Music / Features
"cancelling out all the white noise" -
A Look at Bianca Blackhall's Debut EP
Words by Imogen Elliott
Tuesday 9th July, 2019
After declaring Tasmania a place of creative solace, Bianca Blackhall has collated a band of rock and rollers to back the release of her debut EP. With no holds barred, Bianca Blackhall shares a journey from the red dirt to the grey river; via a field of red hydrangeas.
On her debut album Bianca Blackhall sings about “me, Gina, Palmer and the boys,". “The boys”, Bianca told me, are the shameless, power-hungry elite. The title and lyrics of the track 'Iron Ore' explains the rest:

“Bring it over hills like wild dogs and the station had shot em and they fell to the floor - their blood spilling over iron ore…”

I was introduced to Bianca through a mutual friend, Georgia Lucy, who said they had met Bianca as a teenager, at an anti-development protest in the Australian wilderness.

The tale is in stark contrast to the content of 'Iron Ore' which draws on Bianca’s experiences working as a cook for miners doing exploratory drilling in the outback.

“'Iron Ore' is about the amassing of grief and disrespect we put onto the land and each other… the hideousness of our double standards and how we all are together in our lack of home and freedom,” Bianca said.

It seems Bianca is the sort of person willing to try anything; even if it means challenging her personal values. She’s been putting in ground work for her album since she was 19, studying at art school while playing in the legendary DIY punk band Dogtower, in nipaluna/Hobart. She said Tasmania was the first place where she had felt at home.

Over the years,Bianca’s performed with many different musicians - writing melodies and lyrics then sharing them with a live band who help with arrangement and flourishes. For her self-titled release, Bianca put together a dream team of skilled local musos, of whom she talks about with unwavering adoration.

“Nick Milnes on lead guitar... he translates my ideas into technical music speech for the boys... I don’t know what I would do without him," Bianca said.

“Then there is Trent Thomas on the bass holding us all together with his hard working blue collar lines… and the multi-talented Will Nicolson on rhythm guitar and keys. I am so glad to have keys in the band finally; it’s been missing from our sound for a long time.”

“Then we have Hans Christian Ammitzboll II on drums - it’s been very hard to find a drummer who plays straight and at good volume for our sound; he listens.”

While in the past, Bianca’s played live with an electric guitar - strung upside down and played left-handed - recently, the focus has been drawn to her lyrics and voice. Bianca's deeply tonal but gentle vocals are commanding but free of ego. Her music evokes pop sensibilities but draws on themes eschewed by the mainstream.

I’ve heard Bianca likes to sing Celtic songs (a throwback to her Irish heritage) and that doesn’t surprise me, given the diaphanous nature of her vocal changes and the poeticism shown in her lyrics. On the EP, she makes references to environmental exploitation, human suffering and drug misuse; the laconic nature of her story-telling ultimately reaching glacial intensity by the final track - 'Sharks' - a song about a fluctuating power dynamic.

"hook, line and he'll sink you.."

'Sharks' is a perfect collation of the minimalist vibes of the first track 'Poppy Head', the pop rock guitars of 'Horse Birth' and the melancholic, rhythmic bass line of 'Iron Ore'.

On the album's denouement, Bianca sings with gossamer-fine composure: "got a curious way of cancelling out all the white noise and I don’t know what to do so I sit around and smoke with the boys,”.

Overall, the album has a clear flow and builds up from the more stripped back tracks to a full band sound. On this record, Bianca has shown she’s ready to take control of her life and present something that proves she is a strong, self-assured force with unashamed openness.

I would recommend the album to any men who have doubted whether a woman could fit it in to their world.

Bianca Blackhall’s album has been independently released and was launched at Hobart's Good Grief Studios on July 6th. To pre-order, visit bandcamp.