FREMANTLE was the inspiration for new songs and a record deal for 17-year-old Scarlett Graham.
The Canadian singer-songwriter has just signed with Continental Record Services in Holland, and her debut EP Fremantle was written during an extended stay with her aunt in the port city last year.
“The songs reflect how I was feeling at the time, a mix of homesickness and an overwhelming love for Fremantle and the incredible atmosphere of Freo,” Scarlett says.
“I wanted to bottle my love for Freo and the people I met, and I think that dedicating the title to Fremantle was an homage to the beautiful place it is.”
The pull of the port city was so great that Scarlett’s father, Robert, decided to relocate his family from Canada to Fremantle earlier this year, and Scarlett is now enrolled in year 11 at Freo College.
Robert had previously lived in Freo for 18 years and his wife Kerryn and her family are from Perth, so it was an emotional homecoming of sorts.
Robert is a professional musician and back in the day played at several venues in Fremantle with his Chilean group Los Chasquis/LC Salsa.
“We used to run a speakeasy-type nightclub on the waterfront in front of the Rotto ferry place near the Left Bank – a big old Latino dance party every Friday night – until the council (quite rightly) shut us down,” he laughs.
It didn’t take long for the Grahams to get back into the local music scene – during lockdown Scarlett and her dad drove around greater Fremantle, entertaining locals with impromptu performances from the back of a ute.
“The reaction was phenomenal,” recalls Robert.
“People were just so happy to see some live music. It had been a while. Everyone came out to the end of their driveways, often with a beverage or two. We did it in Coolbellup after that, and then again in more of the downtown Freo area. Same reaction. Smiling faces, dancing, requests for songs.”
Musical talent clearly runs in the family and Scarlett combines wistful melodies, dreamy chords and a slightly haunting voice to great effect in her EP, which wouldn’t sound out of place on an indie film soundtrack.
“Some of my favourite artists include Joni Mitchell, Laura Marling, Hozier and Billy Joel.
“I also seek inspiration from very talented artists that I am fortunate to be able to create and work with. My dad is a big influence and introduced me to all types of music.
“I have received great opportunities at Fremantle College, including performing at Nannup Music Festival.”
Moving to another country in your teenage years can be daunting, but Scarlett has made some good friends and joined local community groups like the West Beacy Bunch.
“I’m very happy we recorded the EP when we did, because it serves as a little time capsule on how I was feeling during the process of saying goodbye to my home and welcoming a new one.
“I am very lucky to have made great friends in Australia… Moving has been one of the best things for my writing.”
By STEPHEN POLLOCK