|Lo Carmen, aka Loene Carmen|
|Born||Adelaide, South Australia, Australia|
|Genres||Alternative country, Country rock, Folk, Outlaw country, Singer Songwriter, Rock'n'Roll, Torch Singer|
Loene Carmen, also known as Lo Carmen, is an Australian singer, songwriter, musician and actress. Carmen has independently released five albums, most recently Everyone You Ever Knew (Is Coming Back To Haunt You) in 2015.
Early life and career
Carmen was born in Adelaide, Australia and raised amongst its 1970s music and art community. She is the daughter of rock/jazz/blues pianist Peter Head, founder of The Mount Lofty Rangers, and has a brother Josh Beagley, a guitarist, most notably with funk band Swoop. She began performing while accompanying her father and formed a country band the Honky Tonk Angels. Carmen began focusing on a career as a solo singer-songwriter in 2002.
Carmen was discovered at sixteen working in a Kings Cross pizza bar and cast as the "wild and haunted" Freya Olson in John Duigan's The Year My Voice Broke (1987). Her performance, and that of her co-stars Noah Taylor and Ben Mendelsohn, was described as "deeply memorable, central characters [that] are played by a trio of fine actors in the formative stages of their careers". She was nominated for an Australian Film Institute Best Actress award. Other notable roles followed including Australian prostitute/whistleblower Sallie-Anne Huckstepp in the docudrama Blue Murder and Christine in Alkinos Tsilimidos' gritty drama Tom White, for which she also received nominations for Australian Film Institute Best Supporting Actress, Film Critics Circle Best Actor - Female 2004 and IF Awards Best Actress 2004. In 2011, director Kriv Stenders brought Carmen and Noah Taylor together again in Australian film Red Dog, which was described in the Australian as a "warm-hearted and thoroughly entertaining movie".
Carmen's debut solo album Born Funky Born Free was released in 2001, and featured contributions from Simon Day and James Cruickshank. In 2004, her second album, Slight Delay was released on Reverberation Records. Carmen also recorded a mini-album Leave It at the Door in 2003 together with Kristyna Higgins under the moniker T: Lo, it would eventually be released digitally in 2010.
In 2007 she released Rock'n'Roll Tears, co-written and recorded with Jed Kurzel and Sam Worrad. Tracks "Nashville High" and "Rock n Roll Tears" were featured in the Australian series Love My Way. It was described as "impeccably well orchestrated collection of moody, classic rock and roll pieces that highlights Loene's vocal strength and range".
Carmen's fourth album It Walks Like Love was released in December 2009. The album was produced by Burke Reid and recorded with musicians from teenage punk band The Scare and long time collaborator Sam Worrad from The Holy Soul on bass. Special guests include Jed Kurzel (Mess Hall) on duet "Oh Apollo!", her father Peter Head on piano with Tex Perkins and daughter Holiday Sidewinder also making an appearance on backing vocals. An EP Hard Candy Christmas (2010) under the name Sweet Carmo featured country classics by artists such as Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette.
After relocating to Georgia while her partner Aden Young shot Sundance television series Rectify, Carmen recorded and released The Peach State (2012), a suite of solo country songs, recorded in Nashville with long time Johnny Cash engineer David Ferguson. No Depression called it "...stark country-soul and shimmering blues ...a direct line to the heart that showcases her glorious voice." This release also marked a professional name change from Loene Carmen to Lo Carmen.
In 2013, Carmen released the album The Apple Don't Fall Far From The Tree, a collaboration with her father. It was described as "an album high on smoky atmosphere and the ghosts of many a raised glass" and "an endearing mix of country soul and late night jazz". During the subsequent tour, the duo opened for Kinky Friedman and The Handsome Family.
In 2015 she released the album Everyone You Ever Knew (Is Coming Back To Haunt You) that featured the title track as a single. The album was self-produced and recorded in Sydney over one day by Wade Keighran with musicians Ken Gormly from The Cruel Sea, Cec Condon from The Mess Hall on drums and Sam Worrad on guitar. Global Texan Chronicles called it "shadowy and palpable Lou Reed-esque honky tonk realism with so much rare and raw individuality that it takes you aback at first listen", and described Carmen as "a true storyteller". The album includes a song written about mysterious Blue Note jazz pianist Jutta Hipp. Aden Young filmed, directed and edited the videoclip for the single on a farm in Griffin, Georgia.
Carmen performs solo or with a rotating line-up of musicians and has opened for Gareth Liddiard (The Drones), Renee Geyer and The Secret Sisters in Australia as well as Mick Harvey in Europe. She showcased solo at SxSW in 2009 and 2016. In band mode she has opened for Beasts Of Bourbon, Magnolia Electric Company, Mess Hall, The Drones, Paul Kelly and the Dirty Three. In an interview she explained "I prefer to have a core band that I can play with but I’m not a machine playing all the time so when I need people I just have to hope they are available. Plus, I like the idea of being like Chuck Berry, just picking up bands in every town or for different gigs. And that way the songs sound different each time too". She records more than performing live, stating "Making albums is the absolute joy of being a musician for me, especially the joy of recording with other people and the surprises of what they bring."
Carmen has published two essays, one in the anthologies Meanjin on Rock 'n' Roll: All Yesterday's Parties, and in Your Mother Would be Proud: True Tales of Mayhem and Misadventure (edited by Jenny Valentish & Tamara Sheward), and contributed to two of the Women of Letters collections (edited by Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire)'.
- Lo Carmen Everyone You Ever Knew (Is Coming Back To Haunt You) (2015)
- Lo Carmen & Peter Head: The Apple Don't Fall Far From The Tree (2013)
- Loene Carmen: It Walks Like Love LP (2009)
- Loene Carmen: Rock'n'Roll Tears LP (2007)
- Loene Carmen: Slight Delay LP (2004)
- Loene Carmen: Born Funky Born Free LP (2001)
- Lo Carmen: "The Peach State" EP (2012)
- Other Releases
- Sweet Carmo: Hard Candy Christmas EP (2011; digital release/limited edition of 25)
- T: Lo: Leave It at the Door EP (2010; digital release)
- The Charismatics: Fateful Gaze EP (1998)
- Automatic Cherry: Slow Burner LP (1996)
- Guest artist
- Perry Keyes: "Sunnyholt" (2015)
- Various Artists: RocKwiz Duets: With A Little Help From Our Friends Vol. 4 (2013)
- The Holy Soul: Damn You, Ra (2009)
- The Mess Hall: Devils Elbow (2007)
- Various Artists: Tribute to Rowland S. Howard (2007)
- The Wallbangers: Bang! four-track EP (2007)
- Stardust Five: Stardust Five (2006)
- Mick Harvey: Pink Elephants (1997)
- Mick Harvey: Intoxicated Man (1995)
- The Stepfords: Gas Food and You (1994)
- Cruel Sea: Three Legged Dog (1994)
- Red Dog (2011)
- Tom White (2004)
- Blue Murder (1995)
- The Nostradamus Kid (1993)
- The Year My Voice Broke (1987)
- "Everyone You Ever Knew (Is Coming Back To Haunt You)" (2015)
- "Mimic the Rain" (2009)
- "Nashville High" (2006)
- "My Friends Call Me Foxy" (2002)
Awards and nominations
- 1987: Australian Film Institute Awards nomination for Best Actress (The Year My Voice Broke)
- 2004: Film Critic's Circle nomination for Best Actor - Female (Tom White)
- 2004: Inside Film Award nomination for Best Actress (Tom White)
- 2004: Australian Film Institute Awards nomination for Best Supporting Actress (Tom White)
Carmen was in a relationship with Jeremy Sparks with whom she has daughter, Holiday Sidewinder (b. 1990), who is also a singer-songwriter. Carmen married actor Aden Young in Zebulon, Georgia, in 2014, after a 10-year relationship. They have two sons, Chester Van (b. 2011) and Dutch Bon (b. 2007). Young directed the music videos for "Everyone You Ever Knew (Is Coming Back To Haunt You)", "Nashville High" and edited Carmen's "Mimic the Rain" clip. Carmen co-composed the score for Young's short film The Rose of Ba Ziz (2007) as well as appeared in it.
Carmen cites close family friend, Australian soul singer Wendy Saddington, as a major influence, after watching hundreds of performances she gave accompanied by Peter Head since the 1980s. Carmen's mother, a film seamstress, made Chrissie Amphlett's iconic schoolgirl tunics.
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