Almost eight years after moving across the ditch, former Ashburton-lad Liam Kennedy-Clark is still living his dream, – making music.
His recorded music, including own single Inside the Frame and another to be released this month, is available on Spotify, and a new album is set to be released next year.
Liam makes a living playing guitar, bass, piano/keyboards and a multitude of other instruments having grown up cutting his teeth on country, rock and blues.
He, along with partner Gabi, are living in Maitland, Australia, two hours north of Sydney.
They met through their love of music at the Tamworth Country Music Festival.
‘‘We were booked to be a part of the band, The Bushwackers, an iconic Australian bush band,’’ Liam said.
‘‘Gabi is a fiddle player, having played classical and Celtic music before branching out into country.’’
Since then the couple have played many shows together, as well as recording.
While Liam’s music work involves a lot of touring, Gabi is also a bio-medical student at the University of Newcastle.
‘‘Maitland, much like Canterbury is a rural type of area. Laid back and so many great people here,’’ Liam said.
Being in the music industry has always been his dream, despite the challenges it now offers.
‘‘Being a musician comes easy to me. I’ve always known it’s what I wanted to do, but there’s no way to know when you’re young, (or no way to be told really) that there’s a lot more to it, and it’s not just getting up on stage after a bit of practicing.’’
‘‘Unfortunately the industry is getting tougher. New social media platforms which you have to be on, old ones dying out, consistently trying to be current in a flooded market, and trying to ignore the fact that so many people are just openly bagging you out online … people feeling like they can as your life is online.
‘‘A lot of this gets you weighed down, but the upsides more than always make up for it,’’ he said.
‘‘I work my ass off constantly trying to promote what I do, learn new things, and stay on top of an ever-changing world and market.’’
In March it will be eight years since Liam left New Zealand to live – and tour – in Australia, and make his mark on the music scene in Oz.
‘‘That whole time I have been lucky enough to work full time as a musician professionally,’’ he said.
‘‘I’ve played shows in every state, to so many different crowds with a lot of different artists and bands, and managed to clock up hundreds of thousands of miles on the road.’’
Liam is one of the youngest touring session musicians in Australia within the level of artists he tours alongside. He has been touring since he was 18.
‘‘I’ve also been teaching music at the CMAA Academy of Country Music since then, making me still the youngest tutor,’’ he said.
As well as playing music for a lot of other artists Liam continues to write and record his own songs.
He released his last album in 2018 with 10 original tracks and toured it for a little while.
‘‘Covid came around early 2020 and brought a grinding halt to everything. The music industry was the first to fall, and will be the last to be back as we’re still finding the odd hiccup here and there.
‘‘By the time 2022 came around, I thought it was about time I get back to recording and releasing new music, self-produced from my home studio, working with some amazing songwriters and musicians.
‘‘I began to release songs again, the first of which was Game & Trade, which is about the music industry, and what it’s like to work in it.’’
Liam’s followup single Inside the Frame, is about the couple’s move to Maitland, and finding their feet in a new place. It includes a hook ‘‘noting the pictures we have up on our wall of many great moments we’ve had, and the people who have helped get us there.’’
Liam’s latest single – a collaboration with The Bushwackers – was released a few weeks ago.
‘‘Dobe Newton (band member and also author of I Am Australian) penned the lyrics and sent them up to me, where I wrote the music. We collaborated on the vocals, and created something very special for the both of us.
‘‘I have a few new songs up my sleeve, one of which is to be released in November, and all going to plan, there will be an album out early next year.
All Liam’s singles and his recorded music is available online.
‘‘The album will be too when it’s out, as well as physical copies if they still exist by then,’’ he jokes.
Liam has a notebook full of song ideas – nearly all of them unfinished – as well as ideas, titles and chords on his phone which he always carries with him.
‘‘Whenever an idea comes, I write it down.’’
Bad ideas are deleted later, with a clear head, he said.
He considers himself to be ‘‘extremely lucky to be able to do what I do for a living’’ despite some pitfalls such as being told no, cancellations and online trolling but ‘‘upsides are easily levelled out by the downsides.’’
However, whether or not there is money to be made depends on the motivation of those involved, he said.
His love of music and performing has kept him in the industry, but there are still bills to pay.
‘‘I work hard to earn a decent living, and nearly all that’s left over goes right back into making the next thing happen, whether that be a new CD, tour, equipment, or just fuel to get to the shops.
‘‘I can’t pay all my bills on exposure or Facebook likes,’’ he said.
‘‘You just have to be committed to it. It’s really easy to quit. All this aside, I love what I do. I share big and small stages with musicians who make me want to be better, and in front of crowds who make me want to come back, and not stop.’’