Q&A: Australian singer-songwriter Cloves discusses upcoming album, SXSW performance

Katie Walsh

Australian singer songwriter Kaity Dunstan, known by her stage name Cloves will bring her haunting vocals to Austin this week for South By Southwest. The Daily Texan spoke with her about her first band as a kid, her upcoming album and who she is listening to right now.

The Daily Texan: How did you get involved with music?
Kaity Dunstan: I always knew that I wanted to make an album. I started off playing in bands when I was about 12 years old playing covers in dive bars with my sister and some older people.

DT: What were was your 12-year-old band like?
KD: Well it was me and my sister, and also we had people that were in their 30s and 40s. One guy was literally my primary school teacher. I literally played in band with him in pubs from ages 12-14. It was weird, me and [my sister] got kicked out by 10 p.m. because obviously I was so under age it was ridiculous. It was really fun and it taught me that i loved performing, and I loved singing and writing.

DT: What specifics are you working toward right now?
KD: Finishing my album. Trying to make as good of an album as we can and to be happy with it — that is what I am hoping to achieve in the future.

DT: Is there a theme behind your upcoming album?
KD: The center of the album is how I am as a person and how I view things in life and how I take situations. That’s kind of it — it’s going to be very blunt and it’s going to be very honest. It’s potentially revealing but I think it should be and I want it to be. It’s just me growing up as a person basically.

DT: Is that scary for you? To reveal pieces of yourself on an album so many people will see?
KD: I don’t know yet, we'll see.

DT: What are you looking forward to about SXSW?
KD: I think I am excited because I want to go out and see other shows, and find new artists that I don’t know about and finding new music for myself that I didn’t know about.

DT: What is your fav song to perform live?
KD: “Everybody’s Son” because it’s such a lift for me to sing. When I get to that song, I feel a sense of optimism. That’s my favorite song that I’ve written and my favorite song to play live.

DT: Do you have a favorite song or a song you always find yourself going back to from another artist?
KD: I do always come back to the same artists like Amy Winehouse, Fiona Apple, The Black Keys, Arctic Monkeys. A song that I have been listening to loads has been “Iron Sky” from Paolo Nutini.

DT: What was it like working with producer Justin Parker, known for his work with Lana Del Rey and Banks?
KD: Justin is one of the most talented people I have ever worked with. He’s an incredible writer, an incredible human, a friend. I just really love working with him and I love learning from how he writes. He is just a very talented person and he is also very similar to me so we get along very well.

DT: If you could collaborate with anyone who would it be?
KD: At the moment, I would love to do a duet with Paolo Nutini. But like an old school duet, back-and-forth, girl and boy kind of thing. A proper duet — I think that would be really cool.  

Cloves will play at 3TEN  Austin City Limits Live on Wednesday, March 16 at 8 p.m. in addition to several other shows.