Delicious Chaos Clare Bowditch Audio
Words by Kirsten Macdonald
On this planet, there appears to be an advanced species dexterously capable of left and right brain agility which is dangerously marvellous. David Attenborough missed the memo.
Delicious Chaos – Interview with Clare Bowditch
She comes with flaming hair, a voice teeming with talent, rich with humour and she’s a wordsmith and enjoys unusual cups of tea along with the joys of a backyard family jam. She’s an aficionado. Musician, actress, radio presenter, mamma, clever business human and an author…and there is more. But if we whisper ARIA win and Logie nomination, and add in the smattering of awards and deluge of really nice stuff people say about her- there is more than a little wow.
We are not going to pretend to be cool here. We can’t. She’s thermal.
Well versed in life experience, Clare Bowditch is a survivor and journeyer and now has more than enough ingredients to deliver a recipe of awakening.
Her new book Your Own Kind of Girl is the full menu of light and shade, this artist has wisdom to impart. The ‘be real’ memoir will no doubt be a refreshing insight to seekers of self-awareness, and it feels like a conversation.
Treehouse or cubby house? Which one?
Treehouse for me. I wrote a song about it. I did have a treehouse as a kid. But I once read a book by Italo Calvino called The Baron in the Trees in my early 20’s and it was one of the books that inspired a song I wrote called “On this side”- and I also went to a school that had a classroom built into a tree.
What is your perfect day?
It’s a very simple day. In a perfect day, all my washing is done. I collect herbs from my garden, everyone brings a plate. We get to sing together, and the kids really want to be there. On a perfect day- this is more exciting to them than tech, playing minecraft. My favourite days are always the multigenerational ones, and we might go for an ocean swim if the weather is nice.
Where is your favourite place to shwalk?
“Shwalking” A term Bowditch coined to name an inclusive style of exercise: that combo of walking and shuffling that is not quite running but feels wonderful).
Anywhere there is a body of water nearby. St Kilda beach. You never know what you will see.
What is your spirit animal?
The little girl sitting in her bathers on the cover of my book full of chutzpah. Master of guinea pigs…
My fave song of yours is “You look so good,” then when I read the chapter Amazing Life- I had an ‘aha second.’ It got me thinking that this workplace was THE specific cubicle and I have to ask- was it one and the same and what exactly was it that you wanted to touch?
Hmmm, call centre, character maybe partly me? Mostly or partly fiction. I can tell you it was not the telephone I wanted to touch!
Do you think being a song-writer helped you when it came to writing the book?
For a long time, I didn’t really know how to express my emotions or how to give words to them. I had lots of feelings as a kid, and I thought that the trick was to learn not to speak them. I tried a few alternative routes, and I discovered as young adults, it’s actually a really handy skill to have.
This is one of the gifts of going to therapists and having writers like Stephanie Dowry, Caroline Jones and Dr Claire Weekes in Australia.
These are great women who taught me through their books how to speak about emotions. So this, combined with the love of making music, was a good training ground in a way for writing Your Own Kind Of Girl.
But, I think you can hide behind songs in a way that’s not possible in the writing of a memoir. So there were some really quite difficult growing pains with allowing myself to tell my story in so much detail but we did get there. I am seeing the value of it now.
Most intriguing person you have ever met?
The person I am with at the time, I genuinely believe we are all pretty bloody intriguing at our core.
Who would you invite to your pool party?
(no hesitation-) Lizzo! I love her! Ohhhh more than one? Hmm, Ru Paul. Friends with opinions. Clem Ford, Zoe Foster Blake, and Jamila Rizvi- there are lots of people I would love to have; my family! Comedy side, someone like Will Anderson, writer; John Marsden. Actually, you know what? I’m more likely to invite anyone who wanted to come! Circa 1999!
Piece of advice for people trying to make it as an artist and earn a quid?
Work out who you admire or who you are jealous of. Then really look at how cleverly they have worked. Forget the guilt about making money- give yourself permission to succeed and make money as well as do the project.
Learn from those that have been successful. Keep a lean ship- it will work out. When I started, I was teaching music lessons, working in a community house- you just have to start and get out there.
What lead you to write the book?
I had a nervous breakdown at the age of 21, which is the story I tell in the book. It gave me great hope that if I did recover from my nervous breakdown, I would one day write a story about it. I said I wasn’t going to write it until I was really old, but I would write it one day.
So it was with the hope and a promise but not the pressure that I would write it when I was in a better place. Thankfully I did learn how to recover and learn how to maintain my mental health. That was a great skill to learn, particularly in the industry that I am in. That’s one of the stories that I tell in my book as well as the love story.
(PS- We love the love the story- sigh)
What’s been your favourite bit so far with the release of this book and going on the book tour?
By far, the best part- I was working on a hunch. I suspected that there were other people out there who needed this story the same way that I once did. It’s a story about living with and learning to work with self-doubt.
There’s nothing that triggers self-doubt louder than saying you’re going to write a book about it. It’s been quite a difficult few years getting to this point. So that’s really satisfying.
“I was on a flight, and when the pilot was preparing us for landing he announced that if anyone was looking for a bit of summer reading the author Clare Bowditch had written a book which he just bought in the bookshop and that I was onboard and I would sign books if they asked really nicely.
I just thought that was so funny. I pinched myself. What’s in this wine? You know he was this lovely Brittish guy.
That was bizarre and lovely. He bought the book for his wife- he had no idea who I was and I had no idea who he was- it was a lovely exchange.”
Have you found the book tour part of the process, fun but rigorous?
It’s just always a surprise and an honour to connect with people. But I am effectively strongest when I am on domestic duties. That’s how I restore so I think it’s probably time for a bit of restorative pottering. It’s really the art of pottering that makes me come back to my centre.
What is your favourite tea?
I have a very special favourite tea. It is a tea that I inherited from my Godmother Rita. It is a fresh pot of tea. It is looseleaf. It is half earl grey, half English breakfast. I know, right?
You realise we’ll be trying this tomorrow?
It’s a strong tea with a good dollop of milk, and when I’m feeling a little crazy I add in another little trick my friend Kim taught me once- I add a knob of ginger. I know it sounds weird, but I’m tellin’ ya, it’s top quality.
Well next I’m actually going to do some pretty serious summer self-care I think. Lots of swimming. In terms of projects, I am finishing an album. I’m also doing a couple of special projects for Audible that will be released next year. But for now, I’m going to spend the summer decompressing.
In the film clip for ‘You make me happy’- you are messing everything up.
From a creative perspective do you sometimes think when things become stagnant or aren’t moving or not- in-flow, there is a restlessness that can happen where you create a little bit of subconscious havoc? Is that where creative juices flow from when things are too still?
I think that life, as it has presented itself to me, has always offered this chance for chaos. I did ask a set of questions actually in that album: The Winter I Chose Happiness: can we be peaceful, creative moon units and still be productive in our work? So I tried to slow down my life and find this equilibrium that I heard existed and you know it’s beyond me, I couldn’t.
So I embrace now that delicious chaos of this full dance card of parenthood, animals, creativity and making our living that has some meaning in the world. So I think I understand that restlessness very much. I do think it’s actually just a pretty normal part of the process of living as a human being. We get to choose as creatives what we do with that restlessness which is a great gift- the feeling, the calling to be creative.
Oh my goodness that is the best answer I have ever heard.
(Kate: I think we just wrote a song!)
Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about you?
Just that I really appreciate what you are doing and I think this conversation is worth having, and I wish them all, and you, great courage. Don’t forget to tell your inner critic to eff off if it gets in the way- get on with what you are called to do.
Clare’s book is a best seller and can be found at all great bookstores (including airport lounges).