5 mins with The Waifs’ Donna Simpson

5 mins with The Waifs’ Donna Simpson

We sat down with singer, songwriter and guitarist Donna Simpson, of The Waifs, ahead of the band’s upcoming Australian tour to talk growing up, why technology has no place in music, and how they made Bob Dylan smile.

By Hannah Doody | 15th September 2015

How did your new album, Beautiful You, come about?
We'd taken a few years off touring because another three baby boys came along and we needed to hunker down a little. We all found ourselves really missing playing music with one another. Vikki had a grand idea that herself, Josh and I would rent a beach shack to write some music together.

How did it feel getting back into writing music again, especially after having some time off?
I actually had songs just floating towards me. I could barely keep up with myself. That's a great feeling after having not played for such a long time. I think the same thing happened with the other two and by the end of the week we had 15 or so songs.

How do you feel looking back on your earlier albums?
This is a great question! A few weeks ago I did a long road trip alone with my kids and all they wanted to hear was every Waifs album we had ever made; it was a real flashback of my life. I was hearing songs that I'd forgotten had ever been written. It sounds corny but I loved hearing the old albums and having flashbacks to travelling days and old loves.

Where do you find inspiration?
In beauty and in hardship. In the little mundane ups and downs. In the backyard, in a friend’s kitchen, driving, definitely when I have some time alone to just be.

You've spent much time in America, how do you find playing to an American audience as opposed to an Australian audience?
American audiences are serious listeners and are incredibly grateful that we keep returning to the USA and playing for them. Australian audiences want to dance more and feel it and party with The Waifs and have a great night out at the pub and sing along...

Career highlight?
There have been so so many! The crazy people we meet on the road who take us to their favourite swimming hole. But, as far as stage stuff goes, the most thrilling moment was when Bob Dylan sat side of stage and watched our whole gig with a wee smile on his face!

How have you adapted to changes in technology and tastes?
We haven't. As a band we've never been about pushing boundaries or breaking ground. We write and record our songs as they come to us, as we like to hear them. We rarely make a video clip and technology has no real place in my life when it comes to music. No iPods, no computers - I only listen to music on records. Boring? Or organic?

How do you balance work and personal life?
It's been tough. I have two babies and an older boy. My partner is a stonemason and loves his work. We are often finding Au pairs from overseas to move into the house and juggle my home life whilst I'm away, but the best thing is taking the kids on the road with us.

What can we expect from your upcoming Australian tour?
We’re going to play some music, have some fun and share the new songs. We have been secretly revisiting some old B-side tunes that never get played live on stage. I'm really looking forward to the more regional towns we will visit in Australia. Places that we haven't played for years. Travelling around Australia playing music? It can't get much better than that.

Catch The Waifs on their Beautiful You tour at the Triffid on Wednesday 14 October. Grab your tickets here.

THE HOMEBODY ISSUE

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Article by Hannah Doody

Hannah is a former journalist at Style Magazines. When she is not exploring new parts of the world, you will find her at music festivals, or on her eternal quest for the best breakfast in Brisbane.

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