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South Australian-based balladeer Kaurna Cronin has been enthusiastically taking his music to the world, quite literally. He has just released his debut album Glass Fool and fills AM editor Greg Phillips in on his fascinating musical journey to date.

Adelaide-based but well travelled singer, songwriter Kaurna Cronin has inherited the performance genes. With a performer father and textile artist mother, he was instinctually drawn to the arts. His first musical memories are of accompanying his parents as a child to the Port Fairy Folk Festival on an annual basis. “I grew up travelling with my parents,” Kaurna explains. “They were heavily involved in a lot of the folk festivals around Australia, so I grew up listening to a lot of Australian folk singer songwriters. I’m also heavily influenced by the great songwriters performers such as Paul Kelly and Dylan, Neil Young and I am a big fan of Paul Simon.”

Like the best singer songwriters, Kaurna (pronounced ‘karna’) is both a keen observer of life and a great teller of tales. As he travels the world, his thoughts and observations convert to songs. The travel bug is another family trait which has been passed down to Kaurna. His father spent years in Berlin as a mime artist, so it’s no surprise that he too has gravitated to Europe and Germany in particular. This year alone, Kaurna played around 70 shows across Europe, in countries where he has developed an appreciative fanbase.
“Some shows I booked myself,” he says. “Mainly though, they were through a booking agent I have over there and there are a  couple of promoters I know in Belgium and France and UK. This year I played some beautiful old rooms, theatres, barnyard farmhouses in Germany, Belgium and Sweden. We have already booked most of the tour for July and August next year.”

KAURNA3Kaurna cites his extensive time busking as one of the most significant factors in the development of his music career in Europe. It’s where he met his agent and also where he organically grew an audience. It was also while busking on the streets of Berlin,  that a regular visitor to his performances also happened to be involved in TedX talks in Münster and invited him to speak.
“I was busking on the streets everyday” Kaurna begins to explain. “This lady saw me and bought my CD. The last few years I have gone back, she has been at my shows as well. Earlier this year she sent me an email saying she was running TedX in Münster  and the topic was the story of growth and how people get from one point to another. She invited me to talk about the art of busking and how to use busking as a promotional tool… how it develops skills and contacts and builds your profile. Busking is quite a different art. The most important thing that busking teaches performers is resilience and the feeling that you are doing what you are doing because you want to do it and the people who really want to appreciate it, will appreciate it. The more that you put out is definitely equal to what you get back.”

Meanwhile back on home turf, Kaurna has just released his debut album,  Glass Fool and is playing selected dates throughout South Australia and Victoria to promote it. It features ten feel-good acoustic based songs recounting Kaurna’s world experiences and his relationships with the people and places he has encountered along the way. Written over a two year period, Kaurna culled around 30 songs down to those which cohesively sat together within the album’s sonic and thematic parameters. To help Kaurna complete his debut recording, he enlisted the help of some of Adelaide finest musicians including Chris Panousakis (aka Timberwolf), Ben Zubreckj, Dom Symes and Lizzie O’Keefe.

Pressed to choose a song from the Glass Fool that he is most proud of, Kaurna selects the album’s opener, ‘Inside Your Town Is Inside Your Head’. Kaurna is proud of his hometown’s humble artistic  community and its quality output but bemoans the fact that South Australian artists generally leave in search of greener pastures. That song was written as a response to the vacation of art to other states.
“I am really happy with how that came out, pushing toward this attitude that a lot of people leave small towns'” he says. “It’s inspired by Adelaide. I grew up with all these musicians and friends and songwriters and one by one they all just disappeared to Sydney or Melbourne. It’s notion of instead of going places where there is already established communities or a buzz …. sometimes I have this feeling that if everybody worked together to create that environment in the town they are from, maybe we’d be a better off place.”

KAURNA2A South Australian-based concept which Kaurna is really excited about is ‘Yesterday’s Heroes’, a recording project in which current South Australian singer songwriters pay tribute to significant Adelaide artists from the past. “I’m working on a cover version of a song by Fraternity which was Bon Scott’s first band, who were big in the late 60s, early 70s,” he explains. “So I am going to Mixmaster studios in Adelaide Hills and recording with a couple of members of the original band. It is part of a project which sees ten Adelaide singer songwriters redoing and making more contemporary, these old songs from the 60s and 70s and 80s, from well known Adelaide acts and bringing them back to life. I think there will be a performance in February next year as part of the Adelaide Fringe. We’ll be performing with a lot of the members from the original groups.”

In pursuit of further development of his music career and a better sound, Kaurna recently acquired a new guitar. After trying out a few different models, he settled on a  Gibson J200. “I was pretty set on the Gibson, “he says. “I liked the bottom end and I wanted something that was a bit older. I like that Johnny Cash sound. I played a few Hummingbirds and a Dove and a few vintage but this one … there’s something about it. It has a really beautiful bottom end and broad sound.”

Apart from his extensive European tour next year, Kaurna is particularly looking forward to playing the Port Fairy Folk Festival in March, the music event he has attended for most of his life as a spectator. Finally, he’s been accepted as an artist and his appearance at Port Fairy will be a moment both he and his parents will treasure. For now though, Kaurna Cronin is preparing for the remainder of his Glass Fool dates, with an appearance at the Maldon Folk Festival on October 30th and his Melbourne album launch on November 8th at The Evelyn Hotel.

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