Zoë Randell, one half of Australian folk duo Luluc, writes for Best Fit on how fighting a small-town mentality had an impact on their latest album, Sculptor.
A big inspiration for our latest record, Sculptor, is the small minded shit that people get up to.
My own experience growing up in a small town in rural Victoria, Australia, was a masterclass in dealing with gossip and character defamation. This experience was a big part of the inspiration for the song, “Kids”. My reputation in town was wildly affected by how crazy people can get around gossip and making up stories about other people; for social gains, or for whatever reasons.
Over time, even in the midst of dealing with it, I became very interested in the way that whole process works, how it plays out, even among otherwise caring people and the impact it can have. It was amazing to observe and study. This was my surrogate education in those years when not much school work was possible in the shit-storm that it created. Especially seeing how “intelligent” people, like the “grown ups” would get in on the action. It gets pretty crazy, when total strangers think they know so much about you, yet you’ve never met them. Their kids can’t be friends with you because of the “terrible things” their parents had heard and so on.
Because I experienced that; total nonsense being spread around about what I did, my character etc. throughout my teens, I was able to see the way people can change in their treatment of you, how much bullshit people can believe despite their better instincts, and the potential destruction of it. (Or perhaps the inspiration of it!).
I made a decision in early high school that no one could gain my automatic respect. But, in that context, even well-founded suspicion of people’s intentions and agendas can end up making you appear like you've got an “attitude problem”, a chip on the shoulder. So, for me, during that time, it was really all about getting to an age where I could exit the scene and taking stock in the allies I had. You do need allies. Mine were some strong, gentle and independent characters, true friends, and of course… records! There is a David Bowie line, "they're just older children, that's all" (“After All”), which was such a great idea I kept in my head during those years.
Once I had escaped to the city, my teen experiences continued to be a pretty fascinating backdrop for me. I'm an avid reader of Tibetan Buddhist texts and it is very interesting reading a philosophy where the whole purpose is to study the mind and deal with the shenanigans that go on in our heads. The idea is that you can ultimately have a say in how much you go along with the games and bullshit. How you respond to them, how experiences can change you, make you grow, or not. The awesome thing is that whatever is going on, you can have an influence in that response.
My late father used to say, “one day you’ll thank those people for showing you who you don’t want to be.” It sounded far fetched at the time, but also deep down, I knew he was dead on. Watching people carry-on in this way, you can see some awful, sad and uninspired states, and what a waste it is. This is not about some coming out on top story, or some interest in revenge, couldn’t be further from it. I’m intensely grateful for what that scene taught me, and that my life is so much richer because of it.
Gossip, making shit up, defaming, bad mouthing people, it’s powerful stuff, but it doesn’t have to have the desired effect, and in fact can be an awesome thing to understand and subvert. And move on from.