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Change makers: Woodes on the making of her debut album

PHOTOGRAPHER – KATHERINE BOYLE
STYLIST – JADE LEUNG AT VIVIEN’S CREATIVE
HAIR AND MAKEUP – RAFFAELLA TOMAIUOLO

Making the dream a reality.

It’s no secret that women are capable of amazing things. From protesting injustice to lifting up their communities, Aussie women have a long history of breaking down barriers.

This season, Converse is celebrating inspiring women via its All The Stories Are True campaign. It aims to uncover the stories of those who’ve carved their own path, redefining what it means to be a woman in 2019.

To get in the spirit, we chatted to Melbourne-based musician Woodes (Elle Graham) to find out what inspires her (while wearing her Chucks, of course).

converse.com.au

In the span of your music career so far, you’ve toured with some incredible artists and released two successful EPs. What are you most proud of?

I’ve always wanted to be able to do music full-time, so I’d say I’m most proud of creating my own dream job. Over the years, I’ve stayed independent and built a kind and dedicated team around me. I think the pride also comes with feeling myself grow as an artist – more confident, more aware of my place, pushing myself out of comfort zone as a producer and performer.

What would be your dream collaboration?

Working with Hans Zimmer or Alexandra Patsavas on a film soundtrack. Probably some kind of cinematic work. Sigur Rós did a collaboration with the LA Philharmonic a couple of years ago – to have your ideas reworked and orchestrated would be incredible.

You’ve mentioned in past interviews that you make sure any act who supports you on stage has a female in it. What brought about this decision?

At the start, it was just because I was seeing a lack of diversity, and I felt it was something small I could do to make sure emerging female artists were getting heard. For example, on my last tour, I had an independent North Queensland songwriter, Greta Stanley, join me for the East Coast segment of the tour. I grew up in Townsville, North Queensland, and know that it’s a huge financial leap for her to come tour Australia with us. I love her music and always want to make sure regional artists get heard and celebrated. A lot of our supports are friends or artists I’m a big fan of myself.

What do you draw inspiration from when it comes to conceptualising an album?

I’m currently making my debut album, and a lot of the stuff I’m writing stems from talking to friends and hearing their stories, as well as my own. There are a bunch that reflect on my family, about childhood, about loss. It’s going to be a rather collaborative album, like my last EPs were. I’m keen to get some orchestral instruments in soon and potentially a children’s choir. I keep a mood board on my Tumblr of styling, colour palettes, concepts and beautiful imagery that I look at when I get stuck for ideas. Little snippets of films and poetry go up there too. Any release of mine is a full body of work with imagery, styling and music videos thought out. The music is one part of it but I do enjoy creative direction.

Do you find there to be a lack of female music producers?

I saw a very recent stat from The Recording Academy that 98% of music industry producers are men, and 97% of music industry engineers and mixers are men. There’s a lack [of female representation] for sure, but I’m happy to say that in the seven or so years I’ve been producing I’ve definitely seen change. There seems to be so many more females getting into that aspect of music making. I’ve even been teaching some young girls I know how to use GarageBand, and they’re into it. Some kids are learning production in music class at their primary schools. We’ve all got free tools at our fingertips that are very user-friendly, so you can have a studio anywhere. I didn’t get software like Logic or Ableton until I was in my late teens. I do think those numbers will change dramatically now.

What are the main barriers facing women in the music industry?

There’s a really great documentary by Michelle Grace Hunder and Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore called Her Sound Her Story, and I think it frames some of the challenges really perfectly, especially in relation to Australian music. It touches on personal experiences regarding sexism, ageism, motherhood, body image, role models, and the lack of balanced representation, both on lineups and behind-the-scenes.

What women are you most inspired by? And why?

So many women inspire me – family, musicians, visual artists, actors, environmentalists. My mother is one of my best friends. I love her hunger for knowledge and her eclectic personality. Grimes and Imogen Heap inspired me to get into production. In the Australian music scene, last year KLP made a songwriting camp of all women and it was a definite highlight of my year to be a part of it. I was producing/engineering at it alongside some powerhouse female artists, producers and writers.

Describe your personal style.

So, ‘Elle’ and ‘Woodes’ are kinda different people. It’s funny, because I just moved house and divided my wardrobe into two parts. One side is sequins, pom-poms, colour and giant wool throws. The other side is jeans and black T-shirts. For both, I like to prioritise comfort and the ability to move freely. I like buying things that will last and for Woodes I like supporting independent, local designers. I don’t really have a lot of clothes. (Post move, they must all spark joy).

Sneakers or heels?

Sneakers and boots. I have one pair of heeled boots, but that’s the extent of my ‘heels’.

Do you wear Converse Chuck Taylors? And if so, what’s your favourite memory while wearing them?

I do! My favourite memory was being about 17 in America and we went to a mall that had the most amazing limited-edition Converse with pink vine patterns. I bought them and wore them to the cafe I worked at. I loved putting them on and lacing them up. It’s a funny thing, but I think Converse has some of the best laces? I think the all-black Cons are so classy and comfy.

What’s next for you?

I’m locked away in the studio for the next couple months writing and working on my debut record. I may spend a couple of weeks in LA, too. In Melbourne, I’m doing a DJ set at NGV in late March. I have to work on my costume.

This series is proudly brought to you by Converse

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