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Q&A with Molly McKew: It Should Have Been Done with Ease

Q&A by Erandhi Mendis // Photos by Sylvie Martin

Molly McKew‘s debut album, It Should Have Been Done with Ease, is a contemplative journey through heartache and introspection. With a sound that blends alt-pop and folk influences, McKew delivers a collection of songs that are both hauntingly beautiful and deeply personal. The Melbourne based singer-songwriter explores Celtic influence and dramatic harmonies that showcase her vocals. Able to poke at complex themes with humour and wit, her raw lyricism avoids over-sentimentality and invites listeners into her atmospheric world. Recorded at Road Noise Studios with producer Rowena Wise, the album’s production retains a raw, intimate quality. It Should Have Been Done with Ease is an impressive artistic debut that firmly establishes McKew within the Melbourne arts scene, one that she has contributed to for years.

We had a chat with Molly ahead of her release about the record, you can see her perform with a full band on Saturday May 11th at Old Bar, with support from Ally Mac.

Congratulations on the release of your debut album, “It Should Have Been Done with Ease”! How long has this been in the works?

Thank you!! They are songs I’ve written over the past few years – the oldest one is from 2020. I released an EP in 2022 and wanted to start recording an album ASAP after that as I had a backlog of songs I’d been performing for a while. An album seemed the obvious next step after the EP and these were recorded over three months in 2023.

Can you tell us about some of the key themes and messages you explore on the album?

All of the songs are about break ups, failed reunions, or processing some sort of distress. There’s a lot of fantasy, sadness, dream worlds, and rumination, and a bit of anger too. I hope that a possible message therein is that there is a humanity in experiencing romantic hope and loss — though I didn’t write any of these with a message for others in mind (far too self-involved for that!).

How does this album represent your musical journey and growth as an artist?

It’s my first album, so on a personal level a big deal for me! Iit feels good to have created something to contribute to the cultural canon and especially the music scene here in Australia, which I value so deeply and have been a spectator of for years. On a more personal level, it feels so good in principle to say no to fear, imposter syndrome and self-consciousness and release something despite those lurking feelings.

What was the biggest challenge you faced while working on ITHBSwE?

(This acronym looks like a weird medication or chemical compound. I love it.) I loved the recording process, but it took a lot of time and money, so fitting it in between work, and also funding it, was a big challenge – and it’s the same for the majority of independent artists who self-fund their music. Battling imposter syndrome & insecurity is a constant, as well. Keeping it at bay requires a lot of vigilance and psychological gymnastics, and support from friends/musical peers.

Are there any specific songs on the album that hold special meaning to you? If so, why?

All of them do of course – but I’m partial to ‘to carry our love’ at the moment; its romantic and cute and holds a tenderness the others don’t have.

Can you share a little bit about drawing inspiration from old folk songs and why that felt thematically part of the journey of this record?

I guess the inspiration wasn’t intentional but just came out organically in my songwriting. I like having that vibe in the record – it represents some of my childhood musical education and it made the whole thing feel very ‘me’. I like the intensity and drama of that super old medieval music and I was obsessed with celtic music as a child – I love how its so stirring and painfully melancholic.

I love the cover art of your debut – it’s such a beautiful photograph! How did you decide on that image?

Thank you! I love it too. When I was deciding on the cover I thought a really intimate, stark photo of my face would be perfect, and had that photo in mind as something to emulate with a photographer. But eventually I decided to go with the original. It was taken in year 10 photography by a classmate, on a film camera. I love that age; its so vulnerable and raw and emotional and I like that I look sort of obsessive in the photo.

People often say writing an album feels different to putting out EPs. How did the songwriting process differ for you? Did you have any specific inspiration going into the album process?

I didn’t really write the songs with the intention of them becoming an album – it was more that I had a bunch of songs written already, had been performing them for a while, and decided to collect them together in this format. I suppose it feels different because its more of an achievement and more ambitious than an EP, and there’s a sense of arrival in that.

You worked with your frequent collaborator Rowena Wise on this album; what was the recording process like?

The recording process was hard work, but so fun, cathartic, and fulfilling. It was very femme; we talked about all the songs and what they were about, told stories, I cried a bit, Ro cried back sometimes. On a technical level, we recorded whole songs one by one, starting with the guitar track and melody then adding harmonies (which I’d already written, though sometimes we added extra layers or altered them slightly) and then instrumentation. Each track took 2 or 3 days, and we sort of learnt lessons to apply to the next song as we went. The whole process was really meticulous, which I really valued – we spent a long time choosing takes, getting the harmonies locked in, and deciding on extra instrumentation and choosing what worked and what didn’t. I really appreciated Ro’s attention to detail and ideas.

What do you hope listeners will take away from your music after listening to this album?

Maybe that’s ok to be vulnerable and human and to voice things that might feel pathetic or catty or fantastical – and that leaning into sadness and intensity can be fun, interesting and freeing rather than shameful.


Keep up with Molly in Instagram and Facebook. Stream her debut below!

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