What are the odds that you could travel around the world and wind up meeting someone from where you are? No really, what are they? Because that was the reality for the Australian pair that make up This Way North. Cat Leahy and Leisha Jungalwalla were a world away from their own homes when they had a chance encounter in Canada. After hitting it off, well the music soon came and This Way North was born. Roots rock was where they started, but they changed lanes this time around. We talked about why they decided to switch it up on the new record, their touring that picks back up in April, and more.
Kendra: Have you ever done the math to figure out the odds of the two of you being from Melbourne but meeting a world away in Canada? Is that why you have a sort of love affair with the home of Degrassi, maple leaves, and ultimate kindness?
This Way North: Oh I love that explanation of Canada (the home of Degrassi, maple leaves, and ultimate kindness) it’s perfect! We definitely both have a love affair with Canada, to both of us when we first started touring there it gave us a sort of freedom that we haven’t experienced before and that was when we were touring with other bands too. Now we have so many dear friends and memories there it will always be a very special place to us!
Kendra: Now let’s talk about this new EP that dropped in early March. What inspired the shift in sound?
This Way North: We were both listening to a lot of different sounds for the last couple of years, lots of alt-pop, psych rock such as Bahamas, War on Drugs, Alt-J and also wanted to venture away from the sound that we had both been playing for a while, just a creative growing up I guess.
Kendra: I like to think of what we create as our children in a way. With that, are there songs on Vol. 2 that clearly have more of Cat’s genetic makeup and others that take after Leisha?
This Way North: Ha! There are a few of them running around with little hats and some with little dreads for sure! That’s what has been fun about this EP is that we’ve really shared the writing, have written together and collaborated on the songs as a whole too.
Kendra: You’ve got some traveling coming with the tour that kicked off in March. Are there any new places that are new to you that you cannot wait to play?
This Way North: Yes, we are playing up in Geraldton, WA which we’ve never been to. One of my favourite things to do is drive down roads I’ve never driven before, all these places that have been there for so long that I’ve never laid eyes on is exciting.
Kendra: When you’re not touring you take part in this great showcase, Sass the Patriarchy. Women in music have always had to be two steps ahead to keep up with their male counterparts. What women in particular though have helped inspired This Way North to push boundaries?
This Way North: Some of our heroes are Meshell Ndegeocello, Nina Simone, Janis Joplin as well as our friends such as Addison Axe (Axe Girl, Tommyhawks) Ness (Axe Girl, Tommyhawks, Jebediah), Dallas Frasca, Liz Stringer. Listening and working with some of these women has been so inspiring because they don’t give a shit about what society is supposed to want from you, they push the boundaries, are true to their art and also give back to their communities.
Kendra: A new album and a tour, what else can we expect from you two this year?
This Way North: We have been working on a new show for the tour, honing the craft of live performance. We’ve also got some fun live studio film clips to share and we will be taking our Sass the Patriarchy events to New Zealand and Canada when we go on tour.
Kendra: Seeing that you two are a great pair if you had to make a mixtape celebrating great musical duos what five songs would have to be on it?
This Way North:
Black Keys: “Lonely Boy” (the guitar tone in this is live heaven to my ears)
Simon and Garfunkel: “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (sniff, sniff, tear)
Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers: “Islands in the Stream” (do I need a reason!!!)
Daft Punk: “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” (this song without fail makes me do the Melbourne shuffle)
Empire of the Sun: “Walking on a Dream” (makes me want to eat all the fluffy clouds in the sky)