We snuck 10 with Sneaky Sound System’s Connie to talk creativity and routine, mixing music and motherhood, and chasing summer around the world.
When she’s not writing or performing with Sneaky Sound System, Connie Mitchell is collaborating with some of the music world’s biggest names – think Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z and Rudimental. Currently, Connie’s in Bali for a four-month residency, July-October, with her family in tow – husband Angus McDonald who is also the other half of Sneaky Sound System, and their two kids, son Iggy who’ll turn 3 this month, and daughter Cece who’ll turn 1 in September. Ever-seeking summer, their next destination is Cairns’ Scene & Heard festival.
Success: You’re coming to Cairns October 27 for Scene & Heard music festival. What are you looking forward to?
Connie: The weather.
Success: You’ll be coming from a four-month residency in Bali, so you’ll be well acclimatised.
Connie: Oh yeah, that’s right! I love Cairns because it feels so warm, because there is this kind’ve tropical vibe that you get in places that are really warm, which is that your people are just up for it, they’re just up for it, you know.
It’s party season because when you go to a warm climate, you’re ready to party, that’s how it is. ‘Okay, here we are, off the plane, give me a Margherita.’
Success: So, Connie, we hear Sneaky Sound System is the only act to play the festival again, after you delivered a cracking performance in Newcastle last year.
Connie: We must be doing something right Rachel!
Success: What is Scene & Heard like?
Connie: I think what’s great about it is that they don’t wait around, you know. It’s like, ‘here we are, we’re going to have fun. Let’s just do it.’ And everyone equally has a great crowd response, you know.
Success: You’d had your daughter just one month before you played at Newcastle. How does music and motherhood mix for you?
Connie: As a musician, I think you’re already pre-dispositioned to be able to cope because you don’t sleep that much, usually have to wake up and get an early flight, you don’t feel that great most of the time because you’re a little bit hungover. When you have a baby it’s like, ‘well this isn’t so bad,’ you know.
Success: You’ve been working with Sneaky Sound System for 15 years now. Has the band evolved in that time?
Connie: Oh, for sure, I mean I don’t think you would continue to do it if it didn’t, you know. If you’re stagnant, you get left behind, you die. I mean, we just had a UK Dance #1 at the end of last year, and that’s in the UK. You better be on the pulse if you’re going to have a UK Dance #1!
Success: Do you need routine for creativity?
Connie: Yeah, but I think that’s important for all things, you know. Whether you’re a writer or painter. In the artistic world, I think you’ve got to have that sense of routine, otherwise you just get kind of laissez faire. You’re like, ‘oh well, I’ll do it tomorrow, I’ll start it tomorrow.’ And then all of a sudden tomorrow’s come and went, and you’re there with nothing.
Success: What frustrates you most by being a musician?
Connie: I think lack of venues to play in Sydney is a pretty big one.
Success: Is that why you go overseas?
Connie: That was why we began to, during that period [when Sydney’s nightlife became restricted] because, we’re a summer type of people, so when it’s winter in Sydney – and I can’t generalise across Australia – when the sun goes away, people tend to not go out so much. Now if you don’t go out so much, and there’s nowhere to go, that means the town is dead. There’s nothing for you to do, you know, there’s no sustainability for your career, no sustainability for making music or doing gigs or anything. We’ve always had offers overseas, so we just thought well why not take them and that’s what happened.
Connie: That’s great for us, but it’s not that great for home, you know? What about the 19-year-old kid who’s got great songs, wants to become a DJ; where’s he going to play? At home? To his mum and dad? To mates?
Success: What would you be if you weren’t a muso?
Connie: I wouldn’t mind being a plastic surgeon. A bit of break and remake.
Success: It’s a bit like song writing, putting together pieces of a puzzle to make something that’s beautiful.
Connie: Well, yeah, it is actually, you’re right. I like this train of thought, I like it Rachel.
Success: What do you do to unwind?
Connie: Wine. I don’t mind a good cold swim. And night runs.
Success: Are you a nocturnal person?
Connie: I am. Always have been. I think the juice flows a bit better for me as the sun’s going down. You know that beautiful witching hour? I love that, for me that’s the peak, that’s the vibe. You know when light kind of changes, it kind of turns a bit blue? Twilight is when the magic happens…
Tickets to Scene & Heard music festival, October 27, are on sale now at sceneandheardfestival.com.au.