For those uninitiated The Sweethearts are a rotating 30 piece all girls soul music juggernaut who have been playing across Australia, Europe and the US for over 24 years now.
But what’s particularly fascinating about the group is that every single one of its current members is still in school. Based in Geelong the collective of talented young musicians and songwriters represent the present and future of soul music. Playing nu-soul, a fusion of styles based around classic soul, Sweethearts is the most exciting band of young female musicians in the world.
In 2013 ABC filmed an incredibly moving documentary series on the group titled Heart and Soul which followed the band as they battled with the pressure of exams and assignments, part time jobs, intense rehearsals and a hectic schedule of gigs and the loss of the band’s musical director in 2014. Season two of the Emmy Nominated series aired in September. Both seasons are now available on DVD.
To get a little more insight into one of this country’s most fascinating acts we caught up with bandmates Emily Harrison (Baritone sax player) and Matilda Hassall (Backing singer) for a chat. The collective gig regularly so for more info on upcoming shows or releases visit the band’s Facebook page.
Becoming A Member Of The Sweethearts
Emily: I was offered a position in sweethearts at the last gig of the year, in year 8 (2012) at the MGFSC celebration evening just before I was going on stage to perform with another school band.
Discovering The Sweethearts
Emily: I first found out about the band through an ex member who my mum taught flute but more so, when they came and performed at my primary school when I was in about grade three.
I didn’t really know much about the band before I joined other than that my mum wanted to join when she was at Matthew flinders but Ross wouldn’t let flute players in at the time.
The Audition Process
Emily: My audition and joining process was a weird one, I auditioned once at the end of year 8, waited 12 days for a response when my friends who auditioned at the same time had already been accepted to then be asked to re-audition and get told that I was unsuccessful.
But then at Sweethearts last gig of the year, before I was going on stage with a school band (literally waiting side stage) Ross Lipson came up to me, tapped me on the shoulder and said “If I offered you a position on Baritone, would you accept it?”
And me, having never heard or seen a baritone in my life accepted it and have loved every minute since.
Why The Sweethearts are so Important To Aussie Music
Matilda: The band has a massive contribution to the local music industry, to boosting confidence and self-discovery in young female musicians, as well as bringing together this group of people who are all interested in the same things.
The Difference: The Sweethearts Vs. Other School Bands
Matilda: The phrase ‘…the only high school band to play in exclusively professional settings’ comes to mind after reading this question (said in a games show host kind of tone).
Playing in such amazing locations and having endless once-in-a-lifetime opportunities has become such a second nature to us girls that we almost take it for granted!
The Sweethearts are under such a high demand to maintain, if not improve, the musical standard of the band’s previous generation, and seem to do so more smoothly and successfully than any other ‘high school band’ (as much as we hate to call ourselves that).
The Best Fan Experiences
Matilda: As a backing singer, my favourite fan experiences are when people from the crowd copy the moves I am doing.
The Sweethearts Alumni Are Up To
Matilda: A lot of the girls have gone on to study music at university, teach music, or continue to write their own music in other bands.
Best Thing about being a member of The Sweethearts
Matilda: You get to perform at amazing places with amazing people that share the same goals and passions as you; the band has provided endless friendships.
I also love we can all use Sweethearts to turn our teenage girl emotions into a creative outlet, through songwriting and performance.
The Most difficult Thing about being a member of The Sweethearts
Matilda: Working with over 25 teenage girls and a couple adults at the same time on the same thing.
Do you have any career highlights?
Emily: Performing at Summerfest in Milwaukee when I was 15 is definitely one of my highlights. The build up to the gig was incredible and I had an amazing time on stage.
What’s on the cards for the future?
Matilda: Two of the other girls in the band (Rosey, Cammy) and I have recently started a little side project, ‘Hey Mammoth’ which is starting to hit off and is very exciting.
I’m also keen to study music and songwriting next year and perhaps one day be one of Snoop Dogg’s backup singers.
Image source: Facebook