24 June, 2019Print
Q&A with Clare Bowen
•You’ve often said, having lived and grown up in rural Australia, that music served as your connection to the rest of the world. What was it about the music you were hearing as a child that spoke to you?
Music is a universal language that joins people together. Even if you can’t hear properly, you can feel the beat in your chest. The more music I heard as a child, the more I wanted to use it to give people a sense of belonging.
•Were there any specific lyrics or albums (Paul Simon, Gilbert and Sullivan, Vivaldi, Elvis, Dolly, Springsteen, etc.) that changed your outlook on the rest of the world at a young age?
Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors” I loved because I was different as a child too. Didn’t fit anywhere. But I felt good within my mob, even though we’ve been through a lot and we didn’t have a whole lot for quite a while there. Gilbert and Sullivan is hilarious and wordy. I love words. Elvis did everything everyone else told him not to do. And Paul Simon’s album, Graceland always hits me right in the guts. “Homeless” is an incredible song, it opened my eyes early to how different some people’s lives are to mine.
•What artists shaped you? Who are your favorite artists?
Elton John, Vince Gill, Dolly Parton, Freddie Mercury, Bette Midler, Steve Martin, Buddy Miller, David Bowie, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, Pink, Tim Burton, Danny Elfman, Stephen Sondheim, Johnny Cash, Alicia Keys, Old Crow Medicine Show... and a whole lot more...
•Which song(s) are particularly close to you on the new album and/or ones you feel channel your journey the best?
“Doors and Corridors.” I had a real weird childhood and was exposed to mortality very early on. My parents made my childhood, that could have been just terrifying, into something I wouldn’t change for the world.
“Let It Rain.” Shit happens. You roll with it.
“Warrior” It started with my friends who didn’t make it. Because something that brings people in and holds them tight. Lets them know that whether they believe it or not, their scars - the visible and the invisible - are beautiful. They are badges of honor. And no one is alone.
•What’s the one thing you want people to know about your decision to release your debut album?
That the music has only just begun.
•We know you’re big into cooking and food’s impact on our day-to-day life /mental headspace. How did this passion come about?
My chemotherapy left me with a lot of health issues that no one had a name for until I got to the US. You wouldn’t know it when you look at me, and they’re still figuring it out, but basically I am highly allergic to a lot of food that people eat every day, and am missing a lot of bits. I manage my health with a very strict diet and supplements that took a lot of research to find. I also feel that we need to be as thoughtful as we can in what we take from the Earth. I have trouble with food wastage and cannot stand the concept of factory farming. It is disgusting.
I was a vegetarian for about a decade until my medical team told me that I just don’t have a complete enough system to survive that way. Eating meat is not something I am comfortable with. I do my very best to make sure I know exactly where our animal products come from.
•Do you meal-prep?
Yes, I make huge pots of vegetable and chicken soup and freeze them in portions for the week. Sometimes I can’t eat solid food, so these are a lifesaver.
•Do you follow any particular chefs, food stylists, cooking shows? Do you follow recipes or are you more inclined to experiment with ingredients in the kitchen? Can you share the story behind a favorite dish you actually make and eat at home on a regular basis?
Definitely more inclined to experiment.
I really liked Anthony Bourdain. He was a champion.
The soup thing - both my grandmothers used to make it - beautiful chicken and vegetable, or oxtail soup. It was very much poor man’s food that has now gotten super trendy (the bone broth craze is real, which suits me fine because it means I can get ahold of it in just about every country we are in). But these were ultimate healing foods in my family, and still are. They remind me of being little, and are such a versatile base for other dishes!
•Do you have a favorite food? Restaurant? City to buy food in?
Pho. There is a place called Vui’s in Nashville that Brandon and I love so much that we got them to cater our wedding. It’s all I was able to have that day but it was the absolute best!
•Do you have any memories you could share about food’s importance in your life?
Just sharing meals. My mother is an amazing cook. I really want to write a cookbook with her one day.
•How would you sum up your style? What are some of your favorite clothing brands? Style icons?
Audrey Hepburn, Helena Bonham Carter, Glinda the Good Witch.. Brands... Bonnie Strauss, Spell and the Gypsy Collective, Love Shack Fancy, August’s The Label, This Is The Great, Zimmerman, Levi Strauss, RRL, Free People, Ulla Johnson, Dr. Martens, Imogene and Willie, Helmut Lang, and lots and lots of vintage. There is a tutu problem in our house. My style is mostly comfort based. Some days I look like I fell out of the Dark Crystal, others I probably look either a bit witchy or a bit homeless or a bit like Jim Henson’s creature shop threw up on me. Bedraggled Faerie Chic.
•Gifts, talents, and special skills? Do you collect anything?
Feathers. Crystals. Books. Rescue animals. I knit, ride horses, and wish I had time to do aerial acrobatics.
•What are your passions/hobbies? What do you like to do in your spare time?
Sleep. Think of new ways to make people laugh.
•List your most important possession and why.
My Ruggy. I was wrapped in it when I was born and I still sleep with it. Had it all through living in the hospital. It was the only thing I had that didn’t smell like antiseptic. And my wedding rings. Brandon designed them. These and my Ruggy are the most beautiful things I own. Rose gold and white diamonds - they look like a champagne bubble. I told him he wasn’t allowed to go spending a bomb on a perfect stone though. I’m not perfect. I think the entire concept is daft.
Strength training when I can. The elliptical, yoga, and riding my horses.
•We’ve heard that your homes are both situated on bodies of water. Is this a priority to you?
Yes. I don’t know why, but I start to feel weird when I’m not near water for a long time. Having said that, I am both terrified of, but fascinated by depths. Love heights though. I love climbing trees.
•How would you describe your interior decor?
Dead Rescue Ralph Lauren Whimsical but Might Give You Tetanus Tree House.
•Are you open to talking about your battle with cancer?
•Are there any other causes you’d like to speak to? We know you’re a big advocate for the gay community. Are there specifics you can share there as to what you’d like your role to be for that community going forward?
My godparents are two men who have loved one another for over fifty years. They helped raise me, and I’m so lucky to have them. At least half of my family are members of the LGBTQIA+ family, including myself. I figure if I have this platform, I have to use my powers for good, so I always want to be an advocate and a loving voice to and for the gay community. If I can be a beacon of hope for anyone, I’m happy. When I was little, I was so sick, that I looked like I had AIDS. I remember parents literally pulling their children away from me, and staring. Lots and lots of staring and judgmental comments directed at my parents and me. The only place we didn’t get that was in Kings Cross, Sydney. Dad could walk down the street with me there and instead of stares, the showgirls and drag queens would come out say hello and make me smile. People stared at them too. They knew how it felt not to fit anywhere, so they made damn sure I felt like I fit somewhere. I think I would die of happiness if a drag queen made one of my songs part of her show.
I would also love to be more involved in spreading awareness about our Indigenous community in Australia, and help preserve the language and culture in any way I can. We have the oldest race on the planet here in Australia.
•Who are your heroes outside of music? Why?
Jane Goodall. Terry Pratchett. Roald Dahl. Stephen King. Oprah. Sir Anthony Hopkins. Robin Williams. Emma Thompson. Meryl Streep. Glenn Close. Dustin Hoffman. Heath Ledger. Tom Hanks. Lori McKenna. Pink.
•Any favorite storytellers? Films? Writers? Poets?
Banjo Patterson. Neil Gaiman. Gurrumul. Tolkien. JK Rowling. I love the films Avatar, Paradise Road, The Green Mile, The Dark Crystal, Hook... there are far too many to list.
•Tech essentials? What apps do you use regularly?
Instagram. Apple Watch - mainly the movement app. Apple Music. The Five Minute Journal.
•What are five things that you can’t travel without?
My husband. Comfy clothes. Noise cancelling headphones. Vitamins. Glitter.