With two Australian Music Prize nominations for each of her albums (2013’s You Go Your Way, I’ll Go Mine and 2019’s All You Have is All You Need), Ainslie Wills has a well-earned reputation as one of Australia’s most profound songwriters. Her plain, arresting vocal style, married with the sultriness of a song like “Mon Amie La Rose” (My Friend the Rose) by Françoise Hardy, gives genuine tingles. So convincing is Wills’ delivery, it’s almost as if she wrote the song herself.
How did you find the experience of singing in a language other than English?
I've always wanted to learn French after being introduced to it in Grade 4 at school and have since dabbled from time to time, trying to get better. The language is so musical, so I absolutely loved having the opportunity to sing in French.
Were you familiar with the work of François Hardy?
I had heard of François Hardy the name, but not really her work so it was a lot of firsts for me! I've been delving into more of her work since and I'm loving it.
Do you speak French? Or have any kind of personal affinity with France and French music/style/food?
Ever since I was a young girl, I've always had an affinity with France. I've been a couple of times and feel so free and liberated when I'm there, it's intoxicating. I'm a die-hard fan — the food, culture — LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.
How hard was it to feign a French accent and correctly pronounce the song in French?
I pride myself on having a pretty good ear for the nuance of language but I still found it really challenging to get the pronunciation right and not sound like a complete novice! My teacher/translator was amazing at helping me try to nail each word that I struggled with.
What else have you been working on recently?
I've just released a three track EP called Northern Star that I made with a UK producer called James Knight. Now that it's out and about, I'm finishing off another EP that I'm producing myself, it will be out next year. Ohh, and I'm making a baby too! I'm 26 weeks in.
How do you feel like you've grown as an artist and person over the past 18 months?
I feel like you are constantly evolving and changing as an artist as each song/project presents new challenges that you have to work through. I think as you get older, you become more confident in your creative process and have less of a need to prove yourself. As a result, you're more comfortable to get out of your comfort zone. When this opportunity came up I jumped at the challenge of it!
Once we are able to travel again, what is the first place you’d like to visit and why?
The first place in Australia I'd like to go is up north to my sister in NSW and my brother in QLD, I've not seen them for ages. When we could travel, I think I took that for granted. Outside of Australia, I'd love to visit Paris again and perhaps try the south of France as well… the list is actually quite long so I'll stop there!