Most of us are locked in, all of us have lost the chance to socialise, to meet and drink and talk and eat and see music and work out and enjoy things outside the house. But music doesn’t have to stop and The Great Confinement has opened up a chance to explore at home, to dig up old favourites and find new pleasures.
In this series we ask: what music is making you happy. Today, musical theatre star, and as you’ll see, budding radio programmer, Amy Lehpamer
WHAT ALBUMS OR ARTISTS HAVE YOU BEEN PLAYING SINCE BEING CONFINED TO HOME?
My partner, Tom Cooney, and I have a bit of a game - one of us picks a song and then the other one of us has to pick the next song based on that choice - the inspiration can come from anywhere. Sometimes it’s a similar melody, sometimes vocal tone, synth sounds, time signature or era. There are no rules and no link too tenuous. My show’s season got cancelled thanks to the ‘Rona and we’ve started living together a little ahead of schedule as a result, a definite silver lining in the midst of watching my industry implode.
Music is a big part of both of our lives in rather different ways (he’s a Singer/songwriter/guitarist), and it’s endlessly entertaining to swap influences and share our favourite artists. Tom’s getting schooled in my love of 60s/70s Divas (namely Dusty, Bobbie Gentry, Aretha Franklin, Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt) and Brit Pop legends (Blur, Supergrass). He’s giving me some excellent education on some choice Troubadours: Townes van Zandt, Bill Callahan, Lee Hazlewood, Nick Drake, Cass McCombs, Sufjan Stevens. Plus he’s introduced me to Lucinda Williams and I can’t believe I ever lived without her.
We overlap with Kate Bush and Rufus Wainwright, but I tend a little toward to Golden Oldies radio station programming. Tom’s taste has done wonders for my Spotify algorithm.
WHICH ONE HAVE BEEN GETTING MULTIPLE SPINS?
I’m still not over Weyes Blood’s Titanic Rising. I started listening to it when it came out a year ago, and I reckon it is still getting a weekly spin. Just before the ‘Rona stopped our fun I got to see her at Golden Plains and she was as glorious live as I could ever have hoped. Rufus Wainwright’s Want One (and Two) get played very loudly, very often. I’ve been very happily confined with Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks, The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, and lashings of music theatre too, mostly Sondheim’s Company and Rogers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific.
WHAT ALBUM FROM YOUR PAST HAVE YOU REDISCOVERED? WHAT DO YOU STILL LOVE ABOUT IT?
We watched the 2005 documentary Dig! recently - it’s all about the connection between the Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols, and their respective implosion and rise. I was a big big Dandy’s fan in High School. 13 Tales From Urban Bohemia had the ideal blend of cynicism, camp and colour for teenage me. The doco, while making me cringe a lot, reminded me of how much I loved that fuzzy, dark pop tone and playfulness in the Dandys.
HAVE YOU FOUND NEW MUSIC? WHAT'S EXCITED YOU ABOUT IT?
I had a weird few years where I didn’t listen to music very much at all. I don’t know how it happened, though performing eight shows a week can make me crave quiet in my off time. But I did genuinely forget that I love getting lost in songs. Tom played me Bonnie Prince Billy’s The Letting Go last year, and I am still so in love with it. It’s a gorgeous album. Beautifully recorded, with sweeping string arrangements that make my soppy heart happy. It’s intimate and full of feeling. I’m 14 years late to the party, but absolutely better late than never in this case. It’s been the perfect reminder of the magic there can be in listening to an album from start to finish.
WHAT'S THE BEST MUSIC TO FLATTEN YOUR (ANXIETY) CURVE?
I have a lot of energy, and iso-life has been leaving me with more than a little spare. I’m not too proud that I have sought out the solace of a mostly 80s fuelled playlist to get me dancing out the ‘Rona blues. Hall and Oates feature a little, there’s George Harrison’s Got My Mind Set On You, some Talking Heads, a little Blondie. I would be an excellent programmer at Smooth FM. Anyone got a contact?
Amy Lehpamer is a Helpmann Award-winning musical theatre star most recently seen as Principal Mullins in School Of Rock.