Singer-songwriter Riley Catherall is a crooning, velvet voice in Melbourne's exciting alt-country scene, bringing visions of bush, grass, and roads to the bustling inner-city. But the groundwork of his career was first laid in the studios and classrooms of a Collarts campus in the Music Performance course, and with new single 'Leave Me Out To Dry' on the horizon, Riley joined us for a quick chat on his passion for the Americana sound, his time at Collarts, and more.
Have you always been destined for a life in music?
I’m fortunate in the sense that my parents were super supportive of my choice to pursue music throughout my entire upbringing. Dad used to play guitar and mum was a piano teacher, so I took to the life pretty early on. I owe my influences to them as well as my show-and-tell antics throughout primary school taking Slim Dusty songs I had learnt in to sing to the class.
Why did you choose Collarts?
I’d actually already studied at a couple of different arts schools when I decided to study at Collarts. I think what really drew me in was the focus on contemporary music and industry experience-based learning, compared to other universities.
What kind of headspace were you in when you wrote 'Leave Me Out To Dry'?
Funnily enough, this song was written very quickly which is rare for me. I think it was because it was about a state I was in a few years ago, and I've since detached myself from it enough to write objectively. But it was a reflection on a point where I may have indulged a little too much in things you should have in moderation, and the relevant aftermath of realising that it’s not good for anyone.
How do you hope people feel when they listen to this new track?
I hope they enjoy it: I hope there’s a recognition on the angle we took in trying to record it. I never want to make a “polished” track, but rather something that’s tarnished and rough enough to carry the true weight of the song.
You're inspired a lot by the Americana sound; what in particular about the genre draws you in?
I grew up with a lot of country music, but never really took to it. I went through the jazz and blues stage, and eventually fell back into country only a few years ago when I realised the vast amounts of variations within the genre. One of those genres was Americana, and I realised that some of my heroes growing up—James Taylor, Neil Young and The Eagles—all resided on the cusp of not quite straight-down-the-line country. I then found a niche little scene dedicated to Americana music in Australia, and most of the artists who helped establish that scene happen to live in Melbourne.
"I realised that some of my heroes growing up—James Taylor, Neil Young and The Eagles—all resided on the cusp of not quite straight-down-the-line country."
How has Collarts helped you become a better musician?
Collarts has helped me put my professional musicianship into further practice. With performance students required to put on a recital-type performance as an assessment at the end of trimesters, it means that many students are playing in multiple bands. This means lots of rehearsals and lots of songs to learn in a small amount of time. Now that I'm doing a lot of session work, I'm grateful for my Collarts experience.
Tune in for Riley Catherall's live single launch of 'Leave Me Out To Dry' on Wednesday 8 July at 4PM on the Collarts Facebook. To find out more, click here.