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What was the first song you learnt?

Rock My Soul In The Bosom of Abraham. In hindsight there's definitely something surreal about a class of 3rd grade primary kids at Woollahra Public School tunelessly strumming nylon string guitars and singing an African American spiritual about waiting for eternal deliverance in the afterlife.

What’s your favourite memory of your early musical life?

My dad was a Beatles fan and we had Sergeant Peppers, Revolver and a 45 of Honey Pie that I played ad infinitum on a portable record player in our bedroom. Toss up between that and fore-mentioned long-suffering dad taking me to see the Jesus Christ Superstar movie so many times at my insistence he began to groan at the mere mention of it.

What made you want to play music in the first place?

I always had a grand obsession with music and desire to understand how it was constructed. I taught myself to read music and learnt songs and melodies by ear from about seven years old. I never actually envisioned it being my job. There weren't many role models for girls in bands apart from being the singer or backup singer and nobody in my family was a musician. Although I did have great-aunt Mahalia who banged out tunes on upright piano and danced around with maracas Peter Allen style. Obviously she was ahead of her time.

How old were you when you started playing?

I played recorder in infants school. When I went to high school there was an opportunity to learn an orchestral instrument and I was a bit unorganised so by the time I signed up there were only violins left. As it turned out it was a great instrument to learn as you need a lot of them in an orchestra and they translate to folk, pop, rock and country music too. 

Who were your music heroes/idols back then? Who are they now?

Back then my heroes (after The Beatles) were Abba, Carole King, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and John Lennon. Now I write music for film and television and my favourite screen composers are Mychael Danna, Michael Nyman, Alexandre Desplat, Gustavo Santaolalla and Cliff Martinez. I'd love to be able to include female film composers in that list but they are as rare as hens teeth.

What was the name of your first band?

Climbing Frame. I was 17 and we were an art rock instrumental band. That was where I learnt to improvise. It was the mid 1980s and in the spirit of DIY we made our own record, designed, printed and distributed our own posters and held our own illegal gigs in warehouses with conceptual performance artists. Happy days.


Amanda Brown is a composer and multi-instrumentalist and was a member of Australian indie-rock heroes, the Go-Betweens.