INTERVIEW: Melbourne Folk Singer-Songwriter Joyce Prescher Talks New Single ‘Paper & Pen’, Upcoming Album


Joyce Prescher is paying homage to the muse in her newest single, “Paper and Pen.”

With melodies embodying the nostalgia of 1960s folk pop and Americana, the upbeat yet melancholy tune is just a preview for what the singer-songwriter has in store.

From an early age, Prescher has been surrounded by music. She sang before speaking her first word, wrote fun songs with her siblings, and listened to her mom play guitar before bed. At 15, she was inspired to pick up the guitar herself, and became serious about writing her own music. She formed her own band during her university days, allowing her to give her childhood stories a new life through song. 

Since living in The Netherlands, the Dutch-born songwriter would embark on an African safari, meeting a man who lived in Melbourne. The songstress soon found herself at home in the musical city of Melbourne as well, and has settled there since.

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Releasing her debut album, Home, in 2017, Prescher gained traction from PBS, who featured the album on their Top 10 list upon release. She’s taken part in the Australian concert series Keep the Circle Unbroken since 2020, where she has played venues such as Memo Music Hall and the Port Fairy Folk Festival in 2022. 

Earlier this month, she performed her single release show for “Paper and Pen” at the Thornbury Picture House, a special venue that brought back memories of her hometown movie theater. She also anticipates dropping her upcoming album, Out of My Mind, later this fall.

We got the opportunity to talk to Prescher about her latest single, upcoming album, the Melbourne folk scene, and much more.

Before we jump in, congratulations on your single “Paper and Pen!” What was your inspiration and influence for writing the single?

Thanks!! This song was a combination of feeling less inspired for a while and finally feeling the floodgates open; listening to a local artist at the time who had such a beautiful song about the song writing process (Hannah Cameron, ‘No pen of mine’) and a fair amount of She & Him playing on my stereo!

Once you got the inspiration, what was the writing process like?

Different from my usual process actually. I wrote the melody and the words at the same time for ‘Paper and Pen’, whereas usually I write the words first in the form of a poem. So technically it was paper, pen, and guitar!

I had a clear idea about wanting it to have a certain sound too. And I was quite pleased that for once I wrote a song in 4/4 and in a major key!

Were there any creative changes that happened during the recording process that potentially changed the outcome of the song?

Hmmm. Well, I guess not really changes per se. We played a little with different feels of the electric guitar over it. We also decided early on to not record to a click-track, to keep the song (& album) more dynamic. Initially we had an acoustic recording, which was just a live version of myself on guitar which was quite lovely. But I knew we would build on that. I really love all the elements and I had so much fun coming up with the vocal layers.

I see you recently signed with Cheersquad Records & Tapes. How did that go down and what made you feel that they were the best option to represent your music?

I got a mysterious message from Wally Meanie, the owner of the label. He heard and loved my first single, ‘Sleep Now,’ and asked whether there was perhaps more material in the pipeline. I sent him the album and invited him to my launch show and well, the rest is history. I thought this kinda thing doesn’t happen anymore to be honest!

I had a really good feeling about the label. They’re genuine music lovers and genuine people – something I value. And Wally is very active in the scene here too and well respected.

How might your Dutch roots influence your sound and songwriting?

Hmm, I mean there will probably always be some kind of European element to my writing, cause it’s where I’m from. Growing up in the Netherlands I listened to music from all over the world though. I would dare say it’s more influenced by what we listened to at home and what was happening musically back in Europe when I was growing up (not Dutch music itself, I didn’t really listen to much of that). And then there’s the accent that I can’t seem to shake…

What’s the Melbourne folk and singer-songwriter scene like?

Incredible. There is just such talent in this town, and you can watch live music every night of the week. It’s quite unbelievable to be honest. Good folk and Americana / country scene and just a great place for the arts in general. And most people in the scene are not only talented but lovely people too. I feel privileged to be part of it.

How did you first get interested in Americana and folk music?

That started from a very early age. I’m talking probably age 12. Maybe before. My parents played lots of music at home, and I was hooked to music not long after I was born I’d say! I started singing very early on. Much of my early teens was spent listening to folk musicians like Dylan, Cohen, Donovan, Melanie, but I also listened to Dolly Parton, Janis Joplin and so many more artists (outside those genres too). I love the rawness and honesty that comes with those genres. Very relatable.

And I see you’ve got your new album, Out of My Mind, dropping later this year. Is there an overarching theme or motif throughout the record?

Without giving too much away about the album just yet – let’s talk about it more when it comes out – I guess I just had a lot on my mind that I needed to get out. It was a tumultuous time, very much so. I think the album really shows the waves I was riding. I have tried to add light and shade and contrast though, so it’s not all heavy.

How might the album compare and contrast from your 2017 album, Home?

The limited number of people who have listened to the album so far have said it’s a more mature album and, despite loving the album ‘Home’, a massive step up. It makes sense, I have certainly lived more and matured. I really wanted to explore my vocals too and show more variety in my playing. I love concept albums and albums that have that cinematic aspect (like Pink Floyd/ Mickey Newbury) I have tried to incorporate much of that. I went into this album much more confident too and it shows.

What else might you have in store for the rest of 2022 musically or otherwise?

Is releasing ‘Out of My Mind’ not enough? Hahaha! Just kidding. I’m hopeful to do a bunch of shows and festivals and take the album on the road. I’m also doing some fun collaborations on the side and to be honest, I really want to record album three. Plus, I’ve bought a keyboard, so I want to get good at that. Many plans always, just not enough hours!!!

Photos by Rhea Caldwell

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