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Adalita




With my phone back in my pocket and my heart beat back to normal, I turned to a mate, busting to let him in on who'd been on the other end of the call.

  

"I just spoke to Adalita from Magic Dirt," I said, a little smirk spreading across my face after my brush with Australian rock ‘n' roll royalty.

  

He looked back at me, seemingly puzzled for a moment, then responded: "So many of my mates would be so jealous of you right now."

  

Best known as the voice behind much-loved and long-lived outfit Magic Dirt, Adalita Srsen has emerged from the studio and is set to unleash her first solo album on the world.

  

A mainstay of the 90s and 00s Australian rock ‘n' roll scene, Adalita is set to take off on a substantial national tour in support of the eponymous 10-track debut.

  

"I think it was 2008, you know, people were saying ‘you should maybe try to do some solo stuff'," she said. "So I think it was in late-2008 I started writing some solo stuff with the album in mind."

  

Some of the new material was being revealed to the audience during solo gigs in 2009, while the album was being refined and mixed during late-09 and into 2010 before being wrapped up during the second half of last year.

  

"A few months ago it was kind of finished," she said. "It's kind of just the time it took to make the record.

  

"The artwork took a fair while to get finalised and finished," she says. "It's always hard with the artwork. The rest of it was pretty good and flowed pretty well.

  

"I wanted it out last year, but then Liberation came on board late last year and wanted to sign me, so we kind of had to wait until this year. But it's been good. I'm glad I waited ‘cos I kept wanting to put it out there, but I'm really glad I waited because there's always a lot of fine tuning to do."

  

While finalising the artwork was a drawn-out process, Adalita was adamant it would be done right – and that it would complement the album's minimal feel.

  

"I just kind of wanted a booklet with very clean, simple photos and the lyrics," she said. "I wanted a very simple but beautiful kind of presentation for everything. But it did take a while. It doesn't look that way, I'm sure, but behind the scenes there's a lot of tweaking, toing and froing."

  

While the pared-back sound might signal a departure from Adalita's Magic Dirt past, the new direction is something she's more than satisfied with.

  

"It's very minimal," she said. "There's no band, it's just vocal and guitar and I guess it's a bit confronting in that way.

  

"It's not something you usually hear with a kind of fuzzed-out guitar. Usually you'd hear some backing to it... I think it can stand on its own with these particular songs.

  

"It's very stripped back and restrained and there's a lot of space around everything. It's got a kind of whimsical quality, I guess - a bit dreamy. There is a kind of underlying intenseness or moodiness or darkness to it. It's not too pretty or flimsy, it's pretty substantial, I think."

  

Adalita shared production duties with fellow Magic Dirt founding member, the late Dean Turner, and enlisted JP Shilo and Amaya Laucirica for added strings and vocals during recording.

  

"I'm pretty happy," she said. "It's the way I wanted it to sound. I know Dean would have been proud and happy with the way it sounded, how it came out. It's exactly what we talked about."

  

"I'm really happy with the aesthetic of it."

  

Sticking to her tried and true creative process was a vital component in making this album and gave Adalita confidence that she had made the best record possible.

  

"It's always been part of it and I think that the overseeing of everything has always been part of it," she said. "I guess in that way the process can take a while because you want to make sure you are getting your message across as best as you can and the songs are the best they can be. The whole package has always been running over things with a fine-tooth comb.

  

"I've kind of always written the same way – just whatever comes out. I don't really think about what I want to write about. I just sit with the guitar and see what comes out at the time. I pull out a couple of poems or some prose I've written... every now and then a whole song will just pop out with the lyrics intact.

  

"People say I sing about personal stuff, or it's personal or it's intimate... I guess I've always just written in that way. I don't see it as a personal thing, but I've just always written that way... it's an extension of my song-writing with Magic Dirt. I just sit down with a bunch of riffs and lyrics and take it to the band. If it doesn't work, leave it at home, if it works, put it on the record... it's part of the same continuum for me."

  

But despite this element of control and familiarity, Adalita confessed to feeling some nerves ahead of the March 4 release date and subsequent national tour.

  

"There's always a bit of butterflies, but I'm pretty happy," she said. "With Magic Dirt records there was always the same feeling. Once you've done a record you always look back and think this or that could have been better... that's always the case. That's an inescapable part of it for me.

  

"I think this solo thing is, I feel like I'm starting at square one, because I am singing on my own just with my guitar, it brings out every little thing with your voice and your playing.

  

"I'm not pitch perfect and I fuck up on my guitar, but... with the solo thing, I feel like, kind of really at square one and I have to really make sure I put on a good show and my confidence is building with it, but it's hard and I'm very nervous.

  

"With Magic Dirt I always felt the same. I always just got up and sweated it out and just did the best show I could and sang the best I could and just played the shit out of my guitar. It's always that same level of intensity of performance whatever shows we did.

  

"I feel less nervous now, but I need a few more shows under my belt."

  

Before the shows, though, it's time for rehearsals and more rehearsals – and maybe some leisure time with her feet up and the television on.

  

"I'm going into heavy rehearsals and once those rehearsals are done and the songs are drummed into me and into my extra musicians, then we can relax and just go out on the road. You do the work before you go out," she said.

  

"What do I do (to relax)? I don't do much. I am kind of pretty addicted to work at the moment... but I'm a real TV junkie. I find TV really relaxing and almost a sedating thing. I do enjoy some really trashy TV."

  

Adalita's national headline tour commences in Byron Bay on March 24 and takes in 16 dates across the country. Her self-titled debut album is due on March 4 from Liberation Music.

  

Tasmanian fans need not worry that they'll miss out on Adalita's music. "I'm really happy to be going to Tassie," Adalita said. "I really like going down there. We (Magic Dirt) had a few huge nights at the Republic Bar. It's kind of like our home crowd in Tassie. We've got some awesome fans down there."

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