Interview: 30/70's Allysha Joy
Merging and melting a myriad of genres from soul and hip hop to blues, Melbourne's 30/70 are constantly evolving - and this applies to their members too. Starting out with just five and now brimming at 10 members, the collective (named for Northcote's 3070 postcode) all have their own separate projects, but come together to create music that is soulful free and mesmerising.
We chatted with vocalist Allysha Joy ahead of 30/70's WOMADelaide appearance.
How much of the music that you record is planned and how much do you just improvise?
I guess that’s sort of changing. When we first started it was a lot more improvised because there were fewer of us, so even when it came into the studio it would be a lot more improvised, but now that there’s 10, we have to be a bit more organised. Yeah, it is still a very open process, but a lot more planned out now. And we have to move a lot quicker – as we all take on more projects.
What are you working on yourself at the moment?
I am working an album of my own, that should be coming out soon – I’ve got a 7” coming out. And it's still with the 30/70 boys – the drummer, the bass player and the guitarist have helped me produce that record, and I’m really excited about it!
Does the musical improvisation you mentioned also translate to your live shows?
Yeah it does, definitely! We sort of still perform lots of different arrangements of the band – so sometimes we perform as a five piece, and that can be a bit more open, but when we play as a 10 piece, it’s quite arranged - and for those people that have seen us live, we only really play one continuous song, so each song channels into the next and in those changes that’s where we have room for play and for improvisation. So it's sort of planned but unplanned.
What would be the live performance that stands out the most for you?
Actually, one of the most recent gigs we played was in Adelaide. We played at this festival called Here’s To Now, in McLaren Vale. And we were all on such a big high because we’d come down the night before and we went to the beach together and the moon was right there behind us and the sun was setting and it was just beautiful. Then the next day we played in the afternoon and it was sunny – it was a really nice gig! That was the first thing that came to mind! The people at Coriole Winery just treated us like kings and queens – it was really nice.
Your songs can be quite experimental, but there’s also this beautiful kind of smoothness and freeness to them – who do you look up to in music?
Obviously a lot of different people, but personally I’m really inspired by Erykah Badu and Georgia Anne Muldrow, just thinking about hip hop and R’n’B - but at the same time I’m really excited to see Oumou Sangare at WOMAD – she’s been a huge inspiration and just how she commands that band is pretty incredible. And of course there’s so many jazz greats that I can think of, but Oumou will be really cool to see.
It’s always so hard at WOMAD – there’s so many amazing acts that are on at the same time, and if you’re only there for a day then it can be hard to choose!
We’re going to be there for a little while – we’re all planning to go up on Thursday – so we can and see as much as possible, because there is a lot!
The band obviously formed in Melbourne – do you find the music scene there to be quite supportive?
It’s so supportive – and I think I'm realising that now more, interacting with different scenes around Australia, and even just around the world. I feel like in Melbourne people have time for each other, and they want to go to each others’ gigs, they want to jam, they want to record with their friends – it’s just really positive at the moment. I think a lot of it is in defiance to a lot of things that are going on in the world, so that’s definitely a positive to come out of it.
Are all of your members from Melbourne, or have do you have many that have travelled over from interstate or overseas?
Yeah actually. I think there’s only two of us from Melbourne, out of the ten – three – from Melbourne, out of 10. But none of us are from Adelaide. Mostly up the coast.
What’s it like being invited to perform at WOMAD?
It’s so exciting! We found out maybe November…but I’m just so excited to go, let alone play – that’s just really exciting! I’ve never been before so, I’m pretty excited – I think we all are.
30/70 have secured a pretty killer time slot as well, on the Saturday night – what can audiences expect from your live show?
Definitely an experience – it’s always an experience. We really like to take the audience on a journey, and I’m just so excited to see the space that we’re performing in and really create an atmosphere and a vibe – hopefully it’s inviting and people learn something and feel something that’s real and can take that on with them.
Is there a specific feeling or message that you’re trying to convey through your songs?
We’re all very focused on, I guess, seeking change within government and within ourselves, and for the positive - for the environment and for social change and for engagement in community, and just communication as a whole - and that’s definitely a thread within the music. A lot of my lyrics are based around the female experience, the cultural experience of Australia and how we can better ourselves and our community.
Finally, what does the rest of 2017 hold for 30/70?
A lot of exciting new things are coming into fruition at the moment actually. And we’ve sort of already got a lot booked in for the first half of the year. I’m not sure how much I can say though – touring, we’ve got a record coming out soon ... so that’ll be really great. And I think we’re going to go back into the studio very soon – so hopefully two records within the next year or so!
Words: Lucy Ahern