in Conversation with Laura Kebby, by Ryan / by Ryan Williams

Laura Kebby has been writing for Mirage furiously. I can’t keep up. It’s like crack cocaine for her (she really likes it). Now, after a significant upgrade in publications, publishing pieces online for the likes of Tone Deaf, Music Feeds, and Pedestrian TV, Kian and I think Kebby might be getting ideas. I met with Laura at the Hamo for a nice chat to make sure she wasn’t going anywhere. 

I don't know how you normally do interviews. How do you normally do interviews?

Laura: I'll usually have some cue questions or whatever, but most of the time I'll go with the flow. I really try to have a genuinely positive conversation. I'm really good at filling in dead air [laughs]. 

Kian has been keeping me up-to-date on your activities, with disturbing precision some might say. 2016 has been a good year for you. Did you only start writing this year?

I've always been a writer – ever since school. I've always done it for fun. I never thought I would be able to move into a paid role for it, though. I was nervous to put myself out there doing something I really like. 

 

At the start of this year I was having a bit of a quarter life crisis. I knew Kian from work, but I'd never really spent time with him. We got chatting and it grew more and more on me that he was someone who was on the same page as me. One shift he asked me to come take his dog for a walk. He really instilled in me the confidence I needed to start talking this writing stuff seriously. He asked me to review a gig – Justin Ngariki and the Dastardly Bastards. I was there three hours before the gig, shaking. I was terrified. I did that first one and kept going from there.

Heaps of big things have happened recently. I published a piece recently [on Newcastle Live] about pit behaviour that got picked up by Pedestrian TV, Tone Deaf and Music Feeds. I didn't know they'd republished the article until a friend told me. I followed them up and it turned into some paid gigs, which has been great.

You interviewed Peaches recently?

My first big interview was Peaches [laughs]. It was a pretty big deal for me – I've grown up loving what she does. I spent the following 48 hours listening to Peaches non-stop [laughs]. She's really great.

 Any other big names?

Birds of Tokyo, Boy and Bear, stuff like that. It's been really amazing. My favourite interviews are these up-and-coming artists though. Nobody knows who they are, but their stuff is good. Trying to be that person to get the word out is really rewarding. I interviewed a band called Palace from the UK whose debut album just came out – I got to ask him whatever I wanted. Where the inspiration is coming from, why he started playing music. You can't really ask Peaches that sort of stuff in the situation I was in. Those big names have PR companies behind them; they have a strict agenda to get across.

What has your favourite interview been so far?

For me, it's been Karina Utomo from High Tension. She spent over an hour with me; [it was] more of a discussion than an interview. She gave me a lot of advice. Other than that, writing consistently for Mirage has been amazing. It's my writing home. 

Aww.

You guys let me write my voice. It's all very unfiltered. 

 You spent some time on Triple J earlier this year too?

Yeah, I'm a Super User on Triple J Unearthed. I go through that site so much all the time. I got a call from one of the producers asking if I could be a guest selector on Good Nights. I didn't believe him at first – I thought I was on a list or something, but no. I had to pick three of my favourites, which was really, really hard. It really solidified why I'm doing this – I got to showcase these bands. 

Who did you pick?

Ceilings – it was their first play on Triple J – as well as Paper Thin. Both really hard-working bands.

Do you think that writing for you can be about articulating an idea that might be out there?

That's it. Putting things you believe in out there. I write about how people see me or how I see them. It's all very strange. Some people out there don't realise how good they are. I like talking about issues and things that are on my mind; I think writing is an extension of that. I probably use my imagination a bit too much sometimes [laughs]. 

I think it's a pretty great tool to talk to people. Maybe set in motion a bit of change.

I almost didn't send that pit piece through. I sat down and smashed it out when I was in the middle of something else. I was so frustrated and hurt. I've made a conscious decision to stay in Newcastle. I love it here. A big part of that is going to see bands, and I was sick of being hurt and grabbed [while] trying to enjoy myself. That piece was without a brief, me without a filter. It was really nice to see it resonate with people out there. 

It's great to see it go that far. 

Very reassuring. 

A lot of positive comments on the posts too. 

I thought the bros would come out and attack me again on that. Some did, but a whole lot of people came in defense of the idea. It was great. 

What's the plan for 2017?

I think the goal is to sustain myself by writing in one shape or form. Looking at other media options. Whether radio stuff is something I want to do or could be good at. Having a crack. Before, I was too hesitant. 

Check out Laura’s work in Newcastle Mirage, and other places I won’t mention here.