AWMA Questionnaire Series: Ella Fence

The Australian Women in Music Awards is such an important event to showcase and appreciate women who work so hard in the music industry, how does it feel to be part of such a special event?

Excellent, it’s such an incredible way to acknowledge and appreciate the hard work of the women in the industry.    

Growing up, as a young girl, did you ever imagine you’d be part of something like the AWMA?

Absolutely not, it is something that I would have hoped for, or had in my dreams as a young girl though, so it’s a huge achievement to be recognised in this way. It’s so special to me to think that it’s only the second year of this awards, and that it’s paving a way for other younger women, who will see a career in music, and acknowledgement from their industry, as something within their reach or in their future if they work towards it.

What inspired you to be a musician? Where did your love of music stem from?

That’s a good question. I’ve never not loved to sing, and can’t remember a time I wasn’t a singer. When I was little I drew a picture and wrote “when I grow up I want to sing in front of a thousand people” of myself, a microphone, and one singular person who was on what looked like a banana lounge – this must have been my depiction of what thousands of people looked like as a 4 year old haha. It’s up on my Instagram if anyone wants to see it in all its glory. I’ve achieved that dream since then, which is pretty rewarding – performing at Commonwealth Games Festival 2018 supporting Kate Miller-Heidke and Regurgitator. There were thousands of people that night – it was so wild.

When I was in primary school I started processing my emotions and experiences through words and poems and expressing myself in that way. Combining that with singing, writing songs came together really naturally for me – not that I find it easy, sometimes the best songs can feel easy to write, but to be honest often it’s tirelessly and regularly working on ideas as a craft that brings songs together. Playing piano from a young age and then growing to learn guitar, and recently Ableton also helped with my song writing too.

There are many amazing women and men who work hard in the music industry. Everyone has someone they look up to, are inspired by and have great respect for within their own line of work/industry. Who is someone you look up to/are inspired by? (focusing on women in this instance)

Oh, absolutely. I was given incredibly powerful advice as a young singer, essentially to follow and look up to people who are “just ahead” of you, but also to have your aims high, towards a career that is far beyond where you see yourself now, so you know where you’re working towards and along the way you’re creating the steps and paving the way for yourself.

It’s often hard to find a clear path and direction within music, as everyone’s journey is so vastly different, but by doing this you kind of create your own sense of career trajectory.

Jaguar Jonze is incredible. I am so inspired by her approach to so many different art forms, and her honesty within it all. I also have huge respect for people who take the time out to give pieces of advice for others. Both Isabella Manfredi and Katie Noonan have done this for me, and those two ladies are busy women! I find that so inspiring and do my absolute best to pass that approach on to whoever has questions about anything I am doing or can help with.

This year, we celebrate 90 years of International Women’s Day being observed in Brisbane, what does International Women’s Day mean to you? How important is recognising women in our society and having equality for everyone to you?

 90 years, wow that’s awesome. It is incredibly important for everyone to be recognised for their hard work and achievements. From my experience, I’ve observed more challenges for women the in industry than men, whether or not that is intentional or due to unconscious bias, but recognising women as a priority is one way to begin to even the playing field.

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The Brisbane Powerhouse is such a stunning venue, perfect for the AWMA, it’s an iconic venue for Brisbane music, entertainment and arts, what does the venue mean to you? Have you performed there before? What are some fond memories you have of the venue?

Queensland Music Awards with my mum a couple of years ago, she’s the best. I was up as a Finalist for the Billie Thorpe Award and when I didn’t win she bought me ice cream and it was the best. Also New Farm Park is so amazing.

This year’s AWMAs include three new award categories, Excellence in Classical Music, Music Journalism and Image Making. There are so many hard working women working in all different areas of the music industry, what other award categories do you think could be added to the list? Or what is an area of the music industry you have great respect for?

Venue owners 100%. In particular – The Zoo and The Tivoli. The amount of opportunities these two venues have given me over the past 24 months blows my mind. And not only that – these guys work so incredibly hard. Seriously. I’ve pulled some shifts at The Zoo behind the bar and it honestly opened my eyes up so much to how incredibly passionate and integral venues like The Zoo are in the careers of so many artists – offering opportunities and a platform to express your art – it’s just so incredible.

Being exposed to that side has honestly changed and improved the way I operate as a musician for the better.

Who is your ultimate favourite female artist/musician and why?

Halsey. She’s badass. She has something to say and using her platform to say it.

Her latest single, Nightmare touches on some pretty important themes about women being heard, having voices about their own bodies and being empowered. She would be my absolutely ultimate musician to perform alongside one day if the opportunity presented itself.

What would be your advice to any young female artists/musicians/bands who are just starting out?

Ask the right people a lot of questions, not a lot of people the right questions.

Seek out and connect with people who motivate you and unashamedly believe in what you’re doing.

Build a team of people you trust. Particularly as a solo artist, community is key.

The Australian Women in Music Awards is being held at the Brisbane Powerhouse on October 8 and 9. For more details click HERE.

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