… a harmony-infused ‘Two de Force’
If Thelma and Louise were a singing duo, they’d be a lot like Gemma Trewella and Christa Prowse… or as the world will soon know them, February Dream.
Like the Geena Davis character in the movie, Christa has a quiet and sensitive nature. She paints and makes jewellery when she’s not creating music. Gemma on the other hand is more like Susan Sarandon’s strong, confident ‘Louise’. A true animal lover, when she’s not singing, you can find Gemma supporting any of several animal welfare charities she champions.
The girls’ personalities are reflected in their singing styles - Gemma’s raw and earthy vocals contrasting yet complementing Christa’s smoother, sweeter tones. It’s a combination that just works.
The duo’s name came to them on a sunny February day as they listened to some incredible live music in the form of stripped-back versions of songs they both knew and loved. Harmonies soared and brought the songs to life in a way they’d never heard on the radio. It was the way these songs were intended to be heard - simple, powerful and so moving - the very essence of music.
That February day, Gemma and Christa were inspired to create something that would move people… and a dream was born.
They’ve since collaborated on a collection of songs for two voices, full of eloquence, simplicity and grace… a collaboration, which culminated in the release of their first CD – the EP ‘Dare’ – in (of course) February 2013. In keeping with the theme, the first single from ‘Dare’ was a great original track with a summery feel called ‘February Sky’. The girls officially launched their EP at Eastern Lounge, Roseville when they shared the stage with touring Canadian star Faye Blais and ‘music royalty’ in the shape of Lionel Cole (nephew of Nat ‘King’ and cousin of Natalie).
‘Dare’ is a 5-track EP produced by former Thirsty Merc guitarist, Sean Carey. Each track is an original, with ‘February Sky’ the very first song Gemma and Christa wrote together. The girls are rightfully proud that every instrument on their EP is played by ‘real musicians’ – (there’s no midi in there)!
These two share an undeniable gift to create music of soaring loveliness. Their original compositions recall the great acoustic heroes of another era – Simon & Garfunkel… The Byrds… The Lovin’ Spoonful… The Mamas & The Papas. More recently they could be said to be cut from the same cloth as The Corrs, Indigo Girls and The Waifs. The clarity and beauty of their songs is underpinned by the same celestial vocals that make all these acts great.
To date their music adventure has taken them from a busking trip along the Australian East Coast to a gig at which they were befriended by a felon on the run from the cops who’d hidden in the first pub he found. (He spent the night chatting to the girls between sets and at the end of the night, walked them to their car to make sure they got home safely!)
They’ve stayed in a dark and scary pub in the middle of nowhere in a room smelling of stale bile, guarded by a massive dog while waiting to support Dave Gleeson and Steve Forde.
They’ve performed on the back of a semi-trailer at sunset on a sheep station in regional NSW; and they’ve played a festival gig in a local church where they sang Amazing Grace a capella and unplugged. (By the time they’d sung the first verse, the audience had all reached for their hymn books, called out the page number and proceeded to sing all five verses in four-part harmony with February Dream.)
“It’s this variety and craziness that keeps us coming back for more”, says Gemma.
February Dream is a true duo in that there is no lead singer. They weave between the melody and the harmony, fusing parts together. It’s as musically honest as you can get… there’s no hiding behind an electronic line-up in the hope of increasing their commercial appeal… they’re all about allowing the spirit of the music to shine.
And performing live holds no fear for February Dream of perhaps showing some slight musical imperfection. As Christa puts it: “We want our music to be pure… the most beautiful things come out of imperfection.
“A cracked note can give you goose bumps. What some see as musical imperfection can be unexpected brilliance, which is something that as a musician you thrive on. It makes performing exciting and it’s great when the audience gets to experience one of those unexpected moments with you.”
February Dream is a very natural song writing ‘Two de Force’, with just a hint of mystery and intrigue. They use all the colours of the musical palate to serve the sense and spirit of their music. Their songs are full of unabashed romanticism and exquisitely nuanced, inspired arrangements, always infused with sweet harmonies. Far from your average folkies, these two create sublimely breathtaking grandeur with just their voices, acoustic guitar and the barest of rhythms underpinning the most seamless melodies.
Whatever the month, make sure you share the dream.