December 14, 2014 | Nick Payne

Introducing… Old Sydney Town

The first single off my upcoming debut solo album is done! And you can download it now.

When I started on this journey earlier in the year I had no idea how long it would take to get where I’ve arrived today. The first of twelve songs is recorded, mixed and mastered and I’m sending it out into the world.

The first recording session we did was on Saturday June 21. I’d plan to record three songs, but we only got two done. However, they both sounded fantastic. Old Sydney Town was the second song we did on the day and aswell as the normal Dear Orphans band members, we also had Jenny Shimmin join us on bluegrass banjo for the song. Katie Jane from Golden Whistler came in later to sing some backing vocals.

After lots and lots of listening to what we had I was ready to get it mixed. I took it to Glenn Santry of Heartbeat Studios and we mixed it in one night. Glenn was able to get it sounding great pretty quickly, which is a testament to the skill and performances of the muso’s who played on it. It was also a strong justification for taking the approach of tracking as much of the song as possible ‘live’.

As per my last blog I am giving this song away for immediate download for anyone who wants it. Just click the button below and it will start downloading immediately as an MP3.

Download Old Sydney Town

(It’s also available on iTunes and other digital download sites if you prefer, however, it ain’t free over there).

How I wrote this song

I was inspired to write this song by our old clawhammer banjo player Richard Galluzzi (he’s now the other half of Golden Whistler). I’ve always loved the sound of old-time fiddle tunes and wanted to try something similar using their modal scales. (Without getting too technical – the scale often used in old-time music skips the third note. This is the note that makes a chord major or minor; i.e. happy or sad. Instead the scale kinds of hints at both without settling on one or the other).

Essentially what I did was to try and copy what the banjo would have done, but play it on the guitar. Once I had that lick down it was all about writing lyrics that chanelled the historic feel of the music.

Australia is a great country and I’m pretty passionate about music that captures our own identity and doesn’t just re-use imagery from other countries.

I ended up writing the lyrics and finishing the songs sitting in Old Geehi Hut on the Swampy Plains Creek in the Snowy Mountains. Old Geehi is one of my favourite places in the world and as well as providing the peace and quiet necessary to allow creativity to occur, it also brings it’s own inspiration through it’s sheer beauty and abundant history. Having written the music in an older style, it seemed consistent to write the lyrics about something from the past that captured the endurance through suffering that characterises the lives of the original authors of old-time music.

Australia is a great country and I’m pretty passionate about music that captures our own identity and doesn’t just re-use imagery from other countries. Our history is unique and it shapes our values (both positively and negatively). Too many Australian acts just echo the places and images that come from overseas and when they do try to create something Australian it ends up being jingoistic (hence why ‘Americana’ is cool, but ‘Australiana’ is daggy).

I hope in this song I’ve not only painted an accurate picture of a time and place in our history (arriving as a convict in the colony of Sydney in 1789). I also hope I’ve captured the spirit of endurance that Australians have growing out of the circumstance of hardship from our recent history.

Please download and enjoy. And please pass this song on to others who may enjoy it also.

Many Thanks. Nick

The official credits

Featuring on the song are:

Nick Payne - lead vocals and Martin HD28V
Paul Sun - double bass
Jolyon Gray - dobro
Carlyn Chen - fiddle
And special guest Jenny Shimmin - bluegrass banjo

Recorded by Nick Payne and Lyn Taylor
Mixed and mastered by Glenn Santry at Heartbeat Studios