A NFSA curator holds a vintage microphone
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Oral History - Musicians

Oral History - Musicians

From punk rockers to pop darlings, these Oral History interviews highlight the depth and diversity of Australian music.

The collection showcases some of the musicians that have featured in the NFSA Oral History program, which collects personal recollections of careers in film, TV, radio or recorded sound. 

 

Les Gock on his favourite work and missing Chokito ad
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NFSA
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Les Gock rose to fame in the Australian band Hush, before making a career as a writer and producer in the advertising world.

Judith Durham, interviewd by Wendy Stapleton
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1362073
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NFSA
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Year

Singer and musician Judith Durham (1943–2022) is best known as the lead vocalist of the 1960s music group, The Seekers – the first Australian band to achieve major chart and sales success in Britain and the United States, selling over 50 million records worldwide. In 2015 Judith was named Victorian of the Year and she recorded an oral history for the NFSA. In this excerpt from her oral history, Judith talks about her early singing ambitions and the moment she joined The Seekers.

Gotye, interviewed by Graham Dodsworth
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1102142
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NFSA
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Year

In this interview recorded for the NFSA's Oral History Program, Wouter ‘Wally’ De Backer, better known as Gotye, briefly outlines his Belgian ancestry, his gradual awareness of his artistic abilities, the formation of Melbourne bands Downstares and The Basics, and his rapid rise to international prominence via a determined internet presence. He describes various musical keyboards, recording software and life experiences that contributed to the creation of his popular state-of-the-art media compositions, as well as some of the strategies utilised to promote his works via the internet, including social media such as YouTube.

Vika Bull, interviewed by Billy Pinnell
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1103217
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NFSA
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Singer, songwriter Vika Bull interviewed by Billy Pinnell in March 2013. Career-to-date interview with singer/songwriter/producer Vika Bull who for more than 30 years has entertained audiences all around the world, performing for six years with her sister Linda in The Black Sorrows and then forging a successful recording/touring career with Linda, releasing eight musically diverse albums. The sisters added their vocal talents to recordings by Paul Kelly, Hunters and Collectors, John Farnham, Noiseworks, Archie Roach, and have shared a stage with Bob Dylan, Joe Cocker, Sting, Billy Joel, and Peter Gabriel, among others. In 2013, Vika performed on stage as the star of `At Last: The Etta James Story', a narrative concert honouring the life of one of the most influential singers of all time.

Renée Geyer Oral History: 'Me and the band, or nothing'
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
751042
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Interview with Renée Geyer, Australian singer, who discusses her life and career with Nick Weare for the National Film and Sound Archive's Oral History Program, recorded on 26 February 2008.

In this excerpt Renée talks about her time with the band Mother Earth and how she often she would turn down record companies because they only wanted her and not the entire band. 

Vic Simms Oral History: The Loner
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
792538
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This audio clip is an excerpt from an oral history interview with Vic Simms, Aboriginal musician and songwriter. He is talking to Brenda Gifford as part of the NFSA First Voices program.

In the early 1970s, while serving a sentence in Bathurst Gaol, Uncle Vic Simms taught himself guitar and wrote 10 heartfelt songs, which he recorded as a demo in his gaol cell. The demo tape found its way to RCA Limited, which orgainsed a mobile studio to be sent to the prison.

The result was Vic’s legendary cult album The Loner, released in 1973. While still in the prison system Vic’s star was rising, and he was allowed out to perform concerts at the newly opened Sydney Opera House, and to tour shopping malls.

Soon however, Vic found himself having to suppress his rise to fame in order to maintain solidarity with his fellow prisoners.

Chris Bailey, interviewed by Iain Shedden
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NFSA ID
1274700
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NFSA
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In this oral history interview excerpt Chris Bailey discusses the very early days of The Saints in Brisbane, Australia. He was interviewed by Iain Shedden in Biggar, Scotland, on 21 October 2014.

Todd Hunter, interviewed by Anthony O'Grady
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1151794
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NFSA
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Todd Hunter is a songwriter and musician known for his involvement in rock band Dragon. He’s also composed hits for other artists and for TV and film.

Todd co-formed Dragon in New Zealand in 1973, playing bass guitar and singing back-up vocals. The band relocated to Sydney in 1975 and soon had hits, including 'April Sun in Cuba’, 'Are You Old Enough?’ and 'Still in Love With You’. By the time of their break-up on New Year’s Eve 1979, Dragon had sold over a million records.

The band reunited in 1982, beginning another seven-year era of hits including 'Rain’, co-written by Todd and his partner, Johanna Pigott. Todd and Johanna also worked together on the soundtrack to the ABC-TV series Sweet and Sour (1984) and co-wrote John Farnham’s hit song 'Age of Reason’.

John Paul Young talks about Strictly Ballroom
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
794555
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Singer John Paul Young talks about re-recording his hit song 'Love is in the Air' for the soundtrack of Strictly Ballroom (1992) and his reaction to seeing footage from the film for the first time.

Nick Weare interviewed John Paul Young for the NFSA's Oral History program in 2009.

Don Walker on why audio tapes should be preserved
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NFSA
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Musician Don Walker (Cold Chisel) on the importance of saving audio tapes, and how he still keeps the handwritten notes where he first captured the ideas for many songs.

Mr Walker recently visited the NFSA office in Sydney, to record an in-depth interview for our Oral History program.

Doc Neeson, interviewed by Anthony O’Grady
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1143909
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NFSA
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Musician Bernard “Doc” Neeson, front man for The Angels, interviewed by music journalist Anthony O’Grady, in August 2013.
Thanks to Albert Music for supporting the production of this interview

Composer Bruce Smeaton on Picnic at Hanging Rock
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
420411
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Composer Bruce Smeaton talks candidly about his musical contribution to Peter Weir's Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975).

At the time of this interview with Peter Beilby and Ivan Hutchinson in 1974–75, Smeaton was in the process of composing what would become the 'Ascent Music' in the film.

Notes by Stephen Groenewegen

Tex Perkins, interviewed by Jen Jewel Brown
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1149793
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NFSA
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Singer, songwriter Tex Perkins interviewed by Jen Jewel Brown in September 2013. Singer, musician and songwriter Greg `Tex' Perkins discusses his early 1980s start in music in Brisbane's Tex Deadly & the Dum Dums and his memories of historic Brisbane venues like Cloudlands. His bands Beasts of Bourbon, Cruel Sea, Thug, Ladyboyz, Tex Don & Charlie and T&T with Tim Rogers are covered, as is his solo work with the Dark Horses. Tex reflects on playing Johnny Cash in the Helpmann-Award-winning `The Man in Black', kicking a footy with the Espy Rockdogs at the Reclink Community Cup and the pitfalls of success. He discusses the evolution of his recording techniques through to the debut album for his latest band at the time of this interview, The Ape.

David Hirschfelder talks Strictly Ballroom
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1063005
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Composer David Hirschfelder talks about his work on the film Strictly Ballroom (1992). 

As well as composing numerous scores for Australian films and TV, David has twice been nominated for Best Original Score at the Oscars (for Shine, 1996 and Elizabeth, 1998). Strictly Ballroom was his first film composing credit.

Graham Dodsworth interviewed David Hirschfelder for the NFSA's Oral History program in 2012.

Johnny Young: Young Talent Time
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
752218
Courtesy:
Johnny Young, Clearvoice Pty Ltd.
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Johnny Young speaks with John Bannister in this excerpt from his 2008 NFSA oral history interview.

He talks about the formula for the show, which included lots of close-ups of the kids and vignettes about their school life, family and interests.

We see this formula in action in clips about the team members' favourite things from 1983, as well as individual pieces about Juanita Coco (1987–88), Beven Addinsall (1983–88) and Lorena Novoa (1984–87, 1988).

Johnny Young had a string of pop hits during the mid-to-late 1960s including a No. 1 hit with 'Step Back' / 'Cara Lyn' (by Johnny Young and Kompany).

He also wrote hits for other artists; 'The Real Thing', recorded by Russell Morris, was named one of the Sounds of Australia by the NFSA in 2013.

Notes by Beth Taylor