It takes certain people to help build a community
Kindness is a simple act that comes from the heart, and throughout life you meet those extra special people who exuberate it naturally. Local singer-songwriter Andrea Kirwin is one of those people. Driven with a passion for art and the community, she's filling the township of Nambour with good vibes and helping make it become on of Sunshine Coast's art hubs.
I sit down and chat with Andrea about her music, Nambour, kindness and her lovely little venue Peace Run Records.
Andrea is releasing a new album 'Bloom' on the 1st April and it's one you won't want to miss! It's available fro pre-order here. If you love this read as much as we do and listening to her music, then you have to get your hands on her new album!
Firstly, can you please tell the Boom community a little about yourself?
My name's Andrea Kirwin, I'm an Australian/Fijian singer-songwriter, producer, and founder of my independent record label Peace Run Records founded in 2009 but recently opened up shop in Nambour in September 2020. I now teach music lessons Monday to Friday, mentor emerging artists and produce boutique livestream concerts as well. I have a beautiful fiance, Claire Evelynn and we live in Nambour with Claire's daughter Charlotte and our two Border Collies, Waylan and Teddy.
Can you tell us a little more about Peace Run Records and what happens your venue in Nambour?
Peace Run Records is my independent Record Label that I run from Queen St in Nambour. Since 2015 I've been a full time musician and I've released 5 albums under my label and also offer music lessons, songwriting workshops and more through my Patreon Page, and also boutique livestream concerts such as our most recent show, BLAK:STORY:SONG, a First Nations Livestream Concert, which was co-produced with my friend Deline Briscoe of Gaba Musik. Peace Run Records in Nambour includes Neelam Jyotika, who is my admin Queen, and Teddy, my 5 month old Border Collie who is our mascot and chief cuddly bear.
What inspired you to start something like that?
I love being a part of the Sunshine Coast community! When the entertainment and live music industry shut down in 2020, I turned to Patreon to set up a platform to keep sharing music and started providing Zoom singing, guitar and songwriting lessons. After a few months of struggling on Zoom (the lag is not ideal for singing together) I decided I wanted to expand into a shopfront - and I am so glad I did. Being a part of this community and providing a creative and safe space for children and adults to come and learn music has been very enriching to my life. I've been able to cut back on gigging which, after 5 years of performing on average 300 shows a year, was a refreshing change!
I feel like Nambour is really coming ahead, and now even has quite a cool artsy vibe happening there that’s putting it on the map. What’s your feeling about Nambour and was there a reason you chose to open Peace Run Records there?
You are right in saying Nambour is up and coming. The local entertainment industry has been gathering and there are new music venues on the cusp of opening their doors. Street art projects are being funded and beautification. Lots of musicians are buying houses in Nambour and surrounding suburbs and new shops are opening with a quirky, vintage, artsy feel about them. I was initially looking for a great cafe to open up next to as my first musical experiences were very much intertwined with the cafe culture of Canberra, specifically in Lyneham at the Front cafe and Tilleys circa 2006-08. Coffee, music, conversation, gigs and exclusive parties were what my Uni days were all about, and I'm happy to say those days are returning with the new shop I have in Queen St...it's exciting!
Your latest album is now available for presale and unlike your past solo albums this time you’ve recorded with the Yama-Nui Social Club - Can you tell us who this infamous Social Club is and how it came to be?
I am a big fan of the Buena Vista Social Club, who are a music ensemble from Cuba of some of the golden age players from the 1950s. The idea behind gathering my collective of musicians for my new album project, Bloom, was based around the idea of wanting to record timeless music with that old world big band charm, with friends who I see myself performing with in 50 years time. The band includes Yama-Nui Recording Studio owner OJ Newcomb on Bass, Oj's wife Angela Newcomb on Vocals, Brett Orr on Drums and Keys, Brodie Graham and Tristan Rowley on Electric guitar, Tanja Hafenstein on Percussion and Congas, Zac Hurren on Tenor Saxophone, Lee Hardisty on Tenor Saxophone and Flute, Dyon Tahana on Alto Saxophone, Greg Spence on Flugel, Louise King on Cello, Sarah King on Violin and Viola (Sarah also arranged the String parts), Claire Evelynn on Celtic Harp and finally the Sound Engineer on the record, Paulie B - aka Lord Tanuki on Melodica, Tambourine, Percussion and Electric Guitar. That's alot of people I know! But in the despair of 2020, I wanted to create something absolutely incredible, and I feel like together, we may have created an album that alot of people will enjoy for many years to come....hopefully!
There’s two tracks on the coming album which really stand out to me…
The first one is ‘Firenze’, and after living there for 3 months in 2019, a piece of my heart being stolen by that charming old city forever (I actually cried when I watched your video clip because I was due to return there last year) I wanted to know why you wrote a song about the beautiful Tuscan city?
That is so wonderful you were moved by the video! I travelled to Florence for my younger brother's wedding in 2018 and spent 5 glorious days in the Italian city of Firenze. I was also so moved by the city, with it's ancient buildings, old world charm and vibrant cobblestone streets full of good food, good wine, fashionable people and quaint shops. I could live there! I had to try to capture the feeling of the city in a song, so I could keep the feeling alive and take it with me as a momento. This song was never supposed to be the first single released from the album, but every musician who recorded on the track seemed to add a new exciting flavour - especially the strings arranged by Sarah King. In the final day of working on the track I was sitting back pondering what was still missing from the soundscape we had created and Paulie B picked up his trusty melodica and gave it a honk....I knew in that moment he held the magic key that would weave all the pieces together, and that's why the name is 'Firenze, featuring Lord Tanuki on Melodica'. Paulie B has done a phenomenal job engineering this album. It's the start of a beautiful musical friendship.
The second one is ‘Bloom’, a beautiful gospel style song with many different artists featuring on it, what’s this song about? It always gives me those gospel chills when I hear it.
Ah, the song you are thinking of is 'We Shall Overcome', I used the acapella outro to promote the upcoming album, 'Bloom'. The actual song 'Bloom' was released on my birthday - 14 Jan - and is one of the songs I am most proud of. I've memorised about 4 hours of cover songs to perform at shows when I feel like they will suit the mood, and I've always marvelled at the skill of writers from the 60s and 70s and 90s who were able to completely capture the mood of love in around 3 minutes. Norah Jones, Stan Getz, Otis Redding, Marvin Gay and Eva Cassidy are some of the names that come to mind who have inspired me over the years. Well, 'Bloom' is my entry into this category of short, succinct, beautiful love songs. Have a listen to it and let me know what you think!
Do you have any visions for the future with Peace Run Records you’d like to tell us about? I understand if they’re top secret!
I have so many visions. If I had endless amounts of money I'd buy a double decker bus and offer a boutique livestream portable stage to Festivals such as the Woodford Folk Festival and more. I'd continue to focus on more acoustic solo, duo and trio acts as I love the raw, intimate setting you get with smaller shows. I am passionate about helping other artists so I'd like to start expanding the agency side of Peace Run Records as well and help singer-songwriters connect to venues and events that will amplify their music so they can reach a greater audience. I'm always coming up with ideas about community building projects. We'll see how the next year progresses for us here in QLD and Australia with the current challenges facing the entertainment industry.
Our winter collection is called ‘Kindness’…
How would you define kindness, or what’s your interpretation of kindness?
Kindness is treating others how you would like to be treated. Seeing each other not as enemies but as friends. Kindness to me is the Fijian way of life. It is how I have been predetermined to be. It's in my DNA. I am a smiley Fijian and I'm also quite gullible. This can be a side effect when you are a kind person. But Kindness is also a strength because we have to choose to be kind. And from these choices we can inspire others to be kind. One of my favourite lyrics is from a Fela Kuti song where he says, 'Don't mistake my kindness for weakness'. It's a great song and a true message.
Is there a particular moment of kindness in your life - given, received or even observed - that stands out to you?
When I was 21 at Uni in Canberra, one of my best friend's, Samantha Chapman, gave me a guitar for my 21st birthday. She gave it to me because she knew I had been thinking of playing guitar and believed in my musical talent. She changed my life with her kindness. I'm so grateful for her friendship and although we have grown up and live far away from each other we still try to catch up when we travel close by.
And lastly, what does it mean to live a big, beautiful life?
This one's easy. Tune into how a dog experiences life. Be present. Get out in Nature. Eat delicious food and do the things you love with the people you love!
It's always such a pleasure connecting with Andrea and I can't wait to see what she gifts us with this year... and every other one following it.
More importantly, if you like her music go online and buy an album today, or gift one to a friend.
Artists need our support to survive, and ironically, we need their art to survive ❤️
Pre-order Andrea's new album 'Bloom' HERE.