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KATE LUCAS IN THE GARDEN OF JOY: A CODA CHROMA STORY



THERE ARE WAYS to get at the business, the core, of Coda Chroma, the fruit of Kate Lucas’ songwriting and singing that adheres itself to pop without losing its sonic and spiritual links to something finer still, less obvious.


You can take a look at their most recent album, Dreamself , or the record which preceded it, 2019’s Inside The Still Life . Or you could take yourself to see shows on the current tour (see at the end for dates). Either, or both, will work.


Another is something I found recently, a reference to Lucas’ lyric writing by the woman herself where she declared that “the lyrics build scenes mainly through abstraction and metaphor, with some direct hits here and there“. That’s not bad at all.


“That is a true reflection of how my brain does operate in life, in general,” says Lucas. “Most things sort of swirl around and I try and make sense of them, and every now and then there’s a moment of clarity and you shine a light on that, and then it’s back to the swirling.”


Isn’t that leaving things to chance?


“I find life in general to be a kind of abstract situation, so it makes sense to me to write songs in that way. If I try and sit down and go, today I’m going to write a song about this character or incident I don’t really like those songs, I don’t enjoy that process, and it’s not where I feel I’m doing my best work,” she says.


“I’m also a reader of fiction, I don’t really read non-fiction because I think in imagined stories you get those direct hits of truth every now and then. That’s what I’m looking for in art.”


Which brings us (almost) naturally to the Reverse Marie Kondo, where we find out what matters and why by asking what would Kate Lucas want to bring into her life, or have more of in her life, to bring joy. She has five categories, the last one she chooses herself, and her time starts now.


A PLACE

I have discovered gardening and that is my idea of a good time: spending a whole day in the garden. And where I’m at with it now is I have so many plans for the garden and my brain is ready to just keep going and going, then my body gets really sore as the sun is going down. Being in the garden for me is great because it’s like feeling connected to nature but also the thoughts are still there, just in a different way. Not necessarily an idea; I do a lot of processing of things I might be stressed about, worried about, so for me that’s a good way to deal with the clutter.



A SONG

For me as a songwriter I’m looking forward to the next big session of songwriting and what might be hidden in there I might discover. I’m promoting Dreamself, the album that I just released, but a big part of me is pushing towards that next album, that next body of work. I’ve written a few songs towards that album so there are some little markers I guess.

We’ve been doing a lot of driving so there’s the furious looking for songs to play in an unbroken, seamless playlist on-the-fly in the car, and there were a number of songs that I thought, wow, to be able to have written that particular song … I value having other people’s music in my life to keep me pushing for that sort of level of craftsmanship.


A PERSON

I’m really busy at the moment: I work full-time and I’m doing this music thing and I’ve got a couple of kids, so I really would love to be spending more time with them. Having said that, it’s good to have these slabs of time where I’m super busy just doing Kate Lucas things, and remembering that I am an individual in that way.


My kids have been staying with their grandmother, their Nonna, and I didn’t really have anything to do with my grandparents when I was little, for a variety of reasons, and there’s an elderly lady who lives across the road from us, she’s a painter and she comes over every now and then when I’m in the garden and brings me a bunch of flowers from her beautiful, established garden. We chat and she says you should come over and check out my paintings, bring your youngest [who loves painting as well] over and I’d love to be able to take her up on that and get to know an elderly woman.



BOOK/FILM/ART

It’s interesting you’re asking what things I would bring into my life because I feel like at the moment it’s so full, full to the brim. I feel like what I would bring into my life is the thing I don’t realise I am looking for. I start a lot of books and rarely do I finish them. I’ll know within the first couple of pages: I’m probably a writers nightmare audience. It’s got to be a certain book that will make me go from start to finish quite quickly.


With songs I give it a little more [time] probably because it’s more important for me to find the next big love, the big album that I’m going to love for a few months, so I’m a little more patient. I have a small window of time but also if it’s good enough I will find time to read it. I think I’m always trying to keep alert to something, a new album or book or even an exhibition. Something that is going to take me by surprise. I don’t know what it is but it’s that thing that I’ll know when I’ve got it.


[With her own songs] if I don’t get most of it out in the first hour or two, to me that means it’s a bit of a process. I might finish it because I want to have that complete but I’ve already sort of written it off really. My sense of it is you are actually stopping the next good song from coming and I just want to hear the next thing that is coming and give that a chance.


But there was one that ended up on the last album I put out, Inside The Still Life, which had started as a particular song I had written some years before and I really didn’t like the lyrics and I didn’t like the chorus. I didn’t like where I had taken it, but I really liked the guitar riff in the verses and I found myself just playing that guitar riff again one day and then for some reason my brain was able to just go off on a very different tangent with that riff and I got the song that I think was trying to come out all that time ago.



CHOICE OF SOMETHING TO BRING INTO HER LIFE

What I’m definitely craving is bringing more music back into my life. I have had a little break from writing for the last few months and that’s an uncomfortable place for me to be in. I can feel quite a lot of songs welling up and building up, so yeah, I’m very much looking forward to when I can actually have that space and time to find out what they are.


I definitely feel like I’m holding them in and it is a physical uncomfortableness, and when I am writing I feel very much myself. Like, correct, that’s what I’m meant to be doing, and I’m desperate for that to be back in my life.



Coda Chroma are playing:

Odessa, Creswick, July 28;

Brunswick Ballroom, July 29;

The Great Club, Marrickville, August 5.


Dreamlife is out now through EchoFoxtrot.


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