In 2016, a three-piece from Melbourne released an album that was to be the catalyst for change. It was made by three women, and whilst this isn’t noteworthy or particularly unique (although desperately under-represented), it is important and relevant to what came next and what continues to happen in the Australian music scene.
Two years on. What has changed? Festivals still reveal all-male line-ups, APRA still reports the huge gender imbalance in memberships, and bookers still put non-male artists on as token supports; but don’t be mistaken, things are changing. Non-males are standing up, playing their hearts out, touring continuously and speaking and, finally, people are listening.
Camp Cope are a part of this change. They are sparking the fight back, the resilience, the calling out. This means, unfortunately, that they are copping it from a patriarchy that is not used to confrontation; not used to having to take responsibility for their thoughts and, more importantly, their actions.
The second album from these same three women is one of many beacons of hope for a more inclusive future in the Australian music scene. They are piercing their way through the murky clouds of musical history and, well, it’s simply a triumph of what can be accomplished when it comes to making damn good music.
How To Socialise & Make Friends feels personal, because it is. Georgia Maq writes about what she sees, feels and understands. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable, sometimes it’s confronting, sometimes it’s comforting. It is, however, always necessary and portrays a fragile persona that is fighting back, not content to sit back and ‘just deal’, but to actually say, “No, you can’t get away with stuff. This is how I feel, so deal with it.”
Camp Cope makes you – no, forces you – to listen to lyrics. It’s something that I’m not good at, usually preferring to listening to rhythms, air-drum to beats, groove to the bass; but the words matter and we need to listen closer. Having said that, right from the opening sounds of the first song – suitably named, The Opener – the bass, from Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich is the heart of this group. The tone she resonates and the feeling with which she plays is ever-present in this album as well as their live show. It’s as important as the lyrics and singing from Maq. The bed provided by Sarah Thompson on the kit compliments all of this to a neat parcel. A trio of instrumentalists that feed off each other’s talents and can flow together as if they were one.
So, we get to Georgia Maq and her vocal line. On Animal & Real, we hear the perfect example of the proud passion with which she sings. Even when her voice breaks in that heart-wrenching way, we feel it. Every time her voice waivers, such as the last line of the song, we feel it. It’s the last track of the album, the heartbreaking I’ve Got You, about the relationship with her late father and his battle with cancer, that pulls us right into her world, recounting childhood memories and the influence he had on her. It’s a beautiful tribute.
There are the occasional lighter moments on the album too. Tributes to friends on Anna and Sagan-Indiana. There are quirky stories of love gained, love lost and friends to hold. The presser talks about “life, loss and growth.” They’re all here and the cornerstone of the album and all of our lives. It’s a very real and tangible feeling that this album helps us to embrace.
The nine songs, recorded in just two days at Holes & Corners in South Melbourne, have that raw edge to it – but think about how much work has gone into laying down the tracks for an entire album in two days. It shows the dedication, focus and sheer drive behind a group that has honed their talents to such a point that the rest is just intuition and synchronicity.
This album should propel Camp Cope’s voice higher than ever. It should reach more ears than their impressive first album did. It should open more and more people’s eyes to the power of women in the industry and the power that people can have in creating change. It should and it will. If you happen to be a straight, cis man reading this, don’t be afraid to listen, learn and change – because I did, and I am.
Released: 2 March, 2018 via Poison City Records