Words by Giselle Bueti
Photos by Anthony Liska
If You See Her, Say Hello isn’t like any choir you’ve seen before. Twenty-one independent Melbourne-based female solo artists and duos come together to deliver a heartfelt catalogue of original songs and dazzling harmonic arrangements.
Following their first ever performance as a group at the Adelaide Fringe, we sat down with bands members Cookie Baker, Ali E, Jemma Nicole and Kate McMahon to get further insight into what makes this choir different.
“I’d had this idea brewing for a little while and the format was very clear in my head,” says co-founder Cookie Baker. Broken down, it’s a group of singers collaborating as a vocal group, tag teaming a central mic, and backing up each individual as she performs an original song. “Creating and nurturing an intimate, encouraging experience for both the performers and the audience,” says Baker.
“My idea was always 50% about collaboration and 50% showcasing each artist as a unique songwriter.”
“I talked to Brooke (Russell) about it one day at the pub - the best ideas are fleshed out, if not born, at the pub - because she’s super organized and really pragmatic and I asked her to be my partner-in-crime in developing this project.” Together Baker and Russell gathered a ‘HUGE’ list of Melbourne singer songwriters, and the rest is history.
“The response and enthusiasm was overwhelmingly positive, brimming with energy from the start.”
The girls are described as a temporary choir like no other, forming together a collection of different styles and unique vocals all intertwined. “To learn each other’s songs and to arrange them in a way that would probably differ from how we would usually play them live gives the project a different aspect to other choirs,” says Ali E. The group share music and pull it apart, bringing a song a back to its ‘bare bones’ and reinterpret it in a way that compliments the choir and the individual.
“The way in which we would all arrange together means that each part suits each person, rather than a choir being relatively fabricated,” says Kate McMahon.
With a group of more than twenty members, the way in which they are able to collaborate so effectively is impressive in itself. Coming from different musical backgrounds has allowed them to bounce off each other and share ideas. “Everyone gets to see their vision unfold,” says McMahon.
“We’re all friends and we respect each other and each other’s decisions,” says Jemma Nicole. Being such a big group can be a logistical nightmare for scheduling, says the girls, but bringing so many people together is part of the magic.
As for future plans, “more babes,” says Ali E and Nicole. The choir is constantly evolving, which is what makes them so unique, and leaves room for countless possibilities.
The girls are excited to bring their show to the Adelaide Fringe. “I’m so excited for the girls who haven’t yet had the chance to be a part of festival season in Adelaide. Nothing compares to it,” says Baker.
Audience members can expect to get their “hearts twisted up, then burst into a million pieces and in the most splendid way possible,” she says.
“We’re really proud of each other and what we’ve created with this show and we really do feel like we level with our audiences and share the experience completely with them.”
If You See Her Say Hello will be playing at the Garden of Unearthly Delights - The Spiegeltent Saturday, February 27.
Tickets can be found here.