By Christine Bowley
When Powderfinger called it quits, Darren Middleton found himself falling down somewhat of an emotional chasm. Having lived the life of a successful muso touring and performing for 19 years, Darren found the transition to a stable, quiet life and a new life direction a difficult one.
He took time off to work out what he wanted to do, dabbling in producing, short film-making and a bit of co-writing.
“Part of that period of time was where I was starting things and not finishing them and it wasn’t really a great time to be around me,” says Darren. “I’d kind of fallen out of love with music and I needed to find my way back into that."
“I looked back at the body of work and the songs and I kind of found that I had a lot of good ideas there I just needed to finish them. I was at a point where I needed to do something."
Then about two years ago, Darren saw Kelly Lane performing with her band Skipping Girl Vinegar at his son’s fete.
“I was looking for someone to work with and then she played violin, which is one of my favourite strings instruments,” says Darren.
“I sort of tracked her down six months ago just to see if she’d be interested in doing some duo stuff and she was. So we got together and we got on really well.”
With Kelly also singing and spending some time on the keyboard, Darren tells us that you can expect to hear a few of your old Powderfinger faves plus a couple of covers.
“I try to keep it fairly spontaneous, so we’ll have to wait and see” he says.
“Musically and personally [Kelly and I] really click. It’s a very personal and very natural kind of arrangement we have, which has proved to be really good. We are kind of working on some new songs at the moment and I’ll probably get Kelly involved in that. We sound good together.”
After being part of Powderfinger for 19 years, Darren finally seems to have found his feet, with the “quieter” life sitting well on him.
“The fingers were always so big you could never hear anyone talking or have any kind of real communication in that sense, so it’s been really nice.
“It’s been really rewarding actually and the gigs in general for me are quite small and quite intimate and chatty, but for the first time in fifteen years I can actually have a conversation with people in the crowd.”
With his first solo album Translations released late last year, Darren initially had a bunch of his friends helping him out with vocals… until they all decided that he should be the lead singer and relegated themselves to backing vocals.
“I am pretty happy with what I can do these days [vocally]. I never used to [consider myself a strong vocalist] but having gone through this kind of thing and doing a bunch of gigs… part of being a lead singer is headspace as much as your physical skills as a singer. You have to step up and have a degree of confidence, not necessarily arrogance, but self-confidence.”
And now, just as the performer feels he’s sufficiently grounded, the Teneriffe Festival will see him perform on a floating stage.
How is he going to get onto this floating stage?
“I’m not sure." he laughs. "I am not sure. We will find out on the night.”
Catch Darren and Kelly Lane Saturday July 5 on the Mirvac River Stage at the Teneriffe Festival, alongside a host of other highly successful Brisbane-based artists with sounds ranging from jazz to roots and alternative pop and indie.
All performances on the day are free of charge making Teneriffe Festival one of the best-value music events in Brisbane. For the complete line up check out the event planner.