned theatre director Stephen Nicolazzo (Psycho Beach Party), and featuring a cast of Melbourne’s finest young actors, a 14 piece dance troupe, and Laura as you’ve never seen her before. I think it’s important for you to watch the film clip and listen to the amazing “Awoooh!” – have a listen

Crafting such brilliant pop music is a hard task and when you listen to Laura’s music she makes it sound effortless. This was something I wanted to ask Laura when I interviewed her and it was refreshing to hear just how much discipline she applies to her songwriting:

“Some of my best songs are created very unconsciously and really quickly- like in half an hour; “Awoooh!” being a case in point. I was just fumbling around with a loop pedal I had and all of a sudden a melody came to me and the lyrics basically wrote themselves. Other songs take months and months of hammering away. I usually sing gibberish words or improvised sentences until I have a melody I like. Once the melody is sorted, I will usually find that some of the improvised sentences are good to build from. Other times I will struggle to replace all the nonsense lyrics with lyrics I like and will spend months writing and re-writing until I have something good. But a lot of the improv/gibberish sentences tend to be really on the money. I usually don’t realise until several months have passed and I’ll be like “whoah, that that lyric about dogs and cheese is actually profound.” Ha Ha

Most of my songs are related to matters of the heart, especially the last 2 albums (“The Lighter Side Of…” and the new one “What A Treat”). I tend to not write much at all when I’m in a relationship which is why I end up with all these heartbreak songs when I go on writing sprees post break-up! I don’t write much when in relationships partly because I wanna hang out with my partner and partly because I am honest to a fault and often painfully literal with my lyrics. This means that if I ever have any doubts about a relationship, they will most likely come out in my lyrics and make things awkward when I am still trying to process how I feel.

As for the general sounds and melodies, I listen to mainly upbeat-sounding music – lots of 60s and 70s pop, but also some sad soul and funk and all kinds of stuff. Nothing too angsty. I like the juxtaposition of an upbeat sounding song with quite dire lyrics. And I don’t listen to instrumental music at all, I’m really reliant on clear melodies as a listener.”

Expanding on this, I was interested in what was Laura’s spark for wanting to play music to begin with. It was awesome to hear that like most of us who grew up in the 90’s it all came down to Nirvana:

“I was really into power ballads and r&b when I was a kid and then I got to high school and everyone was obsessed with Nirvana after Kurt died. I jumped on the obsession bandwagon but then genuinely became obsessed. I also had crushes on a couple of guys who played guitar and thought learning guitar would give me an in so I could “jam” with them on weekends. It totally worked. All the other girls were investing their energy in Vanilla scented Impulse sprays. I was learning power chords. Nirvana was a huge influence in me learning guitar. Karen Carpenter is my all-time favourite female singer – my parents exposed me to The Carpenters at a really early age and she was probably the first person who made me feel that rich heart-wrenching feeling that music can give you, and made me realise how much I love to sing. As did Annie from the musical “Annie”. I love strong-headed people who do what they want to do regardless of trends, professional advice or common sense. These people include Freddie Mercury, Ellen DeGeneres, Bob Dylan, Stanley Kubrick, Frida Kahlo, Larry David, Christopher Guest, Stephin Merritt and countless musicians.”

Part of my journey with the “Show Me Your Riffs” series was to speak to a lot of the inspirational female artists I have been a fan of for years and to get an understanding about their creative process and why it resonates with me on a deep level. A big part of my dialogue with this series is putting the spotlight on the importance of gender equality and if the artists I’ve admired for years felt that there are certain unwanted and unfair expectations lumped on a female musician that deals in stereotypes. Laura was quite forward in discussing this issue:

“I find it best to pretend like it isn’t happening. I actually don’t even think about it, cos I don’t think I cop that attitude as much, being a tomboyish and crass kind of girl. I’m basically one of the boys. There are less women playing in bands than there are men, which is why it’s still a talking point for some people when a band has girls in it.

Rather than focus on the negative, I’d rather encourage young girls to get involved with music. Rock n’ roll is not at all a man’s business; the guys in the music community have all been really great to me. There are sexist people in any industry, you just need to identify and avoid them. Or make fun of them publicly so they realise they’re dicks. I would consider myself a feminist but not an aggressive one.

I actually think more progress is made when you act confidently as an equal peer than conduct your business with an us vs them mentality. I have been given no reason to be an aggressor.”

Being such a vital artist within the Australian music scene, I was curious as to how Laura defines what is good and what is bad music to her:

“Bad music to me involves insincerity. As Bill Hicks screamed “Play from your fucking heart!” – I have no time for posers and trend-jumpers. That kind of self-conscious attitude definitely crosses over into a person’s songwriting. I also don’t really like writers who write by picking someone else’s song they like and copying it and then changing it just a little bit. That’s actually really common and I think it’s lazy as fuck. Use your imagination! I know it’s hard to create things that haven’t been done before but people could at least try!

Lastly, I don’t like things that are too angsty or earnest. Music can be intelligent AND have a sense of humour. Zappa, Ween, Magnetic Fields, Steely Dan and The Turtles are all prime examples.

Good music moves me. Whether it’s physically, emotionally or spiritually, it should do one of them! I love originality, honesty and a sense that the artist isn’t taking themselves deadly seriously all the time. I also enjoy being mentally challenged.”

Laura Imbruglia is an intelligent and wonderful artist who continues to write moving pop music. I’ve always enjoyed her ability to collect the dark and light and to use both humour and heartbreak to provide you the listener a platform for some serious escapism. A lot of the appeal of Laura’s music lays in the amount of “growing up” confusion that is attached to it and the way that no matter where you find yourself in life, Laura’s music has the ability to connect and reflect your own drama. To be able to have music that not only connects with the ache yet also genuinely puts a smile on your face is beyond positive. I couldn’t write a blog about Laura without sharing my favourite song from her discography which comes from her second album “The Lighter Side Of…” and is called “I Want to Be Your Girlfriend” – have a listen:

Laura Imbruglia’s new single “Awoooh!” is out now and you can find it on the following links:


By: Dan Newton


3 Replies to “SHOW ME YOUR RIFFS: Volume Five – Laura Imbruglia”

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