Tara Simmons

Time Off Article

I thought I might put this one up as it’s one of the best I’ve had published.



It’s always a curious experience finding a rose in one’s backyard – especially if you do not have a rose bush. There’s something fantastically satisfying in finding something inherently beautiful and gloriously unique in an area you had previously considered familiar and, to a certain degree, predictable.

If the greater populace of Brisbane have the foresight and good sense to open their eyes to the work of rising songwriter Tara Simmons they might too have an understanding of the sheer thrill of discovering something idiosyncratic and beautiful where one least expected.
A thoroughly singular blend of avant-garde electronics, oblique string arrangements and beautifully layered pop music, Tara Simmons’ music has been gradually making waves throughout Brisbane and across Australia with a slew of minor successes and impressive live performances. The songstress’ debut EPs (Pendulum and All the Amendments, later compiled into the eleven-track EPilation) garnered both praise and airplay on Triple J, while single ‘Everybody Loves You’ was selected as a finalist in the Q Song Awards of 2006. All of which is, however, mere prelude to the unveiling of the one-time cellist’s debut album Spilt Milk.

“I’m actually in a pretty good place with the release,” Simmons announces, seemingly surprising herself with her own confidence. “But saying that, we did spend a long time working on it and I think I’ve learnt some lessons from that. I’ve actually spent over a year – from writing, to recording, to mixing – the whole process has been quite long. I’ve been the sole writer and I tend to arrange for the band. I definitely won’t be taking as long on my future releases, but I actually feel okay with it, which is good, for once. I haven’t really got any expectations in line for this album. I obviously have my own personal expectations of what I would like to achieve, but I’ve learnt not to expect too much. You never know what’s going to happen.”

“I have several ways of writing. I could sit down at an instrument and just write and work with chords or I will work with sound and create beats and atmospherics and work the songs up from there,” the 24-year-old explains of her complex writing processes. “Or I might just have a song that I’ve written in my head that I have to try to get out and in that instance I’ll work mainly with my own voice. I guess my songwriting largely depends on mood, as much as anything else. I’m actually looking at doing some stuff that isn’t like my ‘normal’ stuff – I might be writing for an orchestra soon.”

While Simmons may sound like a clinical tinkerer or studio alchemist, however, one cannot overlook the unique charm of the performer’s live show. A bizarre ensemble boasting a Korg synthesiser, two cellos, an upright bass, live drums and a laptop, Simmons’ backing band create a layered cacophony that initially seems discontinuous with the fluid melodies of her songwriting but inevitably gel sublimely into an impressively multi-faceted performance that can be enjoyed on a variety of levels. Simmons’ live performances, like her album, can be dissected, reconstructed and analysed critically by interested parties – or merely enjoyed by a disparate collective of music-lovers.

“When I first started performing, I couldn’t actually use my old band – which was at the time was drums, bass, guitar and me,” Simmons reveals. “And since I was a cellist someone suggested I use cello and then suggested I use two. My band basically formed from there up. We used to do performances with just two cellos and me on piano and then with drums and a laptop and so on. It probably took a year-and-a-half for us to get to the point we’re at now.”

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