Interview: Donnelle Brooks
Holly Woodward | On 21, Dec 2014
MeetÂ Donnelle Brooks: country/folk songstress, blues/rock sass queen, and your new reviewing prodigy as sheÂ joins theÂ Creative DrinksÂ writing team to offer insight to life on the road while adventuring on tour.
On the cusp of embarking on a completely self-promoted tour, impressively playing 17 shows in 18 days,Â Donnelle Brooks chatted to us about her journey as a budding country/folk muso, her sassy alter-ego as front woman for blues/rock bandÂ The Mobsters, and how she will be joining theÂ Creative Drinks family and sharing her experiences whilst on tour.
CD: What was the first artist you heard that inspired you to pursue a career in music?
Donnelle: Thereâ€™s a band called You Am I, and the main songwriter from that band is Tim Rogers. The first time I saw him was at Splendour In The Grass in 2006. I was right in front of the stage when he sung this song called Heavy Heart. The song was so amazing and the lyrics just stuck with me, so when I went home I looked it up and bought like four of their albums straight away. There was many other things but thatâ€™s what really inspired me to become a songwriter.
CD: What other artists did you listen to as a budding musician?
Donnelle: My Dad has a big influence over my music taste, so I love Australian pub-rock bands like Cold Chisel. I love Powderfinger, The Rolling Stones and The Easy Beats. Also Jewel inspires me as a songwriter as well. Every artist has a mix of influences and I think thatâ€™s what makes them unique.
CD: When did you first pick up a guitar and start singing?
Donnelle: I was 12. My brother and Dad both played guitar and they started to teach me. Once theyâ€™d taught me what they could I started to fix things up myself. Iâ€™ve never had a guitar lesson.
CD: Being a solo country/folk artist you also double as the front woman for blues/rock band The Mobsters, which genre came first for you?
Donnelle: Definitely the country/folk. I studied a Bachelor of Music, and I met some people through my bachelor. I only discover blues as a genre about two years ago. I started singing it and was like â€œWow I really like this!â€ so we started a band. Itâ€™s still sort of new to me but Iâ€™m really enjoying it, but country/folk will always be my origin.
CD: When you started was it difficult to write that kind of music or did it come naturally?
Donnelle: It came naturally. I like to think that I have a split personality musically. I have the nice, girly stuff, but when Iâ€™m playing blues and rock I can really let my anger and sass out. Everyone has that side to themselves, everyoneâ€™s got that inner f*** you.
CD: What inspires you to write your music?Â
Donnelle: Definitely emotions. Iâ€™ve always been that way. Thatâ€™s the reason I started playing music, because I felt like there was something that I needed to express that I couldnâ€™t simply day-to-day. Especially when I play with The Mobsters, where I scream and yell a lot, that gets all of the emotions out.
CD: Do you find it difficult to balance your influences when writing for yourself and The Mobsters? Do the inspirations ever overlap?
Donnelle: I write from a very emotional point of view. Iâ€™ve been writing a solo album for the last six months, but then the other day I had a terrible day and I ended up writing a song for The Mobsters in about 20 minutes without even thinking about it. Every emotion that you feel is expressed in a different way, and so for me that means that it just comes out that way.
CD: Youâ€™ve just started to embark on a pretty intense tour, playing 17 shows in 18 days! Can you tell us about it?
Donnelle: My mum lives in Albury, which is where the tour is ending, and she wanted me to come home for Christmas. Iâ€™ve always wanted to go on a solo road trip, so I decided why not to go on a solo tour as well. I organised everything independently which Iâ€™m really proud of. Iâ€™m also doing a food and travel element where Iâ€™ll be writing for Creative Drinks too! So as well as playing each gig Iâ€™ll be going and seeing the local sites, taking photos and reviewing the cafes that I play at.
CD: Have you ever written like this before?
Donnelle: No! In school I wrote a lot of short stories, but Iâ€™ve never written from a reviewerâ€™s point of view. Iâ€™m very nice, so I canâ€™t imagine myself giving someone a bad review.
CD: Youâ€™ve entirely self-promoted this tour, why did you choose to go with promoting the venture yourself?
Donnelle: By organising and booking everything myself, instead of going through a booking agent, I was able to choose the type of venues I wanted that suited the vibe I wanted to create on this tour. Every venue Iâ€™ve booked is entirely different, and thatâ€™s exactly how I wanted it.
CD: Do you have a particular show your most looking forward to?
Donnelle: Probably Albury, because I get to see my mum [laughs].
Stay tuned forÂ a first person viewing of life on the road through the eyes of the creative gem that isÂ Donnelle Brooks.Â In the mean time, listen to her captivating compositions here
Image credits: Donnelle Brooks official Facebook page