premiere: alice skye returns with “grand ideas”
“I felt like I’d finally lost it.”
Alice Skye is one of those songwriters who can express dark, messy emotions with stunning clarity. If her sweet, calming voice isn’t already a mainstay on your playlist, perhaps it will be from today. The Wergaia/Wemba Wemba artist has just unveiled her first single of 2020 – “Grand Ideas” – and we’re super-chuffed to premiere the video down below. Before you pop this one into your ear holes, read on to find out how the tune came together.
What compelled you to write “Grand Ideas”? I love therapy and think everyone should give it a go at least once (or a dozen times), but it can sometimes take time to find “the one”. I was driving home from an appointment that helped me discover that CBT is not for me, and nor are the textbook definitions or therapy homework. I sat in the car and just kept repeating the chorus lyrics over and over. I felt like I’d finally lost it.
There’s so much pressure in being a person. Especially a First Nations person, too. You carry a lot with you: your family, your pride, intergenerational traumas and a system that’s not built with you in mind. It can start to feel like you’re losing control of your own identity when people discuss your rights and feelings without any understanding of what it’s like to walk through the world blak.
I think we all carry weights with us from childhood or our hopes and dreams, and it makes sense that sometimes you just want to disappear or hypothesise alternative lives, where you're a recluse in the mountains and paint all day.
The song is quite optimistic in tone, but the lyrics express feelings of helplessness. How did these two elements come together? I love sad songs, but it’s frustrating to feel like there’s no strength in that – we all experience a range of different emotions at different times, or all at once. I wanted to sing about my heavy feelings in a way that didn’t feel so heavy. Because things are bad but they’re also fine? I wanted the song and video to have those elements of chaos, calmness and confusion that come with existing.
How did you end up working with Jen Cloher on the production of the track? I felt so grateful that Jen agreed to come on board – she was top of my list when I was asked to think about potential producers. I saw her give a keynote speech somewhere that rocked my tiny world. It sounds hyperbolic, but it was a real pivotal moment for me, a moment where I got the advice I needed right on time. We eventually met through being on a panel about songwriting and things grew from there. She was an amazing producer and person to have in the room – my songs grew so much with her guidance.
This is only your second video clip. How did it come together? I worked with Triana Hernandez on my first film clip a few years ago. I knew I wanted to work with her again because she made me feel so comfortable the first time. I’d never been filmed before and felt too embarrassed to sing to the camera, so she would set everything up and walk out of the room. Thankfully, I’ve gained some confidence since then and wanted to show that. We watched a lot of Bjork film clips and originally had a pretty different concept in mind pre-pandemic. But we kept our main hope of wanting it to feel like a dream – where things happen, but nothing really happens, and things are familiar, but nothing’s the same and you wake up wondering what it all means.
Keep up to date with Alice on Facebook or Instagram. You can also catch her performing this Friday, May 29th on Evenings with Christine Anu on ABC Radio, as part of National Reconciliation Week.