Let's get beyond the obvious questions about Sale of the Century first. The vehicle that brought Alyce Platt to the public eye and made her beloved is so far in the rear-view mirror it's lost in the dust.
Alyce Platt's career as a musician and songwriter is what lies nearest to her heart. She's pursued that career all her performing life. Recently it has taken her around Australia and overseas - including time recording music in an empty hammam, or bathhouse, in Tunis. She's playing at Scrub Hill, near Daylesford, in March.
More on that experience later. Currently Platt is performing as Baker's Daughter, a name she discovered some years ago reading Shakespeare's Hamlet, in Ophelia's madness speech to Gertrude and Claudius:
'They say the owl was a baker's daughter. Lord, we know what we are, but know not what we may be.'
Where did the name Baker's Daughter come from?
It's actually something that I came across, years ago, when I did my first EP that Peter Farnon produced. There was something about it which intrigued me, spoke to me, regarding that fractured side of Ophelia.
So tell me - what have you been doing lately?
I have been doing a lot actually. As Baker's Daughter, we've been playing a lot of new material that will eventually be on a record that is happening very soon. So we actually have been playing festivals and doing things for Regional Arts Victoria. We haven't played in Melbourne since August last year, actually, but we've been playing. We went to Perth and we're going over to Adelaide for the Adelaide Fringe.
Pretty much the core of that band is Clare Moore playing vibes, Peter Farnon on guitar, Stephen Hadley and myself. We've just been playing the songs in that configuration and it's got this really nice sort of atmosphere about it. So that's how we're going to begin the recording.
Of course Pete Farnon was with Boom Crash Opera and Serious Young Insects.
You're touring regionally quite a bit. How is it working with Regional Arts Victoria? Tell me about some of the regional Victorian venues that you've played, some of the towns.
It was great. The communities in Victoria are really welcoming. It's wonderful to go and play your music, all the original songs, to people who are really a willing crowd, who are up for that. Going over to Perth was really great; we went to Tasmania for the Festival of Voices.
We went up to Yea and the Yea Arts Inc did a fantastic evening in the middle of nowhere; Strath Creek, I think it was. They put up these incredible marquees, and it was like a sit-down dinner. It was literally in the fields. People came from everywhere, and it was really, really spectacular. We stayed the night at a beautiful old hotel in Yea.
It's very vibrant out there. I think there's so much music happening in Melbourne that, when you go out to regional NSW or interstate, you really find people come; there's an audience out there, lots of people who are who are up for music. I'm looking forward to doing more of that this year. Actually, I've yet to go to Castlemaine and Beechworth. I know Clare and Dave (Graney), they do tour a lot in regional NSW. It's one of their favourite tours to do. Ruffy and RuffArtz, that's another place I've been to, the back of Yarck.
It's such a lovely thing to do. It's great for the local people and community, it's great for musicians and artists too. I've been touring a little bit with my association with a feature documentary Journey Beyond Fear which has my music as the soundtrack.
Tell me about that.
It's a documentary about a refugee family. They are Afghan; they were refugees for years and they were in Kuala Lumpur. The director spent seven years documenting their journey seeking asylum here. They were tempted to go by boat, which the film documents, an awful near-death experience for them.
They decided at the last minute not to go. That boat, which sadly had their friends on it, went down, sank. The film is told through the eyes of the eldest daughter, 15 at the time. It's uplifting in the sense it is a refugee story, but it's beyond that. It's political to a point, but it's more of an insight into the loveliness of them as people and as a family, and in adversity how they they survived.
My music from Beautiful Death and Funny Little World, the director combined to make the whole soundtrack. I've been going to regional screenings; there was one at the Nova in Carlton and at the Classic in Elsternwick.
Let's talk about you going to Tunisia.
Last year I had this wonderful opportunity to go to Tunisia as a part of a Women in Arts delegation; I was the performer part. So I got to perform with local musicians, women and men, in Tunisia. It was funded by the Australian consulate in Malta actually, and it was the most unbelievable experience of my life.
It was put together by these two wonderful women. One has spent many years in Syria. She's an anthropologist and humanitarian, she's explored Arabic culture, and she puts these tours together.
Tunisia is very different to other Arab countries. It's quite independent; it's forward-thinking in women's rights. Tunis actually has a female mayor, so it's quite a different feel. I'd been to Turkey and Morocco and Dubai and and other countries, but it was a real gentleness about Tunisia. And I think it's because of this underlying feminine quality that they revere and nurture and respect. That was very exciting.
And I got inspired. I started to write some songs down, and went down to a little island very close to the border of Libya where a lot of the Taliban come across and recruit these innocent young people.
So we're in a place called Djerba, which is this tiny little island just off the Sahara. And we were staying in the Jewish quarter, in these old, beautiful buildings, whitewashed buildings. The place we stayed in had a hammam, an Ottoman bathhouse. As I was writing this stuff, I thought I might go in there and record because of the reverb.
So I came up with this idea of wanting to go back. It was exciting being in there, just the natural acoustics of the hammam. I mixed that recording with the call to prayer which happens five times a day. I would love to go back. When I was playing I said to the local people, 'Has anybody, do you know, recorded in a hamam?' They went, 'Oh, no, no! We'd love to do that.'
You're doing really exciting things it seems.
Yeah, I am, I am doing very exciting things at the moment. I stepped back into a bit of acting as well. I've gone back to Ramsay Street; I'm doing a little bit on Neighbours at the moment, which is wonderful. I'm enjoying it a lot, actually.
When are you at Scrub Hill?
We are coming up on Saturday, March 21. It's a different kind of gig this time, combined with art and music. There's going to be an exhibition of local artists, similar to what they do at the Linden Gallery with the postcard exhibition, in the schoolhouse. There will be food caravans and then the concert we're doing, between 3pm and 5pm or 6pm: something like that! The event overall starts at about 12pm.