Perhaps it was the piano lessons she had as a child, or the influence of her Scottish relatives whosing, compose and record music, but whatever her influences, Calypso Brown is a young woman with emerging and far-reaching talents.
For one so young, Calypso has achieved a great deal in a short time. Still only 20, she is taking a break from studying music at ‘The Con’ in Hobart to travel and explore her music full-time this year. Currently, she is living in Scotland where she is attending the Edinburgh Festival. As part of the festival she has been taking part in ‘open mike’ performances around Edinburgh, designed to give up-and-coming artists the chance for audience exposure. Very excitingly she was named in The Scotsman newspaper as a young talent to watch, one with enormous potential. No doubt these accolades are very encouraging to the young Tasmanian. Calypso says that she began composing at a young age, and is now writing all her own music and lyrics. While studying Year 12 Music at Hobart College, English writing and music were her two favourite subjects, so a career in composing and singing seemed a natural progression for her.
First coming up with a tune on her guitar, she composes the song, leaving the lyrics as the last thing she creates. Her style is influenced widely, loving many types of music, in particular old English folk music. However, it would not be right to say that she is a young Nina Simone or Kate Bush, as she already has her own style. But her ethereal qualities and beauty do remind me of Kate Bush; while on stage her lyrics and confident easy manner are reminiscent of folk singers like Joan Baez or Linda Ronstadt.
Calypso has played around Hobart at the New Sydney Hotel, The Grape, Irish Murphy’s, and more recently had her first solo performance at The Republic Bar in North Hobart. She has also accompanied some mainland bands in Melbourne. An accomplished musician, she began with the piano, and now plays both acoustic and electric guitar, as well as the harmonica. Calypso also collects old and pre-loved musical instruments and so far has a harmonica, a flute, a squeezebox, an accordion and a mandolin.
She is becoming increasingly confident with her voice and stage presence, a contributing factor being her love of creating her own ‘look’ with collecting and wearing vintage clothes. A mad keen op shopper, Calypso collects vintage clothes that she wears on and off stage. Her understanding of aesthetics goes a step further as she loves to model her vintage clothing collection, and a friend photographs her in some of Hobart’s beautiful old stone houses, creating images that might be used on a CD cover in the future perhaps.
In May of this year she left for Scotland with her mother to visit some of her clan. She has an aunt with a recording studio and many of her mother’s family are musical, she tells me. Born and bred in Hobart, Calypso says she loves Tassie but is looking forward to broadening her horizons and wants to travel.
Meanwhile she is forever developing her style and finds the influences of the Incredible String Band, Anne Briggs, Nina Simone, Nick Drake, Bert Jansch, Johnny Flynn and Kate Bush continue to inspire her to greater things. I am impressed by her drive and dedication to an art form she so obviously loves, and if recent indications are anything to go by, Calypso Brown is certainly someone to watch out for in the Australian and international music scene.
Words: Claire Andrews
Images: Corran Anderson and Chloe Mayne