Keeping it real in our City

Kav Temperley - Looking forward and thinking back

I’ll let you into a little secret, but only if you promise not to tell the teen hipsters with their lustrous beards and youthful naivety: getting older is kinda cool. I’m serious. Once you get past 30 – or thereabouts – life starts to make a bit more sense, and that earnest eagerness to please gets replaced with kick-arse self-assurance and confidence. Perhaps it’s something that comes with life experience, and a changing list of priorities. But honestly, take it from me, and from singer-songwriter Kav Temperley: old(er) is good(er).

It was weird meeting Kav. Or rather, it was weird meeting Kav again. I interviewed Eskimo Joe around the time they won the National Campus Band Competition, back in – ahem – 1997. I’m not great with maths, but I think that works out as nearly 20 years ago. I remember the three guys being bouncy and sweet and enthusiastic, as well as being incredibly clued up about music. You got the feeling – even back then, right at the very, very beginning of their career, when they were armed with just a few catchy pop songs and a healthy dose of youthful exuberance – that they had the potential to follow in Jebediah’s footsteps, and maybe – just maybe – become one of the biggest local bands in WA’s – maybe even Australia’s – history. It’s easy to say in retrospect, of course, but I dunno, Eskimo Joe were rockstars from their inception.

Two decades on, with Kav on the verge of releasing his very first solo EP, we met up again, at The Flying Scotsman in Mt Lawley. In-between reminiscing about the golden days of Perth’s DIY local music scene – the Grosvenor Back Room! Planet Nightclub! – we had a chat about getting older, and shifting priorities.

“Around three years ago, I clocked that Eskimo Joe were coming out of a couple of contracts, and it was the perfect time for me to do a solo record, which I’ve always wanted to do,” Kav told me.

I’m proud of Eskimo Joe’s music, don’t get me wrong, but I wanted to be a bit more dangerous, so I wrote and wrote and wrote until I ended up with these four songs on Hope St.

“With creativity, I think it’s vital to continuously put yourself in a situation where it’s a bit dangerous and a bit scary. I recorded this EP myself, in my back shed, and then worked with a guy who I connected with.

“There’s nothing corporate about it; it’s literally me just putting myself out there –completely naked and without armour.”

For Kav to describe his solo venture as scary makes perfect sense – for the past 19 years he’s been in a gang called Eskimo Joe, with his best mates to prop him up and catch him when he stumbles.

“Even though I generally write the songs in the band, we workshop them until they’re Eskimo Joe songs. I essentially approached this EP in the same way, except I just did the workshopping myself,” he laughed.

As a result, Hope St is a more personal record, reminiscent of the introspective singer-songwriters of the 1970s: think Lou Reed, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen.

“With the solo record, I got a lot more personal. I didn’t want it to be all ‘dear diary’ – and I still had to respect the form and function of song-writing – but I had to make it more about me.

“I would’ve been letting myself down if I hadn’t been a bit braver and a bit more open. While I didn’t want to unload my baggage, I did want to be more introspective.

“I still want to write songs that everyone can relate to, but I also like the point where I am with my life. I’ve been married, I’m divorced now, I have children; I’m writing from the perspective of a person who’s had a story and is starting a new story.”

Kav’s also at the stage of his career – and his life – where he doesn’t take himself quite so seriously. He’s doing this EP for the love of songwriting, rather than aspirations to rock-stardom.

I would’ve been letting myself down if I hadn’t been a bit braver and a bit more open. While I didn’t want to unload my baggage, I did want to be more introspective.

“Doing the solo thing has really given me a licence to look back on the Eskimo Joe stuff and not take it so seriously,” he said. “I felt with Eskimo Joe it had got to a point where we’d backed ourselves into a corner. We were ultra-analytical about everything that we did, so for me, my solo stuff was about me reclaiming my music again, and making the stuff that I’d like to listen to, and not taking it quite so seriously.

“I’m proud of Eskimo Joe’s music, don’t get me wrong, but I wanted to be a bit more dangerous, so I wrote and wrote and wrote until I ended up with these four songs on Hope St.”

Hope St is the first of four solo EPs for Kav, which will be released individually online and eventually as a complete album, forming something of a coherent narrative.

“The idea is that I’ll put out an EP, tour it, come home, record the next EP and so on. Eventually, we’ll put it all together and release a physical album.”

The first EP is Kav’s wish to the universe. “It’s this wish of where I want to be, who I want to be, who I want in my life – it’s a new way of moving forward.”

The next EP is titled Summer of Descent, and is about the past and what led up to this moment in time. Third comes Sober, which is about having a sober headspace and moving forward. The final EP is Devotion, which describes the next phase of moving forward.

“The whole idea of this is to do something different and see what happens,” Kav told me, as we finished our drinks and said our goodbyes. “I’m doing it for the total love of doing something that I want to do.

“For better or for worse, whenever you do stuff that you really want to do, and that you really love and want to listen to, people respond in kindness.”

Lisa Shearon

Man, it’s hard introducing yourself – especially when you wear a few different hats. I DON’T MEAN THAT LITERALLY; that would be weird and require more balance than I am naturally blessed with.

What I’m trying to say, in my usual roundabout way, is that my name is Lisa, and I’m different things to different people. I’m a mum and a coffee snob and a writer and a grammar nerd and an exercise enthusiast. I like nice cafés, good music, Oxford commas, and biscuits.

Once upon a time, I was a journalist. Not a particularly glamorous one, or even a particularly well-paid one, but a journalist, nonetheless, working in London. Then, 10.5 years ago, I quit my job. I quit my city. I took up a new role, in a new city. I became a suburban Perth mum. It was quite the sea-change. Over the last decade I’ve had two more children, while trying to maintain some semblance of a career, albeit at home, in my pyjamas, with snot on my dressing gown. I’ve worked as a freelance writer and editor for the past decade, all from home, and all while juggling small people, cornflakes and coffee.

This, understandably, resulted in a blog, which I began writing around two years ago. My blog quickly became my therapy and – for reasons that I still can’t quite fathom – therapy for other mothers too, who seem to take heart in the fact that there’s someone else out there getting it all wrong, too. That blog is called The Notorious MUM, and it’s kinda cool, and a little bit sweary, and very honest. If you’re into that kind of thing, you’re welcome to pop over and say hello.

I love this ‘hood, and I’m so excited to be sharing it with the community via Perth Happenings. But mainly I’m just happy to be out of the house. Nice to meet you!