There aren’t many artists in the world who greet a journalist with a wave from afar and a generous hug.
But for Australian musician Clare Bowditch, I can only imagine this is the norm.
On my way here today, I seriously considered a pit stop at the pub for a vodka shot (or three). Yep, I’m that nervous about meeting a woman I’d admired for so many years.
But within a few seconds of meeting Bowditch, it’s already like I’m sitting down for a cuppa with an old friend – who happens to have a much better voice than me.
Clare Bowditch writes songs that make you think. She plays Rosanna Harding on Channel 10’s Offspring and is the voice behind that song, ‘You Make Me Happy.’
She’s also the winner of an ARIA award, a mum of three, and the creator of Big Hearted Business, a venture that aims to teach “creative people about business and business people about creativity”.
“I am a musician, a songwriter, I’m eight albums in, and I’ve always written songs from the time I was three,” she tells me.
“But I only got gutsy about making my career out of music when I became a mum. I was 26 or 27 and I thought ‘F**k it, I’ve got to start trying, otherwise I won’t’,” she says.
I’ve been a fan of Bowditch’s for many years now but it’s not until I spend a couple of hours with her that I’m reminded of why I started listening to her music in the first place.
Bowditch has a realness about her. There’s no airbrushing of ideas or opinions. And whether she’s talking about the government’s treatment of asylum seekers, parenting, or why creative people shouldn’t be deterred from making a career out of their craft, she tells it like it is.
“Call me a dreamer, but I’ve always believed it’s possible to do what you love, make a difference in the world and make a living at the same time.”
And that’s exactly what Bowditch does in her own life.
Bowditch is married to her producer/manager/drummer Marty Brown. They’ve got three kids and record Bowditch’s music from the studio at their house.
“If you’re going to have a creative career and kids – you need to be endlessly flexible,” she says.
“The adventure for me and my husband and our kids of being a creative family together, that’s where I got good at my job”
“It makes you absolutely sharp about your choices, how you curate your time, the level of honesty that you can call on. I mean being a parent is f**king humbling. Deeply, deeply, humbling. And I’m not saying that in a lovely Hallmark version of humble. Humbling means you’ve had your face in the dirt and you’re questioning every cliché you’ve ever thought about how parents should be or shouldn’t be.”
And over the past 10 or so years, Bowditch has managed to record and release seven albums, exploring themes like grief, suffering, love and addiction. But she says it was her most recent album – 2012’s The Winter I Chose Happiness – that was the most dangerous. And that was because Bowditch dared to go where most artists do not.
She wrote about the idea of being happy.
“The idea of exploring happiness as an artist felt to be like the most dangerous of all the albums. It was the most dangerous topic because it’s so easy to undermine an artist by accusing them of not being artistic because they’re happy.