Making beautiful music together

By Kimberley Price

DEBORAH Conway and Willy Zygier both paved their individual music careers in the 1980s.

But 25 years ago, in a collaborative effort on the 1993 album Bitch Epic, the pair began their duo act, which would see the husband and wife produce a stack of rock/folk albums.

“My favourite thing to do is actually what I do with Deborah. I love the way we write together and we are really hard on each other and we’ve gotten harder as the years have gone on,” Willy said.

“We’re always testing each other and making sure we’re doing our best work and we’re coming at it from a point of meaning and trying to say something — like writing a song that has meaning to us.

‘‘I think it’s very easy to write a song, there are millions of songs in the world, but it’s difficult to say something that you feel emotionally connected to and that’s what we’re always trying to do.

“Of all the musical things I do, that is the most satisfying – when I feel like we’ve achieved something.”

In 1992, Deborah hired Willy to tour with her in her band for the String of Pearls album. Connecting first on a professional level, it wasn’t long before their dynamic changed.

“It soon changed from a professional relationship to a personal one,” Willy laughed.

“We’ve managed to maintain balance all of our lives together; we have three children, 10 albums and many songs.’’

Throughout their music, Deborah and Willy are known for discussing a range of issues which Willy said came from their own experiences and from people they know.

“If I could tell you where I find my inspiration, I could go there every day. But somehow a phrase or an idea will pop into your head at the least likely of times and hopefully it’s a good word or phrase that leads to something that’s worth mining.

“I would hope that the politics we express in our music are a very open kind of questioning as opposed to giving answers or telling anyone what to think.

“Otherwise I’d rather be a politician not a musician. I’d rather keep it poetic.”

On February 15, the day before their Riverboats performance, Deborah and Willy will release their tenth collaborative album, The Words of Men.

“We thought it was going to be a trilogy with Stories of Ghosts and Everybody’s Begging which are a kind of our exploration of how spiritual ideas connect with physical ideas — it’s a very hard thing to put into words.

“But then life got in the way and The Words of Men actually talks about specific things that have happened to us or to people we know.

“And instead of it being spiritual it’s more rooted in everyday life.

“At Riverboats we are doing some of the Words Of Men but it’s more an overview of our last few records.”

Deborah Conway and Willy Zygier will take to the Riverboats stage on Saturday afternoon.

For more details and your last chance to purchase Friday tickets head to riverboatsmusic.com.au