Country Queer

Lifting up LGBTQ+ voices in country and Americana.

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Q&A With Kerryn Fields

By Christopher Treacy & Kerryn Fields

New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Kerryn Fields was undeterred from releasing her latest album, ‘Water, amid COVID’s ongoing grip in 2021—and we’re all the richer for it. Likely one of the most organic recordings you’ve heard in ages, Fields insisted on creating the basic tracks outside, by water, and the resulting disc is grounding and gorgeous. Have you sat on the ground recently? Let your bare feet explore the grass? Laid down to stretch on the floor of your apartment? Sifted dirt through your fingers? ‘Water’ has a similar effect, and at a time when many of us felt at odds with the natural world around us, attempting to dodge an illness that’s continued to wreak havoc on our ways of life, the album stands as a testament to faith in a variety of ways.

Fields has released a brand new video for the track “Until You,” and we made it our Song of The Week in the new CQ Roundup… it’s a perfect excuse to revisit the glory of ‘Water’ in its entirety. The track projects a contagious positivity and, coupled with the new clip, tells a story of love and finding a home in spiritual faith that transcends the traditional houses of worship that so many of us feel alienated from. It’s inspiring and seems like a great way to celebrate Christmas with a dose of hopeful energy for the future.

Fields was kind enough to answer some questions for us about the song, faith, and how life sometimes has other ideas even (especially?) with the best laid plans.

Through “Until You” it seems like your spiritual channel is strong. Can you maybe talk a little about that journey in your life, because I imagine it hasn’t always been that simple? For many of us, there’s our childhood with religion imposed, a period of alienation and disillusionment, and then a return to faith, now liberated from the noise.


A Honky-Tonk of Our Own

Whilst I didn’t quite understand the concept of religion I felt a pure connection to love, and church was the first place that encouraged me to nurture this huge heart of mine and give my love to the world. I also loved singing, so I think I enjoyed this part the most. I learned to pray, to care for others, to be present in my community and learn that we are all worthy of love.

It wasn’t until my Mum came out when I was fifteen that the hatred within this church imploded into my world, I’d never even heard of ‘gay’ and suddenly my Mum was the poster child for what was wrong in the world. That was absolutely shattering. I walked away from all those belief systems, but I took God with me in my backpack. You can’t say ‘God is Love’ and then turn around with those kinds of accusations—it didn’t make sense. 

The story of “Until You” is my visual interpretation of this bigger journey. When I met Pearl (who stars in the film clip as herself) she invited me to visit Fairfield Uniting Church and witness for myself the safe and inclusive space there for all to enjoy a spiritual conversation. It felt like a coming together of my old world and the new world I had discovered for myself outside of religion and church. I still don’t’ need ‘Church’ to define or explore my faith, but I sure am glad these spaces exist for those that do. 

The justified backlash amongst queer folks from oppressive Catholicism and all its byproducts has made it seem… peculiar, almost, for some of us to find a way to be spiritual that involves (a) God. Have you come up against this? How do you deal with it?  

I’m constantly questioning, expanding my understanding and remain ever curious about what or who or how God is. God is a very personal and sacred conversation that no human could possibly define. You don’t need religion or human belief systems to explore your own connection with God, just put your hands in the water, feel the breath in your lungs and let the sun shine on your skin. There it is.

You grew up as part of a farming community and your music is undeniably organic, which is increasingly unusual in today’s world. When the light, percussive beat kicks in on “Until You,” you can actually hear the space around it – it’s remarkable. Can you talk a little about how growing things out of the earth maybe informs your musical instincts?

I grew up listening to a lot of music from the 60s and 70s, which informed my recording process for Water. I wanted to hear the room, the instruments breathing next to one another, the feel of a real performance with the band all in the same space, this was an integral part of the creation in this body of work and the sound we pulled is really natural and honest. You can even hear birds in the trees outside the window. 

As for growing things out of the earth, I’m an elemental person at heart and this informs my faith also… that we are all living creatures—everything is alive and interconnected. 

Rascal’ came out in 2015, and it seems that ‘Water’ is the first full collection of new songs since. I’m a firm believer in letting things take their time, but 5-6 years does seem like a long time to let an album gestate. Maybe you could talk about that period between – was something blocking you, or…?

When Rascal came out in 2015 my chronic illness flared up, so as a result I didn’t tour the album until 2017, and that was something I just had to make peace with. I wrote over 200 songs in this time and as a result had a huge body of work to draw from when it came to create Water, which was recorded in December 2019—soon after the pandemic shut us down and Water went on the shelf while we navigated the collapse of our live music industry. I launched Water despite the challenges of not being able to tour it in 2021, but I have no regrets. It’s actually worked out really well and we ended up on the road touring for most of this year, so Water got its time to shine eventually. Delays are part of the industry. The great news is, I’ve written the next record and production begins early 2023. 

Christopher Treacy has been writing about music and the music industry for 20 years. He’s contributed to The Boston Phoenix, The Boston Herald, Nashville Scene, and Berklee College of Music’s quarterly journal, as well as myriad LGBTQ+ outlets including the Edge Media Network, Between the Lines/Pride Source, Bay Windows and In Newsweekly. He’s the Managing Editor for CQ and lives in Waitsfield, VT.

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