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Thanks to having met Carus earlier in the year, I managed to get him to answer some questions. They were relatively difficult questions to answer, particularly because they relied on him to give his opinion on Music Industry issues and businesses, however it was quite insightful. Here it is below:

1. How would you describe the musical culture you’re part of? Nationally and internationally…

In Australia it’s the “roots” scene. Overseas it’s the “Folk” or “Singer-songwriter” scene. I prefer the way it’s described overseas as I think it’s a better interpretation of what I do, but in the end it’s only names.

2. What does it mean to you to be an independent artist?
It means that you have to tour to get your music heard. It’s very hard to use the mainstream media of radio, print and TV etc. There are the lucky stories but for most of us it just means working your arse off and winning over your fan base one by one, in small gigs from cafes to bars, to house concerts… where ever. Though I do think you end up with a really loyal audience.

3. Have you had offers from labels to sign you? If so, what was it that made you turn these opportunities down?
I’ve never had offers. Labels seem to want to have something that is ready made and already has a PR spin working or a vibe happening. They don’t seem to want to build something.. or at least not with me. I would be very interested in a label as I know how hard it is to get the tracking you need as an independent artist. There’s a weight that comes with being signed to a major label. It opens doors and creates opportunities. As an independent artist you just have to get in line with the twenty other million independent artists.

4. Was it always an ambition from a young age to maintain your independence as a musician?

No not at all. It just worked out this way. I have not made a conscious decision to be independent. I just have never had the offers. Though I have made a conscious decision to not sit around waiting for a label to knock on my door. I made the decision to do it myself. If someone comes knocking I’d be keen. But I think those days are past… or if they do come knocking it’ll only be at the point when I don’t need them anyway.

5. I think you’re the hardest damn working Australian musician I know – however, even though you’ve done everything right by aligning yourself with other roots, acoustic and blues orientated musicians such as Xavier Rudd, Jack Johnson and John Butler Trio, as well as with industry professionals and have developed a massive following, in my opinion you still don’t have the same commercial hype that these artists do. Do you aspire to have the same “commercial hype” and is the only way this would be achieved be by signing a contract with a label?

This stuff only comes by signing to a label. In fact John Butler is signed to a major label overseas,, though he is independent in Australia. I’ve never had the machine behind me. It’s just been me, I’ve never had a manager or a big agency, what you see is what you get. If I’d had more help I’m sure I could have had a lot more success. But I’m past that point of worrying about that now. I think you can see exactly the difference between someone doing it small time off their own back like me and someone with the backing of a major label. Pete Murray and I both started at the same time. Pete has definitely written some great pop hits, though I’m sure that some of my songs could have been pretty successful given a chance. Pete’s had deserved success and worked his arse off too. But Sony can really give things a kick along!

6 The latest album in particular, ‘Caravan’ has a strong studio sound in comparison to previous releases – did you ever feel as if this was going against your musical roots, particularly considering Live at The Norfolk is still such a popular release?

Not at all. I don’t like Live albums myself, I can’t listen to Norfolk as it’s too much like a gig for me, though  people really love it. As a recording artist you want to make real “records” and to me that’s studio albums. But of course people will like what they like and a lot of my fans prefer my live stuff. But you can’t please everyone and you can only be true to what you feel. But the CLASSIC albums that have stood the test of time are all studio records. This is what making albums is albeit.

7. Have you ever felt obliged to conform to Australian and International music standards in terms of sound and overall appeal?

Not at all.. I just make the music I want to make.

8. In your eyes, what role does Triple J play in the Australian music market?

They control and dictate what is successful in the market. If something is flogged on Triple J then the commercial stations will pick it up and get behind it. Look at Mumford and Sons. So they see themselves as taste makers, but you play anything often enough and people will love it. I would prefer to see Triple J playing more variety and giving more artist exposure.

9. Are Triple J perhaps becoming too commercial for their original purposes of finding new, unsigned, raw Australian music? How has this changed from your early days as a musician?

Triple J create people. The make an act. Then that act goes on to get played on a commercial station, cross over in the mainstream and not need Triple J’s support anymore. What’s the point of that! Triple J are just sorting through the acts and making it easier for the commercial stations to pick whats going to be a hit. Triple J should be more like  a community radio station like Triple R or PBS – playing a broad cross section of music, and providing a platform for us hard woking Australian musicians to get our music out there. I pull people to shows all over the country, I have a loyal fan base around Australia, but do I get a look in at Triple J? They’re too busy playing the new Foo Fighters album, or Mumford and Songs. These bands don’t need Triple J’s help. they’re already there.

10. Is there still a pub rock scene in Australia? Is it still a vital arena for finding and developing new talent?

There is still a great live music scene in Australia, and its still a great place for talent to develop and build a crowd. It would also be a great place for labels to find talent but they don’t seem to place any importance of the ability of a band to put on a good show. The punters still know that it matters though. Hence I have a career!

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