Dark Fair –Turning the Heads
It’s a little raw. Probably a bit dark. A bit edgy. And a bit angsty.
By By Sue Barrett
With mid-winter’s cold, wet and windy weather making its mark on south-eastern Australia, RAMONA MOORE took time out to talk with LOTL about her music and about DARK FAIR, the two-piece indie rock band she has formed in Melbourne with drummer Ellie Dunn.
Tell us about the music that you heard and/or performed as a child
I’ve got an older brother and sister, so I grew up listening to Kate Bush, David Bowie – I really grew up listening to music through them. And the other side of it, which I hate to admit, is I was raised a Catholic and so I also grew up on church hymns. As a young child, I would go home from church and play the music on the piano by ear – which is when my folks decided to get me onto music. A lot of the church music is emotive – a lot of the Catholic hymns – and they are actually quite beautiful, beautiful melodies.
How did you end up playing indie rock?
I’ve played in bands for quite some time, but the music that I’m doing now with Dark Fair really only started when I came to Melbourne. The music I played in bands in high school and in Brisbane was a bit different. The environment has to have some sort of impact, even the weather here in Melbourne.
So when and how did you form Dark Fair?
We formed Dark Fair in 2011. Originally it was going to be a four-piece, but we were all moving in different locations, so that didn’t work out. Ellie moved to Sydney. I convinced her to move here. And we started jamming – it’s really easy as a two-piece. Ellie’s an awesome indie rock drummer – definitely turns the heads. She’s brilliant.
Who designed the Dark Fair logo? And what feelings and image is it intended to convey?
It went through two iterations – but I think it was a friend of Ellie who ended up designing the current one. The one that we have now is probably a better representation of our music – so it’s a little raw, probably a bit dark, a bit edgy and a bit angsty.
How do Ellie (Dunn) and you go about writing and arranging Dark Fair’s songs?
It’s pretty mixed. It can happen in different ways. Sometimes when we are in rehearsal, it happens there – and it’s great, because I feel like I’m actually comfortable with writing in front of Ellie, whereas I never ever used to be comfortable writing in front of anyone. I might come up with a riff, then she’ll work some amazing, magic beat, then we might improvise. Sometimes I bring something to rehearsal – like ‘Poison’, which I came up with in my head while I was driving around – I came up with the melody, then the lyrics. But with ‘Let Yourself Be Free’, we came up with it in the rehearsal room – we were stuffing around, having a good time, pretending to be Prince and Michael Jackson – and that’s how that song came about.
What feeds your creativity?
Everything. Just things that happen in life. Things that I read about. I’ve written since I was thirteen and writing got me through high school and it’s gotten me through difficult times – it’s something that I lean on and something that I really need in my life. For me personally, it’s how I’ve leant to process things.
Tell us about Dark Fair’s new EP, You Shouldn’t Be Mine
The songs are eclectic, in a way. One song is really light (‘Let Yourself Be Free’). One song is a little bit sexually angsty (‘Year of Never Knowing’). ‘Poison’ is a little bit sadder. And ‘The One Thing’ is about a few personal battles. So it’s a mixture. All the songs on the EP were written around the same time – between December 2012 and February last year . The songs seem to fit well together and we picked them because we were watching for people’s reactions [at shows]. The new EP is available at all good online retailers. It’s available through iTunes and Bandcamp – we have our own little store on Bandcamp (with digital and physical formats). A lot of people are going the digital road, so we tend to sell the CDs at shows. We would have liked to have done vinyl. Next time!
You have also written and performed under the name, Kate Bradley. Why the name change?
I’ve always had identity crises in my life – that’s pretty obvious. When I moved here, I didn’t want to play solo any more, I wanted to get into a band. I wanted to do something else. In fact, I started writing electro music, which I’ve put on hold for now. Then Ellie moved here and she wanted to be in a band and I wanted to be in a band. In terms of the change of name, it’s kinda funny, because it started as a joke, now people tend to call me that – so I have a stage name. And now the name’s become a part of me.
And why Ramona Moore?
It’s a play on two musical influences. It’s pretty obvious, if you’re in the indie music scene!
How does the Melbourne music scene compare with Brisbane?
I can’t really talk about the current music scene in Brisbane, because I haven’t been there for nearly five years. But when I left, there were good bands, great bands, but the music scene was pretty miserable. The rock venues that were there were really supportive, but there were not enough. It got to the point were you could only play in the Valley [Fortitude Valley] and maybe one venue in West End. And in the suburbs, they were putting pubs in shopping centres. So I was playing the same places and I got frustrated and I wanted to go somewhere else. In Melbourne, it’s more spread out and there are more places to play – you can play all over Melbourne, heaps of variety. There’s a mixed range of music here, so you can be rock, or electro, or jazz, or blues...
Over the years, LOTL magazine has covered the music of many lesbian performers. When and how did you become aware of lesbians making music?
I probably became aware of it in the ‘90s, with people like k.d. lang, Melissa Etheridge – but I didn’t really think of it in terms of sexuality, as lesbian-gendered rock or something like that. It’s great if people can be comfortable about their sexuality and be open about it. You can do that more now than you ever could – it’s not that long ago when homosexuality was illegal in this country. So it’s good, where we are in Australia now.
Finally, how do you feel about:
I love surfing. I got my first surf board when I was ten.
Neither Ellie or I have any – I don’t know why. I do love looking at them – people have some amazing tattoos now, far out.
I’m kind of a nerd – I really like reading about space, what’s going on, the problems that are out there – astrophysics, National Geographic. I wish I read more fiction.
I go for Elixir, that’s my brand (although I’m not sponsored by them). I’ve got jazz light strings that I use. And I’ve been stabbed by guitar strings – it hurts, it’s not like acupuncture!
I like them alive. I’m not a big chicken-eater. Ellie’s vegetarian, but I’m not.
I avoid them in winter. I’m not going to tell you what a tram smells like in winter here. I ride my bike, as much as I can!
I love chocolate – it’s definitely my weakness.
If I have to!
Penny Universe (EP) (2012)
You Shouldn’t Be Mine (EP) (2014)