While in Brisbane earlier this year, Melbourne singer/songwriter Catherine Traicos managed to find beauty and hope in amongst the devastation and despair caused by the worst floods in recent memory and also found the inspiration and title for her latest record Gloriosa.
“Everywhere I went I just saw, it was actually quite amazing, there was a whole lot of like mud and dirt, you could see where the water levels had risen up buildings and stuff,” she remembers. “And then there was just like, out of the mud, there would be beautiful flowers, fully grown flowers not just like green little shoots, they were just flowers and it was amazing; I was just entranced.”
“I saw the flame lily which is the gloriosa and it really resonated with me because it’s a flower from my childhood,” she continues. “I grew up in Zimbabwe and it’s the national flower. So I thought about calling the album the flame lily and I mentioned it to a friend and he looked it up and said, ‘Well, you know the Latin name is gloriosa. And I thought that’s such a beautiful word and I just kept thinking about it and how like the whole state of Brisbane after the floods kind of mirrored my own experience. Like when you write a song you make sense out of all the mess that’s around you and I thought about my friend Jacqui who said: you can always create something beautiful out of something terrible, just remember that.”
Gloriosa has a real old world charm to it. It sees Traicos and her band, The Starry Night, delve into alt country territory, with moments of blues, folk and roots and will also see the album receive a release on vinyl. “They’re the kind of songs that require a bit more engagement from the listener and you get that when you listen to vinyl because it’s a whole other experience,” she explains. “You know, you’re required to pay attention and then turn the record over and if there’s any dust on it you have to clean it,” she laughs.
Traicos enlisted the services of 5-time Aria-award-winning producer Paul McKercher, someone she cannot praise highly enough. “Working with him made it very real for me; that you can do music with your life, you can make a living out of music,” she says. “It takes a lot of hard work and it will probably take a long time and it might put your relationships under stress because you can only really maintain one or two good relationships if you devote that much of yourself to music, so yeah but it is possible and that’s fantastic.”
New backing band The Starry Night also proved to be an important addition during the recording process and had a significant input on the songs that made the record. “You know, there was a song where I thought we may as well play this for a B side, the band just took it and made it this awesome song and it’s on the album now.”
In support of Gloriosa, Traicos and band are loading into a van and hitting the highway for an extensive tour of the country, something that they are more than used to these days. “I think once you’ve toured a few times and you’re aware of what’s in store for you; like late nights, early mornings, really horrible accommodation and sore feet!’ she laughs. “You know you just start like to focus on the good stuff and just go well it’s not going to be bad it’s going to be awesome.”
Catherine Traicos & The Starry Night are touring Gloriosa throughout July and August, playing their only Victorian show at The Evelyn on Saturday July 16 with The Holy Sea and Footy. Gloriosa is available now through An Ocean Awaits Records.