Just two short years ago people all over the world were facing strict lockdown guidelines in an effort to combat the still devastating Coronavirus. In Melbourne, Gena Rose Bruce and her partner were feeling the effects of lockdown, just as many others were. Combined with the loss of her partner’s mother, and the unexpected halt to her career Gena Rose was thrown into a deep sadness. Instead of spiraling she was able to channel her emotion into her upcoming album Deep is the Way, set to release early next year. I got the chance to chat with Gena about creating the album and some of the emotion behind it.
Recently you collaborated with Bill Callahan, both writing on writing and Foolishly in Love and sweating on Deep is the Way. Can you tell me a bit about that process?
It all started in lockdown. I reached out to my publishing team, letting them know I want to work with these writers and then they somehow magically they sent my music to Bill and he had already heard it apparently, and he was really keen to write with me too, so which was quite a compliment. Then when we started talking, Bill and I, via email he said he had never really done much co-writing before and we were both just kind of wanting to see what happened. So there was no pressure. We didn’t really have a goal set in mind, I shared him some songs that I've been struggling with over the years. I was kind of detached personally with those songs already because I think I was kind of just mentally over them and I was like “Just Help me fix this” and then he just kind of came back I think for Foolishly in Love, it was just two lyrics or two sentences and then it kind of completely changed my whole mindset to where that song we needed to go. That really inspired me then to write a chorus and then I'd be like “what do you what do you think about this?” Then he would be like, “that's great, what about this as well?” And then adds like another few lines, like a bridge and it kind of was really back and forth. It was all just kind of lyrical base, like he would just help me with the lyrics. But I think it was just like the perfect kind of collaboration or co write for me because it wasn't so intense. [We weren’t] in a room together [with] a few hours to finish it or anything. It was just kind of over a period of about 6 to 8 weeks, even longer, just sending things back and forth, having time to kind of process what each other had said. I didn't feel like I had to lie to him and be like, yeah, I love it like straight away. It was like a really beautiful long process and I think there was a lot of thought involved, which sometimes you don't get in a cowrite because it is such a quick kind of pace. Um we just don't have that a lot of time with the other person. So yeah, it was really beautiful and I felt um it was kind of special that we could connect so well just over email, just over words to write two songs like I I've never spoken to on the phone or zoom or anything.
That kind of leads me into my next question, how did the pandemic shift your process or change your perspective in creating and writing your songs?
Bill said something to me, he said “just don't stop writing until you kind of feel like you're overkill”. So I took that method into the rest of the songs that will be on my album, and just really worked until the day of recording to just trying new things with them. Like adding new weird parts just to see if it would work and sometimes it didn't, but sometimes it was really cool, like oh, that's a whole new part to that song. I was already happy with it, but I don't think I would have pushed myself to keep going if I didn't have Bill's words in my head to just try something new. So I think it really just helped me not accept a finished work straight away.
Throughout your album, you speak about relationships both on I'm not Made to Love Only You and then of course on songs like Foolishly In Love, can you tell me how your relationships influenced this album?
I have a long term partner and we were in a phase where we you know, we've been together for a very long time and we were then in lockdown together and I had lost my job and he hadn't and it was very intense. We were in a very small apartment, uh no balcony or anything. I was in that phase where I had a lot of time to think about the relationship and relationships in general and just kind of questioning, okay, what kind of relationship is right for me or what is it that I kind of need right now in my life? I think the thing about writing it is sort of journaling for me and it really does help me kind of process all those thoughts. It’s just a way I kind of understand my mind I guess. He was a big influence on the record, I think just as someone who was constantly there in my life for those kind of two years.
Staying on writing on Misery and Misfortune you write candidly, “I'm gonna own My Darkest Hour”. Can you expand on like that lyric and just kind of everything that went into the album?
I think that lyric really represents that I was really accepting my sadness at that point. And just going to really own that emotion and that feeling and learn how to kind of not see it really as a negative feeling and a negative kind of frame of mind more of this is where I am right now. This is where I'm at and how can I move forward with that emotion and still feel strong and in control? I think that song is a lot about that. Just kind of accepting that feeling of darkness sadness and learning how to kind of move forward without losing that feeling. You know, I haven't stepped into the light or anything but I'm moving forward with those emotions.
I love that. Is there anything else you wanted to add or say to Tonitruale readers?
I'm just that the album will be out in January and I hope to come to Europe and the U. K. and America soon!