Sydney rocker Angela Garrick has been playing in bands since she was 16. She started out in bratty punk trio Kiosk, then moved on to the gritty rock‘n’roll of Circle Pit. Since then she’s been working consistently other musical projects. In 2013 Garrick (known on stage as Angie) released her debut solo album, Turning, full of droning guitars and stripped-back tempos, a change in approach from the snarl of her previous bands.
Garrick’s songwriting has evolved; she’s written songs collaboratively in acts such as Kiosk, Circle Pit, Ruined Fortune, Southern Comfort and Gloss. “Now, I write songs that are set, but at the same time allow room within the performance or recording for improvisation and chance, specifically on the guitar,” she says.
On her second solo album, Free Agent, she experiments with new arrangements; album opener Breathing in Blue starts with minimal piano played with a backdrop of ocean sounds. “I’ve definitely been gravitating towards more instrumental and minimal music,” says Garrick. “I just completed a recording session of partially improvised piano compositions – I suppose I’m looking to challenge myself, grow and change. I never want to stay the same.”
Guitar remains the focus for the majority of the tracks. “My relationship with the guitar is very intuitive,” says Garrick. “I aim to keep it that way.” The title of the record was borne from a game she likes to play. “I often play this word game where I write down random words alongside each other – it’s this weird psychological process and creative word play,” she says. “Free Agent came out of this – I liked the allusion to spy culture and this idea of a free agent being someone who is unknown, anonymous, unhinged, quiet and untraceable.”
Recently, Garrick and her live band did a cover set of seminal new-wave album, Broken English by Marianne Faithfull. Not an easy album, or artist, to recreate. “It’s more about that particular record than anything else,” says Garrick. “It’s harsh, intimate and primal in every sense. It’s electrifying. Learning the tracks was a bit of a challenge, but wow, it was great in the end – pure rock’n’roll at its best! I love the idea of tributes.”
For more than a decade, Angie has been an key figure in keeping Sydney’s underground music scene ticking along. “There is a good energy now; a feeling of change and excitement that was definitely lacking when I first emerged,” says Garrick. “I recall going to hardcore shows because there was no rock‘n’roll scene to speak of – only music-industry-related gigs and then the complete underground,” says Garrick. “Today it feels there’s a big healthy intermix, and a big rock‘n’roll scene that lives on its own.”
Free Agent is out September 4 through Rice is Nice. Angie is playing with her band at John Curtin Hotel on September 12.