Melanie Oxley

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Melanie Oxley
Birth name Melanie Susan Oxley
Born Kingscliff, New South Wales, New South Wales, Australia
Genres Rock Music, dance pop, soul pop
Occupation(s) Musician, singer-songwriter
Years active 1983–present
Labels Mighty Boy, Spiral Scratch, Remote Control, Vitamin
Associated acts Paris Green, The Crestriders, Sweet Nothing, Johnny Kannis Band, The Sparklers, Scribble, Melanie Oxley & Chris Abrahams

Melanie Susan Oxley is an Australian musician, singer-songwriter and primary school teacher. Oxley was a member of the dance pop group, The Sparklers (from 1985 to 1989), which in October 1988 issued their debut album, Persuasion. Since 1989 Oxley teamed with keyboardist, Chris Abrahams (ex-Benders, The Sparklers), to perform and record as a soul pop duo, Melanie Oxley & Chris Abrahams. They have released four studio albums, Welcome to Violet (1992), Coal (1994), Jerusalem Bay (1998) and Blood Oranges (2003). At the ARIA Music Awards of 1993 Welcome to Violet was nominated for Best Independent Release.

Biography[edit]

Melanie Susan Oxley is the daughter of Eric Oxley and Jan. Eric, an art teacher, was originally from Manchester and had migrated to Sydney before the Oxley family settled in the rural northern beach community of Kingscliff in 1965.[1] Oxley's older brothers are Peter and Jeremy Oxley (born ca. 1961), who were founders of Australian pop-rock band, The Sunnyboys, and her younger brothers are Damien and Tim (singer, guitarist, drummer in The Humdingers, The Verys, The Dearhunters and Roger Loves Betty).[1]

Oxley performed with Louis Tillett's jazz influenced blues-rock band Paris Green in 1984, alongside Charlie Owen.[2][3] She performed backing vocals on The Triffids' 1984 EP, Raining Pleasure.[3] In early 1985 she worked for the Johnny Kannis Band with Richard Jakimyszyn on guitar, Tony Juke on keyboards and guitar, Kannis on lead vocals, Tony Robertson on bass guitar, Don Raffael on saxophone and Destroyer on drums.[4] Also that year she was briefly in Sweet Nothing.[3][5] Later that year, Oxley formed a dance pop band, The Sparklers, in Sydney together with Chris Abrahams (ex-Benders) on keyboards; her brother, Peter Oxley on bass guitar; Bill Bilson (The Sunnyboys) on drums; and Mark Walker (Hoi Polloi, Sweet Nothing) on guitar – who was replaced by Colin Bloxsom, a year later.[5] The Sparklers released two singles before Abrahams left, he was replaced by Phil Grove. The Sparklers issued an album, Persuasion, in October 1988 with Oxley writing all tracks except one co-written with Abrahams.[6]

after my brothers' band [The Sunnboys] split up, my brother Peter and I started the Sparklers with Chris, although he left before that album [Persuasion] was made.

— Melanie Oxley, [2]

Persuasion was produced by Leszek Karski on Mighty Boys Records before the group disbanded in 1989.[5] Oxley also performed backing vocals for Johanna Pigott's band Scribble, appearing on their 1986 album Pop Art, as well as on Ed Kuepper's 1986 album Rooms of the Magnificent.[3][7] Other 1980s work includes The Spliffs House of Seven (1988) and Penguins on Safari's Normal Soon (1989).[3]

In 1989 Oxley formed a soul pop duo, Melanie Oxley & Chris Abrahams, with ex-The Sparklers band mate, Abrahams (by then also a pianist-songwriter for experimental jazz trio, The Necks).[5] She worked periodically with Abrahams, performing, writing songs and recording albums, while maintaining a career as a primary school teacher. In December 1990 the duo released a four-track EP, Resisting Calm, on Spiral Scratch Records.[5][8] For the EP they used Tony Buck on drums, Mike Bukovsky on trumpet, Gerard Corben (ex-The Sparklers) on guitar, Guy Dickerson on guitar, Stuart Eadie on floor toms, Jackie Orszaczky on bass guitar and Lloyd Swanton on acoustic bass.[9] It was co-produced by Abrahams and Oxley.[9] National radio station, Triple J, placed the track, "Benchtop", on high rotation – a live version appeared on the compilation album, Live at the Wireless 2 (1991).[10] Their debut studio album, Welcome to Violet, followed in October 1992 on Remote Control Records, which exemplified their "moody, emotive soul/pop" sound.[5][11] At the ARIA Music Awards of 1993, Welcome to Violet was nominated for Best Independent Release.[12] On 3 October 1994, their second studio album, Coal, appeared.

Their third studio album, Jerusalem Bay, was issued in December 1998 and was produced by Oxley and Abrahams.[5][13] Additional musicians included Mike Bukowski on trumpet (ex-Ten Part Invention) and Hamish Stuart on drums (Ayers Rock, Wig World, Catholics).[5][13] The album includes a cover version of "Cry Me a River" written by Arthur Hamilton.[13] Blood Oranges the fourth studio album was released in April 2003 on Vitamin Records. The Age's Michael Dwyer described their sound as "sophisticated, sometimes jazz-tinted pop" while Oxley feels "It's quite a different album to Jerusalem Bay, and it was recorded differently. That one was much more organic and live. With Blood Oranges, Chris did a lot of work before we went into the studio, quite a lot of programming".[2] Session musicians included Stuart, Michael Sheridan on guitar and Jonathan Zwartz on bass guitar. Vitamin Records promoted the album as being "Coloured by a strange, at times, dark playfulness, [it] is dotted throughout with classic sounding songs drawn from a number of pop influences. Lyrically thoughtful, deceptively simple".[14]

In April 2003 Sydney Morning Herald's John Shand reviewed their performance at The Basement, he found Oxley used "a lot of breath aerating [her] lovely voice. Unlike, say, Renée Geyer, however, this does not make it husky, but creates a soft-edged, whispering quality, which remains unaffected by volume, and which suggests innocence and sensuality in equal measure".[15] In October that year ABC Radio National broadcast South Island on The Listening Room; South Island was a joint project by Oxley (performer) with Abrahams (composer and performer) and Sherre DeLys (text and sound design).[16] In January 2008 Oxley and Abraham provided "a simply devastating performance of 'Embedded'" at a tribute concert for its deceased songwriter, David McComb of The Triffids.[17] A documentary film, It's Raining Pleasure (2009), showcased the performances and included an interview with Oxley, it was screened at the Adelaide International Film Festival.[18]

Personal life[edit]

As of July 2003 Melanie Oxley's domestic partner is former drummer and television producer, Angus Millar. Oxley is a mother of three children and outside her musical career is a primary school teacher.[2][19][20]

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

The Sparklers
  • Persuasion – Mighty Boy MBCD 7008 (October 1988)
Melanie Oxley & Chris Abrahams
  • Welcome to VioletRemote Control Records Rem 1 (5 October 1992)
  • Coal – Remote Control Rem 2 (3 October 1994)
  • Jerusalem Bay – Remote Control Rem 4 (December 1998)
  • Blood OrangesVitamin Records/Remote Control Rem 5 (April 2003)

Extended plays[edit]

Melanie Oxley & Chris Abrahams
  • Resisting Calm – Spiral Scratch (December 1990)

References[edit]

General
Specific
  1. ^ a b Guilliat, Richard (11 September 2004). "Lost Chord". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d Dwyer, Michael (4 July 2003). "Musical Blood". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Holmgren, Magnus. "Melanie Oxley". Australian Rock Database. Passagen (Magnus Holmgren). Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  4. ^ Holmgren, Magnus; Weld, Henry; Bennetts, Gye. "Johnny Kannis". Australian Rock Database. Passagen (Magnus Holmgren). Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h McFarlane, 'Chris Abrahams' entry. Archived from the original on 3 August 2004. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
  6. ^ "Persuasion [sound recording]". Trove. National Library of Australia. Retrieved 14 August 2012. All lyrics and music by Melanie Oxley, except one song 'Truck', lyrics written by Chris Abrahams and Melanie Oxley, music by Chris Abrahams .
  7. ^ "Liner notes". Rooms of the Magnificent (Media notes). Ed Kuepper. Hot Records. 1986. #HOT 1027. Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
  8. ^ "Resisting Calm [sound recording] / Melanie Oxley & Chris Abrahams". Trove. National Library of Australia. Retrieved 14 August 2012. .
  9. ^ a b Resisting Calm (Media notes). Melanie Oxley & Chris Abrahams. Spiral Scratch Records. 1990. 12002. 
  10. ^ Holmgren, Magnus. "Triple J - Live at the Wireless". Australian Rock Database. Passagen (Magnus Holmgren). Retrieved 16 August 2012. 
  11. ^ "Welcome to Violet / Melanie Oxley & Chris Abrahams [sound recording]". Trove. National Library of Australia. Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  12. ^ "ARIA Awards – History: Winners by Year 1993: 7th Annual ARIA Awards". Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Archived from the original on 12 May 2009. Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  13. ^ a b c "Jerusalem Bay / Melanie Oxley, Chris Abrahams [sound recording]". Trove. National Library of Australia. Retrieved 15 August 2012. All tracks written by Oxley/Abrahams except track 10, written by A. Hamilton .
  14. ^ "Blood Oranges". Australian Music Online. Federal Government of Australia. 2003. Archived from the original on 21 September 2007. Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
  15. ^ Shand, John (15 April 2003). "Melanie Oxley and Chris Abrahams, The Basement". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  16. ^ "South Island [sound recording] / by Chris Abrahams and Sherre DeLys. Northern Composure / by Jane Ulman and Andrei Shabunov". Trove. National Library of Australia. Retrieved 14 August 2012. South Island: A journey around New Zealand's South Island which explores complex issues of place and space, and of the intrusion of the human into the wild. The trip culminates in a visit to Oamaru, birthplace of Chris Abrahams and the town where both Janet Frame and Colin McCahon lived for some of their lives. Text and sound design by Sherre DeLys. Music composed by Chris Abrahams and performed by Melanie Oxley and the composer .
  17. ^ Zuel, Bernard (19 January 2008). "A Secret in the Shape of a Song". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  18. ^ "It's Raining Pleasure". Screen Australia. Federal Government of Australia. 2009. Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  19. ^ 2012 interview
  20. ^ Moore, Ellie (28 June 2012). "Newsletter Term 2 Week 10 – Principal's Message" (PDF). Johnson Street Journal. Annandale Public School. p. 1. Retrieved 15 August 2012.