WHEN singer-songwriter Kavisha Mazzella tells the story that ends with her moving to Castlemaine, she reminds people that “no musician is paid to stay home”.
Mazzella has travelled significantly through her career. She regularly takes tours through the Tuscan region of Italy and has followed gypsy festivals around France.
In March she will fly to Bali to teach a choir and as a break from music will walk Spain’s Camino Trail to Santiago later in the year.
“I've done a lot of travelling. Taking that small group of people to Italy each year is a great way to travel. I enjoy taking people somewhere and seeing them experience the beauty. I teach singing on the tour as well,” Mazzella said.
“I’m looking froward to the walk to Santiago as well. Slowing everything down to walking pace does you good. You can do some good reflection and create new things (at that pace).”
So why did she end up in Castlemaine?
“Love. Love makes you travel. I fell in love with my violinist and we went out for a long time. Then we broke up, so I never wanted to see him again,” she said.
“Then Joe Dolce (who wrote Shaddup You Face) invited us to play with him on stage without telling the other. It was a shock but I thought ‘just get over it’.
“He’s a great man and musician. Just because he broke my heart doesn’t mean he’s not.”
The violinist, Matthew Arnold, features on her new album (The Fearless Note) and performed with her at the launch on Friday night at the Old Castlemaine Gaol.
Arnold also performed on Mazzella’s 1998 album Fisherman’s Daughter, which won an ARIA award for best world music album.
But Mazzella doesn’t confine herself to the world music genre. She plays a diverse range of music and loves to share it.
“As a musician, I think you should think like a farmer. You’ve got to have diversity. You can't have just one crop because if it fails, you're stuffed,” she said.
“So I like to do some Italian folk songs, play with choirs and perform as a singer-songwriter.
“I realised long ago that to survive as a musician, you have to be prepared to teach, to share music and do your own performances.”
Travel is a theme through The Fearless Note which was recorded as a live album last year in an art studio at Queen’s Counsel Julian Burnside’s house.
“We became friends through refugee work. I had done a few concerts at his place and he said he'd love a live album like a bootleg,” Mazzella said.
“His wife Kate has a wonderful artist’s studio and one full moon last September we had a recording session there.
“The album is mostly new songs and a couple from past albums.
“It’s lovely to have all benefits of being in country town but also get like-minded creative souls who care about planet.
“Melbourne has 4 million people buzzing around, which is stimulating but to be in that atmosphere all the time can be quite draining.”
Mazzella has thrown herself into the community by taking art classes, playing at open mics and leading choirs – including a men’s choir at the Loddon Prison.
“So far I have had four sessions with the guys. They are incredibly respectful. Prison is prison but they are very positive about me coming in,” she said.
“Getting them to sing together and listen to each other then seeing them smile is fantastic. The activities officer said he hadn't seen so many happy people for a long time.”
In the first month of lessons at Loddon Prison, the choir has been singing songs by Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder.
“What blows me away is seeing people start off very scattered and then seeing them focusing,” Mazzella said.
“We learnt Sunrise from Into the Wild and they loved it. To hear them singing is such beautiful thing, it puts a smile on my dial.
“That's what I love, sharing the music. But I’m lucky because I get to perform as well. I couldn't do one or the other. Like the wings of a bird, I need both to fly.”
Mazzella’s love of music came from her family. When she was young she was jealous of her mother’s talent with the guitar.
It wasn’t until she was almost 30 that she decided to focus on music as a career.
“In grade 7 I came home and there was triangular cardboard box on my bed and it was my own guitar,” she said.
“I loved it so much that even when my hands were hurting, I kept playing. I was so determined to play.
“When I had a daughter, I went to a music workshop and heard a woman talk about songwriting and it was like a light bulb went off in my. That's what I wanted to do.
“They say if you find your passion and follow it, you never have to work a day in your life. That's mostly true, I have been lucky.”