Colin Lillie: Staring Folk In The Eye At The National Folk Festival

Column: Features   |   Date Published: Sunday, 14 May 17   |   Author: Mark Turner   |   2 weeks, 2 days ago

     "If you connect with one soul, you’ve done your job."

In amongst the music and aromas of the 2017 National Folk Festival, I caught up with the musical bearded Scotsman from Alice Springs, COLIN LILLIE.
“I was here last year with my partner, Jacinta Price. She was performing and I was supporting and this is the first time, since then, I’ve managed to release my own stuff.”

Lillie’s debut album, Glass Homes features 11 fantastic tracks that map his folk-oriented beginnings to his present-day style which, while still sometimes sparse and acoustic, feels richer now and shows his growth in songwriting.

The album was recorded in Cairns with Mark Myers over three weeks. Before recording started though, Lillie flew over to Cairns to meet Myers and see how they would work as a pairing.

“I’d been working closely with Graham Ashton from Footstomp Music who put me in touch with Mark. I’m a very tactile person,” says Lillie. “You know, if I’m gonna be working with somebody I don’t want it just to be a modern way of working where we send it via the internet. I want to meet the person, look at them in the eye and talk. And also see if they gel with me ‘cause I can be an intense kind of individual.”

I ask Lillie about the whole recording process and how he had exchanged ideas back and forth before recording even started.

“We thought we had it pretty well sorted but when we were in the studio and heard the sound we thought, ‘ah, wait a minute, that may change’ and from that the album did take a different avenue to where we originally felt. It was as much a process of growing organically at some stages but at the same time there was also some analness that we had already set in stone.”

Several years ago, I photographed Lillie and a whole bunch of very talented artists in Telstra’s Road to Discovery competition. We spoke about that and the experience he had.

“I think for me, I never really saw it as a competition because I don’t see music as a competition. I saw it as a way I could mix with people I could connect with using a language that was new to me. And as a language that I was learning as much as the people who were with me were learning as well.”

I ask Lillie what the live music scene was like in the Northern Territory.

“Being central Australia, Alice Springs is always kicking Darwin’s backside. So many great performers and then you’ve got the indigenous element. The local fellas are playing incredible at the moment. We’ve got a huge heavy metal festival going on in Alice Springs right now. We’re blessed by what we have available.”

And lastly, I ask Lillie about the Folkie experience.

“It’s beautiful, especially to be part of the opening night. I’ve had a lot of beautiful feedback from that and that’s flowed into my solo gigs. Playing in front of a whole bunch of people, if you connect with one soul, you’ve done your job.”



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