Busby Marou The Great Divide album coverThomas Busby and Jeremy Marou have delivered another mindful record of sunny folk-pop in The Great Divide. Busby answered our Q&A.

STACK: You two harmonise like blood brothers! The vocals on Wildflower are particularly lovely; do you two sit down and write harmonies or do you improvise?

TB: Jeremy has been gifted with an ear for music and our harmonies are always sung by his natural instinct. We were lucky to have Ali Barter hang with us in the studio for a few days and she provided guest harmonies on Wildflower. She is an amazing vocalist and this is one of my favourite tracks.

Did The Bachelor/ette inform the central sentiment of its chorus, “You can keep your red rose, I’ve had plenty of those/ You only get one wildflower”?

No, but this is a great thought! Messaging the publicity now… next season’s theme song perhaps?

There are some atmospheric samples across the record, like the insect chirps on the opening and closing tracks. Where were these recorded?

The top and tail of the record include recorded sounds surrounding the studio at night. These were initially captured by accident as we were tracking live. We all agreed this vibe out weighed the perfection of a typical slick studio track.

Naba Norem (Reef Song) also contains samples of a group chatting, laughing, whistling, and singing along. Who are these people, and are they related to the person for whom this song is written?

This song is a special track. It’s a story about a young man’s journey from the Torres Strait Islands to mainland Australia. It’s about a black fella growing up in a white man’s world, and clinging on to culture. It’s about a son missing his father. Jeremy is the son and the lead vocal in this song and all the background voices that can be heard in this track are members of the Marou family, from Jeremy’s father’s village in Mer Island. We were lucky enough to travel to the island together with our producer. We spent time hanging with the locals, at the beaches, on the reef, visiting schools, fishing, and at the village where we recorded sacred drums, TI instruments, and group vocals to help give the track the cultural feel. It was an experience of a lifetime.

There are a few tracks about loss, but they’re never despondent or totally hopeless – there’s always an understanding underneath which is often poetic and reconciled. (“Life is like a river, it only ever flows one way” – Gone.) Are you both quite practical and measured when it comes to dealing with troubles, and/or does songwriting help you reach that state of understanding?

We have both had enough life experiences to understand that things aren’t always perfect. We’re positive people and surrounded by family and friends that love us and we have an outlet that most people don’t: songwriting.

The last track – the title track – is a love song, and contains the lyric “Now we talk through satellites almost every single night.” It isn’t clear whether you’re referring to digital technology of communication, or celestial satellites. Is there an answer or is it deliberately open to interpretation?

All our tunes are open to interpretation but this song reminds us that things change. As time changes, so does life, so does technology, etc, etc. It’s important to be reminded that sometimes, we can all feel like we’re in a dark place, but that does not mean that we will feel like that forever.

Your tour is going to take in several regional areas – what do you love about playing in smaller venues?

The crowd participation! There’s usually a stronger connection with the crowds at the smaller regional shows. Partly because of the distance between the band and the audience, but mostly because the regions are often overlooked by touring acts and so when we play at these towns the punters always make the most of it.

The Great Divide by Busby Marou is out now via Warner.

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