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2003-03-06: Genevieve Maynard

dB Magazine
by Steve Jones

Stella-One-Eleven producer, guitarist and backing vocalist, Genevieve Maynard's highly emotive debut solo album, 'Ghost Notes', has been favourably compared with works by the likes of Aimee Mann and Evan Dando. Take liberal amounts of acoustic instrumentation, throw in a pinch or two of country singer Lucinda Williams, add some rock and stir lightly with a spoon dipped in Prince (on a more blusey day). Marinate in fair smatterings of electronic sampling and baste with lush, masterful (self) production and serve with a voice that smoothly transports the listener easily between each genre to produce a true culinary delight. In short, a masterpiece.

"That's sounds too much like a bloody dream to me," Maynard enviously sighs after I tell her I spent my morning awaiting her call snoozing and watching 'AAAHH!!! Real Monsters' on video. "I'm sitting here working out bloody financial details, budgets, worksheets, you know? All the stuff that I wanted to get done a week ago and now I'm leaving to go on tour tomorrow." A tour that takes in Adelaide to finally launch 'Ghost Notes' here, despite it being already available in our shops for a few months.

"That was because before it came out I had a band, then I didn't have one," she explains. "So we went ahead with the plans to put it out in November and in order to take the pressure off me with getting another band together, I decided just to do solo shows in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Then go on the road with a band once the whole Christmas thing and all the festivals were finished, so that's why this whole timing thing happened."

Speaking with Maynard, I found her to be friendly, ambitious yet level headed, and to no surprise given the lyrical content of her material, very intelligent. It's by being career focussed and smart, and eclectic to point of being near impossible to pigeonhole, that generates the biggest conundrum. Where to place her - alternative or mainstream? "I'm not putting myself in any kind of basket in terms of indie or commercial," she considers, "but I have to tell you that I was refused a gig at a venue in Melbourne on the basis of my songs being too commercial. Then in Sydney, one of the commercial radio stations that we approached said there was no way that they'd play it because it was too indie. And in Western Australia, I tried to get on a pop festival over there and they said I wasn't pop enough. So of course you bring your own interpretation into it when you listen to music because what one person finds to be commercial or pop or indie is going to be completely different to what anybody else finds. Yes, I want commercial success because I want this to be my job and I want to make a living out of this and I want lots of people to hear my music and enjoy it and to tell me what they find attractive in it, you know? Music is about sharing something, and in order to that you have to get it to as many people as possible.

"I think part of it is a cultural cringe thing too. I don't think Australian mainstream radio realises what bloody fantastic bands there are here, and they think that their listeners are stupid to a certain extent. They don't realise that anything given repetition would become palatable, so I would encourage commercial radio to be a bit more out there and start broadening their horizons."

With admiration aplenty, I congratulate her for being one of those rare artists that can successfully straddle many lines and appeal to many different audiences without ever being too rebellious for her own good, nor ever selling out. By producing an intelligent yet very accessible product, does she think that might have scared some programmers away? "I really don't know. I mean [long pause], possibly. But you know? Alanis Morrisette was grown up and intelligent and also pop, and she got thrashed on the commercial radio stations. And Avril Lavigne, while she's not grown up, she's intelligent. I mean, she writes for a teenage market because she is a teenager, and I'm not anymore. But that's intelligent music when you compare it to stuff like Bardot for example, which I don't consider intelligent purely because it's so manufactured. And as I said before, it's always somebody's personal opinion of what pop, or what music is." I guess one should now judge for themselves, and my money's on that Genevieve Maynard is definitely worth the gamble. So get along to the launch of 'Ghost Notes' and be sure to budget enough for a CD as you leave the venue.

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