At first glance at this article’s title, you probably thought that The Jungle Giants and Lisa Mitchell made for strange bedfellows.
One makes some of the brightest and bounciest Australian indie rock of the last few years, the other usually sings blissfully tender folk; one hails from Brisbane, the other resides in Melbourne’s Inner North. They couldn’t be more different!
And while there were some noticeable contrasts when Tone Deaf got The Jungle Giants and Lisa Mitchell together for an interview – the singer-songwriter is much more fearful of the intense rise of artificial intelligence in the arts, as you’ll find out – they were much more united by their shared qualities: a belief in the importance of hobbies, fondness for the days before Spotify and social media irrevocably changed the musical landscape, and the realisation that music can be many things to someone at once.
The Jungle Giants and Lisa Mitchell are also heading to NSW’s Pambula Beach at the same time this year, with the pair featuring on the Wanderer Festival 2023 lineup alongside Ocean Alley, Kevin Morby, Spiderbait, Django Django, Montaigne and many more.
The boutique music festival will take place on the beautiful Pambula Beach on the weekend of September 29th-October 1st. Tickets are available now via the official website, while you can read The Jungle Giants fascinating conversation with Mitchell below.
Lisa Mitchell interviews The Jungle Giants
Which band/artist do you want to hear do an AI cover of one of your songs? Sorry if that’s a depressing thought.
Not depressing at all, I, for one, welcome our AI overlords. Let’s go with Mozart and Wu-Tang Clan — I’d love to see what AI could do with that prompt.
How are we as songwriters going to be ‘better’ than AI?
I don’t think we are going to be better than AI and that’s fine because there isn’t any music that’s better than any other music. Music colours our world and people will always listen to the songs that have coloured their experiences. That’s why people still listen to Bach and Led Zeppelin and the Jungle Giants. As always, we just have to do what we can.
I’m a bit freaked out about AI… lol. how are you guys feeling about AI and creativity?
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little attacked. I mean, really, we couldn’t have gone after the lawyers first? I also feel like these innovations (drum machines, computers, sequencers) always end up outputting great music, so as a fan, I’m kind of excited. Playing in a four-piece band, I already feel like a bit of a relic of the past, but I kind of like it.
Shall we all make a commune and start growing our own vegetables and making our own butter?
Yes please! From churning hits to churning butter. I’m into it.
But to end on a lighter note, what’s your favourite colour?!!
The Jungle Giants (Andrew Dooris) interview Lisa Mitchell
Hey Lisa! How are you? Just wanted to say I’m looking forward to hanging out with you again at Wanderer Festival. We’ve only met a handful of times but I’ll take the moment now (before getting into the hard-hitting journalism) to say you’ve always been so warm to us and a delight to be around.
That’s so kind. Likewise – always so glad to see your faces at a festival !
How has touring and the music industry at large changed since you first began? I’ve been reminiscing a lot about the pre-Spotify and social media van touring days lately. Tell me a bit about what those days looked like for you.
Oh, this brings up so many fond memories! It’s true isn’t it, for all of us there is a line in the sand, a life before and a life after. And Spotify and social media both changed things so quickly for artists. The Gillian Welch song, “Everything Is Free Now”, sums it up in a way when she sings, “everything I ever done I gotta give it away” – which is true for the selling albums side of income, but of course we have intellectual property through songwriting royalties, so really there can still be income through advert syncs or films.
Social media feels both connective and yet broken at the same time. I think it ‘worked’ for artists for a while in the sense that I felt like I was reaching my audience (2015-2016?) and I worked really hard to create content and share heartfelt posts, and I felt like I resonated with the space and my community there. But now, and perhaps this is really negative but I feel like it feels so fractured, I know that I don’t see accounts post who I actually want to see, so I know that the people who I want to connect with probably don’t see mine either.
Which weakens the community and the potential for meaningful togetherness. Unless you’re in a bikini or it’s a meme or you’re getting married or you’re pregnant it feels like the reach is so much less. Now Instagram feels like just one part of connecting with my audience but not the most important part.
I’ve recently taken up snorkelling with my girlfriend Ash — we go to Rickett’s Point most weekends when the weather’s okay. At the same time, I know next to nothing about the hobby or about marine life. Do you have any hobbies or habits you just enjoy simply, without getting nerdy or obsessive?
That sounds like such a lovely way to spend time together! Heaven. And yes, I hear you that it’s probably extra relaxing because you’re not nerding out about the names of the fish and the history of snorkelling. I have a seven month old baby called Cadence, who is incredible, and to be honest I’m not doing much else, but in the mornings I’ve started going for little joy rides on my bike by myself (!) when Danny takes him for a few hours, if I’m not asleep.
I just go wherever the wind takes me around the Inner North in Melbourne where I live and have a coffee somewhere. It connects me to the magic of this city, the Amsterdam-ness, the grit, the bluestone – and I’m at no risk of overthinking it, I have no idea what the model of bike is – it’s red.
What are your top three condiments? The more specific the better — I want brand names. I’ll also accept sauces from meals out.
This is making me hungry! I’ve never been so hungry since starting to breastfeed. My latest fave condiment is Spiral Umeboshi plum vinegar (I put it on everything!), Heinz organic tomato sauce, and I love good old Tamari (Spiral brand!).
How has your relationship to music changed? Music has always been a friend to me, but like more tangible friendships, the nature of our friendship has changed continually — sometimes it’s my teacher, my rock, or even absent.
I love that – your rock, your teacher, and sometimes it’s absent. I relate. I was curious about how my relationship to music would be when I was pregnant and then being a mother… I guess making a human inside your own body is pretty much the act of creation itself – haha – so I have been trying to take that into account.
I was really into Qi Gong in my pregnancy and wasn’t writing much, it was such a time of embodiment and getting out of the mind in preparation for birth. We had Cadence at home with our midwives and I don’t think I’ve ever felt so proud of myself – haha!
After bub came I was just in survival mode (eat, sleep, feed on repeat) for months, but I remember around four months starting to feel very different in a good way and these creative sparks started visiting me again… I started properly writing a song two weeks ago, and it’s been the best feeling. It feels like such a delicious cryptic crossword that I get to trot off and whittle away at when bub is asleep or with Danny or my Mum.
What’s a small daily habit or practice that created a paradigm shift in the way you see the world? I’ll give an example – after working in a cafe, I instinctually wash, clean, and dry a knife immediately after use. This small habit reinforced a ‘get shit when you see it’ attitude that’s followed on in ways I couldn’t have anticipated.
I love that! I feel like since having a little barnacle attached to me my usual control over my world has been greatly diminished. For me, so much of this time has been a gradual acceptance of chaos in the name of Cadence. I used to make my bed every morning as soon as I woke up, now it’s more things like having a shower. Humbling! But makes me really appreciate showers.
Thanks for your thoughtful questions, really enjoyed them. See you and the band later in the year, can’t wait!