Dogood (At Home With...)
Today's guest is Ali Duguid, my friend and sometimes bandmate, who, after years of threatening to start a band, finally began performing as Dogood late last year and has been writing and gigging tirelessly ever since. Ali writes intensely personal confessional songs of heartbreak and betrayal, and although we didn’t delve too deeply into the stories behind the songs, our conversation is an endearing look into the creative process of someone who just beginning to develop her own distinct voice. We also chatted about her love for vintage Teisco guitars, and yes, what it was liking working with Simon from YIS. She popped past the studio to perform her singles Hate Expectations and End Up Dead, live fan favourite Build You Up For Summer, and a brand new song that I had never heard until this session.
Simon: I haven’t heard you play that song (‘Hate Expectations’) in a while. It sounds like you’re becoming more confident, particularly in your voice. Have you noticed anything change as you’ve played show after show? Have you got more confident since you started playing?
Ali: Definitely, especially in my voice because that was particularly something I was self conscious of. I used to sing as a teenager, and I noticed significantly that my voice was not that good anymore. As I’ve been singing more regularly I’ve noticed it approve a lot more… which is good! (chuckles)
Simon: It is good! (laughter) So when was your first show?
Ali: The first show was September last year at The Public Bar, which is now called Last Chance Rock & Roll Bar with Miss Miss, and that was… really not that long ago?
Simon: No, it wasn’t that long ago… and how many shows have you played since then? Because I know you have a goal.
Ali: Well my goal was to play eight shows this year, and I’ve done ten… and it’s May. So I’m pretty happy.
Simon: I think you had a lot of incremental goals… like what was the first goal?
Ali: The first goal was the play The Tote, which I did in March, when I played upstairs…
Simon: Does that count?
Ali: Yes it counts.
Simon: Are you sure it counts?
Ali: I’m fucking sure it counts. (laughs)
Simon: Okay. (laughs)
Ali: Obviously the next goal is to play the band room.
Simon: Have you played the front bar?
Ali: That’d be cool.
Simon: Have you played the pool table.
Simon: Some people play the pool table.
Ali: Look. Incremental goals. (chuckles) Incremental goals.
Simon: What was the first song you wrote?
Ali: Napier Street. That’s the oldest song. I think I wrote that in July last year.
Simon: What’s that one about?
Ali: (nervous laughter)
Simon: I told you I was going to ask the tough questions! Okay, I know some of the back story to some of these songs, I don’t know all the backstory, but I know you’ve come to terms with a few things. Do you feel like the process of writing these songs have helped heal some wounds?
Ali: Um… (long pause)… Yes? Actually, yes. As much as I write kind of about things that are happening in a relatively currently in my life, and I have trouble writing about things that happened ages ago, or whatever, I feel like my songs are disconnected to the things that happened in my life that originally inspired them, which is quite nice. I think it’s probably helped with my confidence in performing them, if that makes sense. So, on the weekend, we started making a music video for one of them, and it was a really easy process to do because it felt disconnected… and that was quite nice.
Simon: So tell me about your involvement with LISTEN.
Ali: LISTEN is an organisation that was started by Evelyn Morris, who is Pikelet, to create opportunities for women and LGBTQIA people in music. We’re based in Melbourne but we’re hoping to broaden our horizons…
Simon: We always have the discussion where we talk about under-representation of women in the music scene and music in general… who were the first people you saw on TV or in magazines that made you realise this was something that you could do?
Ali: You know, I probably didn’t realise this was something I could do until more recently really. When I was in high school I studied music and did guitar lessons briefly but it still never felt like something I could successfully do. A lot of the musicians I admired growing up were male and seemed incredibly far removed from my experience, and even when I first started seeing bands it still felt very far removed, even though these bands were playing every week. It probably wasn’t until I was maybe 20 or 21 when I was actively seeking out bands that have more women in them, and started making friends with people who made music that I really felt like that this was something I could really do. BUT, I probably didn’t really feel like I could really do it until I could really do it until I was standing on stage at Public Bar in September. Really, that was the only time I’ve been like “this is a things that’s happening. I’m standing here playing a song now.” (chuckles)
Simon: Do you remember the first gig you went to that had a woman in the band?
Ali: Um… no. Oh my goodness.
Simon: That’s pretty bad.
Ali: I know. (chuckles)
Simon: It’s not that bad.
Ali: That’s the thing; for a really long time, it was like “Look at all these cool boys on stage. I wish I was a cool boy who could play guitar.”
Simon: How about we talk about the track ‘Hate Expectations’. That was the first song you recorded - you usually open with that song too.
Ali: I usually open with it because that was the first song that I felt really quite confident about playing. I was like “this is not a shit song”, so that’s what I like opening with it because I feel more comfortable playing it first. A little while ago I tried opening with another song (“Napier Street”) and I was like… “Nup.” I had to stop and start again because it was not working. But “Hate Expectations” is the opener because I’m more comfortable with it.
Simon: When you were writing that song did you model it on another song or were you aware of…
Ali: Does it sound like another song?? (horrified/worried)
Simon: It doesn’t sound like another song! (chuckle) How did you go from playing [other people’s] songs to understanding how a song worked or what you needed to have in there; is it instinctual or…
Ali: I guess it’s kind of instinctual. A lot of the time a lot of my songs will start with a bit that’s really strong and I’m like “yeah! I like this”; a really good verse or chorus or lyrics, and then I finish the song out of necessity, so things can end a bit weak… but that was the first one I finished it and I was like… everything makes sense, everything and fallen into place, and I like every little bit of it. Yeah. Does that make sense?
Simon: That does make sense. So, tell me about your guitar… you’re playing a very… floral guitar.
Ali: It’s a 1960s Teisco E-110 - a Tulip. I was looking for a bass guitar originally and I was on Gumtree and there was this Teisco which was great, but it sold before I could buy it. Then, that same evening I saw Totally Mild play, and Liz from Totally Mild also has a Teisco Tulip. I was like “Hey! That’s the same brand of guitar I was looking on at Gumtree. That’s cool!”. I looked one up on ebay, and I was like - “That’s it. I’m buying one.”. It could have worked out really horribly, but as soon as I bought I was like “This is THE guitar. This is it.”.
Simon: Have you written all the Dogood material on that guitar?
Ali: No, ‘Napier Street’ would have originally been written on the Fender Telecaster I got a little before this but all the rest pretty much have.
Simon: What is it about that guitar do you like?
Ali: It sounds really weird because every time I tried to describe it sounds like… very romantic, but as soon as I started playing it I just felt really comfortable with it. It’s light, essentially because it’s just (lifts and shakes guitar to demonstrate build quality) a cheap guitar. It was just immediately comfortable to play, and I liked the way it sounded… and it was just, yeah. I felt really comfortable with it immediately. When I was trying to write music playing the Telecaster… I don’t know? I really enjoyed playing it, but it was a little bit heavier… This is just like… this is nice and I feel very comfortable and confident with this guitar.
Simon: It allows you to be agile on stage.
Ali: Yeah, because I do so much jumping on stage. (chuckles) I do so much legwork.
Simon: And then recently you got inked with a Teisco inspired tattoo?
Ali: I did! So, the pickguard of my guitar has all this floral pin striping which the Teisco Tulips came with… well a lot of them came with. There’s a particular floral frond that comes from one of the pickups and I was like “I want that tattooed on my arm!” so…
Simon: So can you tell me about your dream guitar?
Ali: (laughs) Okay, we’ve had this discussion before and I know why you’re bringing it up…
Simon: …why am I bringing it up?
Ali: (laughs) My dream guitar… second to the Teisco, would be… Shub - Jon Shub who makes guitars; he’s also in Gold Class (noise of admiration).
Simon: I also have a Shub guitar which I just got, which is excellent.
Ali: So, like the Jag body shape… pink…
Simon: Are we talking like, shell pink? Not hot pink, right?
Ali: Shell pink! Rosewood fretboard… (long pause)… Love-heart shaped inlays…
Ali: Mother-of-pearl inlays because the mother-of-pearl shines like blue-pinky-purply and it would look good with the pink.
Simon: …and all the love hearts.
Ali: Look, I would lke all the love hearts, but YOU had to go and ruin it for me and said “maybe just get one of them as a love heart”.
Simon: Maybe. I did talk to Jon about it the other day.
Ali: No! You said you didn’t!
Simon: I did… I took my guitars to get set up to Jon and I was like “mine is still playing really well… I was talking to a friend the other day and she really wants her own one… but she… wants love heart inlays.” and he was very nice about it, “Yeah, usually I’d do anything pretty much that anyone asks, but, usually when we start I’d just say ‘we’ll just put that down as an idea.’”…
Simon: “…and then eventually it probably wouldn’t make the final version.” But he’d probably do it.
Ali: If I was like “Look. Jon. Just one. Just one love heart inlay.” I just don’t think it’s to much to ask for… just like, one love heart inlay.
Simon: Okay, that’s fine. You saw Gold Class on the weekend. Are they one of your favourite bands going at the moment? What do you like about them?
Ali: See, that’s the funny thing; I can’t pinpoint anything specifically why it is I love them so much, and when I was talking to you before about their live performance, I’ve never seen them play a terrible show, I’ve never seen them play even a bad show. They’ve always been really great and fun to watch… but then sometimes they’ll play a show and it’s like they hit the nail on the head… and on Saturday it was like “Yes. This is awesome. This is good.”
Simon: So I’m going to ask you to play a new song - and you’ve got a new song that I’ve never played before. So you’ve got a couple of songs brewing, but you’ve got a pretty long gestation period between writing and finishing.
Ali: Yeah, I will sit on a verse or a chorus for months and then things will eventually fall into place.. with this song (‘I Never Panicked Before I Met You’), I had some lyrics for it for a really long time that I wrote ages ago, and when I played the show at The Tote back in March, I was like “I really need to stop playing the same songs over and over again… how long can I drag this out for?”. So, I kind-of rushed a little bit with the lyrics… but, I think it’s fine.
Simon: That was great! That’s a good one. When did you finish that one?
Ali: Thanks… (laughs)… So, when I played The Tote show on March 31, and I had that day off of work, and I was like “Okay, I should go finish a thing.” So I went to a rehearsal space and finished writing the day that I played it.
Simon: And it sounded just like that?
Ali: No, I fucked it up a lot… (laughs)… But then when I played it two weeks later I nailed it.
Simon: Again, another story of heartbreak… I’m sensing a running theme in your songs, Ali.
Ali: (laughs)… That’s because… as I was saying, my songs have a long gestation period and a lot of my songs come from phrases, and I’ll look through bits and piece that I’ve written down… and I’ll look at a phrase of a verse that I wrote five months ago and then I’ll kind-of work on that. So, I have this material that’s three to eight months old that I’m still kind of working with because I like those bits and pieces that I wrote.
Simon: Do you know what the first piece of the puzzle was for that song?
Ali: Yeah, the phrase was “I Never Panicked Before I Met You”; that was something that I wrote quite a while ago. I just always really liked it, and then there were a few other bits and pieces in it that I drew from and sat on for a while. A friend of mine kind of gave me the idea for the moon hanging in the sky and I sat on that for a bit… and then when it came to putting the words together I drew them all up and tried to make it fit. Songs, a lot of the time I write them, a third or two-thirds will come really naturally and then I have to make other bits fit. But I like that song… I actually really like that song, so… thank you.
Simon: So what’s next? What’s the plan? What’s the next thing you want to do? You’ve got three songs floating around on the internet, you’ve got a video coming up… you’re filming a video for Napier Street next week?
Ali: That was so much fun. I employed the skills of my friend Luke and I asked my friend Alex to be my co-actor in it, and I filmed it out the front of my friend’s house and I had to… no spoilers, but I had to boil a kettle and use a lot of tea-bags… English Breakfast tea.
Simon: Were you making one of those old-style pirate maps… tea on the paper and burned on the outside?
Ali: That’s the video…
Simon: Because it’s like a sea-shanty.
Ali: Yeah, we’d make this map, and we put it in a bottle, and then there’s this really cool time-lapse where the bottle…
Simon: …so you actually did make a map?
Ali: NO! (laughs)
Simon: Did you know that song has coined a whole new genre that I haven’t told you about it… I didn’t make up the title for this one (unlike dolewave)… Shanty-core.
Simon: It’s like a sea-shanty… it’s just a little bit sea-shanty!
Ali: (laughs) Sea-shanty core.
Simon: I think it’s just the 3/4 timing. And now you’ve made a pirate map…
Ali: I didn’t make a pirate map. I was joking. I was being sarcastic.
Ali: Okay, so, one thing you haven’t asked me Simon. One thing I’ve been asked for most of the interview bits and pieces so far. “What was it like recording your songs with SIMON FROM YIS?” (laughter)
Simon: (laughs) …well what was it like?
Ali: Well how about you answer this question. What was it like recording the songs with Dogood (laughs).
Simon: (unintelligible mumbling) …I don’t have the answer to that question.
Simon: Okay, so considering that I’m so busy with Australia’s #37 on the iTunes Music Podcast charts, if you could pick any producers or people you’d like to work with in future?
Ali: I don’t know, I’ve never really thought about it, just because… I don’t want to talk about any projects that may not come to fruition, but most of the people that I like working with are just my friends that make music, and I’ve had really good times… it’s not like my dream was to make music with you, but when we played those few shows together, that was heaps of fun, and making music with my friends is the dream, rather like “I wish I’m gonna make an album and I’m gonna get Nick Zinner to produce it or something”… even though I’d actually really like that. But that’s all I really dream of doing; making more music with my friends and having them contribute to my projects.
Simon: So who are some of your other friends that you would like to make music with? You can give them some shoutouts…
Ali: You know, I’ve had a bit of a practice sesh with Sharni from Shiny Coin, and that was heaps of fun; she’s really cool and fun because I remember seeing Shiny Coin for the first time back in July last year, maybe a little bit earlier, and I was like “THIS BAND IS REALLY COOL… SHE’S REALLY AWESOME… WHAT A GREAT PERSON”. I hadn’t played live at this time, and then we played a show together in November and I just tried to strike up a friendship, and that’s more that I ever ask for… that’s just like a dream come true with me. Being able to make music with people who are… just like…
Simon: …just your pals.
Ali: Just my pals; exactly.
Simon: What else can I ask you… You’ve got a very popular Instagram.
Ali: (laughs)… No I don’t. I haven’t hit that 1k mark yet. (laughs)
Simon: I should have put a limiter on your vocal today because I forgot how much you laugh… (laughs)… What else can I ask you?
Ali: It’s so hard because you know everything.
Simon: Yeah, this was going to be the most difficult interview I was going to do… Do you want to try another song?