“We are a female vocal trio from a jazz background (all having studied jazz performance at University), incorporating improvisation into our new original music. Taking inspiration from groups such as Tillery, Coco’s Lunch and The Staves, our music has a bluesy, folky sound mixed with complex rhythmic percussion and improvisation.
We’ve just launched a visual series called Train Line Sessions. It’s a collaborative project aiming to re-inspire local music, original music, and general love for our musical community.
Our second session features our absolute musical hero, Lisa Young, alongside Ben Robertson (double bass) and Nick Kyritsis (guitar). The recordings feature an original song from both Market Lane and Lisa Young, and incorporate her incredible konnakol skills.”
That’s how Lauren Irwin-Ray, Dominique Garrard and Mel O’ Neill – a.k.a. Market Lane – introduced themselves and presented their genre-bending, label-defying ‘Train Line Sessions’, a musical endeavour which is all about the essence of song and music: community and communication.
The first part of this collaboration between Market Lane and Lisa Young, made its debut here. It was – is – a musical ray of sunshine, full of light and warmth, showcasing the trio’s marvellous songwriting ability, not to mention their impeccable vocal harmonies. (Go see it again, you know you want to.)
Now it’s time for the second installment. Built on an elusive melody by Lisa Young, ‘Thru the Still Trees’ is flowing, going to every direction possible – or impossible. An open-ended song, it is the perfect vehicle for Market Lane to manifest their improvisational skills and interact with their idol, their voices intertwined to the point that, by the end of the song, what you hear is the sonic equivalent of a congregation of clouds against a multi-colour sky.
But don’t take our word for it. Here is ‘Thru the Still Trees’, by Market Lane feat. Lisa Young, making its debut, for your enjoyment:
Lisa Young: “I really admire the way Market Lane have a very strong vision for what they’re wanting to do”
What was the process of bringing these arrangements to life?
I thought the process was fantastic. The arrangements that Market Lane had done were so good, that all we really needed to do was just tweak vowel shapes and tweak the dynamics and play with expression, but they were terrific arrangements. So, my part was easy! It was just “learn your part”, really!
How do you go about incorporating konnakol into your music and improvisations?
Konnakol is an incredible rhythmic language that I’ve been studying for over 20 years now. So, for me, it was a natural progression, once I started to learn it, to see that it sat really beautifully with scat syllables. It was like a rhythmic foundation moving into the other linguistic scat sounds that I already had in my sound bank. What’s distinct about the way I’ve incorporated konnakol, is that in its traditional form, it’s an intoned language. It’s not used as a pitched language for melodies, but that seemed like a natural progression for me. To take it from an intoned language where it would work beautifully as a rhythmic fill or underlay, or of course, as a rhythmic vocal solo, into being that language for riffs and melodies. I love using that language but improvising melodically with it. So, over time is has become a really powerful influence in my body of work, because it is so rich and sort of an endless study, really.
Was your experience with Coco’s Lunch reflected in working with Market Lane?
It wasn’t a comparison so much, but just “Wow, another group of amazing women who are dedicated and committed, as well as being skilled and creative and want to make great music!”
It was very similar actually, and in fact the only difference is that when Coco’s Lunch first started, it was over 20 years ago. We’d meet and have long days where we would flesh out ideas and workshop ideas and what I noticed was that it was at a time when we all had a lot more time. Whereas now, we all have families and jobs and all of that. We’re much more organised and it is more similar, now, to how Market Lane works. You come to a collaboration really not wanting to waste anyone’s time, and with a running sheet and a schedule, and “here’s the charts” and “we’ll fix this bit in the rehearsal” and all that. So yeah, it’s great to see that it’s at a really professional level, which I think is very important. When things are professional, it shows a great deal of respect for the people you’re working with.
I really admire the way Market Lane have a very strong vision for what they’re wanting to do. Not only with their Train Line Sessions, but with their whole musical journeys. I can see that it will have lots of layers. They’ll do these things together. They’ll do these things on their own. They’ll be leaders in their field, for sure. I really see Market Lane as leaders in the next generation.
Market Lane: “For us, it’s more about getting to know the artist and experiencing multiple worlds of music!”
What did working with Lisa Young mean to you?
To work with someone you admire so much is such an incredible experience. It was such a thrill to incorporate her own unique, personal style. The rhythmic and melodic elements that are so present in her music informed our approach to these arrangements. Her style is iconic and inspired our creativity and allowed us to develop arrangements that really pushed us technically. We knew we’d have to be on our game with Lisa and we really wanted to present her with a sort of canvas for her to do her thing.
Lisa sings with such conviction and technical skill. Her tone is really warm and pure – perfect for blending vocal harmonies. The three of us become much more technically aware when were singing with her. In fact, just being in the room with her makes you want to go above and beyond. That’s the sign of a brilliant teacher and musician. Her love for music is always at the forefront of what she does. Singing with Lisa is honestly exhilarating.
Your previous Train Line Session was with TJ Patrick; how was that experience?
The TJ Patrick recording was an incredible experience, as it was both a video recording and live gig wrapped up in one big evening. Such a fantastic challenge matched with true sense of ownership when you create the space, promote, run and film a live recording all in one – the cherry on top being arranging and performing TJ Patrick’s beautiful folk-driven piece ‘Falling‘ alongside our upbeat bluesey original ‘Red Bass Drum‘. TJ Patrick is a wonderful musician to work with. His humble yet well-informed musicality shone through in his original piece, so our arrangement aimed to highlight the fragility of the lyrics. Falling in love, watching someone you love tackle hardship, but also protecting yourself.
It was interesting as he comes from a strong pop background and we come from the jazz tradition. This collaboration allowed us to marry elements from both genres whilst maintaining our stylistic integrity.
Why did you choose this approach – launching it by installments?
We wanted to do something that incorporated a heap of people in the Australian music scene. By doing installments we get to spend heaps of time with the artist and work out how they process and create music which is such an important aspect of the ‘Train Line Sessions’. For us, it’s more about getting to know the artist and experiencing multiple worlds of music!
So, what’s next in line?
Lots of shows, more releases and more independent recording!
In regards to Train Line Sessions, we were super excited to announce our collaboration with Melbourne singer-songwriter and producer, Hayden Calnin. It’s been great working with artists in different genres because it pushes us to adapt while still holding onto those really important aspects of our style, like improvisation. Hayden is such an inherently musical person and we got to record in his Collingwood studio. That session will be released in a few months time.