What do Greta Thunberg, Scott Morrison, Tom Robbins, Prince and Stevie Nicks have in common? They’ve all influenced Dave Robertson & The Kiss List’s new single.
Canary in the Coal Mine is a thought-provoking tale of our apocalyptic times. It traverses our changing climate, Australia’s fossil-fool leadership and beliefs that may not be compatible with actually wanting to save the living world. This idea was explored in Tom Robbin’s novel Skinny Legs and All, published in 1990 but sadly as relevant today.
The “purple rain” lyric is a nod to the Prince song, about which he said “When there’s blood in the sky – red and blue = purple… purple rain pertains to the end of the world”. He originally wrote it as a country song to perform with Stevie Nicks, and Dave was incidentally going for a 1970s Fleetwood Mac vibe with this single. The understated sonics of Canary in the Coal Mine mirror the dream-like state we’re in, with the swelling drums at the end symbolising hope that the school strike for climate movement will help shake us to our senses.
Recording for the song began at Hopping Mouse Studios in Fremantle to get takes of Dave playing together with Tore Pedersen (bass) and Merle Fyshwick (drums). Then Dave recorded the remaining parts in his home studio, including Rob Findlay’s saturated electric guitars and Rachel Armstrong’s sweet harmonies and violin. Dave mixed the song before handing over to Grammy Award-winning engineer William Bowden for mastering. Last but not least, Donald Viol sketched the canary in a cage artwork, and Cath Viol kept Dave sane, while going quietly insane herself listening to all the mixing.