Hell's Half Acre: An interview with Gretta Ziller

Oct 26, 2014 • Nick Payne

In a few weeks we return to one of our musical homes at Mars Hill Cafe in Parramatta for a one-off Orphanage Session. In anticipation I asked our feature guest Gretta Ziller some questions.

NP: How does the songwriting process work for you - where do you find your inspiration and what steps does a song go through in order to be written?

GZ: I’m a bit of a bowerbird when it comes to writing, I’ll collect ideas, titles & lyrics from here there and everywhere, it comes from conversations or books I read or movies or music, I do have a few tv shows that I watch often for inspiration! Then when I have the time i’ll sit down and sift through my little bundles and see what happens!

NP: Tell us about Hell’s Half Acre - where is it and what is it about it that inspired you to write a song?

GZ: Hell’s Half Acre was inspired by a trip to Canada, we went to a bad lands (Drumheller) it was an amazing place, a big desert like hole in the ground! I wanted to put the idea of the place into a song but Drumheller just didn’t work as a title!!! The power of google and I found Hell’s Half Acre in Wyoming! It’s a pretty cool place, they’ve used it for films and photography!

NP: What was your journey to becoming a songwriter - what happened that made you want to try your hand at it and what was it that made you commit yourself to it and work at it?

GZ: Songwriting was something that I had dabbled at for a few years, I didn’t have the confidence to share my songs for quite a while. I had done a few songwriting workshops and even classes though Berklee College Online. It wasn’t until I attended the CMAA College of Country Music that things kind of clicked, I got some great feedback from the songwriters in residence and met other musos in my position, it was a really defining and liberating experience for me!

NP: Tell us about a time you heard some music for the first time that changed you in some way.

GZ: I grew up surrounded by music, my mother was a great music appreciator, we listened to everything from Pavarotti to Edith Piaf to Aretha Franklin and Sarah Vaughn and top 40 music. The one genre that wasn’t in our playlist was country music. I was in my final year of University studying a Bachelor of Music, training to be a classical singer, when I “borrowed” Garth Brooks Double Live from my sister, unless you’ve experienced a moment like I had it’s really hard to explain it, something clicked within me and I just new what I wanted to sing. My tastes have evolved since then, but I still have those kind of moments when I here amazing songs, and I think that’s what music is all about, creating something that touches people.

NP: If you could share the stage with anyone (alive or passed on) and sing a duet who would it be and what song would you sing?

GZ: This question is easy, Jim Lauderdale, every time I listen to him sing I learn something, the way he phrases his lyric, how he places the words in the melody it’s awesome…. Jim Lauderdale is awesome!! In saying that if he was busy that week, I wouldn’t complain about singing with Steve Earle!!

The Orphanage Sessions

The Orphange Sessions return to Mars Hill Cafe on Saturday November 8 with Gretta Ziller and Katie Brianna as our guests.

Full details are as follows...

The Orphanage Sessions: Gretta Ziller + Dear Orphans + Katie Brianna
7:30PM Saturday November 8, 2014
Mars Hill Cafe
331 Church St
Parramatta NSW

Tickets can be purchased here...

Download Rain for free

We're giving away Rain - the first song we ever recorded - as a gift. Click the button below to download it.

Download Rain

Happy music listening!


Mailing List

* indicates required