Toby Beard on stage
Toby Beard on stage

LOTL chats musical influences, performing live, and marriage equality with the Aussie singer-songwriter

A born performer, singer-songwriter Toby Beard hails from Western Australia and has released six albums in the last seven years, two DVDs, and a handful of EPs (…phew!)

Sitting within a genre best described as “a melting pot of blues, indie, and roots”, Beard has toured with the likes of Sheryl Crow, The Indigo Girls, and fellow Aussie band The John Butler Trio on stages all over the world.

A gifted storyteller, she’s an artist known for her ability to create richly textured narratives through her music.

Here, Brodie Crellin caught up with the Aussie native as she prepares to set out on her upcoming European tour

Who have been your musical influences?

My influences go back to the days of Janis Joplin, The Doors, Edith Piaf… To be honest, I’m not that into contemporary pop music. I love Ani DiFranco, The Head and The Heart, and Glen Hansard. I just love emotional songwriters!

What’s your favourite record to listen to when you want to give yourself an energy boost?

There’s nothing like a little Michael Jackson to give you energy. He can fix any mood for sure!

What are you listening to at the moment?

I listen to a lot of Glen Hansard, an Irish artist – his music moves me to my core. It makes me incredibly happy, but also has the ability to bring on tears at any given moment! I’ve seen him play several times and just think the world of him as both a performer and songwriter.

Where do you take inspiration from when you’re writing your music?

For the last seven or so years, my wife Amy has been a big inspiration. On top of that, there’s travel, and especially connecting with people across this amazing planet of ours. Nowadays my two children, Angus and Tilly, really inspire me to write. (They also stop me from writing as I’m always playing with them!)

Out of all of your albums, which was the most challenging to produce?

This latest album, About Time, is probably my most “different” album. It’s way more chilled out, more minimalist, and acoustic, as well as being more of a solo project. It has songs on it about my children, which I never had before, so it’s also super personal. Plus, I only allowed one extra musician per song, rather than a big “full band” affair.

Is there anywhere in Europe you’re particularly excited to play in your upcoming tour?

I love touring in Europe! I actually just got home from a two-week tour in Holland. In May, we do 10 shows in Germany, then I’m back in July and September in Germany, Denmark and Switzerland. I’m really excited to play my upcoming show in Berlin, as it’s a queer night where I’ll be on a panel with a few others talking about raising a rainbow family. After the panel, my band will perform, so it’s going to be a really interesting evening. I’m also super excited to be performing for the first time at Utah Pride Festival in the US. I have such a love for Utah, and can’t wait to be a part of their amazing Pride Festival.

Which acts have you most enjoyed touring with over the years?

I loved opening for Sheryl Crow – the crowds were huge and she was lovely to chat to. I also loved playing with The Indigo Girls, I’d been a fan for a long time and love their live performances. They were both gorgeous to be around backstage too which is always a bonus. I also got to meet Brandi Carlisle through them, I love her music too. Plus, Aussie artists like The John Butler Trio and The Waifs!

If you could go on tour with any living musician or band, who would it be?

Oh, that’s a hard question! It would be a very close toss-up between Ani DiFranco, Brandi Carlisle, and Glen Hansard. The list is too long…

And finally, how has life been at home in Australia since the legalisation of same-sex marriage in December 2017?

On a very happy note, my partner and I are finally legally tying the knot in a few weeks! Australia finally got its shit together and caught up with a lot of Europe and North America. We have married four years ago, but now we get to make it legal and have our two amazing babies by our side. The year ahead will be an exciting one, for sure!