Dustin Tebbutt, singer-songwriter
I think touring overseas is really good for perspective, just to remember how many people are out there and many of them might be interested to know what you're doing!
Dustin Tebbutt has been gradually ascending the ranks of Australia’s finest singer-songwriters for the past few years, but really made his mark after the release of his debut album First Light in 2016. Since then Dustin has been riding high – touring the globe and earning legions of fans in the process. This month will see Dustin hit the road once again, but this time he’s not alone. Joining him will be fellow talent Lisa Mitchell for what is being names the Distant Call Tour. These shows will not be your run-of-the-mill co-headline tour – each night Dustin and Lisa will be sharing a band, a stage and even each other’s songs. Before the duo hits the road, we caught up with Dustin to talk life post debut album and what we can expect from his upcoming shows.
We are coming up on a year since you released your debut album First Light. How has the response to the work and the time since been for you?
We are? Wow, thats gone so quickly! I’ve been really happy with how the album has been received, and people are still discovering and sharing it which I think is a great indicator that the music is connecting. The process of making First Light was a really fulfilling one, but a tricky one too – I put a lot of pressure on myself for that record, and I was really aware of that throughout the process of writing it, but I couldn’t help myself. I feel like I have more confidence and freedom in my writing again now that the ‘debut’ is done. So, the last year working on new stuff has been really fun.
There are a lot of things I admire about Lisa, for one she’s an incredible singer – it all seems to come to her very naturally. She has such a wide palette with her voice – moving from this fragile thing to pure power at other times. It’s quite rare someone has so much control and range physically and emotionally with their instrument. The other thing I really love about her songwriting is her ability to be honest with herself and the listener. I think it really shows in songs where that extra level of authenticity is there.
The two of you will be sharing a band and a stage, and will performing on each other’s songs. How was the process of piecing together the collaborative aspect of the tour?
Well, we are still working through all that! Lisa has been in Europe for some touring stuff recently, so most of the planning has happened via Skype and email. I’d say we have a very thorough plan on paper (laughs). We hit rehearsals this week, so I guess we’ll see then how it all actually works. The collaborative track we did was fun, I did the production stuff and my parts here in Australia and then sent the beds to her to play around with vocals on which she recorded in a hotel room somewhere. We pieced it all together that way. We’ve both got our own teams, but they have been working really well together to dot all the i’s and cross the t’s.
What can Brisbane audiences expect from the show?
I think we’re both doing a pretty balanced overview of both our catalogs. We didn’t want to do the traditional double headline thing where one band gets up and plays their set, then once they finish the other follows – so we’ve decided to share the set, really. Both being solo artists we were able to work in with the same session guys and there will be some really special collaborative moments.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t ask – will you be dropping any new songs into the set?
I am going to road test one of the new tunes. It’s my favourite demo at the moment, a song I wrote in Amsterdam. We’ll see how it goes – hopefully I can remember all the words!
Speaking of tours, you sold out your recent UK and Europe shows earlier in the year! As a performer, how does it feel to see that your work is resonating with audiences around the world?
It’s a great feeling and I feel really lucky to have had the opportunity to head over there and make those connections with fans first hand. It’s one thing for the music to be on the internet and connecting, but it doesn’t really feel real until you get on the ground and meet some fans. We only did a small run, but there were people driving from all over to get to one of the shows. Also, I think I’ve always tried to make music that wasn’t defined by the Australian culture or an obvious nod to any trends that are happening here, so I guess it’s important to me that it works over there as it’s a metric that really shapes how I feel – in a creative sense – about what I’m doing.
How would you say the experience of releasing the new album and touring globally has shaped you as a songwriter?
I think the last year hasn’t had any specific impact on that, apart from gathering more stories and getting more experience. I definitely feel more confident now with my writing and production. I trust myself, I guess? I think touring overseas is really good for perspective too, just to remember how many people are out there and many of them might be interested to know what you’re doing!
If you could tour with any artist – living or dead – who would be your dream choice?
You mean apart from Lisa Mitchell? Hmm – maybe Radiohead or Bon Iver! I love both their music and they are probably awesome people, but more to see how they setup their live shows. Both bands have huge and awesome productions and I’d love to know how it’s all working.
We are all about finding inspiration in the world around us! What is something is especially inspiring or motivating in your life?
Live music is always great. I don’t get to that many gigs, but I really love shows – they really fill up the life meter when they are good. I went to see The Lumineers at the Sydney Opera House recently and once you dig beyond their incredibly infectious folk hits there are some really meaty stories in their songs. That was a really special show.