I haven’t really written as many posts about home as I thought I would. This blog is supposed to be about my time in London, after all. And generally it is, in a round-about way, although I do love to wander off topic now and then. Still, there are plenty of things happening back home that I could write about if I had the time. Such as the year-long circus show that is contemporary Australian federal politics. I could write about the ignorant, pig-headed Mr Mad Monk Tony Abbott, leader of the conservatively farcical Liberal Party, or I could muse upon the treacherous path of misconceived populous politics that led the once socially progressive Labor Party into a disappointing centre-right “crowd pleaser”. If only Prime Minister Julia Gillard realised that loud-mouthed red necks on talk back radio are only a small minority in the crowd she is trying to please. I could dedicate an entire blog to this kind of stuff, or at least a weekly column.
But then, I could write about a lot of things. Film. Music. Art. Don Draper’s five o’clock shadow. If only someone would give me my own daily column [hint, hint, anyone out there….]. Alas, no one will, and I usually have a job, which means I only have enough time to write and illustrate one post a week for each of my blogs. However, this week I am giving you something a little different. First of all, you will notice that this is my second post of the week for Expatria (thank you unemployment). Secondly, I am taking great pleasure in focusing this post on events happening in my home town.
Perth: home to many things of which us locals can be proud. Beautiful beaches, wonderful climate, great coffee, delicious food, a growing cosmopolitan bar scene, exorbitant prices, cashed-up bogans and an incredible music scene.
One artist, whom I have been following for over ten years now, officially launched her new solo project yesterday: Joni in the Moon. Joni has a delicate, whimsical, heart-breakingly beautiful voice with folky tones and is supported by intricately produced percussion, strings and synthpop beats. In this decade of genre mashups, it can be described as Folktronica. Or Electrofolk. Or synthfolkpop, if you will. I coined the last one myself. It’s not quite as catchy. I feel so proud to broadcast this to the world because, not only is Joni an artist that I adore, but (full disclosure) she also one of my oldest and best friends.
Joni and I met in our first year of university. Joni was a fine arts major and I was studying a mish-mash of crap before I decided to transfer to law. While studied at different universities, we lived in the same university boarding college. We met in the dining hall, which was relatively uneventful, yet we bonded over our passionate arguing and disturbing sense of humour. To this day, my jokes are never as dark or twisted as when I am with Joni. Kindred freaks.
When we met, I was just a precocious kid who had grown up believing that he was more evolved than the small town, Catholic upbringing I had received. But when I moved to the Big City, engaged with people like Joni and when I heard some of the arguments come out of my mouth, I realised how much of my small-minded upbringing had rubbed on to me. People like Joni helped me rub all the backward, small-town thinking out of me.
We had some killer arguments. They were always about heavy, intense shit. Politics. Religion. Pro-choice. Drugs. Depression. Suicide. Love. Hate. War. All those things that make undergraduates feel like the smartest people in the world. We would bicker and shout and call each other mother fucking names. But we never fell out because, despite our strong views, we were both open-minded and shared a mutual respect for each other’s view. Or we would disarm the tension with a dick and vagina joke. It was our thing.
Our friendship blossomed over our collective hate of college life. We considered it a major drag and were determined to live it as a pair of misfits. We were Cecil and Whoopie – a covert and destructive force hiding within an oppressive regime. At least they were the aliases we had concocted as we drank bags of goon and bonded over movies and music and art and filth. In reality, college life was pretty fun and our adventures were never lived up to our destructive intentions. Except for that one time when “someone” stood on an old, porcelain cistern in one of the cubicles in the men’s toilets, in order to take a bird’s-eye photograph of Matt vomiting in the neighbouring cubicle. The sound of a thousand china dishes smashing reverberating down the dorm halls as the cistern crashed onto the floor into thousands of pieces and the water, once contained, gushed out into hallway.
The following week, there was an article in the college newsletter stating that the dean was looking for witnesses to the someone that had committed that destructive graffiti. That someone was never found.
Our adventures were usually far more restrained. Peeing off balconies, midnight visits to the cemetery, late night “visits” to the college kitchen to “borrow” bread and lemon butter and mixed herbs, climbing Morton Bay Fig trees, and running away from the geriatric university security in unnecessary terror were just some of our many exploits.
And of course there was music. Joni introduced me to Radiohead and The Strokes, who remain two of my top five favourite bands. In return, I introduced Joni to Michael Jackson, whom Joni scoffed at and ironically told me was “totally gay”. And then there was Joni’s voice. Sweet and gentle, yet powerful and raw. I couldn’t believe the instrument she contained. And I couldn’t believe someone as talented and cool was my friend.
Soon she unleashed her voice on the Perth scene through grungy, melodic rock band, Heathcliffe (named after that Kate Bush song, based on that Emily Bronte novel). They had moderate success, gigging around Perth and releasing an EP, before members went started veering in different directions and Heathcliffe eventually broke up. After Heathcliffe, Joni did some intermittent solo gigs, but ultimately life got in the way of her full musical potential.
So much has happened over the past ten years. I came out of the closet. Joni had two beautiful daughters. I moved to London. And Joni finally saw the magic and mastery that Michael Jackson produced. There were periods where we saw each other less frequently than others. There were good times and bad. But through it all, we always remained good friends who loved each other, warts and all, and who still had that criminally insane sense of humour.
In the eleven years that I have known Joni, she has probably had a bumpier ride than anyone else that I know. But through it all, she has always persevered and eventually found the strength she needs to take the next step. It has been eight years since Joni has been on the music scene, but she has always been musical and celebrated life and love and her art; the qualities that always drew me to her. And now she is back with a beautiful, melodic and god-damn catchy single that I am so, so, so happy to share with anyone who will listen. I am so bummed that I can’t be in Perth to see Joni beginning of the next stage of her career. So the very least I could do is use my blog to brag by association about this wicked, wonderful, wild woman.
Listen to the single, below.
If you love it (and I know you will) then you can:
– check out the website here
– like the Facebook page here
– download the single here
– and above all, TELL YOUR FRIENDS!
I’ve also embedded the video clip to Joni’s single, Dove Song, below. Joni put in the hard yards by self producing this wild and wonderful video, so please share the love!