I’ve always been a fan of words and the way people choose to use them, especially through music. I’m continuously on the hunt for artists who lay it all on the line, and, backed by sweet acoustics, manage to do more than just perform, but really connect with the audience. So, when a seemingly routine sift through the unearthed archives lead me to 16-year-old local Sienna-Lace, I had to know more about the inner workings of this talented artist. Things kind of fell into place when a new mate of mine recommended the local all ages venue “Drone”, tucked away on Hunter Street with the vision of becoming a real haven and safe space for both artists and gig goers alike. Seeing Sienna was on the bill I packed up my notepad, and my merchant fisherman inspired attire and decided to kick it with the kids. Kids crammed in, blankets, pillows, whatever they could find, for the first mixed bill acoustic set at the venue, and the first real taste of new owner Bec’s plans for expanding the dynamic of performing artists. For someone who is incredibly passionate about the live music scene in Newcastle, it filled my heart with this nostalgic warmth to see kids so excited about seeing some talented people doing talented things on a Friday night. Sienna’s set completely blew me away, playing a string of heart-wrenching originals to a crowd of legitimate fans.
When I sat down at Goldberg’s on a breezy Wednesday afternoon with Sienna-Lace and her ever supportive Mum Dani, I was not prepared for what was to follow. The amount of incomprehensible music knowledge and artistic maturity contained in the mind of the 16 year old singer-songwriter, is something that many of the top artists today would be envious of, but… the honest and humble nature that she portrays to the world is truly a rare gift, to the point where I was questioning whether she knew exactly how good she was. It seemed that her love of music started at a really young age with Sienna reminiscing, “I’ve been playing music for as long as I can remember, there’s so many photos of me at 3 maybe even 4 carrying around a guitar with a few broken strings or something, I just love music.” Curious about her creative process, with songs littered with personal anecdotes of heartbreak, it was as though songwriting had become a much needed outlet. “I was going through a lot at the time when I wrote the songs, I had a really rough time dealing with depression and lots of things that seemed to become overwhelming in my life at the time, writing really helped me get everything I needed to out”. A true creative, it was as though the end product, whether that be recording or playing live, was not really at the forefront of her mind when laying down the tracks. “I honestly didn’t think that anyone would want to hear my music or be interested in what I was creating, but the more I write and perform my originals live the response has been incredibly positive”. I commented that during her set at Drone a vast majority of the crowd knew and were hanging onto every word. “It’s kind of a really cool experience seeing that, my friends are really supportive and seem to want to really hear me play, it’s a nice feeling especially when you’re nervous about performing live”.
In contrast to artists I usually interview, who are able to pick between a vast majority of venues holding open Mic nights (particularly the Hamilton Station – every second Monday for those folks playing at home) it’s a lot easier to be able to hone a live gig set and get craft focused. It troubled me to think though, that being under 18, it’s often difficult for Sienna to find venues to play. “It’s definitely harder to get gigs when you actually aren’t allowed in the venue, I do a lot of community type outdoor gigs but even then, you need your own gear and equipment which a lot of the time I don’t have, although I played at Lizotte’s a little while back which was really great”. It made me nervous thinking about the number of young artists who may feel somewhat let down and on the fringe of what can be a really supportive artistic community here in Newcastle. “Drone is really good in that kind of sense because I know I can go there, and be in a bit of a safe space I guess and get the chance to play and meet other artists”.
Now that she had taken the time to record some of her work, it seemed that an EP may definitely be on the horizon, something that I wholeheartedly voiced my excitement and enthusiasm towards. “I just have to write more, but making an EP is something that I would really love to do, getting my music out there is starting to become more important to me”. I felt like a real adult when I asked Sienna what her plans were after she finished school; “I’m looking at leaving school soon and getting a job, all I want to do is music, I just need to find a way to support myself in the meantime”. Again, the direction, and focus of such a young artist was truly wonderful to see.
Going to gigs takes up “a massive part” of the HSPA student’s free time. “I just love it, I love seeing live music, especially bands like Paramore.. [oh my god Paramore] Broods, ‘Tonight Alive’ and ‘Parkway Drive’, those shows can get pretty crazy but those bands are so awesome to see live I just love getting amongst it”. Noting the difference between her favourite bands and the music she creates herself, Sienna commented “I love all music really, even rap, actually especially Rap – I’m a massive Tyler the Creator Fan, Justin Bieber [heart eyes forever], and Joy as well she’s an artist I really admire, honestly I could talk about music all day if you let me”.
Sienna-Grace is an artist who offers up so much depth and vulnerability. A singer-song writer, a true creative and still remains one of my favourite local finds to date. Where can you find her music? Head over to Triple J Unearthed (https://www.triplejunearthed.com/artist/sienna-lace) and keep up to date with her happenings on her Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/SiennaLaceMusic/) definitely an artist to listen out for.