Meeting of the Waters: Kylie Kain

Kylie Kain is a singer/songwriter who lives on a cattle farm on the southern Fleurieu with her three children. Kylie’s song ‘Stompin the Ground’ – written for Reconciliation Week in 2014 – won the National Sing Loud Competition for best original song, judged by Gurrumul and Delta Goodrem. The song is on the Reconciliation Week website (www.reconciliation.org.au), and features Kylie and a crew of friends including fellow artist in Meeting of the Waters Owen Love.

As well as performing, Kylie has spent many years teaching song-writing as a form of outreach. She has taught kids in remote communities, people in aged-care facilities and dementia wards, young mothers, new Australians, even homeless people.

“I feel privileged to be trusted with their stories,” says Kylie. “Sharing knowledge and stories builds bridges… music is a wonderful tool to do that with.

“I write down a structure of what a song looks like for them, verses and a chorus… and then we brainstorm a whole heap of potential topics. Really it’s just starting by making sentences and building on them and getting them in perspective and shape and just making the story grow, or simplifying the story enough.”

Kylie then puts the words to a tune, and performs it for them. “I think it affirms worth… it says ‘you’re valuable, what you think is valuable, and your story is valid’.”

When she is not travelling to teach or performing, Kylie is at home on the farm with her children.

“I work very physical jobs on the farm – fencing, tractor driving, making hay, milking cows. It complements what I do, because I’m getting physically exhausted, I’m using my body, I’m in the environment, I’m working with the seasons … so I am pushed and pulled by all of those influences that are, you know… intrinsic to life. And therefore they breed a creativity in me as well.”

Kylie’s first professional ‘gig’ was at 17… when she toured South Australia, doing musical seminars in rural schools…

“That was a ruthless way to walk into the world of singing,” she laughs. “Because I was a very similar age to my audience. So it was scary, but good too because it got my leather thick quick! To go, okay, not everyone is going to like it and it’s not going to suit everybody… but there’s still value in it. And of course some people do like it, so…”

Kylie has written three songs for the Meeting of the Waters. She explains her writing process:

“I’m always looking and listening… I love words. So if anything is said in a strange way or it just catches me, you know, I grab it and write it down. And maybe I’ll brood on them later and maybe they just end up in this very big tub of writing that I have,” she laughs.

“The first song for the Meeting of the Waters – ‘Nori Flies’ – came quickly. It’s about how people are part of a system, how the river itself is a living thing and part of the system…”

“The second one ‘Into the Rafters’ is about the church William McHughes built in Wellington. It tells the story of a building that represented the emotional cast of the day – grief, joy, love, loss, racism and harmony.

“The third is ‘We’re All In the River’, which is about how we all drink culturally from the river. Some grandfathers came with ceremonial dusts on their heels and mine came with windmills and stuff. But we’re all in it together.”

Kylie Kain released her second album ‘Things That Float’ in 2014. To listen or purchase her music, go to her website www.kyliekain.com. Kylie will be performing at the Meeting of the Waters show at the Wellington Courthouse in September.

Photo: Samra Teague