Stella Donnelly Takes On Rock's Patriarchy With Debut Album 'Beware Of The Dogs'

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Support for NPR and the following message come from Amelia Island, Florida a barrier island on the northeast coast that captivates visitors with thirteen miles of uncrowded beach championship golf, natural beauty and a historic district Amelia Island dot com slash NPR. And finally today, let's go to Austria to check in with a singer who's making a name for herself far beyond that country's borders. Stella Donnelly, she's getting noticed for a tell it like, it is style that tackle some of the toughest issues. Here's her breakthrough track. From two thousand seventeen boys will be boys. Bulled storytelling continues on her debut album, beware of the dogs. Still Donald is with us now from Sydney, Australia, still Donnelly, welcome. Thank you so much for talking with us. Thank you so much for having me your songs have so much their own style. I mean, they can be weedy. They can be laugh out loud. Funny, at least to me. And yet, they really pack a punch, and I understand that you spent years in a cover band. So I'm wondering like how did you come up with your own sound I spent about four years in a cover band? And then I I went onto play in other original projects that that weren't my own. But I was kind of contributing to as a as an instrumentalist. And I think it was just all of it put together eventually shaped what I wanted to sound like and what I didn't want to sound like it just eventually seeped into my songwriting. I have this idea that this is what it sounds like when you're with your friends talking do people who know you say. Yeah. That's that's how you are. Yeah. Absolutely. And I think when you get to record an. Album. It really lousy you to show that for me music is about betraying myself and about being really honest. So when you put an E P at you've only got four or five songs to really do that with whereas with an album, you can kind of take your time. They'll be a song that sad. But then, you know, straight off to that OB bit more lighthearted of funny or or heartbroken and those sorts of things. So yeah, it's it's as me as it can get really let me revisit the song. That is considered your breakout. Boys will be boys Ma. Me. See? Tall. That she. Nice. It explores something that sexual assault survivors have long told us that they have experienced which is being blamed for what happened to them. And I understand that you've got death threats after this. I mean death threats. I was never expecting him show. I honestly came out three days before Harvey Weinstein was cold out online. And then following that the metoo movement resurfacing after all those years, and I was never expecting the listenership and the broad audience that I got for that song. And I think it was possibly as a result of that whole conversation starting to take place. See? No, I think at the time people were very threatened. And it was the first time I think that the powers hat to show some sort of compassion, and that may be that the pendulum was possibly swinging back a little bit towards women having the freedom to speak out about these issues. It seems shocking. Right. But maybe not. I mean, I don't know what what was it like for you to experience you were talking about people sending you explicit pictures. I mean, what was that? Like was it shocking to you? Where you how did you react to that? Yeah. It was really shocking. But at the same time, I guess it's just one of those things that when I put that out. I I received extreme fade back, you know, extreme feedback on both sides. So whilst does getting sent in appropriate pictures or horrible messages from people also receiving letters from fathers who had heard that song. And we're going to use that song as a resource to teach their children, and I was. Hearing from young women out there who had used that song to kind of process things that happened to them. And I was hearing from all sorts of people positively about that song. So it was a very extreme time. You know, I think everything just heightened for me. Good and bad. So it wasn't too. Harrowing for me because I was able to look at the positives that I was getting out of putting that song out obviously hasn't stopped you because your your new album, beware of the dogs continues to share your thoughts, very directly, and especially the first track old, man. Let me play. His. I have to say when I get a new foul rec- to to listen to. I generally just listen to it at first, and I was playing it on my way to work, and I'll just howling. I think it's like the beach boys. You know, we're going to the beach. You're going to hang out the and then you're like, whoa. Wait what? So the couple of questions I have first of all is this about something or someone in particular particular experience that you have it's I think it's based on many experiences that I've had and I I definitely didn't wanna make it to specific. I created a character and an amalgamation of many people that I've come across as an artist as a female artist. And and also looking at what had just happened in my world. You know, when I always we always out the me too campaign had reemerged, and then post that I'd watched life changes as a female musician in this industry. And I guess it was also a way for me to put my middle finger up to anyone who given me giving me grief. A boys will be boys. You know? I wasn't going to let that stop me from speaking out and staying true to my to my values. Well, yes fact, you said I've worked too hard for this chance to not be biting the hand that feeds the hate. So have chat to your friends because it's our words that will keep our daughters safe. Definitely. A message there from the fact that it's so uptempo is also one of the things that struck me. That's part of the reason it packs such a wallop. Scared. I actually wrote kind of the music before the lyrics came together and often when I write something that sounds quite pretty or sounds quite and a jetty and upbeat and uplifting. A generally wanna counter that it's heavy lyrics. So I guess that's how it came together. I like creating that contrast. And I mean for me, it's about communication skills. And even just talking to you now if I was yelling at you going. This is what I think. Okay. Blah, blah, blah, you'd be too distracted. By the fact, that I was yelling at you to actually take in what I'm saying. I might be saying something really positive for because I'm yelling, it just doesn't quite get through as easy. So I guess that was my technique of communication and education may be but it's kind of celebrate Ori as well. You know, it's this kind of a way for me to to sing about something heavy, but for the music to kind of cushion that especially playing live every night, it is the bed. There of pleasurable. Sounds. That allows me to kind of see with those lyrics and feel comfortable saying them you touch on a lot of things on the album. I want I want to mention and also I think a number of the songs work on a number of levels. It could be political. But it could be it could be personal. And for example, I wanna play tricks. Like you. You said. I was thinking that this could be about a relationship because a lot of people have had this experience with other person only likes that person to the degree that they're kind of putting on a show or fitting an image. Right. There's even a word for it. Right. Arm candy. What were you thinking about when you when you wrote this? I guess I wanted to create a character again much like old man that is based on sort of many people I've come across over the years, but the really specific picture I have was when I used to play solo cover gigs used to sit in the corner of this bar re Sunday afternoon and sing covers and out. Have these men standing at the bar, and they'd have these tattoos, and it'd be yelling, and and there'd be screaming at me to play case, by coaches. Oh, which was a coach's alert fantastic stroll in rock band. But you know, that that's that's the only song they wanted me to sing. And they wouldn't be happy until I played that song. I I wanted to kind of paint that picture of that character that used to just give me grief every weekend had go back and do the same thing. Both of us. Would you know? It'd just be this groundhog day of heckling. Doc slide up. Job jackson. Congratulations on everything. What's next for you? Well out about to head across to see you. I'm coming over to do a tour around North America and then across to Europe and the UK. So I'm looking forward to it. What do you wanna go out on? Oh, I think I'd like to go out on lunch. It's my probably my favorite song on the record. Cards. See? Yes. See how they stitch? Strives? That was still Donnelly her album beware of the dogs is out now. And as she told us she's just about to head our way on tour, and we'll be looking for her. So still Donald thank you so much for talking. Thank you so much. Would it kill you to? This message comes from NPR sponsor. Comcast business. Business has always been driven by innovators. That's why Comcast business is helping you with technology that provides better experiences. Comcast business beyond fast.

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