At the heart of most tragedies lies a catharsis, a window for us to delve deep and discover our greatness. For Melbourne artist Mietta, Gone is an explosive and captivating reflection of her recent emotional journey. If you listen closely to the lyrics, "can't find my way back home again", "start from scratch, there's no turning back" you'll be plunged into another world - a place Mietta has been building for awhile and is now ready to present to Australian audiences. Her debut album the fittingly titled A Mad Distance, will be launched at The Spotted Mallard in Melbourne on Thursday 31 July, with shows in Ballarat and Sydney to follow.
Melburnian audiences are in for a real treat, as this enchanting former ballet-dancer will not only take to the stage with the acclaimed flamenco-guitarist Nathan Slater - the linchpin of this album, but a full ensemble of twenty-five musicians, which includes a ten piece chamber orchestra and full rhythm section. It's an exciting time for Mietta, not only is she praying her 'hideous cough' holds out, but it's her dream come true, 'we are just so lucky Melbourne is packed to the rafters with the most incredible musicians, and I can safely say we have some of the best in town.'
Ballarat and Sydney audiences will experience a stripped back version with a six-piece band, but this production is a labour of love of all the way, 'you can pay people to do things, but when they do it because they genuinely care - it is a totally different thing, it pushes everything up to a higher place.'
Following the recent loss of her mother and a failed relationship, 'I had a totally broken heart', A Mad Distance traces the transient and gypsyesque lifestyle Mietta or 'Mimi' to family and friends (her sister couldn't pronounce the Italian name 'Mietta' and 'Mimi has been her moniker since childhood), found herself in. Being displaced after having to leave the family home her Italian mother and Australian father resided in, Mietta found herself at her zia's (mother's sister) home in Sydney, 'she said we'll work it out. I was in a total state of not knowing what the hell was going on in my life', going from 'country to country, place to place, shared house to shared house. I did that on purpose, I was not ready to settle.'
A six month stint of living in Spain really catapulted her love of flamenco and Spanish style of musical storytelling, 'songwriting has always been for me… I didn't realise how much until I had to do it... a way of dealing and processing grief. It really, really helped. People have lots of different ways to channel their emotions and it is a big one for me. I've always identified with the songwriting in flamenco and Brazilian music.'
For Mietta, her deep love of Spanish, Brazilian and Latin American cultures runs farther than her heritage, 'it's not hemmed into those things, it's an unspoken thing, every time I hear that style of music it gives me goosebumps. I want to learn, emulate and understand it. For me it is the magical realism of the music and storytelling it creates.' With an innate desire to understand the evocative Spanish lyrics, Mietta found herself Google translating words to English, 'if you do that to any song, it so unbelievably poetic how it translates "the trees are crying with my love for you" - this is how I want to write my music, [capture] the sentiment of these amazing art forms and transfer it into an English setting, so it's more accessible for an audience I relate to.'
Friend, former housemate and producer Damian Church, was the impetus 'Mimi' needed to break through, 'we were on the couch one night and he said to me, 'you've got two weeks to give me all of your original music, I don't even care if it is on an iPhone or a tape recorder - just give it to me!' You are a really good singer, you've gotta get your music out.' Fellow friend and musician Sam Boon was studying orchestral arrangements at the time, and asked to have a go at arranging some of the songs, 'this has been a platform for Sam - some of the stuff is just breathtaking.' The rest of the band fell into play, 'whatever you do in your life, you just end up falling into circles, because that is what you gravitate towards, if you leave yourself open to meet the right people - people present themselves.'
This culmination of events was a truly a catalyst for Mietta, having loved the album Synchronicity by Sting and the 'unbelievable pieces' of Spanish guitar playing with the Spanish National Orchestra, it crystallised from there, with Mietta enthusiastically claiming, 'I wanna do this, I WANNA do this! I think being naive helped, I was a bit starry-eyed to begin with (puts on a funny voice and mimics herself) "yeah, we are gonna do this with an orchestra - YAY." It was lucky I had no idea how ridiculous financially and logistically it would've been.' Financial constraints have plagued the songstress before, needing to turn down a two-album recording deal in Spain, with a leading record label, 'it was a thirty-five page contract all in Spanish. I paid 800 EUR (over 1100 AUD) to get a bilingual intellectual property lawyer to help out, it still didn't make much sense. I came back to Australia, and it was going to cost 50c per word to do it. In the end I didn't do it and I am grateful, it's given me time to do this album and I would never of been able to do it under the conditions over there.'
Mietta is right in her philosophy that people present themselves at the right time. Still in contact with the supportive Spanish producer, a collaboration may be on the cards off the back of this album, 'I'm in a much better place now, I'm wiser, stronger and street-wise. The lyrics in Gone are some I am the most proud of, that resonate and hold true the strongest - it was me trying to give advice to myself.' It seems that Mietta's mother would be inherently proud of her too. After guiding her teenage daughter to leave the Australian Ballet and audition for the Victorian College of Arts, singing has been Mietta's lifeblood ever since, 'when I got in, I just didn't want to be anywhere else, I've been like that ever since. For the first time this year, I've found my home.'