Hidden Treasures on a Sunny Day

After a wonderful couple of days recording and mixing at Belfry Studio, I really felt a need to get out in the garden and get my hands dirty today.  I wanted to get some space before listening to the CD again.
Hobart turned on a fabulous spring day for me and I had a great time. Lots of playing with the rabbits, who had their hutches cleaned out and then planting sunflower seedlings and climbing beans, mulch courtesy of the rabbits. It was a perfect day for cutting Tarragon for drying too.
All the time I kept thinking about the recording, even sang a few bars to the chooks, who didn’t mind at all – they had silverbeet and kale leaves to peck at.
As I was finishing up for the day, I noticed some garlic at the front of a bed. Now, I have garlic everywhere in my garden, I love it and can never grow enough but it tends to get overlooked as it dies down. I realised these were cloves I forgot to pull last summer. So tonight’s stir fry had fresh garlic – and I have about a dozen or more heads to cure and plait for keeping.
After dinner, I sat back and put the CD on – yes, there’s minor tweaks that I need to make but wow – I’m very pleased and proud.


And Now – Back to the Music!

After a little sojourn into urban farming and environmental concerns, today it’s back to the driving force in my life – music!

At the moment, I’m preparing to finish recording my next project, and it’s something completely foreign to me. After years of writing and playing my own songs, I’m recording an EP of other people’s songs. I started recording a couple of months ago and I now have five songs that I’m pretty pleased with as studio roughs. But I’d like to record one more and then start the mixing process.

Bertha & Blondie, ready for action!

Bertha & Blondie, ready for action

The concept is to record songs that have influenced my own songwriting and/or singing and believe me, the hardest thing has been narrowing it down to just six! In conversation with my musical partner-in-crime and studio whiz, Malcolm Battersby, “The Lucky Six” came up as a title. And I love it!

Also, it’s been my first opportunity to record in Mal’s new facility, The Belfry Studio, and what a delight that has been! The space is lovely and the equipment is excellent but I always love recording with Mal for a multitude of other reasons. We play together in The Fringe Dwellers so musically, we know each other very well. Everytime we get together, whether it’s for rehearsals, gigs or just a cuppa, we have a great time – we both have a similar mad sense of humour – but it’s his professionalism that shines through when I’m recording and he’s engineering.

We have a plan and generally, stick to it. He gives me space in the recording studio to get on with what I’m good at and doesn’t get in my way when I need time to consider my next move. He’ll make suggestions but not demands and knows exactly when to call a tea break. And his recording gear and microphones are good!

I anticipate “The Lucky Six” will be available as a digital download early in 2014. I’ll have links through this blog when we get it finished 😀

Some of the neighbours are a bit too cute but the view and the vibe is relaxed and lovely.

The Next Door Neighbour

The Next Door Neighbour

Personally, I think the Daleks in the control room are what really drives it and makes it perfection 😉

Cheers everyone,


Daleks keeping Jax in line in the control room

Daleks keeping an eye on Jax in the control room

Things That Matter #2 – Writing

Some of my precious books

Some of the precious books that inspire me

In this occasional series of posts, I want to share the things that make me tick. Given that I was mad enough to sign up for NaBloPoMo, it seems a perfect time to execute the plan. The first one was about reading, so it kind of follows that the next would be about writing. Reading and writing both enrich and create me.

Writing is a powerful pursuit, and one that has given me great rewards. Writing has fed me (both emotionally and literally), caused me sleepless nights, introduced me to some wonderful people, caused arguments I’d rather not have had, and lit my way on the strange, meandering path that is my life.

Through writing, I’ve found myself.

Now this is not a cute, throwaway line. There have been times in my life where I have lost my way and lost hope. In my ongoing internal battle, writing has been one of the key factors in pulling me out of my personal, black hell. Some of my writing at these points in my journey I would never want to share with anyone in my lifetime, and yet, some of it has become some of my best work as a songwriter. And (most of the time) it feels so good to sing those pieces, like I’m exorcising demons with every single note. It’s the nature of the beast that I know it will return, and gnaw away at me body and soul. Therapists and doctors have all told me that the problem is extremes – extreme lows and equally extreme highs. And in both extreme states, I go into emotional shutdown – I don’t function and I don’t communicate.

The trick I’ve found is to write about it intimately, expose the black heart of my depression, and equally, the achingly beautiful (and potentially manic) highs. There is something downright gut wrenching about reading stuff like that about yourself post episode. Sometimes it feels like someone else has written it, like another person is in control and it can be very scary. But writing and reading it back is a levelling hand on my consciousness, a brief pause for reflection that helps me to be in control and even out the bumpy ride.

I try and write every day, even if it’s just a few lines. Being old school, I carry a notebook and pens with me and have a stack of them at home for different projects but I’ve got a great notepad style app on my mobile phone that I find I’m using more and more when I’m out. Recently, I got a new laptop and I’ve already set up a folder of “Blog Stuff” to put ideas, drafts and images as well as all my other projects. With NaBloPoMo happening at the moment, it’s another reason to just do it!

Inspiration is a funny thing, it comes from all around us. Despite the ever-present possibility of writers’ block – every writers’ personal hell – I personally believe that inspiration is in and all around us all. We must develop the eyes to see and the will to translate it. Ultimately, everything we write is in some part about us and our personal view, irrespective of who or what might have triggered it.

Finally, I learnt something several years ago that I completely failed til then to see or acknowledge – I would not write if I did not read. So this post is dedicated to all the writers of novels, short stories, articles, blogs, and television and film screenplays who have reached me in some way.

And above all, to my parents who were both readers and writers, who endlessly encouraged the reading and writing in me.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Nov 4 2013 Spring Daisy

Recording – At Last!


It’s the end of winter in Tasmania but there’s a hint of spring in the air – mostly in the blustery wind yesterday! And I’m at Murdunna, sitting in front of a wood fire, contemplating yesterday’s recording and thinking about the work ahead.

I’ve decided (first time ever!) to record an EP of covers plus some separate draft tracks for my next solo album.

Strangely, I find it harder to record other people’s work than my own. Perhaps it’s the recognition factor? I don’t know.

Nevertheless, it’s great to be recording again with Malcolm Battersby engineering.

It’s a special kind of home ♡

Mentoring – What Makes The World Go Round

On Stage at Casbah Cafe

On Stage at Casbah Cafe

As a songwriter and performer, I think there’s nothing better than actually getting on a stage and plying my craft. But as a teacher, there’s nothing better than to see the results of my work, as a student stands on a stage for the first time.

Mentoring can take so many different forms in creative arts. Some of the most productive things can come out of a casual chat over coffee rather than a formal session. Just a quiet word from the right person has been like gold sometimes, reassuring me that my path is true. I’ve found particular people who’ve been wonderful in assisting me in areas that I didn’t have that much knowledge in, such as finance and bookkeeping, understanding how the live music industry can be radically different in non english speaking countries and the never-ending ferris wheel of public liability insurance.

Sometimes it’s been as simple as an exchange of networks or as complex as a full “how to” on a particular area – but I suggest don’t feel compelled to act on all advice given! In my opinion, the best mentors always will say “well, that’s my thoughts but it’s your decision”, rather than “you must do this”!

No matter how you go about it, it’s important. Singer/songwriters are for the most part involved in a solitary existence, both a creators and performers. We stand on the stage alone, singing songs we wrote alone. Outside input, particularly from folks who’ve done or are still doing similar things can be gold!

Recently, I had the joy of mentoring one of my students Cassie O’Keefe. We played on the same bill at Casbah Cafe’s regular Women Songwriters’ night in Hobart and it was (as Cassie put it) her first grown up gig. Yes, she made mistakes but she carried herself onstage with honesty and dignity and has learned a great deal from the experience.

At 17, this girl has a wonderful future ahead of her as a performer and songwriter and if you’re in Hobart next month, Cassie will be playing again at Casbah Cafe on Thursday 11th July.

Cassie at Casbah Cafe

Cassie at Casbah Cafe

For me, mentors have been a part of my entire life and have taken many guises. I attribute a lot of my success to good advice and assistance from people who have and still care about my professional development. I’m interested in hearing your stories about mentoring too – let me know what you think. For me it’s the stuff that makes the road just that much easier and makes my world go round.

Take care and see you soon,

Deb 😀

Northern Road Trip

Sheffield Spring

A couple of weeks ago I had a brilliant time doing the roadtrip thing up to Launceston and further to Sheffield. The weather was typical Tasmanian spring – balmy and warm to torrential rain, thunderstorms and snow in the space of three days!

Chris Ball

Had a great catch up with old friends at the ABC in Launceston and did a pre-record of an interview for their Drive program with Hilary Burton. I don’t care to think how many years it’s been since I last caught up with Andrea and Chris – of course we haven’t aged a day…… We talked about my current projects – the solo album “The Woman On The Edge Of The World” and The Fringe Dwellers’ debut outing “After Time” and I played a few songs from both.

Andrea O’Connor

Sadly, Hilary took ill the next day and the interview didn’t go to air as planned but they put it up on the ABC Northern Tasmania site in their blog section – along with some gorgeous words from Chris. I’m sure I’ll be heading back up north soon and will revisit the ABC studios! After a quick catch-up in town with my beautiful son I had a great night with Launceston friends Matt Sertori and Michaela Young (aka Butterscotch Pony). Matt’s latest venture is a new magazine “Spleen” which is about to hit Tasmanian streets but I’ll talk further about that in a future post.

Friday came around with unrelenting rain throughout the morning, so I trundled on up the extremely wet highway to Sheffield and the gig. It’s been years since I’ve been through this part of the state and I definitely recommend it to anyone – visitor or resident. Despite the rain, it’s a beautiful part of the planet and Sheffield in particular is really geared towards tourists and travelers.

After a beautiful lunch at the Blacksmith Gallery (the home of Skwiz) the rain stopped, the clouds parted and out came the sun again – just in time for me to take my new camera (Wayne) out for a stroll. Sheffield is billed as the town of murals, and they hold an annual festival that brings mural artists and tourists from all over.

One of the murals in the main street

The murals are interesting and varied and even though many weren’t to my taste I think it’s brilliant to find a town in rural Australia that has a park dedicated to such an artform. Also quite a few of the shops have embraced the form and it makes for a much more interesting streetscape. It’s also one of the friendliest towns I’ve visited. Locals were happy to help, provide directions – and bargains! There’s a fantastic op shop just off the main street, where everything is bargain price and the staff are lovely.  Only 23kms from Devonport on the north west coast, I highly recommend the detour if travelling on the ferry from Melbourne.

Meanwhile, it was time to get back and set up for the gig….. and of course,

Audience moving in and drying off!

weather closed in again. This time there was thunder, lightning and torrential rain, and still people braved the elements! I met some great folks that night and reacquainted myself with a few more! I ended up playing for over two hours, telling stories and having a really lovely time. I really wish I could have transported the venue and the audience down to Hobart. There really aren’t enough listening venues – and audiences to match – anymore.

Doing my thing. Photo by Greg Eyre

They are one of the things solo artists adore, people who want to hear the songs! Allen Stott who organises the gig on behalf of the Friday Night Folk mob does a great job. In fact, everyone involved was wonderful to me and I thank them all sincerely. I was billeted out to Dianne whose property is at the base of Mt Roland. She and her son were so hospitable….. there was even good coffee in the morning! And because it’s Tasmania and springtime, there was also snow on Mt Roland!

All in all, a really great weekend away – going to have to do it again soon!

Mt Roland

Debra Manskey – Tasmanian singer songwriter still hits the high notes. – ABC Tasmania – Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)

Hey everyone,

This is a lovely article on the ABC Northern Tasmania blog written by the most articulate tech in the country – Chris Ball. I’ll be writing a blog of my own in the next few days….. with less photos of me in it!

Wherever you are, enjoy!


Debra Manskey – Tasmanian singer songwriter still hits the high notes. – ABC Tasmania – Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

In the ABC Northern Tas studio

Upcoming Events!

Hi friends,

Just a quick reminder that I’ve got a solo concert coming up next Friday, 28th September at Skwiz Cafe & Gallery in Sheffield, Tasmania. I don’t get up to the north of the state often enough for my taste and I’ve heard nothing but brilliant things about the venue and the organisers. Details here.

For those of you able to attend I’ll have copies of The Fringe Dwellers‘ album “After Time” available plus high quality MP3’s of my solo album “The Woman on the Edge of The World”  – so bring a USB and grab some music!

In conjunction with the Skwiz concert, I’m doing an interview and playing a few songs on ABC Northern Tas. This is going to air at approximately 5:30PM Friday 28th Sept Australian Eastern Standard Time – that’s +10 UTC to the time zone savvy. Thanks to the magic of the Internet this broadcast will be able to be heard by anyone anywhere!

It’s really cool to think that friends & family as far away as Broome, Singapore, Manhattan and  London are planning on listening in. If you’re interested in hearing me babble, here’s how!

Make sure you’ve got the right time – I use the World Clock at Time & Date, it seems the easiest.  Go to the ABC Northern Tasmania website and find the “Listen Now” tab (on the right hand side) and there you go! I’m performing on the Drive Show.

Meanwhile, I’m taking my new camera (Wayne) on the road with me and I’m sure to have lots of new photos to share once I get back home. I’ll leave you with a new pic courtesy of the very talented Hailey Gearman, Hobart photographer and all-round great gal!




Singing – A New Prescription

I was out in the garden yesterday (another one of my passions!) and while pulling the never-ending weeds I heard a fabulous story on ABC Radio’s The World Today.

There have been many perceived benefits of singing, and in recent years many studies to back up long-held suspicions……. singing is undoubtedly the most fun an adult can have with their clothes on!

This study comes from Griffith University in Queensland, and concentrates on Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander choristers.  In this 2012 NAIDOC week celebrations, this is even more appropriate 😀

Further reading: