Gretta Ziller has already generated a great deal of critical and industry acclaim in the 2013 Telstra Road to Discovery Grand Finals at the Tamworth Country Music Festival, as well as her 2013 TSA/APRA New Songwriter of the Year award. Now she has released her debut EP Hell’s Half Acre which captures the essence and graceful Americana beauty of her songwriting and voice.
Gretta was kind enough to answer some questions for our regular Six Strings Q&A where she discusses the violin, Jim Lauderdale and her future plans:
What was the album that first led you down the dusty path of Americana music?
Hmm… I do feel like I took my time getting to Americana. The first time I really heard country music was when I “borrowed” my sisters Garth Brooks Double Live album. Once I found country music my tastes evolved I discovered more and more artists I liked, I joined an old-time/bluegrass band, and when I started song writing I was listening to singer/songwriters like Jim Lauderdale, Buddy & Julie Miller, Steve Earle, Gillian Welch & Dave Rawlings… from then on it was a big snowball!
What’s been a favourite gig you’ve played and why?
I think that would have to be the 2013 Telstra Road to Discovery final. It was at the Tamworth Regional Arts Centre, the Musical Director was Glen Hannah and the band was just amazing! We had one rehearsal and I was grinning like an absolute fool the whole time … it was awesome, they ran through ‘Hell’s Half Acre’ once and just nailed it. I would have said the rehearsal was my favourite gig … but technically it’s not a gig!
How did you learn to play your instrument?
My first instrument was the Violin, my Grandmother got me learning when I was about three and it’s an instrument I still play today … but not in front of anyone any more … I’m woeful!!!
I taught myself to play guitar, God bless YouTube!! I remember the first time I sang live playing guitar, it was at the Kinross Woodshed Albury open mic night, I made Kane Harrison (Nashville based singer/songwriter) come up and play with me… I was terrible and scared out of my socks!
If you could sit-in with one other musician (living or dead) who would it be?
Jim Lauderdale, I just love the way he writes, the way he forms a phrase both vocally and lyrically, it’s genius!
Do you feel there is a strong folk/country music community in Australia?
Hells yes!! I do however think its at a funny place, I mean people will go out to gigs and buy CD’s and Independent artists can have strong followings and earn a living from it. But then on the other hand I’ve heard comments from industry professionals (I’ll stay very vague here!) saying that folk/Americana genres aren’t going anywhere in Australia. I guess if we all keep pushing for it the “higher ups” will eventually get it … or not … what do they know!
What is your favourite Americana release so far this year?
Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds In Country Music … its just damn cool. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Tom E Lewis’ Beneath the Sun, he’s kinda folk/rock but I am really loving his sound too.
What are your aspirations over the next 12 months?
My big goal is to get to the 2015 Americana Festival, but between now and then I really want to gig a lot, maybe do some small tours to NSW, SA maybe QLD, if they’ll have me!