Deborah Conway is angry at the music industry. Very angry. Why? WHY?! Noise
restrictions? Major record company monopolies? The pulling of stock from
major retail chains? Hell, we should be frothing at the mouth, burning our
CDs and retreating to the forests to play the piccolo.
But Deborah is back with a new single, the caustically titled Radio Loves
This, and a batch of national tour dates, revelling in the old
if-you-can’t-beat-them-join-them catchcry. It’s been a busy few years since
we heard from her last — time spent making a new record, having another
baby, and moving her brood back to Australia from the UK.
“I live in Melbourne now,” Deborah reports, gearing up for a lively chat.
“It’s the place I call home. Home is comfortable. Home is knowable and easy.
It’s not necessarily challenging, but that’s not necessarily what I need at
the moment. I think that anyone might say that about their home. It’s not a
blot on Australia particularly, but I think you can point a finger at
Australia and say that we’re so conservative. I mean, radio particularly,
which is soooo conservative, has so many people over a barrel, but I think
there are other advantages to living here.”
Conway embraced yet another change on top of all the moving, birthing and
recording when she left longtime label Mushroom for Shock Records late last
“We decided to go indie. The relationship with Mushroom ended,” she says
shortly. “My Third Husband came out and they didn’t really understand at all
how to promote it, consequently it kinda floundered and we were both unhappy
with each other. After that whole experience I was pretty fed up with record
companies. I think as technology improves record companies will become more
and more redundant and you’ll be able to reach out to your audience more
It was precisely this dissolution with the music industry and its commercial
nature that prompted the sardonic title of the first single.
“Since the fall of the Berlin Wall there’s been no left. Left left!” Deborah
quips. “Music, like everything else, reflects the culture at large, and it’s
very corporatised, and radio reflects that too. Just look at the success of
a show like Popstars! It’s genius! It’s absolutely brilliant. It’s so
post-post-post modern, but it’s not about music. And everybody knows that.”
Theres a pause before Deborah says, a bit worriedly: “I think.”
The irony, of course, is that radio does love Conway. It seems no working
day is complete without the requisite flogging of It’s Only The Beginning.
“But they haven’t played anything since then!” Conway exclaims loudly. “I’ve
become fossilised somehow. It’s very frustrating and I almost feel like it’s
personal. I feel like the fact that I am an older woman means I’m not
allowed to succeed — there’s like this glass ceiling. I never thought there
was, but there is. It’s ageism more than anything else. I think men feel it
too — I’m not suggesting it’s a solely female thing — but it’s more acute
when you’re a woman. Unlike a lot of other professions, the amount of
experience you have and the maturity you can bring to your work is not
Still, where radio fails, touring will always succeed. And Conway is itching
to get on the road.
“I’m excited,” she enthuses. “We made the record last April, so that’s been
a year sitting in the can because halfway through the process I … had,
well, we had … an accident.”
A happy accident!
“Yes, a very happy accident,” she laughs. “So, I didn’t really want to go
out on the road like a freakshow again and become known as that pregnant
singer. So I put it off. But I think it’s a blessing really. I can give it
my full attention.”