The RISE Canberra Podcast

Lexi Sekuless, Jamie Leone and Yasmine Hosseini - Podcast 2

June 07, 2020 Jen Seyderhelm Season 1 Episode 2
The RISE Canberra Podcast
Lexi Sekuless, Jamie Leone and Yasmine Hosseini - Podcast 2
Chapters
The RISE Canberra Podcast
Lexi Sekuless, Jamie Leone and Yasmine Hosseini - Podcast 2
Jun 07, 2020 Season 1 Episode 2
Jen Seyderhelm

Welcome to the second RISE Canberra Podcast!

In this episode Jen Seyderhelm is in conversation with actor, producer and host of Live In Ya Lounge, Lexi Sekuless and singer songwriters Jamie Leone and Yasmine Hosseini who are part of, and feature on Undine Records' So Fresh - Hits of the 'Tine - sales from that compilation, featuring 20 local artists, support DVCS.

Produced by Events ACT, RISE Canberra is your new home for experiencing local events and to find new ways to connect audiences with experiences made in the ACT by local makers, creators, artists and businesses.

You can find out more here.

Each fortnight Jen talks to Canberra creators, getting to know more about the approaches they're using to deliver events during these times. Check out the rest of the RISE Calendar online at www.risecanberra.com - where you can find out more about other innovative offerings from Canberra creators on the RISE News page and keep up to date with all the developments for the new Where You Are Festival, coming to Canberra this July.

The RISE Canberra Podcast is produced by Events ACT. The music is Three Times by Dawn by The Screaming Zucchinis.

Show Notes Transcript

Welcome to the second RISE Canberra Podcast!

In this episode Jen Seyderhelm is in conversation with actor, producer and host of Live In Ya Lounge, Lexi Sekuless and singer songwriters Jamie Leone and Yasmine Hosseini who are part of, and feature on Undine Records' So Fresh - Hits of the 'Tine - sales from that compilation, featuring 20 local artists, support DVCS.

Produced by Events ACT, RISE Canberra is your new home for experiencing local events and to find new ways to connect audiences with experiences made in the ACT by local makers, creators, artists and businesses.

You can find out more here.

Each fortnight Jen talks to Canberra creators, getting to know more about the approaches they're using to deliver events during these times. Check out the rest of the RISE Calendar online at www.risecanberra.com - where you can find out more about other innovative offerings from Canberra creators on the RISE News page and keep up to date with all the developments for the new Where You Are Festival, coming to Canberra this July.

The RISE Canberra Podcast is produced by Events ACT. The music is Three Times by Dawn by The Screaming Zucchinis.

Jen Seyderhelm:

Welcome to the rise Canberra podcast produced by Events ACT. RISE Canberra is your new home for experiencing local events. Finding new ways to connect audiences with experiences made right here in the ACT by local makers, creators, artists, and businesses. You can find out more at risecanberra.com. Each fortnight we'll be in conversation with Canberra creators and getting to know more about the approaches they are using to deliver events during these times. I'm Jen Seyderhelm. And in this episode, we'll be speaking to Lexi Sekuless, actor, producer, and host of Live In Ya Lounge and Jamie Leone and Yasmine Hosseini, both singer songwriters and part of Undine Records.

Lexi Sekuless:

My name is Lexi Sekuless. I would call myself an actor, but I think other people would call me an actor producer. And someone said the other day interdisciplinarian but that reminded me a little bit too much of like, I don't know , the Trunchbull or something. So I'll take actor producer. I am currently host of Live in Ya Lounge and I was born in Canberra. So been here for 30 plus years, but I've moved around a lot and I had a long stint in the UK.

Jen Seyderhelm:

You love the classics. So you are versed in not just your Shakespeare and your Chekhov's , but Latin. Can you still speak Latin ?

Lexi Sekuless:

Ah no, I can't really, but mainly because we didn't go around speaking it so conversational Latin, Isn't really a thing. It's funny. You mentioned that because the ANU very kindly sort of gave me my undergraduate degree. They've well, in name they've said that I did it, even though I was quite naughty and I actually, I'm an actor, right? So I'm a commitment phobe, you know , someone else signs the deals and does all of that for me. But just recently, they asked me to talk about how it is that I went from the classics to acting. And I know it sounds like it doesn't make any sense, but because it's about appreciation of language and then reflection of society through that expression and each writer, you only able to do the texts, which are still around, and then you realize the character of Lucius or the character of Virgil. And really the only way to get through those complex really complex translations is actually to have a guess and a go at, oh, Virgil's totally doing this somewhat in the same way that you might need to know a person or a personality or their behavior in order to act it. But it was that yeah. Appreciation of language and poetry and organized sound, which very much subconsciously led me to being streets ahead. When I first did Shakespeare, I didn't realize that you did scansion of Shakespeare's verse just the way you do for the classics. So I suppose I was the kid in London and being the Aussie, right? I was already teased for lots of other stuff or behind on this accent or something. And once we got to Shakespeare, they said, Oh, we weren't introduced to scansion. Does anyone know what's scansion is? And I was like,

Jen Seyderhelm:

it's like examiner, pentameter, what are we talking about ?

Lexi Sekuless:

So I suppose i t was quite a special time for me and that's how it all happened. But then, you know, after that, in terms of the work that you get offered, sometimes you look like Colgate or you look like a M aclean's and people will put you wherever they do. So I don't, i t's j ust my s cansion. That's helped me to do t hat. The great classics in theatre, it's something about the t ype c asting. It exists. It happens.

Jen Seyderhelm:

Before we get into some of the other things you've done, did you always want to be an actor? Is that what you wanted to be when you grew up?

Lexi Sekuless:

I knew when I was 16 that I wanted to be an actor. My parents were journalists, and I think I went through a long period of knowing what I didn't want to be. So I didn't want to be a journalist. Even in high school, I did Excel at drama and Latin. And so I was a little bit torn. I looked a little bit at academia, but I didn't really know any academics. I wasn't sure what they did, what did they do? But then when I was a teenager, they used to be a phenomenal program called Globe Australia run by an amazing Canadian woman who sadly passed away Diana Denley. It was an interschool competition. And you did Shakespeare scenes throughout for your year, then your school. And you were sort of winning each time as it were. And then you could win in your state. And if you won, then you got to go to Sydney for, I think we did a show in 10 days at the Bondi pavilion. And there was something about that experience. I remember someone whispering in my ear, it was the assistant director and he actually whispered a Meisner quote to me about this, this whole thing with Meisner, that the text is a canoe and then all your emotions are the river. And he was giving me this quote, and then I just knew, I was like, okay, I want to do this. Oh, wow.

Jen Seyderhelm:

Wow. And even having that moment still so clear in your mind is amazing. It's really special. You were just saying about, I suppose, the typecast side of things and clearly you love Shakespeare, but I find it really funny that you said about not wanting to be a journalist yet. A lot of your interesting roles in the last couple of years have involved in being a journalist or being behind the scenes in parliament house. But isn't it funny how you obviously, again, because of your background, that scenario you're very familiar with, so you probably walked into some of those auditions thinking, I know how this is going to work and that would have added into the experience. So for instance, one of the most amazing things was watching you at parliament house and you were doing Dame, Enid, Lyons, maiden speech reenactment. And it was so powerful in your costume, in how you did that. I was actually at work watching it. And I've known you long enough to know how much fashion makes the moment for you too . But the whole setup , I felt like I'd been transported back in time. But again, going into what I imagine had to do some auditions for that beforehand, you would have had a real sense of how that moment in time would have worked?

Lexi Sekuless:

There was something about honouring the past is something that I really enjoy about that. So obviously that's come through in some of the homage to Marilyn, that I spent a good chunk of my career doing. And then when I, I applied a lot of the similar processes to Dame Enid. And so when there's someone there's something that you need to honour because this person actually existed. I had a really tough director one time. He was really great, but he was super, super tough. And I remember almost everything he said to me, great advice. And one of them was, actors are not the sole authors of meaning. And it took me a long time to figure that out, as some of it is to do with actors, get over yourself. Don't, you know , you can't keep your ego so present in the work, but it's also about understanding that yeah , a pearl necklace or suit or the room space, a lighting designer could possibly tell the story possibly for the whole show. I mean, usually it's woven in but everything compliments the meaning and you have to be willing to, I think, respect every sort of practice and part of the whole, and of course, if I'm going to be in the chamber, I felt hugely that much of this story, the meaning is actually going to be held in where I'm standing. That's great. Fun as well. That's heaps and heaps of fun. And I do enjoy then trying to find out, okay, so where else could the meaning be held? And I'm always been interested in voice and accents. And then once I heard her voice, I was like, Oh, okay, here we go wowser. This is so particular, so particular to the time, this phenomenal mix of received pronunciation, but very Strine , very Aussie. You'd never think those two would be together, but they are in her voice. And look then it also helps that her maiden speech was jolly good writing and personal. So there was the way she doesn't mention Joe , her husband, former Prime Minister who died in office. She doesn't mention him this, this tiny reference at the end. I mean, that is what a writer would put that into, into any good script. So it can be freeing to see could anything else actually carry the performance or contribute? It's not always, actually just you.

Jen Seyderhelm:

Well, that was a very strong moment of you owning a situation where you were representing a totally different time. Were you nervous? Do you get nervous still?

Lexi Sekuless:

Oh yeah. Okay. For that, I was super nervous, but thankfully she was too . She talks about that a lot. She talked about how the timing of her speech was delayed until after dinner. And so was , if she was nervous before then waiting, waiting through dinner break, she talks about how she felt only throughout the speech did she realize actually that everyone was there. And of course this is all men, you know , she was surrounded by them. She said that she only realized towards the very end that everyone was there and on side. So yes. And I was particularly nervous about that. And I did learn from Marilyn. Maybe I'll get over this. I don't know. But I think a part of me also searching for other things to hold the meaning is because ultimately I love the interaction and I love that acting is reacting. And I do still have a couple of hangups about performing alone. So for awhile, I used to trolley out a one man Marilyn thing, which I did in London, you know, whenever I needed to do something. But, but I began to realise that the being alone on stage, I know you have the audience, but I really enjoy the synergy of two people.

Jen Seyderhelm:

I was reading about your experience of when you were over in the UK being on stage at the Globe. Tell me about that moment?

Lexi Sekuless:

Also scary. I , the way we did it was that, and she ran on, so that first sit down, sit down, your honourable load, that speech was taken out, which I quite like. And I've learnt it many times since, because I always felt I wanted to do it. She sort of ran out and was clearly very panicked. So I was alone. And that space is just so there for you and so supportive because it's all around you. So the sensation was like, you had cameras at all levels down all the way to up, but then also it's not quite three 60 . It's like three 20 degrees. So you had points and people to reach the sense of it being a globe. Honestly, I know this sounds silly, but you really feel the circle. It's quite special how it's got those levels as well. So I felt more alive than I think I than I ever have. Just because there's no set for you to, you know, you, can't just sort of like sit on the chair now and get to have a break. You can't ever have a break. And also, because if you did you turn and there's someone right there looking at you, this one , somebody is right there and you, you try, maybe you try and have a break and you want to sign and look upwards. There's people up there up in the gods and you begin to realize how that actually can help you. And then you realize, aha, this is the environment for Shakespeare because the characters think so fast much. Well, no, we , we think quickly, but Shakespeare has managed to write how fast it is that thoughts can fly. And you realise that it helps you. If you look at a Groundling and say one whole thought, and then you can leap to the next thought, which normally when you were rehearsing it on the floor, it was always clunky. And you're always like filling out with unnecessary pause once you're there, you can actually just look up at another person and then give them that thought,

Jen Seyderhelm:

Oh, wow. So here in Canberra, you've been the co-producer and co-artistic director of Lakespeare. How did that come about?

Lexi Sekuless:

The wonderful Dr. D uncan Driver, who's been a dear friend of mine for a very, very long time. He said, are you free for lunch? Someone wants to pitch this idea of us doing a Shakespeare show. And I said, yeah, yeah, sure. Of course. And so I met Taimus Werner-Gibbings and Taimus, I'm sure he won't mind me saying this, Taimus had just lost the local election. Right. So it was 2017. He just lost the 2016 and he also didn't get a part in a show and quite ingeniously. He was sort of thinking why don't I just take control of my whole world? And I'll create shows that I can do myself. I'll produce stuff and I'll do it for my town, for my area. So I'm doing something for Tuggeranong. He won both Duncan and I over, he said, I want something like Shakespeare in the park, in New York. And I was like, Oh yeah, that's pretty cool. I guess he had his terms. And I had my terms and he was more than willing to meet me on my terms. And not many people are, I was like, actors, we've got to have these types of actors, I got to train them, it was like many terms. I was being very difficult. And he said that , he said, and he would agree. I'm still, our production meetings are fairly fierce, but in a good way,

Jen Seyderhelm:

He comes from a political background too . He knows.

Lexi Sekuless:

Yeah, exactly. And there are some core things about theatre, accessibility that we both believe in very strongly. There's a lot of other things that we disagree, but we sort of push each other by those disagreements. And for the most part that's going is going quite well. I mean, sometimes we, both of us, we agree. We can feel pretty bruised after going after our conversation. But it's because we both have very strong beliefs about what we would like Lakespeare to be. When I came back from. Canberra gave me, I'll try not to get emotional, but Canberra gave me, you know, who I am. The ANU fed me with. Elizabeth Minchin, the wonderful Dr Elizabeth Minchin with her Latin classes and it's always been a place of restoration and peace for me. And I found myself back here and there are many actors. So I work with now and I may have done amateur work with them before and they have slugged it out. You know, they've done so many stage hours and there's something about Australia. It's not just Canberra . There's something about Australia where we don't have access to the same amount of technique. And so we have to read it in a book and maybe someone will have done something with Bill Pepper. Or maybe when Cic came out, Cicely Berry, or there'll be a visiting someone or other. And I'm enjoying what Canberra gave me. And I do feel that I need to give something back.

Jen Seyderhelm:

Yeah . And you have, you have in many different ways and you want diversity of experience being back here because you've been teaching and as you were even talking about with Lakespeare, it was never just about having an actor who is going to appear in Lakespeare. It was about giving them a grounding that they could take with them onto the next experience as well. And now in this time where it's really difficult to be any kind of practicing artists you've done Live In Ya Lounge. Now tell me how that came about?

Lexi Sekuless:

Kudos must go to EAVS, the EAVS lads, Events AV Services. It is all them. It really is. It started because so many of them either are musicians or their mates, their partners. Their funnest gigs are where they get to do the music ones, right? And out of a real service, I think. And, and also , um, you know, we have all been trying to find a way to still have something to do, still have purpose and then also do something positive. So I think it was sort of born out of that kind of little triple need that we will have because of COVID-19. So, and it was a band, they first started by doing a trial. They started, they did a pilot. Yeah . They approached Venues ACT who gave them a space. And that pilot, it happened in a very, very quick turnaround and the process was joyful and great and worked. And the viewers turned up, so they decided to continue. They originally approached me and I was already thinking of speaking to them about what could we do? I was thinking radio play. Then something came into my inbox from them, first of all. And they asked if, if I would do any kind of theatre piece. So then I was thinking, well, we could do Shakespeare. And then I called Rob and we had a long conversation and he came in, then he said, would you, do you want to be the host? Do you want to be the MC ? And whenever you don't have to audition for something, it's like the best in the whole entire world. So I said yes, very quickly. And even he knew I'd said it too quickly. And he said, Whoa , just, just like, take a look, see, see what we do, you know ? And so I did and I slept on it and , and looked at it and I really liked what they were doing. And I really wanted to be a part of it.

Jen Seyderhelm:

Isn't it amazing. The breadth of talent we have here?

Lexi Sekuless:

Yeah. And the variations . So one night it'll be like heavy metal and then we go super duper pop. That's very special. Then being a part of it. I feel quite lucky. And then, yeah, it just keeps on coming through. It's amazing.

Jen Seyderhelm:

For a very long period of time, if you were sitting there thinking about a music artist who came from Canberra, you would be like, Hmm , there's nothing. Nope. Can't think of anything. But in the last five years, all of a sudden there's been this boom in successful artists that have made it to a certain level who are like, yeah, I'm from Canberra. By the way, on that note, I was in Sydney, I'm walking through, I ran into Peking Duk, as you do. And I walked past them. I went, Hey, I'm from Canberra. And he's like "Canberra! High five for Canberra!!" And right in the middle of Sydney just to celebrate Canberra there. But all of a sudden, all these artists, and not only from Canberra, but they're proud to be from Canberra. And I'm loving this shift in the paradigm, even in what I'm seeing in this COVID situation that we're like we're Canberrans, we're fantastic artists, there's so much talent here.

Lexi Sekuless:

There is. I think it's a well resourced town. It's a beautiful town. As I was saying before, it's where I used to come for ideas, inspiration, rest , charge up, and off I go, but the off I go can be happening here. It's also a city that's growing, you know, hugely, I did a summer season in , in Sydney and speaking to people. Yeah. Artists from other, when they talk about the leg of the tour, the Canberra leg, when they talk about, when they got to come to the Playhouse, they talk about how Canberra audiences seem to really be listening. It's a very, very unique place. Yeah . Which often can be people can poo poo it a little bit. And there has been, I think up until now, or up until about the last five years, people would reach a point and leave Canberra and people are just beginning to see with the resources that are here. I obviously think so. We'll have to see what's going on with COVID. And there's some things that are closed and stuff, but you know, the venues and the capacity. And I thought , I suppose I would like Lakespeare to be as well. I'm keen to bring in those, those artists who did leave so that it was my brother who told me this, that Australia pinched Russell Crowe from New Zealand, because he was able to establish himself as an artist here. And I think Canberra previously in our past, we've lost some artists because they were unable to establish themselves outside of Canberra. And I think that's just beginning to change. And I certainly like to be a part of that changing permanently.

Jen Seyderhelm:

Me too. And that is part of what RISE Canberra is about because I feel we're at the forefront of reigniting arts and cultural activities and showing that we are a place that does it first, which really excites me. So with the current COVID situation, what has that meant for you professionally?

Lexi Sekuless:

So, I mean, I guess a public p ractices become entirely private and I wasn't one of those who overcame that by submitting and putting stuff almost anything online. I think that's just because I'm used to, and I quite l ike the rehearsal period and the doors are closed during rehearsals. So the idea of something not being ready then, but being out, I wasn't quite ready for that. I have shifted my practice so that it is it's very private or just one to one. So where I would have met with a group of people or w orkshops something, I'm just doing it in ones or twos, which I think i s i t's also about control. Y eah. Having some element of the standard as well. Sometimes t here's almost like there's been a devaluation of arts at the moment through COVID that it's, both everything is free. And I understand why. Of course, I understand why, but then also people are just filming something on their iPhone. And I think film work and lighting it's its own art form. So I don't want to film or pretend that I know anything as a stage actor, you know, that I would, I don't want to step on another industry's toes. I think that's why I was quite interested in Live In Ya Lounge setup that it's about, Hey, musos you don't just have to do this on your iPhone. We're going to give you the full production setup. And that's, what's very fun about stepping into the space; everything's there.

Jen Seyderhelm:

What are you hoping for though in this situation returns to whatever this normal looks like. I saw a picture from, I think it was Belgium, one of the big theatre spaces and basically there's the row of chairs and it's chair, chair, two taken out, chair, chair, and I hated it. I hated it. I hated it as being an actor on the stage. I hated it as sitting in the audience. It just felt wrong.

Lexi Sekuless:

Yeah. The thing about theater is that it's a communal experience. So I've heard this from Iain Sinclair, great former Canberra guy, actually, who's now in Melbourne. And he said, once that you go to the cinema and there's only one or two people there, you don't mind you go to the theatre and there's only one or two people there you do mind because it's about a room full of people breathing at the same time. What guides that process is the story that's being told. I think that salon performances, things with audiences of 10 and 20, I hope, but it's got to be in spaces and environments that match that. I mean , I mean, I've always been a huge fan of site specific work and you often need smaller audiences for that. So there are parts of the industry which already do things for a different setup or a smaller setup. And I hope that those can take the lead for a while . What would those big venues do then? I don't know. I've never had the joy slash pain of running a big venue. I'm sure it's some both great and extremely, extremely difficult. I think you can tell stories in any place though.

Jen Seyderhelm:

That's true. Yep . There just is something about being in an audience space when the whole audience gets the joke. Yes. You get hit in the heart and you can feel the, almost like an ocean running through the whole crowd and being on stage or even being in the audience, you can be affected by the other audiences responses. And so that is a new normal, I can't imagine having what , like what they're doing in sports now with the canned audience response, it's just

Lexi Sekuless:

No, no, that, that won't work, I don't think. And yeah, then being in that space where you clearly are having a quarter or less, maybe, I don't know, if a flood of new writing came in to speak to this possibly, but I think that would be quite difficult and that's a hard expectation for everyone to produce work that then just suits the space. And you know what? I also think that collaborations can be the only way through, right? So I think stage and screen people, we all got to be like hanging out like maniacs. And we got to say, Hey screenies.

Jen Seyderhelm:

And audio. I have to add in that t oo, there's so many different levels in which we can all work in together. And it's, yes, the collaboration is going to be fundamentally key.

Lexi Sekuless:

Or for museums maybe. Maybe we go into those great environments and you know, so we can, yeah, that'd be nice professionally.

Jen Seyderhelm:

What's something that you've learned from that hasn't gone so well that for someone who perhaps looks to you in Canberra, wanting to be an actress or wanting to be involved in something like this, that has been a lesson well learned. It's such a hard question. Cause it feels like the job interview question.

Lexi Sekuless:

As soon as possible, you have to manage being a creative and being an adult. So there are many times when I have engaged with someone as a creative, that was the deal, but then we need to have an adult conversation and I was unable to turn into an adult the way you have to be in the room. As an actor is totally available. All pores open, available and responsive to anything at all. You can't be responsible, grown up and be like that. You have to be sensible and possibly not react to some things I have made this mistake like at least three times once I nearly made it and managed not to there was, there was much purchasing of flowers and long apology emails. But when you're your own product, if you put a case on the saxophone, right, because you've finished playing and then you go in order to protect the saxophone, you as actors, you need to do that for your own wellbeing, but then also, so that people will still like talk to you.

Jen Seyderhelm:

Yeah. Very Sage advice, Lexi , what's still on the bucket list?

Lexi Sekuless:

Oh. Being directed by M arianne E lliott. She's the director of Warhorse. I'll be directed by her in anything and an Aaron Sorkin script. Please.

Jen Seyderhelm:

Have you got anything on the horizon that you can tell us about that is starting to reemerge? Hopefully post COVID.

Lexi Sekuless:

So I did a fantastic film, which was a short film and it got longer and longer with the wonderful Scott Holgate who is a, he's a hidden creative in Canberra. Scott you're out! Everyone's going to know about you now.

Jen Seyderhelm:

Googling Scott.

Lexi Sekuless:

Yes. Yeah. And that got longer and I'm going, I'm pleased that it did. And that should be, well, he's got to go through the editing process, but I'm quite pleased. I'm really happy about that film and that work, which happened all through COVID, because of the way everything was happening. What ended up because of COVID- 19, I sort of had to look at my work, which I normally have this whole ego moment and no , I can't look at me now and I really needed, I had to get over that because of what was going on. And it helped my process and my practice so much. And I got to do that also with Dene Kermond, who is one of the most remarkable performers, also mildly hidden in Canberra. So out you come. And then Shakespeare by the Lakes Four will happen in February. We might be trying to do a couple of things. We were going to do a big Winter of Content and obviously it's things have changed. It was our first winter season doing that with the Portrait Gallery. So yeah, we might do something, but definitely Shakespeare by the Lakes Four is coming back, watch this space.

Jen Seyderhelm:

So this Friday night, 7:30pm, Live in Ya Lounge is The Burley Griffin and Ben Drysdale. And then Saturday night it's Dog Eat Dog and Pilots of Baalbek. It's going to be an incredible night.

Lexi Sekuless:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'd always do a fair amount of research. Listen to the bands. And because I do the questions as well, although audience, you can send any questions as well. And then I get rid of my questions for your questions . So send them in and I'm always so, so pumped. I mean, I think I really start going for it once I start hearing sound check, and there's something about you being in the same space as other people toe-tapping, but it's worth tuning in, or even just having it play in the background. It's really, really phenomenal, really for what you were saying before so that you can realize, Whoa , this comes from Canberra.

Jen Seyderhelm:

So if people want to watch, where can they find Live in Ya Lounge?

Lexi Sekuless:

They can watch from our website liveinyalounge.com. And we also stream on Facebook and on YouTube.

Jen Seyderhelm:

Perfect. What I have loved the most about getting into music scenes that were beyond my normal experience, was that a sound check for death metal concerts rather than going check one, two, they do whoooaahhhh.

Lexi Sekuless:

Sure. The pipes and the larynx, you've got to clear anything out that there from the day.

Jen Seyderhelm:

Then they g et to the next guy. A nd I sit there and I honestly t hink this will be the n ormal, check one two. And then the next one's whoooaaahhhh. Yeah, i t's amazing. That's a good note to end on L exi. Thank you so much for your time.

Lexi Sekuless:

My pleasure. Thank you. Thank you for having me on Jen.

Jen Seyderhelm:

Lexi Sekuless

Jamie Leone:

My name's Jamie Leone I am a singer songwriter. I've been in Canberra, probably five years. Maybe six.

Yasmine Hosseini:

Hi, my name is Yasmine Hosseini. I'm a musician, guitarist , singer songwriter , all that stuff. And I've been in Canberra for about a year and a half now and moved here to study at the ANU.

Jen Seyderhelm:

Let's talk about Undine records because I almost literally stumbled over Undine records while I was on Facebook. It popped up with Canberra artists. It must've come up because I follow all kinds of Canberra artists. How did Undine records come about?

Jamie Leone:

This is just half of Undine Records, but also missing Pat Johns . His artist name is s.wells and Cathy Diver. And I think it sort of started because as solo artists, it feels like you have to do everything by yourself. And it's really hard to feel supported and kind of break into the music industry, which is a tough industry in itself. So I think what we were looking for is having some support network.

Yasmine Hosseini:

Yeah. Like the Canberra scene , the music community we found is really like interconnected and we've all been able to find a lot of support through everyone else's friends and us four really wanted to further that support network and like start like a kind of professional relationship too . We're still friends, but like Jamie said, we just wanted to create a way to like be solo artists, but be connected with each other and with Canberra's music

Jen Seyderhelm:

For both of you had that word connection in your bio's and I really loved, actually for you Jamie, Canberra, shy girl, trying her best inspired by other women and connections empowered by friends and community. As you know, it's a tough industry. Yes, you want to work together. But at the same time, of course you want to have some sort of level of success and you've managed to bring, this is no mean feat 20 artists to this album. I mean, that's incredible. Were these people you knew in the outset or did you meet a whole lot of new people through the process?

Jamie Leone:

So Pat put out feelers for it and just got such a big response. There's like a group chat, I think. And so many of the names, do you know everyone? I didn't know everyone.

Yasmine Hosseini:

I know like a good few people, but there was a few that I like I'd never heard of until like listening to music.

Jamie Leone:

I think one of the things that was said was we want this to be maybe a way of helping artists that haven't ever released anything before kind of come forward and put something in. So I think that there was a bit of like inviting more people from the people that initially responded, which was really cool because it just branched it out a bit further

Jen Seyderhelm:

The album is So Fresh - Hits of the 'Tine, I probably should stop saying album. That is very old school of me. You can find it on bandcamp.com and you can download the whole album or individual songs, the whole album and proceeds also go to DVCS. How did that connection come about?

Yasmine Hosseini:

I think we've really got to give a bulk of the credit for this work to Pat. A lot of it was driven by his passions, I guess, and his work ethic. But I think that probably for the choice of organisation, we wanted to fund with everyone being home at the moment, and like economic states being quite down, domestic violence is definitely something hidden. That's probably becoming more rampant and we wanted to be engaging with these social issues.

Jen Seyderhelm:

The songs that both of you selected for Hits of the 'Tine, were they new music or songs that you'd already released?

Jamie Leone:

I hadn't released mine. Yeah.

Jen Seyderhelm:

Honestly, the production values on both of your songs are so good. And I put them both on an and I'm sure you get these too , where you try and sit there and describe what you sound like. And you've got quite a lot of similarities in both of your music, but you're different at the same time. And I was really struck with, I love Seeker Lover Keeper, for instance, Matt Corby, for instance, and I was listening to you going, Oh wow, there's so much flavours. What is in their styles, but distinctly your own and your song in particular, Jamie, I Haven't Seen a Bird All Week, you hit some notes in that track!

Yasmine Hosseini:

Jamie's got a killer voice it's like fifty times better live.

Jen Seyderhelm:

We can check you both out on Facebook. You've got some Facebook lives, but yeah, it's never quite the same e xperience a s seeing you. How do you feel about performing live? Are you comfortable?

Jamie Leone:

No, absolutely not. It's so scary. I mean, I love doing it, but it's it doesn't stop being terrifying.

Yasmine Hosseini:

Yeah. I've been playing live for like quite a few years now. And like at first I thought it was really scary, but I think recently I've had so much fun. Like I always played better I think when I'm performing and especially with my new band that I've been playing with this year, like it's so much more fun having everyone on stage and we just kind of like play together and I didn't really like think about it as performance as much.

Jen Seyderhelm:

I love Sunshine. For both of your songs they're relevant for the time. Is that why you sort of chose them because they are songs that are going to resonate more with this COVID situation?

Jamie Leone:

Yeah, I think so. At least for me, my song was sort of about the fires and then just having the time and the space to kind of work on it and refine it a bit during isolation, kind of those ups and downs to isolation. I think if I asked to release it again separately, I would want it to be different. Cause I think there's something special about being on the compilation.

Yasmine Hosseini:

Yeah I think there is absolutely as well.

Jen Seyderhelm:

So how long have you been singing and performing for Yasmine?

Yasmine Hosseini:

I think I started playing guitar I was like 14, 15, and then I started like, I had to little band in high school and then we'd play together. And then I started playing shows in Perth when I was like 17. And then yeah, like since I came to Canberra probably a bit more.

Jen Seyderhelm:

How about you Jamie?

Jamie Leone:

Well, I started singing when I was little and then picked up guitar and high school, but I never performed. I always wanted to. And then when I moved to Canberra, I kind of fell in love with the DIY music community here. And I played my first show in my best friend's living room in 2017. And it was really nice and the whole night just felt like a big warm hug.

Jen Seyderhelm:

What's your singing background Jamie?

Jamie Leone:

I had a lot of different singing teachers, but I went to a school in Sydney called Sevcon, which was really fun. And the teachers that were really supportive and kind of helped me come out of my shell a little bit. I was really shy. Yeah. I work at a school now, which is really fun. And so I keep learning from my colleagues.

Jen Seyderhelm:

Both of you have amazing voices, both of you really gorgeous sound and style to it as well. But the funny thing with what you're saying in particular, Jamie is so many of us who are doing jobs like mine, like radio and whatever. We are massive introverts and you don't think it, but I mean, even being a musician, it's a release of expression of feelings that it's quite a private composition. So getting up in front of people and performing it's really daunting. So it's getting over that hurdle in the first place to get to the next step. And that's been the process with Undine records too , is to hopefully further the the reach for all 20 of you.

Yasmine Hosseini:

Yeah. Well, at the moment it's been hard to like start this collective in like current times where like music is really not what we always think it is, but we want to like work it into the future and really promote performance and things like that. And cause yeah, like Jamie said that Canberra has the most amazing DIY music community, which I had no idea existed until like late last year. I wish I knew about it sooner, but yeah. Like we really, really want to bring that, like it's still going, but bring it back in it's like full extent when we can.

Jen Seyderhelm:

What's been the response to Hits of the 'Tine?

Jamie Leone:

So good.

Yasmine Hosseini:

Yeah. Everyone loves it.

Jen Seyderhelm:

Yeah. I'm not surprised.

Yasmine Hosseini:

It's hard not to.

Jamie Leone:

Yeah, I mean, I expected it to be really good because I knew so many of the artists on it and I was excited about it and obviously like, it feels precious to us, but I actually think it was really good.

Jen Seyderhelm:

It is really good and considering, when did the process for putting this album together start?

Yasmine Hosseini:

March. Early March. Yeah. So the submissions.

Jen Seyderhelm:

Like one month?

Yasmine Hosseini:

Yeah.

Jen Seyderhelm:

You got that whole concept together?

Jamie Leone:

So many people were keen. We actually had a few that didn't get it in time. So we'll have to do another one down the track but it was so much work. Y eah. Maybe not just yet b ecause we have some other collaboration ideas we want to work on, but it was really successful. I think we raised $600.

Yasmine Hosseini:

Yeah. And counting so.

Jen Seyderhelm:

And counting indeed. And I mean, that's the part of the process of having a chat today. So can I ask about these future collaboration projects that might be in the offing?

Yasmine Hosseini:

One of our big future ideas is all of us really want to work with Girls Rock Canberra, like there's an organisation that we're both deeply involved with and are really, really aligned with the values. And it's really unfortunate that this year, the typical camp has been kind of altered due to restrictions, but that's probably one of our main projects, to work on releasing something with them.

Jen Seyderhelm:

Jamie you're wearing one of the shirts. Are you a former Girls Rock participant or mentor?

Jamie Leone:

We've both mentored. So I mentored at the Adelaide and the Canberra camp last year.

Yasmine Hosseini:

That's how I like met everyone in Canberra's music scene really.

Jen Seyderhelm:

And it is a great entry to so many people who are working in the music industry and not necessarily, and again, you've got your singers and people you see on stage, but there's so many people behind the scenes that make the music industry work. And I'm sure this has been beneficial for Undine records as well.

Jamie Leone:

Hugely. Absolutely. That's again, probably one of the reasons as much as we love DIY music, you just can't do everything by yourself.

Jen Seyderhelm:

Well, what's the next step? What are you hoping to happen next for both yourselves personally? And for Undine records?

Jamie Leone:

We're all aiming to put out a release this year.

Yasmine Hosseini:

Yeah. We were calling the other night talking about this and we all have release plans. So I think working on helping each other out with recording and even a bit of motivation, like getting stuff done. Yes . We have a lot of like personal goals, but I guess for Undine as well, probably collaborating with Girls Rock and it's a bit uncertain with what we'll be able to do in the future and what it's gonna look like, but we really just want to stay focused to like our goals of community and music and enjoying that all together . So whatever that may be like, whether it be performance or like recordings and stuff were just really on the ball to get involved with that. I'm really excited.

Jen Seyderhelm:

And a final question for you both, because you are mentors for Girls Rock and you're going to get, lots of people are going to come and look up to you for advice. What is the best bit of learned advice that you've had from doing this and being a performer?

Jamie Leone:

Oh , one of my favorite things, one of my friends told me, so she said there are no rules. I mean, obviously there are some rules, but I just really liked that because in terms of music, I think we're constantly thinking like, Oh, it needs to be mixed. It needs to be mastered and needs to be upbeat. You need to make people dance. You don't have to, there's no rules. You don't have to follow a set or some kind of structure.

Yasmine Hosseini:

Yeah. I don't know. For me, it's just more been like role models and like seeing other people play. I just really appreciate, I think, and I've come to appreciate this more over time. People that treat their music as there art, like, they don't care if anyone's going to listen to it or like what they're going to think. Like I think for me, like seeing music in that way is what makes me happiest about it.

Jen Seyderhelm:

Thank you so much for both of your time before you go, though, people want to get So Fresh - Hits of the 'Tine, how can they get it?

Jamie Leone:

It's all over our socials . You'll find the link at Undine Records on Facebook, Instagram, and our own personal ones as well.

Jen Seyderhelm:

And you can Google it on bandcamp.com. I'm just going to mention that too, because that's a nice , easy way to do it also.

Jamie Leone:

We love bandcamp.

jen:

I've used bandcamp a lot in this COVID period of time. U N D I N E records if you're looking for it and the album is fantastic. Thank you so much for your time, Jamie and Yasmine.

Jamie Leone:

Thank you.

Jen Seyderhelm:

Jamie Leone and Yasmine Hosseini. Make sure you check out the rest of the RISE calendar online at risecanberra.com, where you can also find out more about other innovative offerings from Canberra creators on the rise news page and keep up to date with all the developments for the new Where You Are festival coming to Canberra this July. The RISE Canberra podcast is produced by Events ACT with the support of Talking Canberra 2CC.