The Darjeelings are an all-female four-piece jazz-pop band from the northern Melbourne suburb of Darebin. While attending different schools and juggling their VCE committments, they’ve already released their debut EP. I spoke with vocalist and keyboardist Mairead about FReeZA Battle of the Bands and her feelings on performing for an audience for the first time.
How has FReeZA helped you as a band?
We first got involved with FReeZA last year when we entered the 2011 Darebin FReeZA Battle of the Bands. It was the first gig we played together as a full band and the gig was a great success! It opened many doors for us and since then we’ve networked with lots of other bands. FReeZA have continually provided us with some great gig opportunities after making that connection.
Where does the name Darjeelings come from?
We’re all big Vampire Weekend fans so, the original idea of the name came from one of their lyrics: “English breakfast tastes like Darjeeling”. We’re also pretty big tea drinkers it’s definitely the most pretty and feminine sounding tea… as opposed to – say – lapsang souchong.
You’ve been a band for only a year but have already released your debut EP. What are your goals for the coming year?
All four of us are in Year 11, so the coming year and a bit will pretty much involve getting school out of the way! We’re currently planning our EP launch, which will be part of the Darebin Music Feast and organised by the FReeZA committee in October 2012, and once the school holidays come around we’ll be keen to get back into more frequent gigging. Year 12 next year might mean we have to put The Darjeelings on hold, but after that we’ll be looking into more gigs and maybe some new tunes to record.
How do you find juggling high school with band commitments?
As mentioned above, VCE does make things tricky. We’re also at different schools and scattered around Melbourne. Right now we’ve been a bit too busy to do a whole lot as it comes down to the nitty gritty end of the year but in the lead up to the EP we were working on it and gigging almost every weekend and we spent most of our Term 1 holidays in the studio. Even though it was stressful, being in a band and working on a creative project is a great relief and contrast from school, so it’s ultimately worth the somewhat busy schedule.
What was it like performing as a band in front of a crowd for the first time?
It’s a really unifying and gratifying thing. Although performing as a soloist or even as a duet for the first time and to have it appreciated by a crowd is wonderful, there’s more of a feeling of combined effort, teamwork and achievement. It’s more rewarding when you play as a group for an audience and more fun.
What is one artist or band you’d love to tour with?
Where do you draw the inspiration for your songs from?
Obviously we draw inspiration from the music we like and listen to. Most of our music is about us having fun and (hopefully) by extension the audience. In terms of lyrics it’s a bit of a mixture of personal experience, stories or just things we think sound nice! We inspire each other as well when we come together to work on songs. It’s a fairly collaborative process.
Was a career in music something you all wanted for yourselves?
We’re all pretty happy to see where The Darjeelings takes us. If that happens to be a career, then great! It’s a passion that all of us have, but certainly not the only one. Music is something you can enjoy your whole life, even if you don’t turn it into your career.
What makes the Darjeelings different to anything we’ve heard before?
We’re a girl band! We’re bringing back the girl perspective with four-part harmony pop!
What advice would you have for other high school students wanting to start a band?
Start jamming with your friends first and definitely learn some covers. We found it was so much better that we built up a good setlist, which we rehearsed for a while so we were confident when it came to performing. Take all the opportunities you can because they’ll usually lead to more. The producer of our EP saw us play by chance at a local primary school fete!
Stay up to date with the latest news from The Darjeelings at www.facebook.com/thedarjeelings