Image Description: The band Dulcie, made up of Ashleigh Carr-White, Saskia Brittain, Timieka Denton and Madison Hanley, sitting on a bridge in Kings Park.
By Lachlan Hardman
Two and a half years ago, if you heard someone mention the name ‘Dulcie’, chances are they wouldn’t be referring to the Perth-based indie-pop all-girl band, because they didn’t exist.
Fast-forward to today and Dulcie are one of the most exciting emerging musical groups in the country. With their smooth melodies and masterfully arranged harmonies, uncanny love of sunflowers and a seemingly unbreakable positivity, the four-piece have made appearances at BIGSOUND, Grooving the Moo, Laneway Festival and are now supporting Triple J Hottest 100 winners Ocean Alley on their 2020 Australian tour in May. With the next twelve months only looking bigger and brighter, Lachlan Hardman sat down with guitarist/vocalist Saskia Brittain and keyboardist/vocalist Ashleigh Carr-White to talk about writing music, rollerblades and the importance of the Nike motto in everyday life.
Lachlan Hardman: How would you describe Dulcie in 5 words?
Ashleigh Carr-White: Oh god… fun, happy, sunflower, lucky, flowers, clothes. You can choose five from those!
LH: Where did the name come from?
ACW: We were starting a band and around the time we hadn’t got a name, we were just jamming a bit. I was talking to my mum one day and she was telling me about my great-grandma and her name was Dulcie. I’d never really heard of her before, but she used to love singing. I have a lot of her cassettes at home and she’s a beautiful singer! It was cool because I didn’t know anyone else in my family who loved music, so I was like oh ‘Dulcie’ that’s a cool name and you don’t really hear that name these days- it’s a pretty old-fashioned name. We had a gig coming up and I was like, “do we want to call ourselves Dulcie” and we we’re like “ok!”.
LH: How do you go about writing a song?
Sasika Brittain: Well Ash is really good at writing songs, she’s the best, it just comes so naturally to her.
SB: But it could be like I come up with a little riff, bring it to the girls and we all work on it together, or Ash has like a full song and we’re like “sick, we’ll go with that and work with the whole song”.
ACW: I guess I usually improvise on the piano and improvise words over the top of it and when something sticks, I pause the voice memo, listen back to it and start that process again with that idea. If I have a song, I’ll bring it the band and it usually changes quite a bit because we all add all our ideas onto it, we rearrange it.
SB: We all know where we want it to go which makes it easy for us to get it to work.
LH: You don’t hear of many bands with multiple vocalists, but it seems to have worked for you!
ACW: At the very start we had a gig coming up and everyone was like, “Ash you should just sing it,” because I’d written most of the songs at the time. And I was like, “I can but we can all sing, should we do three vocalists?” And we had this gig at the 459 I think, and we were like “yeah let’s do it, see what happens, and it was just such a good response!” And I could not imagine now being the only solo vocalist, that’s like my worst nightmare, I love the fact that we all sing different songs and we all do harmonies.
SB: It takes so much pressure off.
ACW: I think It’s cool because we’re all songwriters too and if someone writes a song that is personal to them then it is so much more meaningful if they sing it then if you sing it.
LH: What is the strangest thing that has happened to you at a show?
ACW: It was pretty strange at our first single launch when people were singing along to our single, that was one of the strangest things, it was like “what?! How do you know these words, you actually listen to our songs?”
LH: Apart from music, when are you all at your happiest?
SB: I’m generally a really happy person. I think we’re all quite happy people
LH: You come across as a pretty happy band.
ACW: I have a thing that I love to do at the moment. I go to Hyde park really early in the morning and I roller-skate around the park and then I have a coffee and read my book at this little caravan coffee van that’s on the river. That is definitely a happy place. But the other day I stacked it so bad, I was by myself and I stacked it and it was not a happy place.
SB: I’m a very social person. I feel like I’m at my happiest with my friends. I’m always with the Dulcie girls or I’m at a friend’s house. I don’t like spending time alone.
LH: How do you feel about going on tour with Ocean Alley?
SB: To be honest I don’t know how to feel. Originally Psychedelic Porn Crumpets got the tour before us first, who are also managed by Murray (our manager). They were looking for an opener and Murray said, “I’ve got another band; you should check them out”.
ACW: We’re so lucky, we’ve always wanted to do something with them. It was cool because a little while before that they’d chosen us as one of their picks for the Hottest 100 and that was like “what the heck, they know who we are, that’s crazy!”
SB: We’re so grateful, it’s ridiculous.
LH: What would your dream collaboration with any artist, dead or alive be? (apart from dare I say, Ocean Alley)
SB: An artist that would suit us would be like, AURORA.
ACW: I got to meet her at GTM and I’m in love with her, she’s so peaceful.
SB: Chilli Peppers are always gonna be the band that I’d just love to do something with. I reckon Maddy would choose Gang of Youths, for us to do back-up singing, that would be sick.
ACW: There’s just so many artists that we love. Lots of different music tastes. All of us are different but we have some similarities too.
LH: You’re on a desert island and you can only have three records with you, what would they be?
SB: One of these Night, Eagles, I’m With you, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and the Dire Straights self-titled album.
ACW: I don’t know right now, I have been cranking Someone you Love, Lewis Capaldi.
SB: You do like So Fresh 2019.
ACW: Oh yeah, So Fresh, just a mixture of everybody! When I was getting into music, I loved Odette, so probably that album. Chiaroscuro, Ocean Alley. There’s also this album, Wide Open Spaces by the Dixie Chicks. It’s like straight up-country music but it’s what I’ve loved since I was a kid.
LH: What advice would you give to new bands starting out the local scene in Perth, and around the country? Do you just have to have the magic, or is there more to it than that?
SB: Just do it!
ACW: I would also say go to heaps of gigs and try to meet as many people as you can and make friends with people in the scene. The only reason why we started getting gigs was literally because of our friends.
SB: Bands like Woolly Mammoth, Great Gable, they got us started.
ACW: And just put yourself out there. I remember when I was first at WAAPA I did lots of open mic nights in the city and there’d be like no one there. But making those connections and learning to just do it even if no one’s there, you’re still getting that experience.
SB: Yeah, and I think it’s a thing of self-confidence, don’t ever think you’re not good enough. Like we don’t know any technical stuff, we all learnt by ear with our instruments, and I think it’s just from the heart. I think if you really love something you should just definitely do it, any art form.
ACW: Even if it doesn’t go anywhere, you’re still gonna have so many incredible experiences, you’re gonna grow so much from just giving it a go.
LH: What’s the dream for Dulcie?
SB: It’s a hard one because everyone is like “I wanna be massive” but I feel like my dream isn’t to be huge. I just want to be able to have a stable, steady life, just having money and being able to play to people around Australia and have a good run at music in my lifetime.
ACW: We’d love to do this full-time. But I feel like we’re already living the dream, getting all these opportunities.
SB: If this peters out after the Ocean Alley tour, completely fine with me, we’ve done so much.
ACW: It would be crazy to think though that a song you wrote in your bedroom, someone in Japan or something knows all the words to it. That’s just crazy how music can do that.
SB: Yeah, it’s the only way universal way that people can communicate.
Catch Dulcie on March 20 at the Rosemount as part of their national headline tour before they set off with Ocean Alley in May.
Image courtesy of Triple J.