Creating a soundtrack for life


Creating a soundtrack for life

words Heidi HELBIG
>> Well known local artist Cloudy Davey

Much like her personality, Cloudy Davey’s music resonates with unmistakable sincerity and gratitude.

It comes from a place of knowing herself, both as an artist and individual.

“I’ve come to a stage in my career where I’m really comfortable doing what I do,” says the singer-songwriter.

“I’m not after some destination – I’m pleasing myself and making people happy.”

Cloudy couldn’t be further from the archetypal ‘frontwoman’, instead appreciating the subtle nuances that make each performance special.

“I can be happy, happy, happy playing to an empty restaurant or in the background at a winery where almost no-one is paying the least bit of attention to me, but maybe it’s a really nice day,” Cloudy says.

“A really good gig can be when someone comes up to you and says, ‘you just played the soundtrack to my life, or that was our wedding song, or that song reminds me of my best friend’.

“Or when the room, for some reason, is switched on to you from the very first song and you get to interact with those people all night long. That’s a good gig, man.”

“I remember being in my bed singing the National Anthem and memorising the harmony and really feeling and understanding it innately, like a little lightbulb going off in my head.”

- Cloudy Davey

Cloudy’s inherent love for what she does is infectious, and the reason she’s been a fixture on the Barossa’s music scene for decades.

A remarkably versatile artist, her style is perhaps best described as eclectic.

She’s as comfortable performing a sweet acoustic ballad as a pub rock anthem or pop song.

But while she’s rarely without a guitar, the Bethany resident says she’s a singer at heart.

“I suppose I would say I’m a musician, but my voice was my first instrument,” Cloudy says.

“As a kid I think probably, quietly, I always did know (I could sing).

“I remember being in my bed singing the National Anthem and memorising the harmony and really feeling and understanding it innately, like a little lightbulb going off in my head.

“It was never something I had to try hard at, melody, harmony, chord structures. I was blessed in that way.   

“It’s a beautiful thing if you want to be a musician; it’s not useful for much else! Lucky for me, I decided that was what I wanted to do.”

With the likes of Neil Young, Cat Stevens and Jodi Mitchell resonating in her ears, a young Cloudy studied at jazz school, borrowed a guitar and embarked on a what would become a lifelong love affair with music.

“I guess it was an elusive ‘have guitar, will travel’ kind of dream,” says Cloudy.

“I had no gear, nothing. I borrowed my friend’s horrible, horrible guitar, scraped together 30 songs that had three or four chords at most and hit the ground running.”

In the years that followed, Cloudy travelled and performed the length and breadth of the country, but it was a heart moment involving her family that eventually bought Cloudy back home.

“My little brother, Jess had muscular dystrophy at the time, and he was deteriorating,” Cloudy recalls.

“I remember one day mum called and said to me, ‘Cloudy, his arms have gone’. Something triggered in me when she said that and I just wanted to be close to home.

“I knew at the time what I was going to regret, but it wasn’t going home. Some things are just more important.

“I would never judge someone for not making the same decision, and people might argue that I could have got myself on a trajectory with music, but for me that was always going to pale in comparison. It just wasn’t in me.”

These days, Cloudy is a local institution and well-known for her co-collaborations with artists such as husband, Gian Wagland, Jamie Blechynden and the Whisky Sisters, Vicky Blechynden and Prue Gill.

She says the creative process is equal parts frustration and inspiration.

“I don’t know many musicians who can put their finger on it…something happy, something sad, something poignant; maybe something someone said, or the way they said it,” Cloudy says.

“Sometimes I might have a fully formed set of words, music and melody that go together instantly; sometimes it’s like chasing butterflies.

“We are always borrowing; everything is six degrees of separation, and it’s no different when you’re creative.”

>> >> Cloudy Davey performing with her husband Gian Wagland.

Now, at nearly 50 years of age, Cloudy’s musical journey has come full circle.

She is mentoring students in vocals and guitar at Stella One Studio, and is assistant vocal coach for an amateur production of Aladdin with Now Productions.

“I’m comfortable now that I can impart my knowledge to other people because I have those years of experience behind me, and I love that aspect of it,” says Cloudy.

“I know now that I will never stop doing this.

“It really is a privilege; it feels like giving back in some way and it’s really a wonderful thing.”

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