Making a new name for herself

MASK OFF: Newcastle’s Demi Mitchell feels her new indie rock direction better represents the artist she has become. Picture: Lazy Bones THERE’S been a wealth of changes happening lately in the career of Maitland-raised songstress Demi Mitchell.
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For starters Mitchell hasstepped outfrom behind her well-established moniker De’May to perform under her real name.

Stylistically, the changes are even greater. She’s swapped her acoustic guitar for amplification, her flowing bohemian dresses for a leather jacket, her alt-country Americana sound for indie rock.

It’s all about getting closer to the woman and the artist Mitchell is right now.

“I put the last recordout in 2014 and I just feel my style has changed a bit since then,” Mitchell says.

“We were doing the more alt-country Americana folk thing then and I feel like it’s gotten a bit rockier and more of aPJ Harvey vibe.

“I wanted to move away from the alt-country scene.

“Before I didn’t use my name because I wasn’t totally sure on what I wanted my sound to be and now I feel comfortablewith it.It felt normal to use my name.”

Beach Street 6 on Saturday at the Lass O’Gowrie will be Mitchell’s first public performance using her own name and her new backing band of Brennan Fell (bass), Jason Lowe (slide guitar) andAlex Quayle (drums).

Mitchell admits ditching De’May is like removing a mask.

De’May has established a strong following in the alt-country scene and she has supported the likes of Ella Hooper, Dustin Tebbutt, Bob Evans and Nadia Reid.

De’May – Dancing In The Sand“It was a difficult decision,” she says.“I asked a lot of friends about it and they’ve said,‘you’ve been using that name for a while, so why would you change it?’

“I guess I’m a little compulsive about that and I wanted to change it and I’m hoping it works out. It’s all bit of a gamble.”

Demi MitchellIf We Don’t Leave Now in 2014 throughindie label Laughing Outlaw.

The mix of alt-country, folk and bluesand worldly lyrics about unsuccessfullyrunning from broken loveoverseas [Chelsea Bridge]belied her 22 years.

The long-awaited follow-up was recorded in Melbourne in April and is currently being mixed and mastered for a springtime release.

Mitchell says listeners can expect more grunt and less darkness as she steps out front of herown rock’n’roll band.

“Solo can take on the more folkie vibe and I always get self-conscious that it gets a little too dark,” she says.“I feel like playing with a band lifts it up and gives it more attitude, rather than coming off as sad.”

The band life is not completely foreign to Mitchell. She’s enjoyed the accompaniment of her partner James Thomson’s band The Strange Pilgrims at various shows.

LEATHER BOUND: Demi Mitchell performing as De’May last year at Elsewhere: The Rooftop. Picture: Perry Duffin

She has also performed with Thomson as a duet,including a moody display at last year’s Elsewhere: The Rooftop at the Watt Street multi-storey car park in Newcastle.

Yet havingher own dedicated bandmates is a new experience.

On Monday Mitchell’snew four-piece kicked off rehearsals for Saturday’s unveiling.

“It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for years and I just had to bite the bullet and do it,” Mitchell says.

Mitchell hasn’t completely shaken off her alt-country past. Next week she will perform alongside the Newcastle-raised Sydney-based Golden Guitar nomineeKatie Brianna and Melbourne’s Jemma Nicole, described as Australia’s new queen of dark country.

The showcase known as theFemme Fatale special will be Newcastle’s first edition of Sydney’s popular Ramblin’ Nights series, which regularly presents alt-country and blues acts.It’ll serve as an unofficialfarewell to De’May.

“I’ve played with Katie and Jemma a few times before and they’re both really good friends of mine I’ve met through that scene,” Mitchell says.

“We actually booked those gigs when I was still using De’May and hadn’t decided to change it, so it’s kind of the last few ones of that vibe.”

Demi Mitchell performs withKatie Brianna and Jemma Nicole atRamblin’ Nights–Femme Fataleat the Cambridge Hotel on Thursday, June 29.

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